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Piccadilly Gardens: Action At Last

Council finally acts on calls for change - but it's only small-scale

Published on April 20th 2014.


Piccadilly Gardens: Action At Last
 

LATE to the party come the MEN.

At some time in the not too distant future a taskforce applying sticking plasters will not be enough. 

For seven years now in countless articles and through countless interviews we've questioned the success of Piccadilly Gardens following their 'refurbishment' for the Commonwealth Games. 

The present disgraceful state of Piccadilly Gardens came to a head when Sir Howard Bernstein stated the Gardens were a "success" in an interview with Jill Burdett in March - click here.

At that point the 'lawns' in the 'gardens' were a bog or bereft of grass, the benches had become rotten and were dangerous to sit on, the statue bases were dirty or graffitied and that infamous 'Wall' was stained by carbon monoxide fumes. 

Bog land

Bog land

Derision descended on Sir Howard from our readers who aren't shy in coming forward. That seems to have piqued the interest of our Chadderton colleagues in the Old Press - although being old school journos they'll never credit us with being at the vanguard of calling for changes at Piccadilly Gardens. 

Instead looking up from their extensive coverage of crime and Corrie they noticed that the MEN's digital and physical postbags were bulging with complaints from their readers. Finally they reacted with a poll and a number of stories. The radio stations got in on the act too.

Dangerous benches

 

Dangerous benches

Attacked on all sides the council has, at last, decided to act.

Councillor Pat Karney, city centre spokesperson, told Confidential: "We're setting up a taskforce, chaired by me, to see how we can improve the area. All comments are welcome and all suggestions. And we hope to have things moving in the next couple of months.

"We've already got repairs to the benches underway and the grassed areas have been re-seeded. We now want to look at the 'Wall'."

"Why not demolish it and start again?" I asked.

"Unfortunately we've leased it out for 250 years to the owners of One Piccadilly and that's been bought by another developer. It would cost too much to buy the Wall back so we're thinking of creative ideas to make it better."

Further investigation is perhaps needed into the legals of how the council could lease the wall and its attendant eateries out for 250 years on land left for public use by the Mosley family. The Wall is currently owned by Europa Holdings.

The stained and much derided 'Wall'

The stained and much derided 'Wall'

Karney wants to start with a 'many walls' idea. This means a series of temporary installations and interventions on the drab structure with artworks, light projections, planting schemes and so on. There could be separate initiatives for separate sections of the Wall. Maybe even an art market on the big blank bus station side.

As for the rest of Piccadilly Gardens it seems the task force will have little money to implement any real change. 

This is sad. The whole place needs a re-think.

Piccadilly, tramlines and lawns

 

Piccadilly, tramlines and lawns

Type 'Great European Squares' into Google Images and none are made up of grassed areas with ugly plant holders five feet above the ground, perfect for dumping litter. They may have the odd tree, they almost certainly have a fountain and statues, but they are categorically not green spaces. 

Now put 'Great European City Gardens' into Google Images and not a single image comes up of a square. 

Piccadilly Gardens is an oxymoron, a misnomer, a mangled mishmash of a historical error compounded and continued by a sentimental attachment to an unintended hundred year old mistake.

Harold Brighouse writing in his famous novel Hobson's Choice in 1917 called the 'gardens' placed there after the infirmary buildings on the site were demolished 'an eyesore, a byword'. He described it as an area waiting for real ideas to take over. 

There have been magnificent schemes such as the proposal we revealed in this article for a new art gallery and extended public area but nothing happened - see picture below. 

The art gallery that never happened

The art gallery that never happened

The result is that older people now look back on the stop-gap sunken gardens with affection, even though they were never intended to be permanent.

As Karney says, "It's become Memory Square. People have an emotional attachment to it being a gardens and people always bring up the fact of their being so few green spaces in the city. If we redevelop the Gardens then we have to listen to the people in our wards who voted the council in and respect their views."

There might be some hollow laughs about that last sentence.

Piccadilly and the sunken gardens in the 1960s

Piccadilly and the sunken gardens in the 1960s

Pat Karney as scarecrowPat Karney as scarecrowConfidential thinks the council should sell Mancunians a new vision and point out to them how much money would be saved in not having to repair the lawns and the gardens every year.

