Next steps announced for ‘bigger, bolder’ Castlefield Viaduct park
National Trust is seeking funding to progress with the second phase of its £25m project to transform the Manchester city centre bridge into a sky garden.
Place North West visited the attraction as it celebrated its first birthday to hear about plans for phase two of the bridge’s transformation.
Speaking to Place, Duncan Laird, head of urban at National Trust, described a “bigger, bolder vision” for the future of Castlefield Viaduct. Designs will work in parallel to phase one and see a one-kilometre extension to the green corridor.
The first phase has seen the transformation of the grade two-listed Victorian-era railway viaduct. The 330-metre bridge has been revitalised to deliver what can only be described as an oasis in the sky.
Upon entering the viaduct, visitors will find a plethora of planting by the National Trust and a number of community organisations, such as Sow the City and Hulme Community Garden Centre. Stand-out features include immersive audio, places to sit, and, perhaps most surprisingly, a bunch of edible tulips.
Landscape architect BDP has been appointed as the lead designer for phase two. James Millington, director of BDP, highlighted the challenge of the upcoming phase in connecting the viaduct with its railway roots.
“We want to create an A to B”, Millington said.
Laird expanded upon this, highlighting the vision for the sky garden’s extension to connect Manchester’s Deansgate Castlefield area to Salford’s Pomona Island.
In parallel to connecting the viaduct with its past, proposals also seek to connect visitors with the here and now. Millington described a vision to “link back to the community by making a green linear park to improve health and wellbeing”.
Set in the bustling heart of Manchester city centre, it is safe to say that Castlefield Viaduct’s sky garden offers serenity amidst its backdrop, offering peace and quiet and somewhere to reflect.
The unveiling of the proposals for phase two of the viaduct’s transformation coincides with Manchester City Council’s decision to grant an extension to the garden project, so that visitors can continue to enjoy the attraction until autumn 2024.
Laird hopes that the next steps in the development of the garden will create a “viaduct sizzle”, connecting people locally and globally through a positive buzz. He continued to report that the development could attract around one million people a year, with the potential to grow.
Last July, National Trust told Place that if the estimated £25m required for funding can be secured, the park could become a permanent fixture in Manchester.
It is estimated that for every £1 of investment in the project, there will be £6 of benefits for Manchester’s local economy in terms of attracting people nationally and possibly even globally.
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