Manchester City Council has announced that a design team has been appointed to develop plans to create a “world class space” in the area centred around Piccadilly Gardens. A team led by LDA Design has been selected from four shortlisted candidates in an international design competition based on initial concept designs submitted for the prominent city centre area.
LDA Design will now be asked to produce detailed designs to enable a full planning application to be submitted next year. Before any plans are submitted, these designs will be made public and Manchester people consulted on their views about them. The competition panel found that LDA Design’s submission embraced and met the design brief and praised elements including improved and updated children’s play facilities and improved links to London Road.
The 10-acre site covered by the competition also includes Mosley Street, Parker Street, the section of Portland Street which runs alongside Piccadilly Gardens and the section of Piccadilly which borders the Gardens. The Council said: “Its prominent gateway location means that it serves a unique range of functions including as a major route through the city centre, a transport interchange, a space for markets and events, a meeting place and a green space to spend time.”
The design brief envisages that Piccadilly will be a “special place with a strong sense of identity, welcoming and uniquely Mancunian” and allowing for the flexible usage. The design also aims to create a place for all, incorporating space where children can play, and one that is fully accessible, as well as promoting safety and being well lit with clear sightlines.
The brief recognises that it is important to the people of Manchester to retain a green space in the centre of the city and aims to have planting to encourage biodiversity and improve air quality. The design brief also calls for Piccadilly Gardens to be carefully designed to support a flexible space which tens of thousands of people walk through every day, retain the existing listed monuments and statues, and tramlines and infrastructure, in addition to the existing Pavilion structure.
Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig said: “We know that people have strong views about Piccadilly Gardens and serious work is continuing to realise its potential as an outstanding, welcoming public space – somewhere people want to linger and enjoy, not just pass through. There’s still much more work to do and today is not about us announcing the plan but appointing the experts who will help produce one, taking the views of Mancunians very much into account.”