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THE FULL REPORT: Library Walk - The Council Wins And Here's The Report

Jonathan Schofield and how against all logic the Library Walk blob stays

Written by . Published on March 6th 2015.


THE FULL REPORT: Library Walk - The Council Wins And Here's The Report
 

THE dreaded brown government envelope. Never good news is it? 

Certainly not on Friday 6 March, 2015. Not for the Save Library Walk campaigners who consider one of the most beautiful, elegant spaces in urban North England to now be ruined. 

Over 1,300 people signed a petition and 127 letters of objection were submitted to the Inquiry. 

Mark Yates, the inspector for the autumn 2014 public enquiry into the £3.5m stopping up of Library Walk has come down on the Council's side. Thus, the glass blob (aka Leese's Folly) between Central Library and the Town Hall extension sneaked in by Manchester City Council after the initial consultations into the improvements around St Peter's Square looks set to stay.

In his conclusion to a fifteen page judgement he says:

'I have outlined there are some disadvantages arising out of the stopping up of Library Walk for the public. However (it is clear) that any significant disadvantages have to be sufficiently serious for the (Stopping Up) Order to not be confirmed. There must also be good reason to not confirm the Order. Having regard to these matters detailed above and my conclusions regarding Library Walk and the alternative routes I am not satisfied that it has been shown that any disadvantages to the public arising out of the proposed stopping up are sufficent to outweigh the benefits of the Order. I conclude the Order should be confirmed.'

Library Walk plansArtist's impression of Library Walk

The bubble goes upThe unnecessary glass blob gate goes up

Arguments against the stopping up in practical terms of access, on aesthetic terms, on the objectors dismissal of the ridiculous notion that Library Walk was a dangerous space in terms of crime, on the plain and simple argument that the need for a link building was against logic were all batted away.

For example, the Inspector concluded when it came to 'loss of enjoyment': 'People will still be able to access and look at the remainder of Library Walk during permitted hours.'

The last shows the limited awareness by the Inspector of how the objectors felt. If you chop up a lion in a zoo you could maybe view the component parts but you'd much rather see the whole wonderful beast. 

What is clear is that the objectors to the stopping up order won't be stopped up themselves. "We'll read the report and work out how to take forward an appeal," says a spokesman.

It should be remembered as Emma Curtin wrote on Confidential (click here): 'The glass lobby was not included in the original St Peter’s Square Consultation. So the first real opportunity to object was to the Planning Application. Over 1,300 people signed a petition and 127 letters of objection were submitted to the Inquiry. The proposal was approved in a Planning Committee meeting packed with objectors. Demonstrating the strength of feeling, the Inquiry has heard, that none of the other applications related to St Peter’s Square, including the contentious moving of the Cenotaph, had more than two written objections'.

Confidential has heard on countless occasions the Council Leader and other representatives of the city applauding engagement in public life from their citizens outside the Albert Square bubble. It seems the message is, we love your involvement but only if you agree with us.

Mark Yates repeats throughout his report phrases such as 'not material to my decision'. The limited nature of his powers, the tightness of the parameters in which he had to work, the legalise placing of distance between the un-schooled objectors and the legal professionals is disillusioning. There must be a case for more clarity in these procedings. This seems like a case of due process killing democracy in a shower of clauses, subclauses and windy laboured lawyering from an irascible QC. 

It seems the council has been given a pat on the back for concealing plans - as they did here from public consultation. It seems a policy of riding roughshod over any sort accountability when a protest results from that concealment is being encouraged.

In the scheme of things the outcry over Library Walk, the number of objectors and their passion, is small beer in the context of the bigger social problems facing the city and region but the arrogant and dismissive manner in which it has been batted away by the Town Hall is worrying. 

Confidential has heard on countless occasions the Council Leader and other representatives of the city applauding engagement in public life from their citizens outside the Albert Square bubble. It seems the message is, we love your involvement but only if you agree with us. 

Confidential is against Library Walk and hopes the appeal goes ahead and will support it.

Manchester Confidential was the first of the Manchester media to report on Library Walk in June 2012 - click here.  

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+ 

THE FULL REPORT 

Order Decision

Inquiry opened on 21 October 2014 

by Mark Yates BA(Hons) MIPROW 

an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Decision date:

 

Order Ref: FPS/B4215/5/9                              

  • This Order is made under Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) and is known as the City of Manchester (Library Walk Footpath, Manchester City Centre) (Public Path Stopping Up) (No.2) Order 2014. 
  • The Order was made by the Council of the City of Manchester (“the Council”) on 8 May 2014 and proposes to stop up a footpath, as detailed in the Order Map and Schedule. 
  • There were 123 objections outstanding at the commencement of the inquiry.
 
 

Summary of Decision:  The Order is confirmed.

 

 

Procedural Matters

  1. I opened a public inquiry into the Order on 21 October 2014 at the Council Chamber in the Manchester Town Hall Extension.  The inquiry continued in this venue and the Coroner’s Court within Manchester Town Hall on 22-23 October and 6-7 and 24-25 November 2014.  I made a visit to the locality of the site prior to the inquiry and observed Lloyd Street on the evening of 22 October 2014.  I undertook a visit to the site and the surrounding area accompanied by the interested parties on 25 November 2014. 
  2. The above Order serves as a replacement for an earlier Order[1] to stop up Library Walk.  The need for a second Order arises out of modifications to conditions attached to the planning permission[2] (see paragraph 10 below).  It is the second Order that the Council wishes to be confirmed.  This means that there is no merit in considering the original Order and it should not be confirmed.
  3. A list of the parties who spoke at the inquiry is attached to this decision.  Some objectors attended particular sessions and others were present during the whole or the majority of the inquiry.  When referring to the “objectors” I do so in relation to issues of concern common to a number of objectors. 

Main Issues

The statutory test

  1. If I am to confirm the Order, I must be satisfied that it is necessary to stop up the footpath to enable development to be carried out in accordance with the planning permission granted.  In considering this test, consideration needs to be given to whether the relevant works in relation to the development are substantially complete. 

Other material considerations

  1. The merits of the planning permission granted for the development is not an issue before me.  However, the case of K. Vasiliou v Secretary of State for Transport and Ladbroke City and County Land Company Limited [1990] (“Vasiliou”) makes it clear that the impact of a stopping up on particular parties is a material consideration.  This is reflected in paragraph 7.15 of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Circular 1/09 (“the Circular”), which advises in respect of Orders made under Section 257 of the 1990 Act:  

That planning permission has been granted does not mean that the public right of way will therefore automatically be diverted or stopped up. Having granted planning permission for a development affecting a right of way however, an authority must have good reasons to justify a decision either not to make or not to confirm an order. The disadvantages or loss likely to arise as a result of the stopping up or diversion of the way to members of the public generally or to persons whose properties adjoin or are near the existing highway should be weighed against the advantages of the proposed order”.

Background Matters

  1. The Order proposes to stop up the entire length of Library Walk.  Although it is not currently recorded as a highway, the Council, which is both the landowner and highway authority, accepts that it has been dedicated as a public footpath.  This path proceeds between Mount Street and St Peter’s Square and passes the central library and town hall extension.
  2. The Council confirms that all of the statutory requirements in relation to the making of the Order have been undertaken.  Whether a greater amount of consultation than is required ought to have been undertaken is not something that is necessary for me to explore further.  Nor is it my role to consider the consultation process undertaken in relation to the planning application.    
  3. Whilst matters in relation to the Council’s decision-making process may be of interest to the other parties, I need to have regard to the main issues outlined in paragraphs 4-5 above when assessing the merits of the proposed stopping up.  The Council is the local planning authority with the power to make such an Order.  It is not my role to consider how the Council reached its decision to make the Order and alternative means are available should a person believe that a local authority has not properly made a decision in accordance with its scheme of delegation.     
  4. Library Walk has been closed to the public for a period of time[3] firstly in light of works to the adjacent buildings and latterly due to the construction of the glazed link building.  However, the justification for the temporary closures is not material to my decision.    

Reasons

Whether it is necessary to stop up the footpath to enable development to be carried out

10.  A new permission was issued on 19 March 2014 which had the effect of varying the original planning permission granted on 18 December 2012.  Planning permission has been granted for: “Erection of a glazed link between Central Library and the Town Hall Extension, including the alteration and extension of existing window openings to finished floor level to create 2 no. entrances and installation of associated lighting; erection of gates to the Mount Street end of Library Walk; raising of the level of Library Walk to enable level access into both buildings and replacement of pavement light quadrant with a paving solution and associated works”.  

11.  The planning permission granted is part of an overall scheme in relation to the refurbishment and improvement of the central library and town Hall extension.  A number of the issues raised by the parties both in support and opposition to the development do not address whether it is necessary to stop up the right of way.  It is not my role to reach a view regarding the viability of the development or address issues that should have been considered in relation to the planning application.  I need to start from the position that the permission granted is in planning terms in the public interest.  The issue to be determined is whether it is necessary to stop up the footpath to enable the development to be carried out in accordance with the planning permission. 

12.  The link building would be sited over a proportion of Library Walk and in that respect it is clearly necessary to stop up a section of the way to enable development to be carried out.  However, an issue arises in relation to the stated intention that public access will be permitted between 06:00 and 22:00 hours throughout the year.  This permitted access requirement is set out in condition 7 of the relevant planning permission.  At other times, the doors into the link building and gates at the Mount Street end will be locked.

13.  Whilst the provision of permissive access for pedestrians over a footpath proposed to be stopped up may be unusual, the condition in the planning permission requiring Library Walk to be closed during particular hours is inconsistent with the existence of a public right of way.  In respect of my question regarding whether a more limited stopping up could be considered with a footpath retained through the development, Mr Sauvain, on behalf of the Council, pointed to the restriction of the planning condition which I have no power to vary.  In terms of the objectors, they generally want the structure to be removed and there was little support for an alternative proposal.

