Castlefield Viaduct, National Trust, c PNW

National Trust's sky garden will remain open for another year. Credit: Place North West

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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Pomona Island!? That’s quite a stretch – fantastic news! Would be even better with a pedestrian/cycle link alongside the met route over the Irwell and link it to Salford Quays.

By Anonymous

I really like the park and I’m really pleased plans are afoot to extend it and make it permanent. But when I visited I found it very noisy (sitting alongside the tram line) so while it has a lot to offer, I’m not sure I would list “serenity” or “peace and quiet” among them! 🙂

By Jon

Excellent news! Making this an A-B park will really be transformational for Manchester. I do hope free access for all will be maintained and that security risks will also be properly mitigated (which will obviously require operational funding). Good luck and well done to all involved!

By Mancunian

Wonderful concept for the City

By Elaine

That’s amazing that they are considering extending it all the way to Pomona. Any green oasis in the city centre is to be welcome.

By Tom

Great news! A cycle link would be fantastic for the city if they implement one into the scheme and those who live just outside the city centre… imagine the commute! 🥹

By Sophia

They should look at the Leeds one for ideas, and finish planting the same they already have, much of it is still bare

By Gilly

Great news. The one at St Catherine’s proposed on the other side of the city, will mean we have two oases.

By Elephant

If only they could have a park in Ponoma and this led to there.

By Anonymous

Great idea and could easily reach Pomona. If it dropped down at that point around Pomona Wharf, it could use the existing bridge to cross the river around there as well, linking both Trafford and Salford sides to the elevated walkway and creating a great pedestrian route from MediaCity all the way to Deansgate – presuming the riverside is done up

By Jo


By Anonymous

What a joke! It’s always empty!!

By John

Please could dogs be allowed entry

By Judy Cheung

Pomona is in Trafford not salford

By Anonymous

Great idea. Fantastic place to visit. As well as pushing Nature maybe some pictures of Steam Locomotives on the Viaduct in days gone by would also capture the history.

By Anonymous

100% agree with this. The Skybridge is brilliant. If they do take it as far as proposed it would be great to include a cycle way

By Bernard Fender

Sounds great. Looks like they will need to be creative with their plans at the Pomona end as the tram lines take up the whole viaduct approaching Cornbrook

By Levelling Up Manager

John, empty? It can’t be you’re clearly always up must be.

By Tom

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