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Manchester announces plans to overhaul Piccadilly Gardens

Manchester City Council has announced that it plans to embark upon a huge redesign of the city’s Piccadilly Gardens.

The council’s ideas for overhauling the public square include improved lighting and design, relaying pedestrian routes and transforming its concrete pavilion into a green ‘living wall’.

The council’s plans emerged as pension fund Legal & General – which owns a 250-year lease over the pavilion – withdrew its plans to develop it into a new set of restaurants for financial reasons.

The council will now commission landscape architects to draw up designs for its alternative improvements, which will be subject to public consultation over the summer.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: ‘We know that people have strong views about the need for improvements to Piccadilly Gardens. Indeed after begging the Gardens was the issue which was most raised in last year’s city centre review.

‘We are determined to deliver those changes. While the scheme which was previously envisaged has not proved possible in its current form, it is not a case of back to square one.

‘The work which was done on that scheme, and the public consultation which established broad support for the principles behind it, will help shape the revised scheme and give us a sound basis to move forwards.’

Piccadilly Gardens, one of Manchester city centre’s main public squares and transport hubs, have long been a bête noire for residents of the city, prone as they are to regular criticism.

The Gardens are notoriously unpopular among locals due to their reputation as a hotspot for crime and widespread discontent over their appearance since they were configured in the early 2000s.

Under the council’s proposals, the appearance of the pavilion will be ‘improved and softened’ with plans to turn it into a green ‘living wall’ facing the bus and tram stations.

The council has also confirmed that plans to remove the free-standing part of the pavilion’s wall, over which it does have ownership.

Mark Russell, senior fund manager at Legal & General said: ‘We are pleased that Manchester City Council will be bringing forward proposals that build upon our own ambitions for Piccadilly Gardens, and which will enhance the public realm.

‘Legal & General will continue to work in close collaboration with the Council to deliver complementary improvements to the Pavilion, further adding to the existing amenity of the space.’

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