14.  The risk of crime was clearly a consideration that influenced the Council’s proposed night-time closure of Library Walk.  Although the objectors question whether this is necessary, again it is not a matter before me.  I only have to have regard to the condition imposed by the planning permission when considering whether it is necessary to stop up the way.  However, I do need to address the issue of crime when assessing the disadvantages of the Order to members of the public.

15.  I accept that the stopping up is necessary to enable the permitted development to be undertaken.  This arises out of the physical obstruction resulting from the building and its associated doors and the gates at the Mount Street end.  The closure of the way during the specified hours being governed by the condition attached to the planning permission.  I now turn to the extent to which the development is substantially complete.           

16.  In considering this issue I must have regard to the case of Ashby and Another v Secretary of State for the Environment and Another [1980] (“Ashby”). In doing so I note Ms Moore’s comment regarding the error in the quotation from Ashby set down in paragraph 5.2 of the Council’s statement of case.  Further guidance is found in paragraph 7.21 of the Circular, which states:

Where the development, in so far as it affects a right of way, is completed before the necessary order to divert or extinguish the right of way has been made or confirmed, the powers under sections 257 and 259 of the 1990 Act to make and confirm orders that [sic] are no longer available since the development, which the order is intended to enable, has already been carried out. If such a development has already been completed there is no basis for an order to be made. It is, of course, open to the local authority to consider what action, if any, it might take to secure the diversion or extinguishment of the right of way by the exercise of such other powers as may be available. In this respect development should be regarded as completed if the work remaining to be carried out is minimal”. 

17.  During the accompanied site visit, I noted that the construction of the link building is at an advanced stage.  The structure is in place and there are only some ancillary works still to be completed, including the entrances to the two adjacent buildings. There are temporary doors in place and the proposed automatic doors into the link building are still to be installed.  Works in relation to the gates at the Mount Street end have not yet commenced.  One of the witnesses called by the Council, Mr Carty, confirmed at the inquiry that there will be no material change to the situation observed on the site visit before my decision is issued. 

18.  Some of the objectors have drawn attention to paragraph 7.11 of the Circular which states: “The grant of planning permission does not entitle developers to obstruct a public right of way. It cannot be assumed that because planning permission has been granted that an order under section 247 or 257 of the 1990 Act, for the diversion or extinguishment of the right of way, will invariably be made or confirmed. Development, in so far as it affects a right of way, should not be started and the right of way should be kept open for public use, unless or until the necessary order has come into effect”.  

19.  I concur with the objectors that the commencement of the development and continuation of works to an advanced stage is contrary to the guidance set out above.  Nonetheless, the fact that works have commenced on the development must not influence my decision.  Clearly there is a risk in such circumstances that the Order will not be confirmed.  If this is the case, the Council will need to determine what action should be taken. 

20.  In terms of the development as a whole, I would agree with the objectors that it is substantially complete.  However, paragraph 7.21 of the Circular specifically refers to the development in so far as it affects a right of way.  Further, it is apparent from reading Ashby that an Order could be confirmed where a development was still being carried out which required the stopping up of a footpath. 

21.  I recognise that the link building now physically obstructs a proportion of Library Walk.  However, works are still to be undertaken in relation to the installation of the permanent doors and erection of the gates at Mount Street in accordance with the planning permission.  The doors and gates when installed and locked in accordance with condition 7 will have the effect of preventing public access during the specified hours.  Having regard to the Ashby judgment and the Circular, I do not find that the development is substantially complete in the context of the highway. 

22.  For these reasons I conclude that it is necessary to stop up Library Walk to enable development to be carried out, in accordance with the planning permission granted, which is not substantially complete in so far as it affects the right of way.

The extent to which the stopping up would disadvantage members of the public generally or persons whose properties adjoin or are near to the footpath affected by the Order

23.  The Council’s stated intention is for Library Walk to be open for the public to use between 06:00 and 22:00 hours throughout the year.  This is supported by condition 7 of the planning permission and was endorsed by Mr Carty at the inquiry.  Further, one purpose of the link building is to provide the public with a means of access to the library and town hall extension.  This suggests that it is unlikely that Library Walk would be closed in its entirety. 

24.  Nonetheless, as highlighted by the objectors, once extinguished the public rights would be lost.  If the Order is confirmed, the right of the public to use Library Walk would be on a permissive basis and the condition could be varied in the future, for instance by extending the period during which the path is closed.  I proceed on the basis that, if stopped up, Library Walk would remain open for the public to use during permitted hours but consider that limited weight should be given to this arrangement in the circumstances.

25.  Ms Harris, on behalf of the Manchester Disabled People’s Access Group (“MDPAG”), raises concerns about the design of the link building in the context of use by people with certain disabilities.  Nonetheless, the Order proposes to stop up Library Walk and it appears to me that issues relating to the inclusivity of the link building for the public are planning considerations.  As outlined above, only limited weight should be given to the retention of permissive access.  In considering any disadvantages to the public I need to have regard to the main alternative routes, which were put forward as being via Lloyd Street and Peter Street.  

26.  In respect of Lloyd Street, a kerbed footway is located adjacent to the town hall side which has served as a pedestrian highway.  The remainder of Lloyd Street was stopped up in 1989 and comprises of a single surface available to the public on a permissive basis and includes seven parking bays used by designated disabled members of staff and a councillor.  Bollards have been put in place to separate a section adjacent to the town hall extension from the middle section.  The latter is subject to controlled vehicular use for the purpose of deliveries and access.   However, during the course of the inquiry, the position changed regarding the status of Lloyd Street in that the Council approved on 7 November 2014 the dedication of a pedestrian highway over the sections stopped up in 1989.  This dedication is subject to controlled rights of access for vehicles.

27.  Ms Harris states that MDPAG do not consider Lloyd Street to be a safe and accessible route for disabled people.  She says that this issue is being pursued with the Council by other means.  In addition, given that the whole of Lloyd Street is now a pedestrian highway, there is clearly an opportunity for the Council to consider particular concerns raised by Ms Harris and other objectors at the inquiry.  Mr Carty acknowledges that certain matters could be considered.  Nonetheless, I still need to have regard to the concerns raised when reaching my decision.

28.  In my view, it is appropriate to consider the stopping up in the context of Library Walk being a highway for people to pass and re-pass rather than any use as public open space.  Reference has been made to certain activities such as protests being compromised by the stopping up.  However, the Order would not stop these activities from taking place in the general locality.  Nor indeed did the Council say that they would be prevented from taking place.  Further, another Council witness, Mr Swann, could not see any reason why use by dog walkers or tour guides would be restricted during the times that Library Walk is open.  Whilst I agree with Ms Moore that there would be an impact on people wishing to smoke within Library Walk, this is only likely to relate to the link building. 

29.  Mr Lee[4] and Ms Gaffney[5] have provided details of a pedestrian route between St Peter’s Square and Victoria Station which incorporates Library Walk.  It is apparent that this route was devised for the inquiry.  Overall, I do not consider that this potential pedestrian route adds anything further to the issues raised by the parties regarding the convenience and enjoyment associated with Library Walk. 

Distance     

30.  The information provided by the Council indicates that the distance between points A-B, as shown on the Order Map in connection with Library Walk, is 80.4 metres.  In comparison, the distances to start and finish at the same points via the alternative routes are 258 metres for Lloyd Street (A-C-D-B) and 172 metres for Peter Street (A-E-F-B).  However, clearly such figures do not take into account where people are travelling to or from.  This issue will determine the extent to which people may, or may not, be inconvenienced by the proposed stopping up of Library Walk.  No user survey has been undertaken in relation to use of Library Walk.  Such a survey may have provided some useful information but Mr Swann points to the impracticality of this being undertaken in light of the long-term temporary closure of Library Walk.   

31.  Mr Swann has provided measurements between certain establishments located to the west and the existing and proposed tram stops in St Peter’s Square via Library Walk and the alternative routes.  These figures reveal variations in the distance to be walked between the different venues but again they provide only a limited amount of information given the vast number of locations within the city centre.  Most of the measurements indicate that there would presently be an increase in the distance to be walked.  Although the details provided at the inquiry point to some of the distances being less than originally stated.    

32.  The works to relocate the tram platforms further to the north within St Peter’s Square is scheduled to commence shortly and once completed will lead to them being located nearer to Lloyd Street.  The figures provided reveal that there would be a reduction in the distances between various establishments and the proposed tram platforms via the most appropriate alternative route in comparison to the present platforms.  However, there would in most cases be some additional distance to be travelled in comparison to Library Walk.  

33.  Ms Harris says the alternative routes are longer for many venues than the 50 metres identified in 2.4 of the publication “Inclusive Mobility”[6] for people using a stick and 150 metres for wheelchair users and visually impaired people.  These figures are the recommended distance limit without a rest.  However, the calculations provided by the Council reveal that this is not the case.  These figures indicate that relatively small increases in distances would arise in relation to the identified venues.  Further, Ms Harris accepted at the inquiry that disabled people will enter the area by various means.  She conceded that the impact of the closure of Library Walk would depend upon what is the most convenient route in the circumstances.  The Council confirms that disabled parking bays are to be provided in Mount Street and Peter Street. 

34.  Mr Jennings points to the issue of access for bus passengers with reference to the bus services which are scheduled to travel along Portland Street.  Whilst some passengers may subsequently have to walk further, the extent to which this would be applicable cannot be determined given the number of potential destinations from Portland Street.    

