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Interested in your city – take a walk with us

Confidential and Councillor Pat Karney want readers to join them for a walk around the Gardens to look at plans and progress – 11am Saturday

Published on July 4th 2008.


Interested in your city – take a walk with us

Back in April Councillor Pat Karney from the City Council, Gary Ellis of CityCo, several Confidential staff and lots of readers took a tour around Piccadilly Gardens. We doing it again at 11am tomorrow morning meeting at Caffe Nero – that’s Saturday 5 July.

The purpose of the 11am gathering was to discuss and debate Piccadilly Gardens. It was thought that the way they are configured at present isn’t working. The annual multiple re-seeding of the lawns effectively puts them out of commission for two months out of every twelve, there is a lot of un-policed anti-social behaviour, and the fountain seems to spend as long being repaired as in operation – and when it is operating it does so at the wrong times. As for concrete wall containing Caffe Nero, not one person in the city seems willing to defend it. The result of this mess is that an opportunity to represent the city in the best possible light to residents, tourists and investors has been lost.

Here's a list of the main ideas produced on the mini-tour as we recorded them at the time– together with Council and CityCo initiatives which are already under way or in place.

The concrete wall/pavilion facing the bus station should be dressed with hanging vegetation to soften its ‘Berlin Wall’ effect. At the same time the wall should be evening lit to make it an attractive feature for at least part of the time. The roof is already set to be planted this summer with wild flowers.

Areas around the concrete wall, behind the weekend market stalls and around the Queen Victoria statue are all flash points for anti-social behaviour. The council are already acting on this: four ASBOs against persistent offenders have been issued, and the CCTV camera is now monitored twenty four hours a day. A commitment was made by the Council that in the next few months the area should be free of the worst culprits completely. Everybody wanted to see a much greater and more active police presence in the Gardens - talks with the Police are to be held.

Maintenance of the grass was acknowledged to be a problem. The next inspection is due at the end of April. The hideous fencing should be removed shortly afterwards. The re-turfing is costing £8,000. In terms of the future of the grassed areas Cllr Karney invited ideas (which Confidential is still gathering) The damage to the white Portland stone in the gardens has been caused by the use of a borehole reaching to the water table. This would have been a nice ‘environmentally friendly’ idea if the water hadn’t been so heavy with iron, hence the orange staining around the Gardens. Apparently the iron deposits within the water are now declining. This should enable the cleaning of the monuments and their restoration to pristine white later this year.

The fountain - when working - only operates between 11am-7pm. It's turned off when people come to work, and during the evening when people are out in the city centre. When turned off we're left with an unsightly and huge piece of useless tilted paving. CityCo have promised to look into extending the hours of operation as happens in Continental cities.

To see what progress has been made a and future plans join us at Caffe Nero at 11am this Saturday 5 July. All welcome.

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

MatJuly 4th 2008.

I don't understand how you can say that no one wants to defend the wall. The last time ManCon did a piece on the state of Piccadilly Gardens (on 2/4/2008), the very first rant in response started "I want to defend the wall." I know, because I wrote it...

woodsyJuly 4th 2008.

so if it is a borehole that i staining the stone, how come it is all up thes on the Queen Vic, away from the grass. Funny but we recall seeing some council guys spraying 'something' over all the stones when the area was sat relandscaped. sounds like a load of usual council bollx to me.

Walter GropiusJuly 4th 2008.

Eddy, I agree. It's me and you and then back to Bauhaus for a party. I suggest we arm ourselves Le Corbusier plans for Paris and beat good Modernist sense into the bastards.

richard BrowningJuly 4th 2008.

- i agree with the mural idea. that'd be great. with plants hanging over it at the top!- pave the rest, a few trees here and there. good ****.- NOT let the operators of the wheel in exchange square put one on the gardens -http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24541818355

eddy rheadJuly 4th 2008.

"As for concrete wall containing Caffe Nero, not one person in the city seems willing to defend it." Well - here is one! I'll be glad to defend it. What do you want me to do?

JinkiesJuly 4th 2008.

Nah, don't paint the wall, it should be covered with mosaic tiles by the guy that did the art that used to be on Afflecks before it was sold. A huge mosaic mural would be t'riffic

CrocusJuly 4th 2008.

Well done for trying to get the awful wall seen to, it's a miserable embarassment. Has it been a case of the emperor's new clothes (was it a world famous architect who 'designed' it?) Hanging vegetation could be nice but possible have high maintenance costs? Can't the wall just be painted with pretty flowers? Or mosaic'ed! Artists and community groups could be given a 1 metre space each to be pictorially creative about Manchester (a la Manchester Cow Parade).

Brigid BensonJuly 4th 2008.

I am glad the Council are now listening to constructive criticism on how to improve Picadilly "Gardens". It does not inspire confidence that they approved the current design, with the ghastly concrete wall and spend millions of public money only a few yrs ago, now wasted. To create a vandal-proof area, which seems the intention,was always going to be tasteless and not solve the social problems. Regretfully, more regular policing seems to be part of solution to preserving this public space. Let's hope the council will spend money on amenity & leisure facilities outside the centre and not spend such large sums on prestige projects and symbols eg the McDonald style arch to nowhere in Hulme/Mosside.

SteJuly 4th 2008.

Don't use Mosaics! The space is too central (and big) and would stick out like a sore thumb. That kind of street art should be encouraged in the NQ where it fits in but this is the central thoroughfare in a city that is trying to be world class. I would like to knock it down (along with the horrid 'orange box' that is No1 Piccadilly) and replace with some real world class architecture as found in Barcelona or Munich. But as this is not an option, hanging vegitation if done correctly could at least soften the stalinist appearance and would help build up the feeling of green that the 'Gardens' tag suggests. The lawns unfortunately have to be replaced. Piccadilly is far too busy to be a true gardens. They should be replaced by high quality, durable stone with (raised from ground level) lawn/shrub/flower features that help retain a sense of a green space. Look around Europe - there are lots of comparable examples of durable squares in similar sized cities where a combination high quality stone and natural features provide an easily maintained yet colourful/enjoyable space.

eddy rheadJuly 4th 2008.

A beating is too good for em Walter! By the way - i hope you are referring to THE Bauhaus and not that rubbish new building next to Granada. You must have spun in your grave when they named that building!

AnonJuly 4th 2008.

Bad decisions have been made this year....first they spent money reseeding the lawns which meant the gates were up for about 2 months, then they allowed the Rangers debacle which totally ruined the lawns, infact they are still in a right mess!I think Piccadilly Gardens is awful anyway and would welcome drastic changes... Gardens would be nice....

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