A £2 million plan to improve Piccadilly Gardens is poised to move forwards after receiving widespread support in a public consultation.
Manchester City Council’s Executive will be asked when it meets on Wednesday 8 February to note the results of the consultation and give the go-ahead for plans to be further developed ahead of a planning application being submitted.
The proposals, developed by Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets (L&G) in partnership with Manchester City Council, involve £2m worth of investment in improvements to Piccadilly Gardens to make them more attractive and welcoming to families while deterring anti-social behaviour.
The Gardens improvements are part of a wider £10m investment by L&G which includes plans to introduce family restaurants and a new coffee outlet.
The proposals were widely publicised and consultation took place in December 2016 online and in a public exhibition in the Town Hall Extension.
Almost 300 people attended the consultation sessions and more than 200 feedback forms were completed online and in person.
While there were differing views, a significant proportion of respondents welcomed the plans.
Of these 63 per cent of respondents were either fully or broadly supportive of the overall proposals. Improvements to lighting and extra seating were both supported by 89 per cent of respondents, while 59 per cent supported the new pavilion building.
Subject to the Executive’s approval, the outline proposals will now be worked up in more detail to enable a planning application to be submitted – with feedback from the consultation factored in. There would then be further consultation as part of the planning process.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Piccadilly Gardens remains an extremely busy public space which is used by more than 16 million people a year. But we know there is considerable room for improvement and these proposals, together with other enhancements such as the recent re-instatement of the fountains, will help make it a more welcoming family environment.
“These should be real and sustainable changes for the better compatible with Piccadilly Gardens’ role as a major throughfare used by hundreds of thousands of people a week as well as a destination in its own right.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation and I am pleased that the proposals enjoyed their broad support.”
Bill Hughes, Head of Legal and General Investment Management Real Assets, said: “We welcome the comments and feedback that we received during the public consultation on our proposal to improve Piccadilly Gardens and will be considering all feedback carefully ahead of a planning application being submitted.
“We see the proposal that we have worked up in partnership with Manchester City Council as an opportunity to regenerate a prominent and well-used space in central Manchester that is also a thoroughfare to other parts of the city.
“L&G has a long-standing track record of working with progressive local authorities to bring forward regeneration and improvements to social infrastructure projects. We see Piccadilly Gardens as a prime example of this kind of collaboration in action and are pleased to have received a positive initial response from the public.”
The plans include:
Removing the existing Pavilion building and feature wall and replacing them with two new Pavilion buildings linked by a covered area of new public space for year-round use.
Improving lighting and the design of the current Pavilion building and Gardens to deter anti-social behaviour and improve natural surveillance. Greater Manchester Police have been consulted on the design.
Creating extra seating throughout the Gardens for public use.
Introducing extra ‘soft landscaping’ including new shrubs and plants.
Addressing damage to pavements and grass by raising the grassed areas and re-laying pedestrian thoroughfares
Bringing family-themed restaurants and a new coffee outlet to the new Pavilion buildings.
The new Pavilion buildings will increase L&G’s lease area to fund the improvements as well as screening the Gardens from the nearby transport interchange. Without this increase the scheme would not be viable. But this will not encroach on the Garden’s green space and indeed the overall amount of green space will increase.