35.  The Friends Meeting House (“FMH”) is located in Mount Street opposite to the western end of Library Walk.  Mr M. Schofield says that many Quakers are elderly and/or disabled and the closure will force them to walk further and cross busy main roads.  However, I have not been provided with details regarding the number of people involved and where they may be travelling to or from.  Presently, Library Walk does not provide the shortest route to the tram stops from the FMH.  There would potentially be an increase in distance of 23 metres via the most appropriate alternative route following the relocation of the tram platforms.  Clearly, as with all destinations, there will be an opportunity to use Library Walk during the permitted hours.

36.  I am not satisfied it can be determined from the evidence that the stopping up would have any significant impact upon the issue of convenience by virtue of the distance to be travelled.  This issue is complicated by the vast number of locations that people may be travelling to or from.  The relocation of the tram platforms could make Lloyd Street a more convenient route in some cases.  However, I note the point made by Ms Curtin and other objectors that people may prefer to use Library Walk because they consider it to be more enjoyable than the alternatives. 

Loss of enjoyment 

37.  A number of the objectors have referred to the loss of the experience of Library Walk given the architectural value of the adjacent buildings and the space itself.  It is clear that the setting within the two contrasting listed buildings is much valued.  Ms Curtin, Ms Rutherford and Mr Turner-Bishop[7] spoke particularly passionately about the value of the sensory experience of walking through Library Walk.  A conservation area leaflet published by the Council describes it as “one of the most dramatic urban spaces in the city”.  Reference is also made to two television productions choosing to film in this locality.   

38.  This issue is a subjective matter and Mr Swann says that some people will enjoy the experience of Library Walk and others will not.  Further, reference is made by the Council to the buildings that can be viewed from the alternative routes.  Nonetheless, the evidence of the objectors indicates that this matter should be given some weight.  However, the weight to be given to this issue will be limited by two factors.  Firstly, it is the impact of the link building on Library Walk which is the main issue of concern rather than the restriction of access over it.  This is distinct from the loss that would arise by stopping up this way.  Secondly, people will still be able to access and look at the remainder of Library Walk during the permitted hours.   

Crime and anti-social behaviour 

39.  Clearly the Council had the potential risk of crime in mind when it placed the condition in the planning consent regarding the closure of Library Walk during particular hours.  However, regard should be given to the issue of crime in the context of members of the public having to use the alternative routes rather than Library Walk.  This is distinct from the question of whether it is appropriate to close Library Walk at night.  Whilst some suggestions were made regarding measures that could be undertaken, such as more patrols by uniformed officers, there is nothing to indicate that these will be implemented in the near future.   

40.  The objectors point to incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour in this area generally and the risk elsewhere in the city centre.  A particular problem raised at the inquiry is people urinating in public places.  No real concerns were expressed by the objectors regarding the safety of Library Walk.  Ms Rutherford says the view of the Manchester Women’s Design Group is that more accessibility, not less, makes a city a safer place for people.  However, she acknowledges that her use at night may depend upon whether she was alone or with a group of people. The details provided at the inquiry revealed that a serious sexual assault occurred in Library Walk in the early hours of the morning on 31 October 2010.    

41.  Ms Gaffney raises particular concerns about the safety of Lloyd Street at night by reference to the quality of the street lighting and the recesses in the town hall extension where people could hide.  The latter was demonstrated during the accompanied site visit.  When I visited Lloyd Street in the early evening the office lights still illuminated the street.  However, I accept that the situation is likely to be different later in the evening.  Nonetheless, it is apparent that the lighting arrangement for Lloyd Street is far better than the lighting available in Library Walk.  Further, Ms Gaffney accepts that parts of Library Walk are hidden from view.  It is accepted that it is generally not possible to see from one end of Library Walk to the other.

42.  A further issue arises out of the opening of a police contact centre situated on the ground floor of the town hall extension building in Lloyd Street.  It is apparent that this is a contact point rather than a police station.  The police also occupy the first floor of the building on the Mount Street wing and the information supplied indicates that they will be seen on occasions entering or leaving the building by the Lloyd Street entrance.  I am not satisfied that the presence of police on the first floor of the building will have a significant impact on the risk or perceived risk of crime in this locality.  However, the visibility of the police contact point and the presence of officers at times may assist with deterring criminal activity or anti-social behaviour in Lloyd Street.

43.  Ms Rose[8] refers to issues in respect of Peter Street at night given its proximity to bars.  She says that she and others have experienced harassment in Peter Street and it can be rather rambunctious at weekends.  I found Peter Street to be far more open in nature than Library Walk or Lloyd Street. Nonetheless, I accept that problems can sometimes arise, given the location, particularly in the evening and early hours of the morning at weekends.  

44.  I do not find from the evidence provided and my observations of the site that any disadvantages are likely to arise out of the closure of Library Walk in terms of the risk of crime or anti-social behaviour.  The available alternative route via Lloyd Street could potentially offer a safer route for the public at night.    

Width issues         

45.  The alternative route via Mount Street and Peter Street would follow pavements which have been the subject of improvement works as part of the re-development of the area.  This includes the reduction in the extent of the carriageway of Peter Street in each direction.  However, it is apparent that a proportion of the land gained will be used to provide disabled parking bays.  These were marked out during the accompanied site visit and would reduce the extent of the space currently available over a section of this alternative route.  Mr Swann calculates that a width of 3 metres would be available at its narrowest point.

46.  The provision of seating and tree planting also impacts upon the available width at points but I still found the pavements in the Mount Street and Peter Street area to be fairly wide.  In respect of the functionality of the design of the benches provided, this issue is not material to my decision.  It should be borne in mind that particular features, for instance the display board outside the town hall extension in Mount Street, would also impact upon a portion of people travelling via Library Walk.  I understand that the planters temporarily present in the immediate locality are to be relocated.  Ms Harris accepted in cross-examination that there is a protruding point in Library Walk which could potentially be an obstacle to partially sighted or blind people.

47.  A planning application has been submitted for part of the town hall extension to be used as a restaurant/cafe with an outside seating area extending over a proportion of St Peter’s Square.  As the application is still to be determined it is not possible to be certain that it will be approved.  If approved, the layout of the outside seating area could force people to deviate away from the direct route of travel.  However, this has to be balanced against the area of the square available to the public. Overall, I do not find that it has been shown that this alternative route is less convenient by virtue of the widths of the relevant highways.

Building regulations 

48.  Ms Harris raises the issue of the application of building regulations to the link building and Lloyd Street.  I consider the application of building regulations to the link building to be outside of the scope of the inquiry.  I also expressed concerns regarding the relevance of building regulations to works undertaken in Lloyd Street.  Nonetheless, I have considered the written submissions helpfully provided by Ms Harris and Mr Timperley[9].

49.  I give greater weight to Mr Timperley’s submission than particular comments of the Council witnesses who spoke at the inquiry regarding the ‘town hall complex’.  He gave his professional opinion specifically on the issue of building regulations which should carry some weight.  Regard also needs to be given to the fact that the whole of Lloyd Street is now a highway.  I consider the works undertaken in Lloyd Street to be consistent with highway works.  There is some use for access purposes and disabled spaces have been provided for staff but the primary purpose is now as a highway.  The issue is whether the public would be disadvantaged by the stopping up of Library Walk, for instance by having to use one of the alternative routes.  It is not for me to address the provision of access to buildings located in Lloyd Street.

50.  Having regard to the submissions provided by the parties, I consider the views of Mr Timperley to be more persuasive and that building regulations are not applicable to the works undertaken in Lloyd Street.  Further, even if building regulations were to apply, this would be a matter for the building control section to consider.  I nevertheless address below particular issues raised in relation to Lloyd Street. 

Vehicular use 

51.  Ms Gaffney says the alternative routes have greater noise, traffic danger and kerbside pollution.  All of which are absent from Library Walk.  I accept that Library Walk offers a brief respite from the noise and bustle of the city centre.  It is also away from the direct impact of traffic.  However, no evidence has been provided regarding the level of air quality in comparison to the other routes in the area.  All of the highways in the area are likely to be busier when events, such as the Christmas Market, are taking place.

52.  In the extracts from ‘Research by Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors (“I’DGO”)[10]’ reference is made to the views expressed by many people regarding the use of shared spaces.  It is stated that blind and partially sighted people have safety concerns about the lack of demarcation between footways and traffic areas due to the removal of kerbs and footways.  This exposes blind and partially sighted people to greater risk and undermines their confidence, and so creates a barrier to their independent mobility.  A written statement has also been submitted by a mobility instructor (Mr Dickinson).  He does not agree with the mixing of pedestrians and vehicles but his evidence was not tested at the inquiry and he is unfamiliar with this site.          

53.  The objectors point to the number of vehicles observed on occasions during the course of the inquiry in Lloyd Street and the Council have provided figures from a traffic count undertaken on Thursday 30 October 2014.  There is an opportunity in terms of the footway and the section segregated by bollards for pedestrians to not encounter traffic in Lloyd Street.  Further, Mr Carty confirms that vehicular access over the middle section is controlled by staff in a 24 hour control room.  The traffic count reveals that 65 vehicles[11] passed along Lloyd Street between the hours of 08:00 and 17:00 with the maximum in a given hour being 11 (09:00-10:00).  A total of 4108 pedestrians were counted passing along Lloyd Street during the survey. 