Money is being wasted on the lawns again - right now. Here is Cllr Pat Karney playing the scarecrow for us and attempting to chase off the pigeons eating the seed on one re-seeded lawn.

Isn't it time for city leaders, public and private, to change direction? Make a real city square, hard surface the space?

In any case, if the plans around the Cathedral and the National Football Museum are realised then that area will provide a bigger, brighter, better green space than Piccadilly Gardens can. 

Cracow - Main Square

 

Cracow - Main Square

Confidential still stands by the words we wrote in 2008.

'Manchester is confusing squares with parks and coming up with a compromise that pleases no-one. Given the nature and location of Piccadilly Gardens we should forget they were gardens (they've been rubbish as that for two decades) and re-design the space with hard paving throughout, plus lots of really good seating. Piccadilly is too small an area for an adequate green space, it can never be a city centre park, but it is big enough to be our Piazza del Campo in Siena or Main Square in Cracow. Let's go down that road rather than up the garden path.' 

A better route for Piccadilly Gardens would not be cosmetic changes with the 'Wall' but a wholesale re-working of the area with a name change to signify that re-invention.

While respecting the memories of the older generations, cities have to move forward. At some time in the not too distant future a taskforce applying sticking plasters to the largest public area in the city centre will not be enough. 

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

Dirty fountain

 

Dirty fountain

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

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

"Unfortunately we've leased it out for 250 years to the owners of One Piccadilly...." Unfortunately Pat??? People go on about tarting up the wall and sprucing up the grass etc, all while ignoring Piccadillly Garden's real elephant in the room - Number One Piccadilly Gardens! Allowing a huge out-of-town business park style office block to be built on Piccadilly Gardens - was just complete madness. As the council were told at the time, right Pat?

1 Response: Reply To This...
espoirApril 28th 2014.

absolutely correct - people who voiced objections to building on this park were brushed aside by the arrogant Howard Bernstein. We were told the trees had to be cut down because people were urinating on them (so cut down every tree in the country). Of course the council can do a deal with the leaseholder to demolish the despised pavilion and get a formal garden or square as suggested by JS, and preferably designed by landscape architects and not a weirdo who lives in a tree house.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

This smacks of our wonderful council washing it's hands of a problematical area. Anyhow, what company owners in their right minds would want to lease a shit wall along with its' shit area for 250 years!

Gradyn ThompsonApril 20th 2014.

Typical of the greedy grabbing council ,one Piccadilly is a shameful disgrace . Stop messing about and make it a proper transport interchange seeing as that's why most people use it , look abroad for some really nice tree lined and great looking city squares and try and rescue the place after you've made such a cock of it .

KissieApril 20th 2014.

I think the litter and the concrete area where the 'fountains' are and the desolate wall give a wonderful impression of Manchester to people arriving here - especially on a dull grey wet Manchester day.............. A real tourist attraction that makes me proud to be a Mancunian.

RossApril 20th 2014.

So the railings they have up around the grass are to stop the pigeons eating the grass seed? It's an interesting idea to forget about the gardens aspect. Why not bring the food market round and open it up as an eating area? Bring in picnic tables and employ people to keep it clean. It's pretty evident the council can't quite grasp managing grass, so about time they gave up on that idea.

Nick NameApril 20th 2014.

Surprise surprise, the council not listening, making a mess and then making more stupid decisions so the thing can't be rectified for the next 250 years! This area is a mess and will remain a mess as long as you don't listen to the people who know what they are talking about. Get rid of the grass. Get rid of street furniture that rots. Get rid of the big wheel. Look at every option available to knock the horrible wall down. If it can't be knocked down then speak to the best local artist to bring colour to it. And if you are going to have fountains then make sure they are working. And have so police/security staff based there day and night. And stop calling this eyesore a success it's not quite clearly.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 25th 2014.

