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Library Walk To Be Gated

Jonathan Schofield on planned changes to one of Manchester's favourite little streets

Published on June 5th 2012.


Library Walk To Be Gated

LIBRARY WALK is to be radically changed and gated under city council plans.

The proposals will fundamentally alter one of the best loved and most distinctive Manchester spaces. Library Walk will effectively become private and capable of being closed off at whim. The planning documents posted 14 May 2012 can be viewed here.

‘The pedestrian benefits from the Library’s curved flank and the echoing curve of the Rates Hall (in the Town Hall Extension), surely the most dramatic and mysterious pedestrian way in the city.’ 

The proposals, titled Library Walk Link, are made up of an Ian Simpson Architects designed glazed space linking Central Library and the Town Hall Extension.

The pavement levels on each side of Library Walk will be sloped upward to reach the link at current ground floor window level of the Central Library and the Town Hall Extension. The new entrances will access the buildings through former windows. Steel features in the roof of the link will add light and provide reflections of the Grade II* listed buildings on each side. 

Library Walk from St Peter's Square with the canopyLibrary Walk from St Peter's Square with the glazed link 

People will be able to move between St Peter’s Square and Mount Street via sliding doors but only on a limited basis. The doors will be locked at a time that accords with the ‘operational requirements of Central Library and the Town Hall Extension’. These times are unspecified, but gates at Mount Street will close off the Library Walk between 10pm and 6am.

The Planning Statement prepared by Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners explains the reasoning behind the link.

‘The glazed link will provide a prominent single entrance allowing customers to easily navigate their way to the service required. It will supplement the existing entrances of Central Library and the Town Hall Extension, reducing the congestion at the existing narrow entrances predicted as a result of the expected additional numbers of visitors.’

It’s a shame that this wasn’t understood when the major refurbishment of the two buildings was proposed several years back – although one document in the present planning proposal says it was.

As the images from our article in 2010 show (click here) it was clearly thought that the existing entrances and the new underground links would be adequate, and indeed were the solution to circulation problems – and those of disabled and buggy access, now also being quoted as a reason for blocking Library Walk.

Back in 2010 there was no proposed 'Library Walk Link'Back in 2010 there was no proposed 'Library Walk Link'

Priorities change as building works proceed, of course they do. But this one seems to have been a major oversight that could spoil a beautiful, if small, part of our city. Surely how a building will be accessed is a start point for designers not a hasty amendment.

As for the beauty of Library Walk even the Planning Statement concedes: ‘It is a unique space of grand scale and distinctive form within the cityscape.’

Library WalkLibrary Walk

Where the planning application comes unstuck is in the Heritage Statement (click here) from ‘global design, architecture and planning firm’ HOK.

First off, they clearly know little about how people feel about Library Walk in Manchester.

Secondly the document is distasteful in its partiality through selective choice of quotes and phrases in engineering a case for the Council proposal. Surely this should have been an impartial assessment.

Here are a few quotes from HOK.

‘Library Walk is a space between buildings that was never really designed. While  it is used by pedestrians in the daytime as a cut-through from St Peter’s Square to Mount Street, at night it is often used as a public toilet.’ 

‘It is not a particularly pleasant space.’ 

‘As a potential tourist destination, Library Walk is not a pleasant public space for visitors to the Civic heart of one of the largest cities in the UK.’ 

‘Having applied Evidential, Historic, Aesthetic and Communal values (the government tests for whether listed buildings of this sort can be altered) it has limited value.’ 

Another view of the proposalAnother view of the proposal

Of course HOK could claim Confidential is being selective in its quotes as well. 

But it’s these paragraphs from their report that are the cheekiest. 

'Contrary to perception, Library Walk is barely mentioned in fiction or nonfiction, and there have only been a handful of references. Barry Worthington in Discovering Manchester (2002) refers to Library Walk as an ‘impressive curved passageway’; and Guy MacDonald in England (2004) describes Library Walk as ‘canyon like’; while Charles Tyrie in The Cheshire Conspiracy (2009) simply calls it ‘narrow’.

