Piccadilly Gardens wall demolition enters planning

Manchester City Council has lodged an application to knock down the freestanding part of Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s much-maligned concrete wall, after ringfencing £1.8m for the wider gardens revamp in March. 

The council hopes the move will reduce levels of antisocial behaviour by improving sight lines through the gardens. 

Demolition of the wall, built in 2002, signals the start of the main project to redesign Piccadilly Gardens, the city centre public square close to the bus station and Piccadilly rail station. 

The council has not yet decided what will happen to the larger part of Ando’s pavilion, which is owned by asset manager Legal & General and occupied by Tampopo and Caffè Nero. Some commentators have called for the entire structure to be demolished.

The most likely outcome is the creation of a green, or ‘living’ wall, according to the appointed landscape architect, LDA Design. The company was appointed to lead on the redesign of Piccadilly Gardens in January. 

At the time, LDA director Mark Graham said the gardens need to be a place to have fun, and added that it would be a challenge to knit together the varying requirements of the space. 

LDA has drawn up three potential designs for the gardens, which the council is discussing. Graham said the submission of an application for the demolition of the wall was an “important step” forward for the wider project.

Details of the proposals are yet to be revealed but the council has outlined some objectives, including the retention and possible repositioning of monuments and statues within the gardens. 

Improving lighting and wifi connectivity, and developing “a clear hierarchy of use of space for pedestrians and vehicles” are also listed under the council’s vision. 

Additionally, the council wants to remove bus access fully from Moseley Street and Piccadilly Street, although this has not yet been agreed with Transport for Greater Manchester. 

Other improvements include the provision of flexible space for events and outdoor activities, according to the council. 

LDA Design was behind an earlier proposal from leaseholder LGIM Real Estate to regenerate Piccadilly Gardens, first proposed in 2017. The £2m overhaul was popular with the public but was not progressed due to challenges around funding. 

Manchester City Council’s executive committee in March approved £1.8m of funding to demolish the wall and start the regeneration of the gardens.

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