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Open Space in Central Manchester

7178 Views 82 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  SleepyOne
A common complaint is the lack of high quality open space, particularly green open space in Manchester City Centre. Whilst the city does boast many well designed spaces there appears to be a general feeling that there is not nearly enough - especially given the dense and intensive way the city is developing.

The problem is exacerbated by the characteristically narrower streets in Manchester and the tightly packed central core. Added to this the extremely poor design solution afforded to Piccadilly Gardens and planning blunders such as the Arndale Centre extension which has grossly extended a much loathed shopping centre rather than persuing a streets-and-squares strategy.

Here is the council's response to the problem, prompted by a question posed by a member of the public on their website.......

I think we all agree that open space in a city is very important. The problem is that the tight grain of the City's historic street and development pattern coupled with high land values makes it impossible for the City Council to create new areas of open space in isolation.

However, particularly through our regeneration initiatives, we take every opportunity to add to open space provision in the City Centre and this has made a huge contribution to Manchester's renaissance.. The works in the City Centre Renewal Area, particularly Exchange Square and Cathedral Gardens, the Piccadilly Regeneration Initiative, Spinningfields, Great Northern and Castlefield have added considerably to open space provision in the City Centre. We will aim to ensure that future regeneration strategies at Southern Gateway and within the 'Arc of Opportunity' as part of Manchester: Knowledge Capital, make similar contributions.

In addition to this we have upgraded existing schemes and, through pedestrianisation, created areas such as St.Ann's Square, Albert Square, the Peace Gardens, Market St, King St, and Brazennose St. We also have a programme to upgrade existing green areas of the City Centre at Parsonage Gardens, Sackville Park and St. Johns Gardens. We take every opportunity to plant new street trees in the City Centre and attempt to accommodate them in new developments and to create walkways along our rivers and canals.

There are a number of large parks which are within easy walking/ travelling distance of the City Centre such as Hulme Park, Phillips Park, Alexandra Park, and Heaton Park, all of which provide quality resources for City Centre residents.

I think that the way we use the available space in our city is very important. We are attempting to reduce the amount of vehicles in the City Centre by encouraging modal shift to other forms of transport such as buses, walking, cycling and of course, Metrolink. If we are successful in these initiatives we should have a win/win outcome - a thriving, vibrant city but with more of our street space available for use as social space.

27 January 2005

What are people's ideas and aspirations in relation to this problem? Personally I would have liked the council, for once to take an intelligent, long term and strategic view and create a large edge-of-city-centre park like they have at Eastside in Birmingham. Unfortunately with projects like Eastgate set to send land values in Picc Basin skyrocketing and the failure of the council to undertake any kind of long term planning for the area, this opportunity may have passed us by forever. It would also be nice if they took more care with planning decisions which has meant our largest and most important piece of open space - Piccadilly Gardens is aflicted by the worst design solution in the city. Ill conceived and poorly excecuted. Clearly there is plenty of hard, careful work to be done.

So! Thoughts, ideas, opportunities please! We all want an uplifting, liveable city to be proud of. Urban design considerations and particularly the issue of quality open spaces urgently needs to be addressed if Manchester is to continue to attract people and prosper.
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SleepyOne said:
I couldn't agree more. This is an extension of previous points made about the complete obsolecense of those tiny roads you see where you have 1m of useless and poorly surfaced raised pavement area, double yellow lines either side and little more than a car's width of roadway.

Why not extend the shared roadway / pavement homezone concept...? Why do we put up with those awful tarmaced pavements? Why not follow the continental model of paving which utilitses attractive quasi-ceramic or coloured concrete tiles which have the advantage of being easily pulled up and repositioned for the inevitable sub-surface utility works and are which are one hell of a lot more attractive solution than relaid tarmac.

Small details such as these make such big difference and in turn make the city a more liveable place.
Definitely, I think this is one of the areas that Manchester City Council need to improve dramatically. It's all well and good allowing numerous high rise projects but it's important to look after the city at street level as well, as I think this is where Manchester is at its best. The council needs to be far more imaginative when it comes to paving. We want to be a world class city, we want to attract tourists from across the globe, and not just visitors to Old Trafford. This is all part of it. Like you say, the use of coloured tiles would be far more practical as well as more presentable. The amount of patching up of roads and pavements around the centre is a disgrace. As was mentioned previously, Mosley Street is a prime example- the road surface is shocking, and they haven't even bothered to re-paint the white and yellow lines which are fading and give a appearance of decay and neglect. If they're going to continue using so much tarmac, they should regularly resurface rather than constantly patching up.
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