'But it is Anthony Thompson in his study Library buildings of Britain and Europe: an international study, with examples mainly from Britain and some from Europe and overseas (1963) who perhaps captures the feeling of many people living in Manchester and using Library Walk when he acknowledges that it is better known locally as ‘pneumonia alley because of the winter winds’.' 

The inclusion of Tyrie’s quote is laughable, and HOK misses the easy to find positive quotes about Library Walk while clearly without any intimate knowledge of the city guessing how people here 'feel'. 

Philip Atkins in his 1987 Guide Across Manchester wrote: ‘The pedestrian benefits from the Library’s curved flank and the echoing curve of the Rates Hall (in the Town Hall Extension), surely the most dramatic and mysterious pedestrian way in the city.’ 

Meanwhile Phil Griffin, one of the foremost commentators on architecture and design in the North West, wrote on Manchester Confidential in 2008: ‘Library Walk, already damn near perfect in its materials, proportions, orientation, volume, geometry and scale, must not be damaged in any way. (And it must) maintain an unimpeded through route between Mount Street and St Peter’s Square.’

Griffin's British Museum solutionGriffin's British Museum solutionIt’s ironic that Griffin in this article was arguing for glazing Library Walk although very differently from that proposed under the Simpson plan. Instead it would have been glazed high up, as in the Great Court in the British Library by Foster + Partners. You can read his arguments for this approach here

HOK missed the positive quotes and many others, such as these from Aidan O’Rourke.

They also missed the BBC Radio Manchester Talk of the Town programme a few years back where Anthony H Wilson sang Library Walk’s praises. 

HOK's arguments ring false. The only basis for the changes on Library Walk is to make access to Central Library and the Town Hall Extension better. 

The statements in the Heritage Statement and elsewhere concerning use as a ‘public toilet’, suffering from being 'poorly lit' and not currently providing 'a welcoming environment, particularly late at night', are empty-headed. 

Every single side street in the city centre needs to be gated if the public toilet argument is to be taken seriously, as for being poorly lit then light it better, as for not providing a welcoming environment at night then...er...light it better. 

Nor do the implications of the glazed link seem to have been thought through adequately. The gates at the Mount Street end will be closed at 10pm until 6pm, which means the new glazed entrance with its link between St Peter’s Square and Mount Street will have to follow suit and thus be open until 10pm. If not, that first section will become a perfect cul-de-sac for use as a urinal and other errant behaviour.

Aa1Location of the gates

But if the entrances into Central Library and the Town Hall Extension are closed before 10pm, people will have to walk through a sort of glass room on Library Walk.

If HOK think Library Walk is not a ‘pleasant place’ now because of its canyon-like quality, how less pleasant will that section feel under this proposal. It will feel a place of threat due to its contained nature – a sort of short glass subway. 

There’s also a staffing implication to the new plans as the police in the planning submission have asked for  ‘physical supervision for the last 30 minutes before the area is shut at night, to reduce anti-social behaviour and to allow for clearing of the space.’ 

The gates at Mount Street will be 'commemorative' and subject to a separate design competition. 

Library Walk is already damn near perfect in its materials, proportions, orientation, volume, geometry and scale.'

Library Walk is a much loved city centre asset.

Formed through city council edict in the 1920s to keep Central Library and the Town Hall Extension separate, it has become one of the most recognisable of Mancunian thoroughfares. 

It’s well to remember that voids, spaces and gaps around buildings help define the latter. Library Walk does that with its neighbours.

If anything it recalls those tiny, charming, alleys in say, Florence or Sienna flanked by mightly palaces. Would anybody propose gating those, or impeding movement with glazed partitions?

So the questions to ask are these.

Is the City Council absolutely certain we need to lose this special part of the city?

Is it convinced that adequate circulation can’t be achieved through the existing and (under construction) entrances and links into Central Library and the Town Hall Extension?

