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Open Space in Central Manchester

7203 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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This was is in the Citylife magazine today. Citylife is going to stop being printed next week on 7/12/05 because lack of sales. Anyway

Look around you. Construction of identi-kit apartments in the city shows no sign of overheating and the prices are falling. So who exactly are they building for, ask Phil Hamer.

No one seems to better express the pros and cons of living at the moment in the city centre Manchester than hotel workers Joao and Naomi. They both bought apartments a year ago in the Northern Quarter. For Joao, who is Portugesse, has had all his expectations fulfilled:
"For a while, i lived in Ardwick and i was burgled a lot so i didn't feel safe. I do now and i'm also within easy walking distance of my work. I also believe that the area where i live around Oldham Street is on the way up and it helps the city if people make thier homes in it. This apartment living is happening all over Europe and i've visited friends in Porto and Barcelona who have flats as i do. At my age," Joao is 23, "living like this suits me perfectly."
Naomi admits that she wished she'd been more careful shelling out her £125,000: "i did't realise how stifling it was going to be inside my flat in the summer we've just had. Friends envy me because i'm so close to clubs and bars and they say how convenient it is for my work, but in a way it's too easy because I opt to work longer or more shifts. I feel like a guinea pig and may flat's my treadmill. I get off it and go to work. I want to seel it now. One of my friends bought a decodent terraced house near Bury for the same amount I paid for for my place and she's really happy. She can relax in her garden on a nice day. Manchester has too few convenient green spaces."
She is also convinced that 40 is probably the cut-off age for city living. She says that she doesn't see families wanting these flats because at the moment there are hardly any doctors surgeries and schools and creches in the city centre.
Manchester is currently infatuated with apartment construction. The population of the city centre is set to expand from the current 15,000 to 45,000 in the next 10 years and the relevant local authorities in Manchester, Trafford and Salford are proud of this proposed expansion. it's when you realise that the city centre lacks a mature, well-established social infrastructure that misgivings arise. One experienced property developer said he feared a national economic downturn in a few years time could usher in a public spending slashing Tory government that would plunge city centre expansion of any type into chaos.
"For many, city centre apartments offer a major share in a lifestyle dream," says 70s folk singing icon, writer and actor, Mike Harding, who currently hosts a successful Radio 2 folk music programme. "I bought into that vision myself, if you like, 11 years ago when I was impressed by the way bookmaker Jim Ramsbottom developed the old warehouses near Dukes Quay much along the lines of the brilliant saltaire development near Bradford.
Harding bought a flat in the attractive and well planned Catle Quays complex.
"I wouldn't choose to by now", he says as he fires himself up to totally condemn the city counsil's fostering of apartment building. "Money dominates and every patch of green is developed. Flats mean revenue from people.
Never mind that there are no schools or health facilities -that's the council's attitude. We have the least amount of green spaces than any European city. Did you know that a third of Berlin is parks? I've found this out because I travel to many of these other cities.
I'm afraid this is all i can fit on the thread sorry!!!
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