Picc Gardens
Improvements to Piccadilly Gardens have been planned for a number of years

Proposals for Piccadilly Gardens overhaul due in spring

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

LDA Design has been appointed to deliver concept designs for improvements to Piccadilly Gardens, potentially including the partial demolition of the Tadao Ando wall and a wider footprint for the scheme.

LDA was the landscape architect behind an earlier proposal from leaseholder LGIM Real Estate to regenerate the prominent area of public realm within Manchester city centre. The £2m overhaul was popular with the public but wasn’t progressed due to challenges around funding.

LDA will now come up with a number of outline schemes, which are set to be consulted on in the spring. Early stage imagery is yet to be revealed.

According to the council, “critical to the proposals will be the creation of a more family-friendly area with an improved children’s play area, and removing or replacing the existing street furniture”.

The plans could see the unpopular Tadao Ando-designed Pavilion concrete wall turned into a green wall, and the free-standing part of the wall, which is owned by the council, potentially demolished.

The area set to be regenerated now also includes a wider footprint than the previous scheme, expanding to include Piccadilly to the north of the gardens, Parker Street to the south and Mosley Street to the west.

Picc Gardens Wall

The free-standing element of the wall could be demolished

LGIM Real Estate withdrew its planning application for £2m of works on the gardens in 2019, a long-running proposal which was first submitted in 2017. The scheme would have seen the pavilion and separate feature wall demolished and replaced with buildings for food and beverage operators.

The council said it remained committed to delivering the planting, improved lighting and design to deter anti-social behaviour proposed in the previous plan, and relaunched the competition to find a lead designer.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We know that Piccadilly Gardens is a major issue for a lot of people which they have strong views about. We are committed to funding and bringing forward a scheme which will both improve its appearance and help make it more of a welcoming, family-friendly space.”

LDA is working with Liverpool City Council on its city centre public realm strategy, and is bringing forward a strategic regeneration framework for the Baltic Triangle.

Your Comments

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For Godsake what is wrong with MCC? A child could organise this better than them. Just return it back to how it was and admit you were wrong.

By Elephant

About time! Just get on with it. The only way this place will ever be better is to have full time security/police in the area to eradicate the constant scum that frequent this area and a suitable maintenance/cleaning program.

A green wall will be vandalised within weeks!

By Steve

Putting in a larger play area will not make it more child friendly, it has the opposite effect

By Floyd

Ah so LDA are the new Plan-it?! ;)

By MancLad

When are people going to realise it’s not the design that is the issue….

By TC

Nice to see a different firm designing a public space in the north west instead of the usual suspects.

By DJ

I’m afraid that £2m is’nt going to go far at all. Not so much a overhaul more of an updated.

By MrWhite

The problem is both the design and MCC and it staggers me that they are still keeping a wall! Richard Leese, whose been in charge for over 20+ years has never accepted their mistakes. This is a square in the centre of the nation’s second city and covers it with grass, trams, buildings and buses. If you want to know how a successful urban square looks like, just look across to Europe. But no, we do things differently here, so instead of building the rail infrastructure under the square, we build it on top. Instead of having cross city buses, we terminate them at the square. Instead of having a paved urban space, we fill it with grass because Richard Leese says it has to be filled with grass simply because gardens is in the name. We then divide it with a wall and buildings to help pay for it because somehow the 2nd city in the 5th wealthiest nation on the planet can’t afford to do it any other way.
We should clear this whole space and start again. The trams should go underground, the bus station should go along with all buildings and that cursed wall. We will be left with a massive, wonderful opportunity to build an urban square based on what we can learn from the world’s most successful urban squares across Europe.

By EOD

@Elephant – I remember how it was: the sunken gardens were frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes after dark and generally avoided. Its not working now but put away those rose-tinted spectacles!

By Anonymous

Underground trams are a lovely idea and – believe me – they have been thought of before (and are being looked into). Trouble is that’s rather expensive and the council isn’t exactly flush for cash.

Not sure how “second city” is relevant here – the GVA of GM is still lower than the amount of government spending in the city region, meaning it is still essentially subsidised by central government.

By Grimleh

Picc Gardens is a transport hub. Any efforts to turn it into a public square are doomed to failure.

