Revamped Piccadilly Gardens application

Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

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Published: 14th December 2016

This Article was Written by: Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

  


Plans for Manchester’s iconic and infamous city centre open space, Piccadilly Gardens, have come under scrutiny following a recent public consultation. Regarding the consultation, Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, said: “the public’s view is a major part of the next stage.”

The public consultation showcased proposals for Legal & General’s (L&G) highly-anticipated multi-million pound redevelopment of Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. It includes plans for two brand-new pavilions covering 22,000 square feet and housing a selection of contemporary, family restaurant units alongside much-needed additional improvements to the public space.

The impressive glass-fronted restaurant units will replace the universally detested Piccadilly Wall and ‘Japanese’ Pavilion and will be characterised by an eco-roof, a terrace bar and central walkway.

Elsewhere, the gardens will receive some long overdue attention with Piccadilly’s smaller wall making way for more grassland, vegetation and flowers; here the intention is for the existing grassed area to be raised and extended.

The children’s playground with it flowerbeds and shrubs will be separated to help protect it, before footpaths are re-laid, more trees are planted and extra lighting is installed.

L&G purchased One Piccadilly Gardens in 2014 at a price of £75m, which included the pavilion and wall plot currently undergoing plans for regeneration.

Piccadilly Gardens has a history of controversy. Long viewed as the thorn in the city’s side, a mecca for drug dealers and criminals, this once-beautiful open space has struggled to regain the glory of days-gone-by.

Plans to replace the controversial concrete Japanese-style pavilion, dubbed the city’s ‘most-hated’ landmark, were met with enthusiasm by many Manchester residents and it was even the focus of a recent online petition led by the Manchester Evening News. The result was a 20,000-signature petition presented to the council requesting that the gardens be redesigned and the wall knocked down.  

Sir Richard Leese, speaking on behalf of the City Council as partners on the project, said: “We know that many people have strong opinions about it and recognise that there is scope for significant improvements.

“We believe the proposed scheme, which takes into account public feedback, provides viable and sustainable change for the better which is compatible with the gardens’ role as a major thoroughfare used by hundreds of thousands of people a week as well as a destination in its own right.”

Bill Hughes, Head of Real Assets Legal & General Investment Management, said: “Under the proposals L&G will dedicate £2m worth of investment in improvements to Piccadilly Gardens to make them more attractive and welcoming to families while deterring anti-social behaviour.

“The proposed pavilion design will bring a new vibrancy and economy to Piccadilly Gardens which we hope residents can be proud of and visitors to Manchester will see as a destination in its own right.”

Results of the public consultation are due in the spring; however, it has been announced that L&G aims to submit its planning application, also in the spring. It will, therefore, be interesting to see how public perception and official plans may differ.

In November’s announcement, L&G also unveiled plans to attract high-quality restaurant chains to the revamped Piccadilly Gardens; chains similar to those operating nearby. Brands including Pizza Express, Barburrito and the recently opened Shoryu Ramen all occupy the adjacent One Piccadilly Building. It is hoped that a luxe-brand occupier for the second floor of the pavilion, for example Living Ventures, may also be secured.

Although Manchester City Council is not investing alongside L&G the council is a recognised project partner and will take responsibility for the ongoing upkeep of the gardens. This will be funded by additional revenues received following the installation of digital advertising screens around the gardens.


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