Preachin' to the choir here brother....I'm with you. Before anything can be done with the gardens the council will have to admit they got it wrong. Good luck with that

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

A Councillor tweeted me (as I tweeted the story and results) "about number who turned out for EDL at their height. #sosounscientific", "it's rubbish! .. 2.5m silent, 4000 is nothing (and some comment several times)" & "it's utter gibberish from @MENnewsdesk, a straw poll with 0.15 of gm population self selecting to rant #daft". This is the public contempt, low regard and horrible defensiveness that leads to so many poor decisions being made. And so offensive too! EDL comparison for the 4000 who spent time completing survey is not welcome.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

The Council is right though. It is NOT a representative, scientific study and the participants ARE self selecting. So the results must be treated with some scepticism. But that is no excuse for inaction. The reason that the Council cannot publicly acknowledge the design was not fit for purpose is it would be an admission that they wasted more than 10 million quid of public money, sacrificing two plots of land in the process. The political fallout could be quite high. It was a failure in procurement, project management and public engagement; something they seem to have learned from in the design of St Peter's Square (hopefully). Let's hope they've also taken lessons away in terms of the maintenance of public realm too.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

And the Council have a science behind their decisions? The maths of chaos theory?

espoirApril 28th 2014.

you will not get 4000 people to fill a survey to say that they all hate Parsonage Gardens

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

I love how the fact the they've leased it out for 250 years is simply an "unfortunately", rather than "in an almighty cock-up, the council have left the city in a situation where they cannot control the design of a major public space for 250 years". Disgraceful.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

First things first. Maintain things properly. Yes, the current layout is terrible, but let's make the best of it in the short term. Dirty litter strewn fountains and cheap furniture in disrepair are very real and only make the place worse....a lack of care can't encourage users to care about it either.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Alex24April 20th 2014.

I think at the moment the worse it gets the better. The last thing I want is the council putting a band-aid on the problem and patting themselves on the back. Jonathan's comments about the square trying to be a garden are spot-on. A complete overhaul is needed.

Hero
Richard HarveyApril 20th 2014.

A lease is a contract between two people or organisations, which can be varied provided both sides agree. Or this case an excuse for inaction by Manchester City Council.

DiogenesApril 20th 2014.

Could Confidential trace the architect of the wall and ask him (or her?) what first attracted them to a mindless piece of concrete that has blighted the city for decades?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

Mick Timpson I believe led the design

Peter CoppingApril 29th 2014.

I am surprised that Man con didn't tell you. or the MEN who knows as this shows: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/tadao-ando-architect-piccadilly-gardens-1766108…

Reader XxxApril 20th 2014.

Pat, you are incompetent to bring positive change, lazy to want to do something about it and arrogant to acknowledge that Piccadilly Gardens are a failure. You should go along with Bernstein who is equally stupid and lazy. Please let some intelligent talented young blood bring the changes...

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

HEAR HEAR!

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

Absolutely how I feel. The contempt and insincerity towards the public is shameless and has been for years. I do not trust this at all and goes into the general malaise.

Stephanie AcklandApril 20th 2014.

Yes. That is the crux. Not only do they not have any flair or imagination they are blocking all our talent coming through. This city is a shambles and nobody has the balls to admit it.

Dave TaylorApril 21st 2014.

Well said. I agree

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

A ludicrous comment. As are the obviously fake replies agreeing with it.

Nick NameApril 21st 2014.

Totally agree. Piccadilly Gardens is a success?! Buffoon!

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

Is Pat Karney up for Harpurhey ward on 22nd May? If he is get down, anyone you know down. Don't vote for him!!!!

Peter CoppingApril 29th 2014.

well we have a big Achitectural School in Manchester with a Lanscape Department. Why isn't Man Con and the MEN sponsoring a competition. I know: they prefer to click bait by attacking the Council

Mum And Dad XApril 20th 2014.

The Dirt, Litter and Neglect are a blight on the city I am proud of, but I despair at the Noddy's who supposedly run it. Please MC keep prodding until a scheme is acted on which will turn this eyesore into a useable area to be admired. As for the wall could a "Hanging Garden" be installed I for one would be willing to write to one of the make-over programmes to shame this inept council into action. How can we describe Manchester as Great when the largest open area is such a drab filthy mess

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomApril 20th 2014.

I'm really worried about the idea of turning the wall into a vertical garden. They can't even keep the horizontal lawns in good order, let alone a vertical garden.

AVOApril 20th 2014.

Don't bother Pat. Ignore Piccadilly Gardens and just increase the parking charges again. That'll solve everything.

Ghostly TomApril 20th 2014.