And as this is first and foremost not about the design qualities of the proposed link but its suitability, shouldn't we be asking whether less in this location means definitely more?

Or maybe it's a question of whether aesthetics can occasionally win out over expediency in Manchester?  

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

There is a facebook group, not associated in any way with Manchester Confidential, for those who wish to contest the proposals here.

Diagram with the changes from the Mount Street endDiagram with the changes from the Mount Street end

1930S Picture Prior To Town Hall Extension Opening From The 'Heritage Statement' Document1930s picture prior to the Town Hall Extension opening - picture taken from HOK's 'Heritage Statement' 

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

AnonymousJune 5th 2012.

All to save some podgy folk at the council a few steps each day. If the "toilet" justification was true then it would just need a gate at each end, not a throughfare between the two buildings

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 6th 2012.

Anonymous as another anonymous has posted (6 June below), comments like this and the next one are childish, and do nothing to build an argument against the proposals with reasoned debate.

AnonymousJune 5th 2012.

And by the way that Griffin concept looks great. Can't expect any common sense or foresight from the council

AnonymousJune 5th 2012.

Utterly ridiculous....

MorganJune 5th 2012.

Oh no, please no. No matter how light the structure, no matter how elegant the gates, it will still fundamentally alter one of the sweetest byways in the city. Surely access issues can be found. Doesn't the Town Hall Extension have at least four and and the Library another four.

Morag RoseJune 5th 2012.

<Claps loudly and nods sadly as i read this>

the save library walk group are also having a meeting, this thursday 7th June 6-8pm at the bakerie tasting store in the hive off lever street. we want to try and co-ordinate a response to these dreadful plans - we've got a lot of different reasons to object(aesthetic, civil liberties, economic etc) but we all love those curves and want to keep them!

we do have a real chance to influence this decision at such an early stage, if you can't make the meeting or want to get in touch about the campaign please email loiter@hepzombie.co.uk (hope this isnt hi-jacking the thread but library walk is a place we really love)

Thanks very much for such a well written article mancon

Cheers
Morag

PS There is also some information on how to express displeasure courtesy of the modernist society herehttp://tinyurl.com/bwcscwf (useful in other planning cases as well)

1 Response: Reply To This...
Morag RoseJune 5th 2012.

oops meant to put the campaign email address - its savelibrarywalk@gmail.com (is anyone able to edit that post please mancon?)

StephenJune 5th 2012.

I may be wrong, but isn't it the case that if people come forward and state that they have been using the route for some time, then they have a right of way. Is there, or has there ever been a sign up stating "no right of way"?

1 Response: Reply To This...
GimboidJune 5th 2012.

You're dead right - obviously the council have a partial get out in that it's still an open path in the daytime, but we'll look into what the law says. Ta

Lord Rogers of RiversideJune 5th 2012.

Bad idea full stop

Lord Rogers of RiversideJune 5th 2012.

May I elaborate?

Every building in the history of mankind (apart from the pyramids) have one thing in common: they have an entrance.

Both historic and modern day buildings are designed with porticos, ground floor recesses, scaled double height markers and other features to denote 'this is my entrance'.

It's rule number one for anyone trained in architecture: draw an outline of a building and you will instinctively find the entrance due to its inherent configuration.

images.easyart.com/i/prints/lg/1/6/165890.jpg…

Adding a half-hearted extra to an existing configuration always makes me cringe, it rarely works well.

But in this instance, it does not stop there. By closing off what is effectively the unique selling point of the town hall extension and the library's configuration, the nature of this unique space will change beyond recognition. No reasoning whatsoever behind this decision will successfully better that fact.

Phil's proposal favourably addresses this crux, however, one would hope that direct copies in detail of reference exemplar designs could be avoided.

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

Glad you elaborated Lord Rogers, as "bad idea full stop" just isn't good enough when objecting to planning.