By Milennial

Please… More trees, more lawns and plants. It now just looks like an eyesore. Not welcoming at all to anyone. We know trees give you a sense of well-being. Fact

By Carol Devine

I’m no expert but raised beds for the flowers and shrubs would be a start bring in Alan Titchmarsh and friends feel sure they would know what to do with a place called gardens, anything to get away from the concrete jungle.

By Philip Riley

I think it will be lovely….

By Mr Happy

I don’t mind the wall and slight brutalist aesthetic. I love the trees and grass, but would happily see other tough plant ground cover as well or instead of the grass. I even like seeing the trams. An underground definitely has advantages as well as enormous cost, but I think there’s a lot to like about the tram network. It’s nice that it has a different feel from St Peter’s Square, which is maybe more like what some others are expecting to see at Piccadilly Gardens. I find the bus area noisy, smelly and too much a reminder of the wider problems with the bus system, but that’s largely a separate issue from the design of Piccadilly Gardens.

I look forward to seeing the concept art, or whatever is called.

As for budget, surely sustainable, low emission transport should be high priority right now, for instance, overhauling the cycling infrastructure, improving the experience of pedestrians with greening and crossing upgrades, etc. While Piccadilly Gardens has some bearing on that, it’s barely enough to justify £2m, let alone to wish more would be spent.

By Another local

The problems of crime and anti social behaviour in the area is being ignored by the police and the council resolve these issues and the Gardens will be a sucess without the need for a redesign.

By Lenny1968

Pull the goddamn wall down!

By Paul Schofield

Any plans must, and should include full time security and or police presence. Can someone please, please take this issue by the horns. We are sick of listening to empty promises regarding the gardens, that’s all we have heard for years and years. 5 years we have had a property facing the gardens and have seen a year on year decline with no action whatsoever to reverse this awful trend.

By Jules Brown

It’s a disgrace what happened to Piccadilly gardens. Whoever thought up the design should be strung up. It used to be such a pleasant place to be, well planted and looked after. It just shows you can throw many millions of pounds to regenerate it but at the end of the day you can’t polish a turd.

By Unimpressed

2m is chicken feed. The problems with the square require fundamental solutions and more funding than a bit of replanting and raising the lawns. The problem is and always was the political hurdle in getting the leadership of MCC to admit they bungled the original design process and thus wasted most of the proceeds of selling off part of the gardens.

Unless and until the leadership of MCC can admit to the flaws in the original design, Piccadilly Gardens will never get the comprehensive overhaul it so desperately needs.

By MCC truth sayer

Just leave everything as it is, clean the place regularly, plant flowers, respect the place more and move the drug takers out, police the area more, make the caring of society make the space feel loved and it will be loved, thats it.

By Simon

Where are the cycle lanes?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

By Disgruntled Goat

This area is grey enough without the wall, so get rid of it, simply bring back the sunken gardens, grass & water features, keep the area clean and secure. Local corporate sponsors can pay for all of this, just get on with it or we will have another 5 years wait just like the Town Hall

By CBA

Problems with Piccadilly Gardens started when they allowed the hideous lump of a building that is the Hotel and City tower to be build. That was the start of the decline. It acts as a barrier to the area and set a precedent of concreate being used as a solution for the gardens.

MCC have made a string of abysmal planning decisions in regards to tis area. 2 Million is not anywhere near enough to solve the problem. its just tinkering round the edges again. It need money and major vision to fix. Its also need a permanent police presence to address the antisocial behaviour.

get rid of Piccadilly tower and hotel for starters and rip up the concreate and replace it with green space. relocating the buses would help as well.

By jon p

The main issue with PG is not so much the design (even with the wall) its the people that congregate there. It, for some reason, seems to be a magnet to people for whom antisocial behavior is the norm. I feel no matter how this site is developed (and the wall has to go) unless they sort out this issue any scheme will fail.

As a proud Manc, I find the place an embarrassment. It needs sorting ASAP – but I do fear the sums of money mentioned in this article are just not enough…the whole area needs a redesign including the bus station.

By Manc Man

Horrible wall

By Anonymous

I thought the idea of the wall was to keep bus fumes away. A green wall would be great. I suggested it to the council years ago. Germany does them all the time and others in Manchester have not been vandalised. We also need 24 hour public toilets to be a civilised city.

By Kate