54.  The issue of delivery vans causing an obstruction to disabled drivers wishing to exit their vehicles or obstructing the bays is not relevant to the use of Lloyd Street by pedestrians in comparison to Library Walk.  It is a private matter that the Council may wish to address should it occur on a regular basis.  Mr Swann did not consider it necessary to mark the disabled spaces in Lloyd Street in light of its status and the fact that the spaces are designated for particular people.  Ms Harris also raises an issue regarding the lack of a clear dropping off point leading to vehicles manoeuvring at the barrier and forcing some vehicles to stop or reverse into the controlled crossing at Mount Street.  However, such a manoeuvre is likely to impact upon people using other routes, such as via Library Walk, and not just Lloyd Street.

55.  Some critical comments have been made regarding the layout and number of bollards within Lloyd Street.  It is felt that they could be confusing and cause an orientation problem for visually impaired people.  However, on the whole, the bollards serve a useful purpose.  They generally prevent vehicles from proceeding on the town hall extension side of Lloyd Street and provide a second traffic free section.  This traffic free section is wide enough to accommodate wheelchair users.  The bollards are visually distinctive in daylight.  Whilst some no longer have a florescent strip around the top, this is a highway maintenance issue that could, and indeed should be resolved.  The lack of bollards outside of the accessible toilet needs to be balanced against the ease of access at this point. 

56.  I consider that there would be some disadvantage in stopping up a route which is free of vehicular traffic given that a portion of one of the alternative routes is subject to use by vehicles.  However, I am not convinced that this issue would be significantly detrimental to the public given the extent and nature of the vehicular use.  The constraints of Lloyd Street and the extent of the use by pedestrians should also serve to restrict the speed of vehicles.  Further, there are areas of Lloyd Street that are designed to be free of vehicles.  The issue that is most likely to occur is the obstruction of a section of the street by parked vehicles.  Although the survey reveals that there is some use by cyclists, which could cause a conflict with pedestrians, I note that it was dedicated to the public on foot only and as such there would appear to presently be no lawful right for cyclists to ride along Lloyd Street.

Lighting 

57.  To some extent, I have already addressed the issue of lighting.  The Council could not confirm the level of lighting in Lloyd Street but it is stated to conform to the relevant British Standard.  Although Ms Harris accepts that the British Standard is probably met, she does not believe that the lighting conforms to the lux standard in Inclusive Mobility, which requires at least 150 lux for passageways and walkways.   

58.  No evidence has been provided to verify the level of the lighting provision in Lloyd Street.  The street lights are located on the town hall side of Lloyd Street and the amount of light diminishes to a certain extent over the remainder of the street.  This is evident on the photographs supplied by Ms Harris.  I accept that shadows and glare may be created by the lighting in Lloyd Street which could cause problems for some people.  However, it is apparent that the lighting in Lloyd Street is far superior to the lighting available in Library Walk.  Although I note the point that Library Walk is a traffic free route and there is some vehicular use of Lloyd Street, the level of use of the middle section by motor vehicles is limited and this is likely to be more so after 17:00 hours.  Nor am I convinced that it can be determined that a driver would not see pedestrians on the middle section with the benefit of headlights.

59.  Ms Harris expresses concerns regarding the use of uplighters in the locality as they can create glare and seriously disorientate or disturb some partially sighted people.  Ms Armstrong, on behalf of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (“RNIB”), says that uplighters may help people identify an obstacle such as a tree but they can cause dazzle to other people.  In response, the Council points to measures in respect of the design and positioning of the uplighters in order to minimise glare.  Whilst I recognise the concerns about the impact of uplighters on certain highway users, I am not satisfied that this issue can be particularly attributed to use of the alternative routes.  Again, it is not my role to consider the presence of uplighters in the link building. 

Changes in level

60.  The Council says that the original design for Lloyd Street was a shared space with no pavements.  At the request of its access advisors a pavement was installed to improve pedestrian access.  The provision of this pavement does not appear to be an issue between the parties.  However, some concerns have been raised in relation to the nature of the pavement.  Ms Armstrong says that there is no apparent visual or tactile contrast so it appears to be a flat surface.  It is also asserted that some visual contrast would assist blind[12] and partially sighted people in distinguishing the kerb edge.  Further, without tactile indication, a long cane user may find it difficult to distinguish the kerb edge.  Ms Rose says that she sometimes suffers with her mobility and finds the new kerb in Lloyd Street to be disorientating and hard to navigate. 

61.  Reference is made by the Council to the provision of black rubber inserts to the kerb edge.  However, it is accepted that contrast remains an issue which requires a resolution.  The Council confirms that the matter is to be further reviewed in conjunction with particular interested parties.  In respect of the suggested introduction of double yellow lines on the carriageway alongside the kerb line, Ms Harris says that this marking is indicative of no parking and yellow will not provide a suitable colour contrast.  Clearly, it in the interests of the Council, as highway authority, to address this issue as soon as is reasonably possible.

62.  Ms Harris states that the kerb edge of Lloyd Street has a height of 80-85mm.  Ms Armstrong considers that the kerb alongside the majority of Lloyd Street is at an acceptable height.  However, both she and Ms Harris believe that it is a trip hazard for people in the absence of colour contrast with the middle section.  I address tripping incidents below but nothing has been provided to show that the kerb fails to meet a particular specification set down in any national guidance.

63.  Ms Armstrong refers to a section of kerb at the crossing at the entrance to the town hall courtyard, which is stated to have a height of 25mm.  She says that it is hard for a long cane user to detect and it is felt that the raising of the kerb in this locality would be beneficial.  In response, the Council states that a 25mm kerb was considered necessary as the cobbles are protected by listed building consent and there is a steep gradient into the courtyard.  The design team, in consultation with the access advisors, felt that this arrangement would be more beneficial to cane users than a flush kerb line.

64.  Figures provided by the Council reveal that between January 2014 and October 2014 there were 28 recorded incidents of people who have stumbled or fallen in Lloyd Street.  However, I find this information to be of limited value.  It cannot be determined what caused these incidents or whether this figure is comparable or not with neighbouring highways.  The traffic count indicates that Lloyd Street is heavily used by pedestrians and in that sense the number of incidents recorded during this period may not be significant.  In the last 2 years one claim has been made in relation to someone falling within Lloyd Street[13] for which the Council has denied liability.  This figure appears to be comparable to those for the neighbouring streets.  Although only two claims were made in relation to Library Walk, prior to its closure in recent years.  

65.  More detailed information has been provided by the Council in relation to incidents in the locality for the period 4-22 November 2014.  A proportion of these related to Cooper Street, which leads out of Lloyd Street towards its eastern end.  One incident can be attributed to the kerb in Lloyd Street, which is stated to have occurred “at the top end of Lloyd Street”.   There is no evidence of any trips or stumbles in relation to the section of pavement at the courtyard entrance. 

66.  I am not satisfied that it can be determined from the above that the height of the kerb in Lloyd Street is a particular problem for the public.  In reaching this conclusion, I have had regard to the range of disabilities highlighted at the inquiry.  The provision of the kerb is likely to be of assistance to some groups of pedestrians and it provides an alternative to the other sections.  However, the Council acknowledges that an issue arises in relation to the contrast of the kerb and this matter is to be pursued.  In the circumstances, I do not find that this issue has any significant bearing on my decision.  

Tactile paving

67.  Ms Harris has particular concerns about the design and colour of tactile paving in Lloyd Street and the surrounding area.  In support, reference is made to the judgment in the case of Mohammed Mohsan Ali and London Borough of Newham [2012] (“Newham”).  In Newham it was held that the national guidance[14] should be followed unless there was good reason to depart from it.

68.  Whilst Mount Street could clearly be used as part of the alternatives routes, it may also be used by a proportion of users of Library Walk.  Therefore, I am not satisfied that the issues highlighted by Ms Harris in this locality should be considered in the weighing of the disadvantages arising out of the Order.  This conclusion does not remove the requirement for the Council to undertake remedial works in this locality and Mr Swann confirms that contractors are to address the tactile paving on the Lloyd Street and Mount Street crossing which is out of alignment.

69.  I concur with the Council that the vehicular use of Lloyd Street cannot be described as comprising of a high flow of traffic.  Any additional use of tactile paving in Lloyd Street, such as outside the entrance to the accessible toilets, is a matter for the Council to determine.  Where tactile paving has been constructed, an issue arises in relation to the colour used given the conservation area within which it is located.  Paragraph 1.5.6.1 of the guidance on tactile paving states “Where the blister surface is provided at crossing points in conservation areas or in the vicinity of a listed building, some relaxation of the colour requirements may be acceptable. In these limited circumstances only, the tactile surface may be provided in a colour which is in keeping with the surrounding material”.  

70.  Whilst there is a distinction between the tactile paving and the remainder of Lloyd Street, I consider the difference in contrast to be slight.  Therefore, an issue may arise for people who have impaired sight in distinguishing between the two colour tones.  The guidance also outlines that before a decision is taken in relation to this issue consultation should be undertaken with particular parties.  Ms Harris says that such a consultation was not properly undertaken.  Clearly, if this is the case, the matter could be pursued by an aggrieved party in the manner suggested by Ms Harris.  Although the potential lack of consultation regarding the colour of tactile paving used in this locality is of concern, the level of vehicular traffic in Lloyd Street and the absence of evidence of incidents attributed to this issue means that I do not consider it to be a significant matter in terms of my decision.   

71.  A further issue arises in relation to the entrance to the town hall courtyard.  There is a dip for a proportion of the pavement which coincides with the slope of the cobbled entrance.  This dip is delineated by a section of corduroy tactile paving.  Differing views were expressed by Mr Swann and Ms Harris regarding whether the tactile paving used in this location is appropriate.  I also note the comments in the written submission of Mr Goulden on behalf of the Manchester Environmental Group of Blind and Partially-sighted People (“MEGOBAPP”) in relation to the appropriate design for tactile paving in this locality.     