Tinkering at the edges of this problem is just throwing good money after bad. The space needs an architectural competition to come up with some ideas. It's one of the first things you see when you get to the city and it is an appalling first impression. I do, if anyone needs it, a convoluted route I take visitors into the city from Piccadilly Station that completely avoids the 'gardens' so they don't have to see it. What should be one of the set pieces in the city centre is an embarrassing disgrace that the council continues to ignore while throwing money at unnecessary blockages, sorry, entrances, to Central Library. If anyone is interested I did a piece on my ideas to improve the gardens on my blog.... www.toms-travels.net/…

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

Agree, no point sewing back on a pig's ear. Also great blog, just read. A real competition is the only way. 2002 and no-one wanted it but it was bungled through. It's the same contempt over and over with this band in the Clown Hall. The 'Karney commitment' is laughable too and agree with the poster above, he/they are too lazy to do anything (until we see it with our own eyes). Smacks of insincerity as does the 250 years lease issue. Here comes the disingenuous excuse book... again.

Ghostly TomApril 21st 2014.

Cheers to whoever deleted the multiple posts of my original comment. I was a muppet!

Eeeeee!April 20th 2014.

What about paving it all over with a concrete Hopscotch path with various local councillors faces on? Would serve the dual purpose of a.) being quite fun and b.) being able to jump on these morons who flog off public spaces for a gazillion years to private sector nomarks who couldn't give a stuff about the notion of a civilised shared space.

AnonymousApril 20th 2014.

As with the traffic fiasco that the Council spent hundreds of thousands on claiming "There is no Plan B" only for those who put these tin pot Politicians to remind them who they serve. What I'd like to know is: If the Council in its infinite wisdom leased the plot for 250 years... what was the money spent on, and why isn't there a clause in the contract that gives the Council the lee-way to get out of a bad situation. Personally I don't hate the Wall. It only goes to show how far out of touch "Mr Manchester; Pat Karney" really is. These professional politicians should stand aside and let fresh blood, and new ideas tackle these issues. THERE IS NO PLAN B- my arse!

DavidApril 20th 2014.

Manchester council leadership are totally brain dead.There is not one man or woman amongst them with any vision or imagination,or ideas about what to do about this city.We need at the top someone like Bob Scott or Tony Wilson,someone with ideas,someone who dares to dream about making Manchester into a great city. You set up a task force to take the heat out of the criticism you have been getting,while kicking the subject into the long grass.Now they can direct all the complainants to the task force,and go back to doing nothing.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

Wasn't Tony Wilson one of the main dissenters against Number One Piccadilly Gardens and this whole redevelopment? "WAKE UP MANCHESTER - LABOUR ISN'T WORKING" is the sign I'd put on the top of that behemoth of an office block overlooking the gardens. In fact Piccadilly Gardens needs renaming to Leese & Berntein's Mud Hole Central, or something similar, to honour those two?

DavidApril 21st 2014.

Manchester should have a overall vision and it should find architects,designers,then developer to realise it.Instead the council seems to have subcontracted to developers,they are the ones who are leading the vision for Manchester.Which begs the question what is the point of the council leadership?.Maybe we would be better getting rid of them entirely,at least the areas of the city managed by developers seem to be a lot better maintained than the ones under council control.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

And sure enough the crank-in-chief arrives with another moronic comment. David, if the Council have "subcontracted" to developers then surely that must also be the root of the problems at Piccadilly Gardens. How will doing more of the same improve matters? You really don't think things through do you?

Mark FullerApril 21st 2014.

Are you the same anon who thinks that the Brutalist Picc. Wall is "graceful"? If so it is you that cannot think things through. Also, labeling people as cranks because they disagree with you is Stalinist, as is appreciating monumental, brutalistic concrete walls.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

Agree David. Theyre not Labour any more. Not grass roots, hate the people are incompetent and never listened in the past and unlikely to in the future. Problem is I don't want to vote for any party... But these lot don't care a jot and will say any old rubbish and do what they want. I'll vote someone else just so there is opposition of this dictatorship.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