Also, just being casually insulting, such as the first comment (also ignorant - this has nothing to do with making it easier for council employees to get around) undermines arguments against it. I know this is hard for some of the commentators on here, but if we're serious about this, can we have a mature debate? That way, if Mancon attempts a campaign, there is more chance of success.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Lord Rogers of RiversideJune 6th 2012.

Dear Anon,

I have made my point with regards to aesthetics.

I also have serious doubts with regards to functionality, and am at no point refering to 'the council's employees getting around'.

Others have highlighted the public footpath aspect.

In brief, we know there are better solutions than the one on the table right now.

It baffles me that the public access website neither gives us the details of the proposal nor allows us to comment on this matter. Are we dealing with a fait accompli here?

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

But the most DAMNING CONCLUSION to this "latest" desecration, is that Manchester Town Hall just hasn't got a clue about good city planning! (When it comes to attractive cityscapes, Manchester is falling well behind rival cities now - and Bernstein & Leese just don't seem to "get it"!)

Rather than an elected police commissioner, wouldn't Manchester be better off with a directly elected head of town planning instead?

Darren ScottJune 6th 2012.

The Griffin idea would have be amazing and created a light and airy Milanese style arcade, creating an amazing new space whilst preserving an old one. The Simpson plan is a cheap lazy solution that will look exactly that, a cheap tacky bolted on solution!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Calum McGJune 7th 2012.

Completely agree. When the high-level glazing was first suggested, I thought 'fantastic'. The low-level solution looks, frankly, crap.

AnonymousJune 8th 2012.

As amazing as the Griffin idea looks, it would still need gating at either end to prevent birds nesting at the top, and have you thought of the cleaning costs of such a venture? Practicalities....

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

What are they thinking? It'd be an absolute travesty if this is granted consent. It would create an entirely inappropriate intervention on the distinct and unique space between these two buildings, bloody awful.

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

It is a public right of way and should stay that way. If this walkway was in the countryside and it was blocked by whoever wanted to then there would be an uproar, resulting in the planning permission being cancelled - as it should be now! Someone is playing Big Brother here and it should NOT be allowed. I have to say at this point neither should the Cenotaph be moved - it is on sacred ground (the site of a church) and not moved just for the sake of more tram lines - plus you cannot move historical sites! What is going on in the Planning Office is someone deliberately trying to destroy British Heritage. It should be reviewed urgently. They could preserve our sites and save public money - yes it's our money they are using! by stopping this and putting the money where it is needed by providing more care for the elderly as we will all be worn out by the time we retire and we will need all the help we ca get - well those of us who are working, we won't get a hand out for giving them the money to make a mess of this City. To all those who say I should be grateful I am working - you are the ones who are better off, as most companies now pay the minimum wage to survive - result the workers don't have enough money to live, never mind be able to put into a private pension or private health schemes. Before you say "but you will find. Money to drink or smoke" no I don't do either - the only way I can afford to go to work is by using my bus pass (I am epileptic - not drawing disability by the way!) - I just don't know how other people can cope. Someone has to do something soon.

Alan McGloneJune 6th 2012.

I am not against the changes to this impressive cut through but I still dont understand why we need it.
I dont want to sound s if I an always against change but why do we need this. It is unique as it is. Two grand buildings from a unique perspective.
I walked through this cut through daily when i was a city council employee and it provided a chance to look at two impressive buildings from a different point of view. It was a benefit and contributed to my quality of life.
Architects and City fathers should remember that what makes a place unique is its idiosyncrasies as well as its big statements.
I sometimes wonder if idiosyncrasies that are already there dont make as much profit as big new statements...and thats why they are steadily lost.
I hope this change to a bit of Manchesters chracter isnt a grand gesture too far.

The Manchester ManJune 6th 2012.

The HOK design offers unfortunate unwanted street clutter that reduces the integrity, flow and permeability of Library Walk. A plan direct from the brains that brought us the Market Street obelisk and the Piccadilly concrete wall? Conversely, Griffin’s Foster-esque roof looks fantastic, but unless national funding could be found, perhaps isn’t worth the additional cost given the current constraints on local government spending and Library Walk already functioning effectively.