72.  I am not satisfied that the level of vehicular use of the entrance means that it should be treated as an uncontrolled crossing point.  The guidance on tactile paving makes it clear that corduroy tactile paving should be used for the purpose of warning people about a hazard, such as steps.  Whilst there may be different interpretations regarding whether corduroy or blister paving is more appropriate and the extent of the tactile paving, I am not convinced that it has been demonstrated that the current arrangement is wrong in light of the circumstances.  

The impact of the stopping up on properties near to Library Walk   

73.  Mr M. Schofield says that during the temporary closure of Library Walk organisations who rent rooms within the FMH have found it more difficult to get to this venue.  The information supplied by Mr Schofield indicates that the FMH is sometimes open later than the intended opening hours for Library Walk.  However, I am not satisfied that evidence has been provided to show that the closure of Library Walk has had a particular adverse impact on the business or charitable elements of the FMH.  Nor am I convinced that it can be determined that there would be any greater use of the footway on the side of Mount Street on which the FMH is located by virtue of the stopping up of Library Walk.  Further, any publicity material or signage will still be visible from parts of Mount Street. No evidence has been provided to show that access to any other premises would be adversely affected by the stopping up of Library Walk.

Conclusions

74.  The permitted development would obstruct a proportion of Library Walk and the route through the development would be closed to the public during the specified hours.  I have concluded that, in order for the planning permission to be implemented, it is necessary for this footpath to be stopped up.  I further concluded that the works in so far as they affect the right of way are not substantially complete.

75.  I have outlined that there are some disadvantages arising out of the stopping up of Library Walk for the public.  However, the Vasiliou judgment makes it clear that any significant disadvantages have to be sufficiently serious for the Order to not be confirmed.  Paragraph 7.15 of the Circular also advises that there must be good reason to not confirm an Order.  Having regard to those matters detailed above and my conclusions regarding Library Walk and the alternative routes, I am not satisfied that it has been shown that any disadvantages to the public arising out of the proposed stopping up are sufficient to outweigh the benefits of confirming the Order.  Further, there are no additional matters which indicate that the Order should not be confirmed.

Overall Conclusion

76.  Having regard to these and all other matters raised at the inquiry and in the written representations I conclude that the Order should be confirmed.

Formal Decision    

77.  I confirm the Order.

Mark Yates

Inspector 

APPEARANCES

For the Council:

Mr S. Sauvain Q.C.

Barrister instructed by the Council

 

He called:

 

Mr D. Carty

Mr A. Mitchell

Mr W. Swann 

 

 

 

 

Head of Capital Programmes for the Council

Principal Planning Officer for the Council

Employed within the Council’s Corporate Technical Services

The Objectors:

Mr S. Smith

Dr S. Millington

Mr E. Rhead            

Mr M. Schofield      

Mr E. Canniffe

Mr J. Schofield      

Mr A. Turner-Bishop

Cllr. J. Davies

Ms E. Curtin

Mr P. Castree

Mr P. Jennings

Mr A. O’Rouke

Ms C. O’Carroll

Mr J. Townend

Ms M. Moore

Ms L. Armstrong

Ms M. Rose

Ms J. Rutherford

Ms F. Harris

Mr D. Lee

Ms G. Gaffney

 

Dr E. Ernstbrunner

 

 

For the Manchester Modernist Society

Representing himself and worshipers at the FMH

 

On behalf of Manchester Confidential

Representative of The Twentieth Century Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regional Campaigns Officer for the RNIB

For herself and The Friends of Library Walk

 

Representative of MDPAG

For himself and The Open Spaces Society

On behalf of the Greater Manchester Pedestrians’ Association

On behalf of the local group of the Ramblers’ Association

 

 

 

DOCUMENTS AND PLANS

 

1

List of appearances for the Council

2

Opening statement on behalf of the Council

3

Four sets of photographs tendered by Ms Harris

4

Extracts from ‘Guide to Development in Manchester Supplementary Planning Document and Planning Guidance’ which was adopted in April 2007

5

Extract from the 1971 publication ‘The Concise Townscape’ by Gordon Cullen

6

Extract from a conservation area leaflet published by the Council 

7

Extracts in relation to delegated powers exercised by the Council

8

Design for Access 2 publication

9

Extracts regarding an assault in Library Walk

10

11

 

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

47

4849

50

51

52

 

 

 

Public Sector Equality Duty extract

Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces published by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions  

Additional maps detailing pedestrian routes

Statement of Cllr Davies

Summary of responses to planning proposals

Submissions from Ms Harris in relation to building regulations 

Statement of Ms Hardy

Pedestrian and vehicle count for Lloyd Street

Council report in relation to the dedication of highways

Summary of falls and claims in relation to particular highways

Statement of Mr Townend

Copy of the Newham judgment

Highway plans

Statement of Mr Timperley

Response to Mr Timperley’s statement by Ms Harris

Details for tram platforms in St Peter’s Square

Statement of Ms Armstrong on behalf of RNIB

Details of walking route devised by Mr Lee and Ms Gaffney

Tram times

Supporting statement from Ms Darley

Revised summary proof of evidence on behalf of MDPAG

Emails sent to the Planning Inspectorate in opposition to the Order

Planning application details in relation to proposed restaurant/café

Addendum to statement of case of Ms Curtin

Revised summary proof of evidence and summing up for Ms Rutherford

Statement of Ms Moore

Revised statement of case of Ms Rose

Copy of the Vasiliou judgment

Additional photographs tendered by Ms Harris

The Council’s response to the statement made on behalf of the RNIB

Additional information regarding trips and falls

Statement on behalf of the Greater Manchester Pedestrians’ Association

Statement of Dr Ernstbrunner for the local group of the Ramblers’ Association

Extracts from I’DGO

References from ‘Traffic Measures in Historic Towns’ published in1993

Comments of Mr Dickinson

Statement of Mr Goulden of MEGOBAPP

Extract from Inclusive Mobility

Email of 25 November 2014 to Mr Carty regarding the planters

Closing statement of Ms Rose

Closing submission notes of Ms Curtin

Summing up of Ms Harris on behalf of MDPAG

Closing statement on behalf of the Council

 



[1] The City of Manchester (Library Walk Footpath, Manchester City Centre) (Public Path Stopping Up) Order 2014 (Planning Inspectorate ref: FPS/B4215/5/8).

[2] Whilst the works commenced under the original permission, the Council confirms that the modified permission is the one under which they are now proceeding. 

[3] By means of an Order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 

[4] He also represents The Open Spaces Society

[5] She represents the Greater Manchester Pedestrians’ Association

[6] Published by the Department of Transport

[7] He spoke on behalf of The Twentieth Century Society

[8] She also represents The Friends of Library Walk

[9] Building Control Business Manager for the Council

[10] I’DGO is stated to be built around a core group of international academies in three leading UK research centres

[11] Not including cycles

[12] The information provided at the inquiry reveals that only around 4-5 % of people in the UK with serious loss of sight will be totally blind

[13] One additional claim was made on 31 October 2014

[14] Namely the ‘Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surfaces’ published by the former Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions   


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

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

The need for the link building always made sense even if it's not the most attractive thing in the world. Let's just open it and get on with it.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

How about we don't?

What a let downMarch 6th 2015.

It never has and never will make sense to me. Utterly fucking revolting monstrosity. I'm not keen on it.

Ghostly TomMarch 6th 2015.

It is and always has been a monstrous waste of money on a totally unnecessary link between two different buildings.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

"One of the most beautiful, elegant spaces in urban North of England??!" Do me a favour. It was always a dingy alley that stank of piss. No-one gave a monkeys about it's so called "architectural merit" before all of this. Yes, the glass blob they've put in there is a massive waste of space, time and money but let's not pretend that it was amazing before all of this.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
rinkydinkMarch 6th 2015.

A nice balanced argument that is...!

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

It was not like you claim....Hardly an alley and never smelled of piss...

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

You don't feel the same way so your argument is that nobody ever gave a shit about it. You seem to know the views of a lot of people. It's been my favourite part of central Manchester for over 25 years. And it seems I'm not alone.

Jason TaylorMarch 10th 2015.

So true. A favorite haunt of the homeless too.

SteveMarch 13th 2015.

Totally agree...it was a horrible area that did regularly smell of piss...favourite part of central Manchester? Really???? Anyway, you will still be able to enjoy it during the permitted hours, unless of course you were planning to go down there to urinate at 2am?

moragMarch 6th 2015.

This is terrible news, not just for this beautiful space but it also sets a worrying precendent regarding closure of public space. Thanks to Mancon for their continued support (although I wasnt a spokesman last time I looked). The campaigners are currently considering our options, and studying the report please if anyone has any thoughts do get in touch via savelibrarywalk@gmail.com Incidentally f anyone wants to read the statement which I made that I think demolishes all the arguments for the link building I'm happy to share that too. Its not online at the moment but includes various stats etc. This campaign has been fought with passion and lots of hard evidence, big love and respect to all who have helped Best wishes, Morag

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Jason TaylorMarch 10th 2015.

'Beautiful space'?! What? It was a dark alley that many would avoid at night!

What a let downMarch 10th 2015.

Many people avoid lots of places. Do we close them all? Put gates everywhere? Fill the canals & rivers in while we are at it.

SteveMarch 13th 2015.

What's the problem with gating it off at night then, if you're not going to be there! Honestly people, get a grip! In the grand scheme of things it's really not that important

moragMarch 6th 2015.

(apologies for the typos)

moragMarch 6th 2015.

and to the second anonymous. You do realise you are calling hundreds of people liars there? Lots of people did care. I find it very sad how obsessed everyone seems to be about piss too, I don't think we should let that shape our city - but for the record Library Walk was very, very far from the worst affected spot in town,

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

It is most curious that the "Friends of Library Walk" were never around pre-2010 to help the daily clean up or repair the damaged surface areas.

