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City Centre Playground Confirmed

Work begins on Manchester Garden City scheme at Victoria Street

Published on February 8th 2013.

City Centre Playground Confirmed

FOR at least seven years Confidential has been pushing and campaigning for a city centre playground. We've written about it over and over again. So it's gratifying that at last Victoria Street will acquire such a gentle and harmless civilising element.

New artificial grassed areas, seating and chalets to cater for community events and children’s activities will all create a pleasant place for people to take time out from the bustle of the city centre.

Work will start next week on the sixth Manchester Garden City scheme at Victoria Street, next to Manchester Cathedral. The design includes the city centre’s first children’s play area, complete with a sandpit and various wooden play apparatus including balancing beams, ropes and stepping posts.

The site also incorporates a temporary Cathedral building, which will be in place for 18 months. The 22m long wooden structure will host services and events whilst the floor of the main Cathedral is re-laid for a new heating system.

There’ll also be plenty of new trees, ornamental flowers, shrub beds and allotment-style ‘Grow Boxes’ for local residents and businesses to plant their own herbs and vegetables.

Victoria Street Proposed Layout - EditVictoria Street Proposed Layout

New artificial grassed areas, seating and chalets to cater for community events and children’s activities will all create a pleasant place for people to take time out from the bustle of the city centre. The scheme will also see the introduction of a new cycle lane, connecting Victoria Street to Greengate.

Located just at the end of Deansgate, in the area that was closed to traffic in March, many of the materials are recycled from Chris Beardshaw’s Groundwork Garden at RHS Hampton Court show as well as wooden decking and chalets from last summer’s Canal Festival in Piccadilly Basin, and picnic benches donated by KRObar.

This Manchester Garden City scheme, led by city centre management company CityCo, design agency BDP and Groundwork, is jointly funded by CityCo, Manchester City Council and Manchester Cathedral.

BDP’s Manchester Studio was responsible for the initial design concepts. Commenting, landscape architect Darrell Wilson, said: “We are excited to see the plans for the Scheme finally realised, turning what was a large sterile tarmac road, closed to traffic, into a fantastic community resource. Moreover, we wanted to create something different in the city centre that would be both exciting and fun for people, but also something that would be environmentally beneficial for the area.

Playground for Manchester city centrePlayground for Manchester city centre

“As the sixth Manchester Garden City scheme, I think this project achieves all of these things and very much look forward to seeing local people in Manchester put it to good use.”

Victoria Street is the sixth Manchester Garden City scheme - a project that aims to make the city greener. Others include canal-side planting in Piccadilly Basin, Grow Boxes on Dale Street car park, the orchard in St John’s Gardens, a Northern Quarter pocket park on Thomas Street and the revamped Albert Bridge Gardens.

A community event is being planned by CityCo with local gardening groups and businesses to tend to all the sites, and plant new flowers and shrubs for spring and summer. Anyone wanting to volunteer to help can email gardencity@cityco.com

For more information visit www.cityco.com

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28 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Manc GuyFebruary 8th 2013.

Great!...the scrotes and freaks that frequent Piccadilly Gardens now have another destination in their busy schedules.

Karen GalstonFebruary 8th 2013.

Good idea, BUT we want REAL grass and fruit trees now that our parks are being vandalised by our very own council? oafs running the show, they have totally decimated the PEACE garden where will the blackbirds and other declining birds under threat nest and forage now?? Do they care about nature and biodiversity? No. Kids need to learn about these things.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
SoapysudsFebruary 8th 2013.

You are right Karen Galston, what is the point of artificial grass! The thing with scheme as well as the artificial grass, is it is out of keeping with the site. Why not get rid of that stupid artificial river of Exchange Triangle and put the playground there?

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2013.

It costs money to cut real grass!!!

Ghostly TomFebruary 12th 2013.

I am just old enough to remember Alexandra Park as it was before the rot set in. The terrace with all the flower beds full of colour was a great feature. The park has been neglected for years. If the restoration of the terrace requires the loss of a few trees then so be it. Alexandra Park isn't a wild area, it's a city park, a very large garden. Any gardener realises that to keep a garden in good heart, judicious pruning is required.

DavidFebruary 8th 2013.

Why be pessimistic about people's behaviour.The idea if you provide nice things in Manchester that some people will spoil it and so not worth bothering,is very negative.Up to us to stand up for city and enforce good behaviour.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Manc GuyFebruary 8th 2013.

Commendable DAVID, but not realistic. Better parenting is the key to a happy peaceful future. The scrotes however, think they're invincible.

Loo DealerFebruary 8th 2013.

I'm sorry to add to the negativity on this one but this does seem like a flawed public realm proposal to me. There is continual anti-social behaviour in and around the cathedral including the tagging of the cathedral last year demonstrating that there is an issue the policing of this area which I think will be yet further exacerbated by a proposal of this nature. I'd be interested to see if this proposal attained a 'secure by design' approval. The point of public realm surely is to improve the landscape setting around the building it is located. For this reason is a playground really an appropriate setting for a grade 1 listed cathedral? I live right next to this and in its current state with the road closure pedestrians crossing between the MEN or Salford are not assisted in crossing. For these reasons I'm sorry to say that in this location and in this form I don't think it is an appropriate piece of public realm and I think there will be issues once completed. That said a playground is not a bad suggestion just not here.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2013.

I suggest that a bicycle lane be incorporated into the design.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2013.