Denise D'ambraJune 6th 2012.

No, No, No, this glass dome will hide the most beautiful curved and arched windows of this stunning building. The symmetry as you approach is amazing. We need to save our architecturally beautiful building for future generations. This glass dome will not stand the test of time. On a point of law if this is a right of way, we should fight to keep it that way.

Charlie BJune 6th 2012.

Remember also that the ground level will slope up to the new feature so look at the 'just about finished' 1930s picture above and imagine the areas under the windows slowly being eaten up until we get to the 'glass link'.

LucyJune 6th 2012.

It may be a shame but after the terrible rape that occurred along library walk shortly before it was closed for works, I wouldn't want to walk down there any more anyway. At least it will be a safe space now.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Vicki GallagherJune 14th 2012.

Women (and men) can make a choice not to use the walkway alone in the dark.

Philip HanesJune 6th 2012.

Interesting. It's a shame, but maybe this will add something. I just hope that Manchester City Council will keep it clean. The old Town Hall and Town Hall Extension were filthy; the Council should be ashamed of letting these buildings get in such a state.

Ghostly TomJune 6th 2012.

I liked the 'British Museum' option. It covered the space without cutting it off. I don't object to the glass bit in the new design but I'd need to see what these gates look like. I don't see the point of a new entrance. I only use the St Peter's Square entrance not bring the kind of guy who uses the tradesmens entrance. The new plan looks out of scale with the buildings. I'm remindedog the lean to plastic conservatory that used to be on the side of Ordsall Hall if anyone remembers that? They should come up with a bolder plan if this has to be done at all. Am appalled at what happened there as said in Lucy's comment. Will be difficult to enjoy the space without thinking about that.

PavraoJune 6th 2012.

Have always loved that little library walk since I've lived in
Manchester ...have always loved to take visitors through it and hear
their wows ! Am not sure what this'll do to it...but if it's enclosed
in anyway then the charm of it being a walk will be lost, though it
may become beautiful in a different way !

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

The application is here 099354/LO/2012/C1 but you have to enter it though http://www.manchester.gov.uk/planning/publicaccess and agree the copyright notice. For making objections the players is the game are English Heritage, the councils statement on the conservation area. and the advisory comittee on conservation areas. I am not sure if the the old Conservation Area 'advice still can be used. I would think

I think the picture is misleading unless it is to be permanently lit up and Ian Simpsons's guy who I heard a presentation from should be asked how it would look without the 'heavenly light' (is it St.Ian now?)

Lord Rogers of RiversideJune 6th 2012.

Tried that before - there are no drawings associated with this application, just a list. What could one comment on?

I am assuming they will be uploaded?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

There's seven pages of associated documents on the link that is in the first par of this story. The images are on page 7.

Peter CastreeJune 6th 2012.

This is exactly what we were told would NOT happen when plans for the redevelopment of St Peter’s Square were being discussed. The Old Town Hall, New Town Hall and Central Library form one of the grandest monumental groups of buildings in the country. This is widely recognised. To destroy the space between any of the three would be to the detriment of the overall architectural worth of this group. Would the planners propose a similar ‘link’ for Lloyd Street? I think not. Any concerns about the increased number of visitors should have been taken into account right at the beginning and the design of the underground link between Central Library and the New Town Hall should have been adjusted accordingly. Perhaps it still can? Library Walk should not be sacrificed; it is integral to the whole. Pave it decently, light it and make sure an eye is kept on its use. I’ve said it before but a world class city would be capable of achieving all this. At this rate, Manchester is going to be stuffed full of Ian Simpson's uninspiring steel and glass boxes. Again, a world class city would encourage better and more varied buildings.

Andrew WigleyJune 6th 2012.

The city council like to give Rights of Way away.
We have gates at Manchester Science Park between 2 buildings not a whole area! They left it 7 years and then started to lock them because there "Little Hitler" Estate Manager David Mctear decided so.