This site does attract some cranks and a fair number of political activists with rather obvious agendas. I think it goes without saying that the Council has been very good for the city given the limited powers and resources at their disposal when you consider the progress the city has made compared to similar cities in the uk. It's not for no reason that the Council is well regarded by leading business and political figures alike, willing and able to work with anyone if it helps draw investment into the city. That said, there is no escaping the fact that Piccadilly Gardens has proven to be an extremely ill conceived scheme. Yes the gardens are more animated and safer than before. The removal of the sunken aspect makes it easier to access the bus station and cross the gardens to connect to surrounding streets. But everything else betrays the flaws in the Council's typically top-down approach to regenerating the city: Get investment in at almost any cost and don't worry too about quality or durability, paying lip service to legitimate public concerns and the needs of property developers prioritised over individuals and communities at almost every step. The result has delivered a successful, fully tenanted (albeit hideously ugly) office block and leisure scheme fronting a frankly embarrassing and shambolically poor public landcaped space. In a world where the quality and characteristics of a place is becoming ever more important, it's high time the leadership now insists on the very best and involves communities in a much more meaningful way.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomApril 21st 2014.

Agreed with all apart from safer. I find this place a challenge in the day and threatening after dark.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

It would be good to knock down One Piccadilly Gardens - whoever allowed that to be built! Its worse than the wall, which has its merits. What was Manchester Council doing allowing our main public square to be owned and leased to some dodgy private consortium?! Knocking down One Piccadilly would be ideal and using the space for small scale entertainment. Reclaim the spatial dynamics of the square that have been violated by this building. The wall could be improved with some foliage tastefully done but a load of grafitti would ruin it and look rubbish. It is essentially a Brutalist sculpture by a 'world class' architect - Tadao Ando - to knock it down would be the equivalent to knocking down the Imperial War Museum North. But its fair to say Piccadilly does not really suit a 'tranquil garden' as originally intended by Ando. The wall should be appreciated as it is - an art work - in a multi functional aesthetic, entertainment and commercial space which is accessible and safe at all times of day. Getting rid of the grass is a great idea. Aim for something more akin to Covent Garden or more like outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Mark FullerApril 21st 2014.

The wall will never be appreciated in it's present form. except by a minority of psueds, intellectuals and Labour apparatchiks. A structure which evokes the memory of the Berlin Wall is a very,bad idea and ideally should be demolished. That's unlikely to happen, so our most creative and imaginative artists and horticulturalists should be let loose on it. It can only lead to an improvement on the dismal hulk we have now.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

So anyone that likes the wall is a pseud? Pretty juvenile remark that. To me it serves a useful purpose by shielding and providing enclosure to the gardens and I find it a graceful, monumental structure. Everything else about the place is piss poor, mind.

Mark FullerApril 21st 2014.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: or something like that. But a slab of pollution and urine stained concrete, "graceful". That's daft, even for a psued.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

maybe its 'urine stained' (probably by pissueds) because the council decided to put those dreadful urinals against it which barely hide men's dangly bits and leave nowhere to wash your hands!

SquirrelitoApril 21st 2014.

"a graceful, monumental structure". Arf!

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

the wall should be listed before some idiots decide to knock it down

rinkydinkApril 22nd 2014.

The wall as it was originally without any businesses in it and when it was clean, maintained and properly lit was a minimalist delight. The council just don't maintain things. They let the benches rot needlessly and they haven't maintained any of the recessed lighting. Why pay to have light fittings put into the ground and then abandon them when the bulbs run out? Putting businesses in therl wall as well was a cop out. Let's all clamber to have the wall taken down so we can have a good look at the lovely buses and the wonder that is Piccadilly Plaza

Mark FullerApril 22nd 2014.

What do readers think about the proposal to transform the oppressive walls with art and/or foliage. Is Karney serious, or stalling. Clearly, behind the pretentious rhetoric, the council ,up to now, have not been serious about maintaining the public spaces that they helped to create. This shows contempt for the areas that they pretend to admire, and the people they pretend to represent.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

A minimalist delight? Be careful, you're in danger of being derided as a "pseud", a 'Labour party worker' or even an "intellectual" for holding opinions like that! Got to love this site sometimes...

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

So it's going to be there longer than the original Berlin Wall! 250 years. Crazy.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidApril 21st 2014.