GimboidMarch 6th 2015.

What an utterly fuckwitted thing to say, Anon. Most of the campaigners are presumably Manchester council tax-payers, so have been contributing to the cost of that very task for years, whether or not the council undertook it properly or not. As if your comment even makes any sense, at all.

Matthew SchofieldMarch 7th 2015.

What a silly thing to say Anonymous. Have things got so bad with council cuts that you expect ordinary members of the public to clean the streets on a Sunday morning? Closing valuable public space is not the answer to anti-social behaviour. The police should have the proper funding to do the job they are paid to do.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

The piss thing is a massive load of bollocks. It was quite a bad place for people pissing in say the early to mid nineties when little to nothing was done about people using the streets of Manchester as a toilet. It was far from the only place and far from the worst place. It certainly hadn't had that problem in recent years before it was closed up for the work to be done. And if there had been that problem then the answer is to stop people doing it. The piss alley argument is moronic.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Why wee there when you could wee in the peace garden?

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

There was once the world's longest counter in the town hall too along that ginnel, that went. This is a disgrace. Typical in this country,always fixing things which aint broken. I hate hate hate that glass vestibule. it will always be dirty and full of streaks and there will be litter in it. FFS why can nobody design anything with any elegance in this bloody country. It isn't hard to do. It looks like the entrance to a Rotherham shopping centre.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Don't drag poor old ROTHERHAM in to it !!!

espoirMarch 10th 2015.

you are 100% correct and once again, the arrogance of the council civil servants is for all to see. In the election I think the these so called "officers" in local government should be an issue, it should be made possible to fire them.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Have you not realised that services are delivered differently nowadays. There are these things called computers and most payments are made online rather than over the biggest counter in the known universe. Not that I have anything to do with the council but I should be obliged if you could say where you work so I could liaise with your employer and get you sacked for criminal stupidity as you're clearly a liability. Thanks in advance.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Really sad news this! Let's hope the thing just falls apart. Regardless of the negative comments above, if the people that pay Manchester council tax were asked they were ok with the council spending £3.5million pounds on this thing, whether it blocked Library Walk or not, I'm sure the majority would rather it be spent on something more useful to them,

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Correct!!!! Fix the bloody pavements would be a good start I'm forever tripping over wonky slabs, getting my heels stuck in massive cracks or getting sloshed with shitty water half way up my legs the minute it rains :( :(

JoanMarch 9th 2015.

Please report damaged pavements here: secure.manchester.gov.uk/…/xforminfo.php… Or google: report pavement Manchester Ta.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

The answer was always going to be to close Library Walk at night to prevent the use of the alley as a toilet. I'm no fan of the current design and would have preferred something along the lines of the British Museum glass canopy; although recognise that cleaning and maintenance costs would have been prohibitive. It's curious that none of these groups nor Mancon were willing to assist in the cleanup or maintenance of Library Walk pre-2010.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
GimboidMarch 6th 2015.

Should all alleyways that people use to urinate in by closed, Anon? Can you see how crashingly illogical your argument is?

GimboidMarch 6th 2015.

*be closed

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

Why should private individuals clean up public space? That's why I pay Council Tax. Or can I get a refund for doing some sweeping?

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Using the logic of the first a anoymous you would have to block and close most of the streets in Central Manchester after dark.

Peter PeaheadMarch 6th 2015.

I think the battle may be lost so how about getting one of those 3D artists to paint an alleyway on the outside of the monstrosity. Maybe someone doing a wee in the distance and been fined by one of those traffic warden / litter picker police , Banksy style.

1 Response: Reply To This...
What a let downMarch 7th 2015.

That would be amazing!

AnonymousMarch 6th 2015.

Let them get on with the folly, it will fail, it will be a mess and it will be gone in our lifetimes. Sometimes the best way to show people their stupidity is to just let them get on with it, and show them to be foo,s when the are proven to be wrong. Its not irreversible, nothing is being knocked down. But the argument that its an alley that stinks of piss when this creates possibly the finest 4 piss corners in manchester on a Friday and Saturday night is laughable. You'll need a full time street cleaner to stop that place not being full of wind swept detritus 24 hours a day.

Mark FullerMarch 7th 2015.

I hope that I'm wrong about this, but I believe this exercise to have been a sham. The inspector was never going to embarrass the establishment{Leese and Bernstein,primarily}, by finding against this ridiculous glass blob. Hopefully after May, there'll be a more pluralistic council.The city needs a sensible opposition within the town hall to protect us from these vandals and philistines.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

Ridiculous comment. The inspector can only make their decision based on what the legislation allows. Your comment sounds like sour grapes.

What a let downMarch 7th 2015.

Not ridiculous at all. The thing was built despite having no permission to do so, despite massive opposition to it, despite all the reasons they used to justify it to be proved wrong. The whole thing is a sham.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

Nonsense. It is the campaigners who have been proved wrong following this ruling. Humble pie never did taste very nice. The vast majority of people have never heard of Library Walk, let alone have strong opinions on what will be a useful, if weird looking link building. And if due process hadn't been followed it couldn't have been built.

What a let downMarch 7th 2015.

Time will prove me and thousands of others correct. Stay anonymous and clueless.

Crisps GibsonMarch 8th 2015.

Anonymous is right. The enquiry was only into whether the order to stop up the right of way should be granted, not into anything else. The legislation that protects public rights of way will set out the issues the inspector could consider in making that decision. He presumably didn't find a strong enough relevant reason that it shouldn't be granted. He was unable to consider whether it should have got planning permission, the heritage impact or aesthetic considerations. If he'd considered other issues his decision would have been left open to legal challenge by the council.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

We could just get the City Council back by using both sides of the horrible thing as a pissoir. I'm certainly game.

BAFFLEDMarch 7th 2015.

PLEASE tell me why this space is beautiful? It's a curved building around the Library.. it's always dark.. it had no usefulness except walking through it.. which you still can... if there were untold numbers of events going on in there I might get it.. for me.. as great as the architecture is it was simply a walk through... and for goodness sake surely the rest of the building is there to look at???? This has me baffled!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 7th 2015.

Think harder! You'll get there eventually...

GimboidMarch 8th 2015.

Always dark? Do you never go out in the daytime? Or in the summer? Are you Batman, Baffled?

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Sadly Baffled, if you don't know now you'll probably never know which means you've missed out on a whole facet of existence.

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

The remit of the enquiry isnt the problem its the question that it addressed. Unfortunately he was tasked with looking for reasons not to stop it up. However as its a public space it would be much better if the presumption was it should not be stopped up unless the council could demonstrate a strong argument for stopping it up.

MichaelMarch 8th 2015.

Contemptuous structure.

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

not sure what all the fuss is about, move on. There are far worse examples of architectural vandalism, salford city council being the prime example of poor planning policy. Overall MCC has done pretty well in moving the city forward

1 Response: Reply To This...
SteveMarch 13th 2015.

Hear hear! At last, a sensible comment

AnonymousMarch 8th 2015.

For me the structure is a monstrosity but that's not the point. The point is how this council can ride rough shod over the will of the people. I doubt any other application has had so much objection. Note by their silence that regular ManCon contributors Cllrs Kevin Perl and Joan Davies are silent. 40% of the vote but 100% control of the council and no support from our elected member of parliament. If nothing else please vote in May so this City can have a voice.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Emma CurtinMarch 8th 2015.

She might not have commented here but Joan was present for most of the 7 full days of Public Inquiry and gave evidence against the council. I was impressed by her testimony.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

How much will it cost the tax payer for the council to open it at 6am and close it at 10pm each day and how much for the G4S security to have someone present in the structure during the day?

Steven Hales-OwenMarch 9th 2015.

As elsewhere - it is time for proportional representation in local council elections.The one-party-states in local government must be brought to an end.In Tameside a small clique of no more than 100 people who run the Tameside Labour Party control the lives of almost 200,000 people the majority of whom do not vote for this clique.Manchester is little different."First Past the Post" is now working firmly against democracy and should be finished

2 Responses: Reply To This...
David SmithMarch 9th 2015.

+1

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Makes a lot of sense.

Ray MakinMarch 9th 2015.

I think that the key point is that Library walk is a space between 2 listed buildings and that it was a composite design where the space between the buildings was an intricate part of the composition. Adding this structure not only affects the purity of the design of each building but also affects the setting of both listed buildings. The issue of how well the space was maintained to avoid it being used as a toilet, or secured to protect the public from crime (not that it appears to be a crime hot spot), or even the use of public money to connect two buildings that are already connected at basement level perfectly well, are not the main issue here. All of these things are capable of resolution without destroying the setting of two listed buildings. At design stage it was never clear how a circular building could be satisfactorily connected to two other curved buildings and now we can all see that it cannot. Clumsy is the polite way to describe it.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Well said, Ray.

Manci DoodleMarch 9th 2015.

spot on

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Given that the Inspector's remit was (apparently) limited to deciding whether it was necessary to stop up the library walk in order to allow the approved development to proceed, this outcome was always the most likely. As I understand it the glass lobby is already a permitted development so arguments (perhaps quite compelling ones) against the glass structure as such (e,g, is it really necessary?) were not within the Inspector's remit. If that is right then I think its time to move on.....the costs (including legal costs) of all this must already be quite high.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

I quite like it, some people don't, there are swathes of mancunians who didn't object to this, let's just get on with our lives, yeah? Also having a little chuckle that someone on here thinks the town hall had a counter running along Library Walk :/

1 Response: Reply To This...
EditorialMarch 9th 2015.

The Rates Hall - that's the long curved room that runs alongside the interior of Library Walk in the Town Hall Extension - did indeed have a huge counter.