Hannah HavekinJune 6th 2012.

This can't happen! Mancheter Confidemntial is there time to whip up a petition? I am sure that the true citizen's of Manchester who love and adore this city would hate to see this happen!? I will be logging on to all relevant sites to lodge any complaint I can!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Tom HilesJune 6th 2012.

Hi Hannah, we'll be launching a petition after our campaign meeting tomorrow evening - please come along if you'd like to input into the wording of the petition statement. Details on the Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/431931913491376/ where there are also details about how to lodge your objections.

Andrew WigleyJune 6th 2012.

This is on the Planning Application

Do the proposals require any diversions/extinguishments and/or creation of rights of way?

To be applied for under separate process, should planning permission be granted. YOU CAN OBJECT AT THIS TIME

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

Look, Library Walk was quite interesting to walk down but we're not talking about one of the 7 Wonders here. It often smelled of piss and even walking through it during the day never felt that safe. It'll be sad to see it go but the fuss about it is ridiculous.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

Philistine

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

Central Library is arguably not one of the 7 wonders. Should we demolish it? Point being, we should cherish what special places we do have. We don't have much better than 'quite interesting to walk down' in Manchester.

AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

Clearly a great number of people disagree with you, so perhaps your understanding of LW's value is at fault?

Calum McGJune 7th 2012.

I'm more concerned about the poor-quality design offered than the fact it will be locked at night. Got no issue with that.

Tom HilesJune 6th 2012.

Anon, I challenge you to look at these photos and not agree something worth saving is under threat!
www.flickr.com/…/?q=%22library+walk%22+manchester…

1 Response: Reply To This...
Tom HilesJune 6th 2012.

That was meant for the '7 Wonders' Anon.

AnonymousJune 7th 2012.

I thought that council were skint? I hear the talking of 'savage government cuts' and see that services are being cutback.

I hear this building work cost £170m. Now, if it was mantenace and upkeep then fine but £170m when slashing services, parking charges going up etc!

Have you seen that cladding around the building site advertising council services - how much did teh cladding cost?

Either they are skint or they aren't.

Kevin PeelJune 7th 2012.

I'm a councillor for the city centre and I'm interested to hear the views of local residents on this. If you want to send me your comments, please do so at cllr.k.peel@manchester.gov.uk.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Peter CastreeJune 7th 2012.

With respect, Kevin, this is a matter which concerns many more people than just city centre residents. We are talking about one of the major architectural groupings in the country. There seems to be a determination among those keen to 'develop' Manchester city centre to steamroller over anything of true worth in favour of the superficial quick fix. This is resulting in inappropriate add-ons, which are detracting from the quality of our public places. The Library Walk link is only one instance of this unfortunate trend. Other examples are the totally unnecessary footbridge thrown across the Irwell within twenty metres of the existing (and perfectly serviceable though neglected) Victoria Bridge and the appalling corrugated iron shed, which is completely out of sympathy with the dignity of the surrounding court buildings in what used to be Crown Square - another open space needlessly sacrificed. In the headlong chase to maximise income from every square metre of city centre land, the city planners are creating a jumbled mess rather than a cityscape worthy of Manchester's heritage.

James KayJune 7th 2012.

Not more 'send me your comments' requests! Why? To be completely ignored whilst the Councillor and his cronies just do what they want anyway!

In a couple of months' time we'll hear about the 'extensive consultation' etc. etc. and it was decided that the voters/residents were wrong and the council was right all along.

What did you do with all the 'comments' in respect of the ludicrous parking plans? Nowt!

Calum McGJune 7th 2012.

Peter, the bar to which you refer is only temporary. When the recession ends, that whole plot is destined to have a building on it, as is much of the other open space in Spinningfields. There's a huge tower yet to come (hopefully).

AnonymousJune 7th 2012.

