Major plans to revamp Manchester’sPiccadilly Gardens and its surrounding area will cost £25m – and an international competition will decide its future design.
Manchester council has long harboured ambitions to redevelop the 10-acre Piccadilly area in the city centre into a ‘special place with a strong sense of identity’.
The thoroughfare is the busiest part of Manchester with shops, pubs, restaurants, offices and public transport packed in and around Piccadilly Gardens.
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However it has been plagued with antisocial behaviour for many years, and its design – namely the brutalist concrete walls in the Gardens itself – have divided public opinion.
Part of the wall, the brainchild of Japanese architect Tadao Ando who won another international design competition launched after the 1996 IRA bombing, was demolished last year.
The controversial wall in Piccadilly Gardens has now been demolished
(Image: Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News)
But the council wants to transform the wider area which includes Mosley Street, New York Street, Parker Street and a section of Portland Street.
Bosses also want to relocate the bus interchange at Parker Street – once described as a ‘horrible place’ by council leader Sir Richard Leese – if a suitable alternative site is found.
A call has now been put out to urban design and landscape teams from around the world to share their ideas for the space in autumn this year.
The brief states that it must be ‘a place for all’ where children can play, while safety, full access and inclusivity will be ‘integral’ to the design process.
Any new design will also need to keep the existing listed monuments and statues in Piccadilly, as well as tramlines and infrastructure.
The remaining Ando structures in the Gardens such as the Pavilion, which is privately-owned and is leased to Cafe Nero and Tampopo, must also be retained.
Plans for a £10m makeover of the Gardens proposed by Legal & General were scrapped in March 2019, prompting Manchester council to step in themselves.
Designs for the original £10m overhaul, featuring a rebuilt pavilion and improved public space
LDA Architects were asked by the town hall to help with design concepts which informed a public consultation held earlier this year, which attracted over 1,700 responses.
Announcing the plans to launch the design competition, Sir Richard Leese said: “The Piccadilly area has the potential to become an outstanding open space in the heart of Manchester, befitting the city’s international status.
“We recognise that it needs to be transformed to ensure that it can realise its potential as a welcoming and flexible space. We want to create a place that people are talking about for all the right reasons.
Sir Richard Leese says they are still arguing for Tier 2 status with the government
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
“The publication of this notice is an important step closer to this aspiration and underlines the ambition we have for the area – ambition we know that Manchester people share.
“We will of course be seeking further views from the public later down the line once we have a successful scheme to put to them.”
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