Paul DohertyMarch 9th 2015.

Let's face it. They were never going to uninstall it - it cost too much money for that to be allowed to happen. Got to be seen going through the 'democratic' motions though.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

I agree. Imagine if the council was forced to remove it. That'd be some embarrassing news headline. 'Council dismantles £3.5 million unused glass structure that they didn't have permission to build in the first place.'

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

But think of all the good done if they were forced to take it down. Not just a lesson to this council on this occasion but likely to reverberate for some time to come. The good done for democracy in preventing councils from just doing whatever they want would be quite the bargain I think.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

This is only one of many examples where Manchester and it's unopposed council members get their own way - election coming up - use your vote...

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Regardless of how you vote Labour will get 100% of the seats on the council on a considerably smaller percentage of the electorate voting. Democracy is non existent in Manchester.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Vote anything but LibLabCon.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

People are getting a bit carried away about this, which at the end of the day, is a matter of opinion in terms of whether it was a good idea or not. People have different ideas of what's important. Jonathan Scofield, and the council for that matter, seem quite happy to see Ancoats Dispensary destroyed but think Library Walk is a different matter. Hypocracy or just different values?

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

This whole affair would make a great documentary.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

It would make an incredibly tedious documentary that few people would bother to watch.

Rick22March 9th 2015.

Democracy 0 - Wasteful left wing overly bureaucratic council 1

Rick22March 9th 2015.

1300 people makes a very big band, even blazing squad didn't have that many members

LauraMarch 9th 2015.

I like the glass walkway and how it connects the two buildings. I'd be livid if they spent tax payers money removing it.

41 Responses: Reply To This...
DarrenMarch 9th 2015.

I'm livid they WASTED £3.5m on something that wasn't needed in any way whatsoever. A total farce.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Laura, its an ugly blockage that connects two buildings that have nothing to do with each other. Millions were wasted on building it. Considerably less will be spent on removing it ASAP. I'm livid it was built in the first place.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Darren, whether it was needed is a matter of debate. Why do you want to force people to go underground to access the other side of the complex? Or outside in all weather? Makes no sense.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Darren, whether it was needed is a matter of debate. Why do you want to force people to go underground to access the other side of the complex? Or outside in all weather? Makes no sense.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

@anon above...the 2 buildings have functioned perfectly well for over 70 years without this glass box connecting them. It is unnecessary and a wicked waste of money. If people want to use both buildings on the same trip they will have found a way without this glass box. And as for the weather, well sometimes I like to visit the Palace Theatre and the Arndale Centre on the same day and it's raining. Will some one build me a glass link so I stay dry? No! Because it's a stupid idea and I can cope with the rain. I'm not a witch from Oz. I won't melt. Maybe you are?

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Why bother building a bridge from the Arndale to M&S when other routes are available? Because it is more comfortable and convenient and will influence people's behaviour in terms of deciding to visit the other side. Same reasoning for Library Walk building with additional reason that is now uniting two halves of a single complex. The link makes complete sense if you take your blinkers off for a minute.

SocratesMarch 10th 2015.

Anon above, think about it for a minute: think existing access and proximity too it, think about what level the bridge is at, think about the aesthetics of the buildings either side of Library Walk, think about £3.5m of taxpayers not private money being spent, think about the taxpayer money needed to maintain the link, think maybe, just think.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

M&S and the Arndale centre are connected because the buildings have similar purposes. A link is a good idea in this case and that one enhances the area. This one connects two buildings with different purposes. If you want to access the part of the library in the Town Hall extension basement from the original library there is already a connection at that level. This one is superfluous and ruins a move loved, elegant space. It is not a single complex but two buildings forced together in some kind of forced marriage. Take your blinkers off and think for a minute. That link makes no sense and is an expensive mistake. Sadly we are stuck with it for now. But in the future people will look at it, like we look at some 60s architecture, and think what the **** were they thinking? And it will be demolished. Hope I'm still around to see it done.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

So people who borrow library books don't pay council tax or use any other council services or visa versa? You're clutching at straws here.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

People have been borrowing books and paying council tax (or equivalent), possibly on the same trip, for the last 70 years and have managed it perfectly well without having a glass box blocking Library Walk. Not clutching at straws at all. The box is an expensive carbuncle on the faces of two much loved friends to paraphrase Prince C.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

This is true. But the library now extends into the town hall extension above and below ground and the town hall extension provides a much greater range of services than merely paying council tax. It is a unified complex and the link helps it function as such. Your judgements about the aesthetic merits of the link building are subjective. I don't think it's great but it doesn't offend me. Most people won't have a strong opinion either way. This issue is agitating a small band of campaigners who think they speak for the whole city.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

MANCON! Well done for removing my post about the Arndale comparison. Now the four posts above this don't make sense.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 10th 2015.

I removed it because it was vile about people using the Rates Hall and I found it objectionable. Let me re-iterate this isn't an open forum. Confidential is a private magazine that allows people to comment after stories but will remove whatever it sees fit.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

@JS Perhaps you should have just removed the word 'scrotes' then. Everything else wasn't objectionable and was an observation. Clearly you don't frequent the rates hall as much as I do. I'm there on a daily basis.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

And people are mother than capable of finding their way around the library with out the ugly glass box. People aren't stupid.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Your comment was appalling Anon, referring to people who are different to you using pejorative terms 'foreigners and scrotes' and implying that such people, who apparently pack out the rates hall, to your obvious disgust, have no need for or interest in a library service. An appalling comment displaying snobbery, poor judgement and contempt for ordinary people. Let's hope you are not representative of the campaign group.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

@Above Feel free to sit in the glass tank and do a number count of people I described that enter the library from the rates hall and for visitors to the library that then need to visit the rates hall to discuss their concerns with council staff.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

The anon who referred to 'scrotes and foreigners' must be a Labour supporter. They are famous for looking down on the common people aren't they? Emily Thornberry been in town anyone?

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Perhaps that Anon was actullay refering to G4S Security staff.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

No idea what the G4s security staff is or whether they would post such an offensive comment. But Labour and Emily Thornberry have form when it comes to looking down on us common people don't they?

moragMarch 10th 2015.

For the record I have NEVER heard anyone from the campaign group use vile terms like that. One of the reasons Library Walk feels so important is because it is part of a magnificent civic complex that should be for everyone. A reason we feel so proud of Manchester is its history which has embraced diversity and built amenities for ALL such as the library.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Erm don't you think our prejudiced ranter is probably a Tory or UKIP supporter? Seems much more likely to me given those parties' ideology and public pronouncements.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Definitely not. Labour have a proven record of looking down their noses at us ordinary people. And they think they know best as well so they don't have to consider what us ordinary people think. Labour all the way. Contempt for the working people of the UK runs through them like the letters of BLACKPOOL runs through a stick of rock from that town. Especially so from the gang of North London multi millionaire Labour MPs that runs the party. The ones up here just fall into line behind them.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

I will try to remember that as the Tories hand disproportionate cuts to deprived areas whilst protecting their own affluent constituencies, or the next time they hector the less well off for being lazy, un deserving or stupid whilst shovelling subsidies and tax cuts towards large corporates and the filthy rich, or the next time they send a poster van to racially mixed neighbourhoods imploring 'illegals' to "go home". All this in an attempt to impose their poisenous, evidence free, dogma driven ideology on the country. Finally I will admire the Tories' munificence next time I leaf through the majority of the press who act as their mouthpiece, the hysterical, prejudice-laden, voice of powerful vested interests that are the Daily Mail, the Express, the Sun and the Telepgraph. No, our prejudiced friend is DEFINITELY a Tory (or UKIP, same difference innit).

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Nonsense...it's a labour supporter...their fingerprints all over it...

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Someone of a right wing persuasion is ideologically predisposed to these sort of attitudes and opinions. They go to the very core of the kind of belief system from which sprang the Conservative party and their bed fellows in UKIP. As has been said, it is to be hoped this person has nothing to do with the campaign group.

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

Oh for fuck's sake, some of you mongs will find a way to bring party politics into absolutely anything. Anonymous, if you're going to try and spread your pro-UKIP message you're going to have to be a bit more subtle than that. Labour famous for looking down on people? Do you mean when compared to the Greens? Or Respect? Or the Communists? Have you ever actually spoken to a Labour politician or listened to anything they've said?

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

I should probably add that I'm not a Labour supporter or voter. I'm a neutral party (I even think UKIP are not treated reasonably by the mass media), but I hate political bullshit.

DavidMarch 10th 2015.

Calling people 'mongs' ie spastic is not acceptable Shit Biscuit in this day and age especially and suggests a very bigoted mind.You should withdraw it.

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

I'm bigoted against stupid people, not people with disabilities. You mong.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Not spoken to a Labour Party politician but you don't have to speak to one personally to know that they are very find of looking down on people who don't fit their ideas I've certainly listened to a fair few over the years and if you don't agree with them they stick some label on you that is supposed to put you in your place as their intellectual and political inferiors. Basically if you don't share their view of the world you are wrong. Their arrogance as a party is breathtaking.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Shit biscuit thinks I'm UKIP? I wouldn't vote for them if my life depended on it. Dreadful bunch of people. Political dinosaurs that belong in the Natural History Museum along with the left of the Labour Party.

DavidMarch 10th 2015.

Your a bully and thug who thinks they have right to use vile derogatory insults,just because people have a different view than you.You talk about UKIP supporters when it seems it's you like you belongs in the far right National Front.