I love library walk for it's graceful, dramatic curve and losing that interplay (which is what would happen) between the two buildings just misses the point, doesn't it? A structure of any sort would be detrimental to the playfulness of that architectural coupling. And I have to say I find it deplorable that the council are trying to rob us of yet more of our public space. Was it not enough to hand the Arndale a few of our streets? I know it's not exactly the same because this would serve a public purpose but it's still the loss of our, by which I mean the public's, space. Also, I don't mean to sound overly sardonic but when was the last time you struggled to get into either of those buildings due to massive footfall (when we could use them of course)? My fiance worked in the extension for a while and I never had any trouble getting in or out to see her. It's hardly like traversing the Arena steps to a sell-out concert - in my view the entrances are more than adequate.

TivvyJune 8th 2012.

This new design has my support if it clears the dropouts/beggers that litter the doorways with urine and spent beer bottles/cans on Library Walk

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 8th 2012.

Tivvy, you begger (sic) belief with your bigoted views. Be off with you.

AnonymousJune 8th 2012.

Do you think 'beggers' simply disappear when they're moved on? Do you think people will simply hold it in until they get home if they can't pee in Library Walk? You've been hoodwinked by MCC's spurious justification. Go you.

Chris BurkeJune 8th 2012.

Library Walk is a lovely neo-classical sweep, an arc which completes the circumference of the library. The Simpson proposal is an ungainly and unworthy box just blocking the way, both physically and visually. The space in front of its convex glass doors looks forgotten and left-over, simply encouraging its misuse. Surely this space deserves better. The Griffin proposal with proper lighting could increase the Walk's pedestrian use, thereby minimising the chances of any more appalling incidents occurring there. Manchester planning committee - please rethink!

AnonymousJune 8th 2012.

I don't particularly like the artists' impressions, but I do like the idea of bridging the two buildings together. For those of you who scream murder about any changes, take the rose-tinted spectacles off. Library walk was dark, draughty and was generally a toilet after dark. So long as this is done tastefully and with care, I think it'll be a great addition to two lovely buildings. I seem to remember the same outrage when the extension was added to the John Rylands Library - yet people now accept it as a beautiful addition.

This link will give people the opportunity to access both the Rates Hall/Customer Service Centre for MCC and also the refurbished Central Library. It's a great way of opening up the buildings, and I for one support the concept.

On the Griffin idea, yes I agree it looks superb and adds to the British Museum. However the sheer challenge of upkeep, cleaning and maintenance (not to mention the cost) just isn't worth the hassle.

Lesa DryburghJune 8th 2012.

This passageway is one of the joys of accessible outdoor public spaces anywhere in Manchester. To glass and gate it off will remove free access - and these squeezed thoroughfares between some of Manchester's most historic architecture give us a sense of our city's history - and can inspire daydreams and creative ideas as we pass through every day and evening. Please don't restrict access with these proposals.

AnonymousJune 9th 2012.

Firstly, although the City Council excels at suburban alley gating I do think it is wholly unnecessary in the city centre. Any concerns about the nocturnal safety of Library Walk can surely be mitigated (or at least reduced to a level equal to, if not better than, any other city centre side street) with adequate lighting and decent signposting. Also, to anyone unfamiliar with Manchester, just how much safer would inadvertently venturing into this cul-de-sac be at midnight anyway?

Once the load-bearing integrity of the flooring of Library Walk has been restored surely this area can be included on the rounds of the road sweeper buggies, making it just at least as presentable as any other similar route - such as Lloyd Street for example.

Secondly, and as a recent wheelchair user, I'm rather concerned about the desire to build in an incline on Library Walk. Why? Aesthetically and practically, there is just no need.

It is a beautiful, curious and unique part of Manchester and for decades it was a daily part of my life, as I am sure it is for hundreds of others. Of course it is functionally imperfect, but it deserves better than a petty civic conservatory.

AnonymousJune 9th 2012.

What is the lifespan of the glass building? Perhaps twenty years at best. Pathetic.

Don AllwrightJune 9th 2012.

