Manchester’s uber-cool Northern Quarter is set to undergo quite the transformation, with Manchester City Council confirming a development plan which will see the inner city area, including Stevenson Square, permanently pedestrianised.
Initially put into place as a temporary measure during the COVID-riddled summer of 2020, the Council blocked off a number of streets to traffic, allowing restaurants and bars to create outdoor terraces and more space for pedestrians to social distance. Now, following the result from the latest consultation, the Council has decided to make it a permanent fixture – which could see businesses able to have more permanent outdoor terraces in the summer. Experience has shown that giving more space for pedestrians and cyclists has been incredibly positive and signalled a shift in how people want to interact and engage with the city.
However, the latest consultation held in December 2021 about Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter being pedestrianised highlighted that there is a need to balance access to the square for all users, including those travelling into the city centre on public transport. To meet this need, the council proposes to update the draft plans and close three quarters of the square to vehicles and provide limited access via Lever Street for buses and Hackney carriages, to link up with Oldham Street and Piccadilly connections.
Permanent improvements to the square will include:
– The pedestrianisation of most of Stevenson Square.
– A two-way cycle lane will run through Stevenson Square at carriageway level, with cycleway demarcation blocks on one side, and tactile crossings put in place and new signage for cyclist.
– Pedestrian and cyclist crossings will be installed at the junctions of Oldham Street/Hilton Street, and Newton Street/Hilton Street. Footpaths will be widened in the area to give more space over to pedestrians.
– Pay and display bays in Hilton Street will be removed.
– Some loading bays in the area will be relocated to allow for these changes to be made, whilst still retaining important space for businesses to trade.
Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “For a long time the Council has been committed to the full pedestrianisation of Stevenson Square and we remain so but for now we will provide limited access for buses and Hackney carriages in a small area of the square. We are pleased that the vast majority of the space in the square has been preserved for pedestrians and cyclists, and we will be working with businesses to ensure they can maximise the benefits of these changes.
“For the Council our bigger picture is being at the forefront of a switch towards walking and cycling in the city centre and turning places like Stevenson Square into vibrant and economically strong neighbourhoods.”