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

Wrong. I believe I have the right to be insulting, because we live in a free country. I believe in robust debate. People can take a different view to me and I don't have a problem with it. The problem I have is that is when people can't support their views with a consistent, logical, informed argument worth a damn.

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

If you say so Anon, I take it back. But be mindful of who's rhetoric you share.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

SB...I tried to think of the last time I supported one or other of the political parties in an election. It was sometime before Margaret Thatcher became PM. I had no part at all in her rise to power and I'm pleased to say I had nothing to do with Blair. And none of the new parties, UKIP, Greens (or Watermelons as they should be called, green on the outside, red on the inside) or whoever have done nothing to make me want to vote for them. The rhetoric I use is my own and has nothing to do with any political party. Don't try to bundle me in with any political grouping that you think I may belong in. Which ever you choose you will be wrong.

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

Fair enough, Anon.

SmittyMarch 11th 2015.

Please can we have anonymous ranting removed from Mancon. Please?

EditorialMarch 11th 2015.

That's a fine idea

AnonymousMarch 11th 2015.

Not sure about that, Smitty. I was approached by Mancon to sign up during an MFDF a few years ago. I logged in now and then to enter competitions and occasionally post a rant. Over time I found that my non-offensive and honest rants weren't always agreed with and I was subjected to a bit of trolliing from others. Then, the icing on the cake was having a member of Mancon staff insult me. This is why I post as Anon. I'll be having a word with JS about it during one of his tours to see what we can do about it.

AnonymousMarch 13th 2015.

I also used to post under a name. I remember just making a comment about turning some surface car parks into little green spaces. I thought it was a nice inoffensive idea. The amount of abuse I got was unbelievable so I will no longer use my named account again. It isn't worth the trouble and the abuse. So anonymous I stay. Remove the trolls first before removing people who might constructive ideas.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Soon the great minds who thought this development was a good idea will be running our local NHS.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

Have you seen Manchester's newish MRI hospital? Ugly isn't the word. I don't think procurement of new buildings is the NHS's strong point. I'd rather look at the glass vestibule link building thing.

AnonymousMarch 9th 2015.

The truth is we know the monopoly of planning power in Manchester City Council is a few people who could sit around one table. Sadly it seems they have no intention of talking to or respecting a dialogue or involvement of the public. This has and will happen again and again in this city. It was laughable when SRL said to Morag on Twitter he always replies to correspondence and called them liars. These leaders do not respond and seldom care to. They jealously guard of their position to make their decisions without involvement. This impenetrable leadership needs to recognise the fact better decisions can and need to be made by involving people and especially very intelligent and capable ones like this group. To err is human. To cynically diminish and ignore, unforgivable.

LesleyMarch 9th 2015.

Really sad SRLs folly to stay. How did this happen !!!!

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Why didn't Pat Karney object to this?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

It would mean standing up to his political masters in the Town Hall and Labour in Manchester doesn't allow any opposition. It's why they got 100% of the seats on the council off 21% of the electorate voting for them. Monstrosities like the crystal turd blocking the passage of Library Walk usually turn up in one party states at some time or another.

David SmithMarch 10th 2015.

It's 100% on 40% of the vote with turnouts being around 30%. Council elections next year will be on the day of teh general election so turnouts will be higher (hopefully). Then again Lucy Powell did get in last time with only 18% turnout.

DavidMarch 10th 2015.

One gets the sense in Manchester that the only thing senior Labour figures are watching is the succession to Leese as Labour leader and hence leader of the City.Hence they do and say nothing about anything,except bland platitudes about listening to the public.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

If you count in he people who didn't vote for whatever reason (usually disenchantment with the quality of politicians and the idea that their vote doesn't matter) Labour got 100% of the seats on the council on 21% of the electorate. Shameful situation.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

And this from a COUNCIL that can not even give us CLEAN streets????

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

It is of course street users who should give us clean streets. I hope you are not one that makes them filthy Anon or perhaps you fell I should pay any tax to clean up after you.

DavidMarch 10th 2015.

If it's not the responsibility of the council at all to clean the streets but merely of the public to not drop litter, then sack all the council cleaners and give the citizens a reduction in their council tax.

Peter CoppingMarch 10th 2015.

I assume David you believe that people who drop litter etc have the right to do so and the Council should clean it up at my expense as a CT payer. I assume you exercise you right.

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

The streets are filthy and it has nothing to do with litter, streets need a clean every now and again as they become grimey with the amount of people walking over them every day, I'd have thought that was obvious. Every city in the Western world cleans its streets, blaming the public is plain weird, I've never seen seen residents of New York or London cleaning their own streets.

shit biscuitMarch 10th 2015.

David! Good to see you back and as much of a space cadet as ever!

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Yes and so does Manchester at least round me bu the commercial people I think contribute

Kevin PeelMarch 10th 2015.

City centre councillors are disappointed with this whole process. We supported the campaign to save Library Walk from the outset. I spoke against the plans on record in public when the decision was called in to scrutiny, we submitted a formal objection to the planning committee and my colleague Joan attended the inquiry on most days as a show of support on behalf of us all. We hope this doesn't dishearten residents from continuing to shout about things you're passionate about and we're always willing to work with people in the city centre who want to make our neighbourhood a better place. We can't always convince a majority of our colleagues to agree with us but we never stop trying and more often than not we get somewhere. Please don't let the outcome here tarnish your view of us all or the democratic process.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Far too late....Labour in Manchester and democracy don't go together at all...

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 11th 2015.

I think Kevin that is a good response to the crying shame of Library Walk. The city centre councillors did good work on this. But what people miss is that although Library Walk appears a small thing what it represents is something far larger. It's an important moment because the council refuses to accept there is no need for this structure and has no real case to argue for its merits but are prepared to fight citizens who know far more about aesthetics and how cities work than the elected representatives who asked stupid questions as part of the planning permission game. I have sympathy for the inspector, I suppose, despite his mealy-mouthed report, in the same way I had sympathy for referees before goal line technology in the Premier League. Their hands were tied by pig headed and out of date ideas. For Library Walk the only avenue (so to speak) to take was over the stopping up order not over the quality and necessity of the blob. To live in a city is to walk it, feel it through your toes - I sometimes wonder whether people who make such decisions actually do this. If they did it would be clear this stupid piece of non-architecture compromises the fine re-development of St Peter's Square. The council leaders who sneaked it through, the planners who sneaked it through, the architect who adheres to Modernism, despite this utter negation of its principles, should all be ashamed as they walk past not just the blob but also the gates and fence (as if an open city needs more of these things) that will have to appear on the Mount Street side. This tiny piece of the dark arts cost THREE AND A HALF MILLION POUNDS for no gain whatsoever. That's 175 jobs at £20,000 this year. There are so many good things happening in Manchester so the foolishness of this seems perverse. As I say the significance of Library Walk is it shows us the council are not prepared to listen and they and the planning department will do as they wish and when they get backed into a corner over a preposterous notion will be prepared to get people in such as the horrible QC they hired over this issue to win the fight rather than simply say 'We're sorry and we'll redirect the £3,5m'. It means we all have to be careful in our neighbourhoods because the city doesn't think our opinions matter. This shows planning consultations are a one way street - leading away from the electorate.

AnonymousMarch 11th 2015.

Great post, JS. So...'The council leaders who sneaked it through, the planners who sneaked it through'...can we have names please and, who benefited? The structure is just scenery now, clouding over what actually happened.

moragMarch 11th 2015.

I'd like to echo what Jonathan says here about how in many ways Library Walk was a conduit to many other issues. We are not the only group of residents to feel disenfranchised (and this is not about this particular verdict, but the whole process). For example, the majority of councillors do not even acknowledge correspondence from local residents and the structure of council meetings are arcane and alienating. (I've written about the experience here: manchestermule.com/…/gates-come-down-on-library-walk-dissent…). For what its worth I felt the Inquiry itself was handled well, it was the only time actually we were able to ask questions and engage in a proper debate. Through my day job I meet very many community groups and I would love to hear examples of excellent consultation and genuine participating in Greater Manchester, and would like to help facilitate more of them because it feels like the same mistakes happen time and again. Finally to reiterate the campaign was not party political, and our supporters came from all parties and none. If anyone wants to see the evidence we collated and presented at the inquiry please get in touch as I'd be happy to share. Cheers, Morag

Kevin PeelMarch 11th 2015.

Thanks for your acknowledgement of our role Jonathan and I can only say I disagree with very little of what you say...

Ed GlinertMarch 11th 2015.

Kev, while you're on, how's the campaign to put up a Pankhurst statue going? Is the Labour council still planning to erect a statue to the Tory Emmeline Pankhurst rather than the socialist Sylvia Pankhurst, just to add to the number of statues of Tories in the city centre (2) against the number of socialists (1, currently in storage)? I'm still waiting for my invitation to speak to the Labour group to explain why Manchester should have a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst and not Emmeline or of all the Pankhursts (such as the fascist Adela)!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Poster BoyMarch 11th 2015.

So now we are counting how many statues are 'Labour' v 'Tory' are we? Hideous.

SmittyMarch 11th 2015.

Ed, that's a weird comment. What's your view on having a statue of Gladstone in Albert Square AND inside the Town Hall? I think this city is quite big enough to celebrate the achievements of people who did good things in the past, whether we support the current iterations of their political parties or not. Lincoln was a Republican, should we tear down his statue on Brazennose Street because we don't like George Bush? Strange...

Kevin PeelMarch 11th 2015.

We don't put up statues on party lines, Ed. The campaign for recognition of THE PANKHURSTS (plural) recognises the important contribution they all made to our city and the country, irrespective of party affiliations.

John RyanMarch 11th 2015.

Great post, Jonathan.

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