Agree with you Loo Dealer. But the CityCo folk live in a fantasy Manchester - they clearly never actually use the public realm in the city centre, otherwise the issue of antisocial behaviour around the Cathedral and the Football Museum and beyond would have been addressed long ago. No other major UK city would allow what should be nice family friendly public spaces to be systematically trashed in the way they are in Manchester - grafitti, tagging, litter, beggars, drunks, marauding gangs of skateboarders etc. Trouble is David that no-one seems prepared to "enforce good behaviour", so this perfectly decent new play area is probably doomed to be neglected and taken over by the skanky mob once it is completed. We can only hope it doesn't go the way of Albert Bridge Gardens, now a nice "green" riverside space designed for the exclusive use of rabid druggies and aggressive drunks.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lil DegFebruary 11th 2013.

The skateboarders are drawn to the area because the Urbis design was ]]][@takenstraight from Tony Hawk's pro skater.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2013.

Clearly no-one from CityCo has tried getting a bus in that part of time at rushhour since there braindead idea to close deansgate.

Or was it #cllrkev?

Louise MarslandFebruary 8th 2013.

As a registered childminder and mother of 3 I welcome a city centre playground as a place for wee ones to burn off energy before visiting one of the many attractions Manchester had to offer. Artificial grass is a stroke of genius as it remains clean and can be played in even when it is raining ... Something that does occasionally happen even during our enchanting northwestern summers!!! Look at the new park at Bruntwood in Stockport ... Weeks after being laid the new turf was a well trodden quagmire!!! Well done Manchester !!!!

February 9th 2013.

There is a reason w

CobbydalerFebruary 9th 2013.

I seem to remember when Leese was justifying the closure of Victoria Street, he said it would create an open area where people could flow from the so called Medieval Quarter to the new Greengate square. This has scuppered that then, it was only ever an excuse to get cars out of the city centre.

Tim EvansFebruary 9th 2013.

No-one can say that area of the Cathedral adjacent to that part of Deansgate was pleasant while traffic used it. It was an ugly, traffic filled, tarmac and concrete dominated mess, hardly a decent setting for a building as beautiful as the Cathedral. The new scheme will make that area more pleasant for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the Cathedral and Football Museum each year (especially those with children, whose needs are pretty well ignored in most of the city). As for the garden being used by skateboarders, one look at the design should tell you not even a skateboarding genius could skateboard on it.

StephFebruary 9th 2013.

Why not incorporate a skate park like the one that's under the Mancunian Way? This would provide something for the older kids to do and would hopefully keep skaters from causing a nuisance in other parts of town.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 13th 2013.

They would not use it, even if you gave them a purpose built skate space like the one on London's South Bank. The maniacs who menace various parts of the city centre and central residential/leisure areas like Castlefield and Spinningfields stick two fingers up at anyone suggesting they use the Manc Way skate park, or any skate park for that matter. The council/police do absolutely nothing to enforce the bye laws round the Urbis and the Cathedral and other city centre public spaces so the new children's park, though very welcome, is very likely to get trashed.

AnonymousFebruary 9th 2013.

Just to say that City Co is Agency funded jointly by MCC commercial enterprises and MCC. I always look gift horses in the mouth before they become burgers

the Whalley RangerFebruary 9th 2013.

Oh Em Gee! BDP's initial sketch design of Clutter Park is surely recognised as just that - a clutter heaven.

Too many zones, too small, what are those random rows of hedges doing, timber decking right below the frontage of the Cathedral! Seriously? Have you ever done a park, chaps?

Look At Zuccotti, or to Barcelona in general - that's how it's done...

Hope this helps.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 9th 2013.

That's the problem nobody is looking elsewhere anymore.

Chris HawkeFebruary 9th 2013.

Such negativity. Almost as though people preferred a road.
Looks to me like it will be quite a bit nicer without great expenditure. I approve

Steve RomanFebruary 10th 2013.

I agree, Chris. The negativity of some responses is as bad as the behaviour complained about.
Manchester has to cater for all its residents, the majority of whom are not wealthy, and balance that with being the centre of a city region, with a great proportion of the use of its institutions and cultural facilities being from people who live outside the city boundaries. The city has to cater for the varied aspirations and aesthetic awareness of often conflicting groups.
As to the specifics, greater use of a public space provides greater security. Artificial grass can withstand greater use.

It seems to be a plan to encourage people to use this area in anticipation of the (regrettable) demolition of the Palatine Building and the opening up of the medieval remains of Manchester.
I look forward to seeing this area flourish.

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 11th 2013.

I think those who decry the negativity on here are failing to understand that the complaining people are probably negative about every initiative. I believe in showing people how pleasant the city around them can be. We should look to aggressively design spaces and areas as best we can with as much investment as possible in 2013. We should design for the majority of the population not let the tiny minority of vandals and bad boys dictate that every element of design comes from worrying about them first and the well-being of the majority second. If the bad uns vandalise something, then we fix it, and keep on fixing it. Giving up should not be a policy. This playground is clearly a good thing.

Another TimFebruary 11th 2013.

I'm all in favour of a playground, but having been assured by TfGM that cycle access through this section of Victoria Scheme would be picked up as "as part of the more permanent scheme" I'm having trouble finding the cycle path on that plan, and I have emailed TfGM to ask what's going on.

I notice a cycle lane is mentioned in the text, but I'm unclear about exactly where it goes, and I don't think it will help provide the much needed convenient access to the city centre from the north.

A playground is a nice luxury item and I agree with Mr Schofield that it's a good thing. But safe convenient cycle access to, and around the city centre is an absolute necessity.

In case anyone's interested in seeing the plan on a google map:

Kevin PeelFebruary 11th 2013.

Have been campaigning for this for a long time and delighted to seeit come to fruition. Stay tuned for more children's play areas elsewhere in the city centre...

DrakeFebruary 12th 2013.

Assuming that the nutters who used to infest the MEN are now over here. Very sad.

ClactonFebruary 12th 2013.

Drake you might be right. A facility like this is clearly superb for the city centre. How can it even be controversial.

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