Library Walk must be retained as a public thoroughfare. Apart from it's unique qualities which have been emphasised in many posts, we should be retaining 'peremeability' not reducing it. The safety issue is real but can easily br remedied by lighting, mirrors, cameras, etc. Ironically the 'Walk' leads to the Town Hall toilets so maybe a sign is needed! I don't think a roof is a good idea since it would be a temptation for homeless to camp out!

AnonymousJune 9th 2012.

Library Walk is a magnificent space in our City, it would be better if it is available all the time to walk through, but for me this is less important than the architectural implications of any additional forms in the composition. A 'bubble' of glass in between the two buildings is mean, inappropriate and looks like it has been driven by financial constraints rather than a search for a solution which seeks to enhance what is already there. It is crying out to be a 'galleria'. I suspect that Ian Simpson would agree.

moragJune 11th 2012.

with apologies for cross posting, The Save Library Walk meeting last week was very well attended and the facebook group has over 500 members in just a few days, so it is clear there are many people who do cherish this space which is very far from an accident. The campaign has been working on some really creative ideas, however we really need help now

Urgent Action is Required: we were advised we had 8 weeks to object to the plans, we now learn we only have 3 - which means comments have to be in by TOMORROW (insert rant about less than transparent planning proceedures here)

Please log in and register your objection here: pa.manchester.gov.uk/…/applicationDetails.do…

and if possible also please cc your letter to the people and places mentioned here:
manchestermodernists.wordpress.com/…/…
099352/VO/2012/C1 | CITY COUNCIL DEVELOPMENT Erection of a glazed link between Central Lib
pa.manchester.gov.uk

Any support much appreciated, I am gutted that the period to rally support is so short.

George MillsJune 15th 2012.

Lets not have another part of our city privatised. These informal yet vital connections across any city are its lifeblood.

Library Walk, before its temporary closure was a direct route from the Metrolink to Albert Square and beyond, and what a link,grandiose, spatially fantastic and yet wonderfully mysterious.

By all means link the two buildings at basement and upper levels, but leave this great public thoroughfare as a open and urban space.

Privatization of space began in this city in the 70's with the construction of the Arndale Centre which effectively meant that when it is shut some 18 acres of the city centre is off limits to its citizens.

When cities start giving up its streets squares and public spaces it is on the rocky road to being comprised of anonymous and alienating areas that lose all meaning to its citizens.

AnonymousJune 16th 2012.

Closing this 'walkway' is a great idea - it is a depositary for litter and a urinal each night at particularly at weekend. The planned glass 'building' / gate will be a great improvement.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Maths for the uncleanJune 16th 2012.

Then employ two full-time lollipop people and instate a McDonalds-style cleaning rota every 15min - if it only was that bad, Jeez...

Cost to the taxpayer: £24k/pa, so the £3.5m should last until 2158.

In fact, an even better like-for-like proposal would be: why not employ 15 full-time 'babysitters for pissheads' over the potential life cycle of this newly proposed glass turd at no extra cost!

Charlie BJune 17th 2012.

Anon. What and also close down every other small street and alleyway in the city centre? Daft reason that. Just looking after it better is all that's needed. And cleaning and better lighting might cost less than £3.5m

Charlotte HamiltonJune 21st 2012.

Re the "commemorative gates"- these are now apparently meant to be the Peterloo memorial which has been under discussion for some time- and apparently they are scrapping the design competition which is clearly referenced in the image taken from the plans

So we won't have the Peterloo memorial many people were hoping for, just some gates creating and unwanted block to access

And no one has any say about the design as there will not be an open competition

Between this and the pulping of 210,000 books from Central Library, I'm beginning to feel the Council is spending £millions of Manchester's money without anyone in Manchester having a say....

flyswatterJune 27th 2012.

How do we stop these maniacs? Library Walk is beautiful and graceful. There's so much else in Manchester that could be updated but this part should remain untouched. Where do they find all this money to destroy beautiful things??

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