I don't remember when it was built anyone ever mentioning that it was going to have a 250 year lease.I wish some journalist would investigate further to check that was the case.If it was it is appalling,the council deliberately deceived people who were objecting to the developnment,by omitting to mention a crucial piece of information.We should be told why it was necessary to give this long lease and who in the council made this decision.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

Let's hope there has been some mistake. Surely it's for the offices and not the monolithic monstrosity itself....

Simon JonesApril 21st 2014.

Oh come on Anon, get a grip. A 250 year lease does not mean the building will remain there for that long. Sheesh.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

Haha yes sorry if I'm being overly dramatic :) I hope your right of course. But seriously the only person that needs to get a grip is the one controlling the digger demolishing the wall. The sooner the better.

AnonymousApril 28th 2014.

The leaseholder (Europa Holdings) may agree to improvement of the square and probably will because they will get good publicity out of it and a more valuable investment. The assumption that they will block all improvement is a false assumption. Why would they block improvements to the area, I'm sure they are reasonable and I think they are just being used to fob people off.

AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

David, I think our local journos would rather go on & on & on about the likes of AA Gill slagging off Manchester, than investigate deals that MCC enter into with property developers?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 21st 2014.

the Manchester Evening News should start a campaign to get Piccadilly Gardens back in the ownership of the people of Manchester and not some dodgy property developers - what kind of shambles is that?! Start a fund raising campaign, investigate imaginative forms of joint public ownership - anything! Then they should knock down One Piccadilly Gardens.

Peter CoppingApril 21st 2014.

More nonsense about Piccadilly Gardens; How many people come into Manchester City Centre daily at the weekend? Either they should be sent to Trafford Centre or to an office park or two on the M60. Then we could have a quiet life and green beauty fenced off of course for those of good taste. We could build Night Time Economy Centre (with a gay, straight and indeterminate facilities) behind the station were they could vomit in peace. Wait until you see St Peter's Square.

Poster BoyApril 22nd 2014.

Enough of this histrionic nonsense. Some people have small (minded) memories. The City Council are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Lest we forget, the redevelopment of Exchange Square and Piccadilly Gardens was the result of a design competition, where the concepts of world renowned architects like Martha Schwartz and Tadao Ando, and urban designers like EDAW were realised. The redesign of the Gardens was feted with public design awards, featured in exemplar exhibitions of global urban design, and the €20m cost was funded, not by ratepayers, but by the necessary sale of buildings on 250 year leases. The City Council cannot be accused of lacking in aspiration, ambition or fiscal responsibility. Mr Karney is correct. The problem is one of sentimental attachment, which is the genesis of the problem. The brief for the redevelopment was not to recreate a new restorative, contemplative ‘Gardens’ space, but rather a new distinct urban commercial quarter, a movement hub. In this respect the redevelopment is an unqualified success, and therein Mr Karney is being economical with the truth, because he knows this to be true. By all means continue ranting (and dreaming) about comprehensive redesign or buying back leases, or funding the demolition of Ando’s pavilion (it is not and never has been ‘a wall’), but the reality, given the financial and legal constraints is that the improvement lies in the same solution required in many areas of the city centre. Maintenance, public safety and each individual acting and behaving responsibly in the public realm he or she has the freedom to use. In other words the public/private contract needs to be upheld.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidApril 22nd 2014.

Nonsense.There was design competitition but the council insisisted the only way of paying for any winner it was the imposition of that office building on the Gardens.So any design would be ruined from the start by the daft strategy of the council.They did lack inspiration,ambition and fiscal ability despite what you Labour supporters claim.Flogging of part of the Gardens to property developers was not the only way they could have funded it,there was the national lottery and a Labour government at the time.Also Poster Boy the Labour council managed to spend significant sums on the refurbishment of the Town Hall,and I don't notice that paying for that required flogging off part of the building for a Travelodge.Mr Karney is totally insincere,he is offering a task force to give the impression he is doing something,only because for once the Labour supporting MEN has turned on the council over this issue.

Poster BoyApril 22nd 2014.

David; Fantasy and prejudice will get you everywhere. Except to truth and fact.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

Number One Piccadilly Gardens is the elephant in the room that the MEN, the council and all these local Labour Party apparatchiks - continue to willingly ignore.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

Thank you Poster Boy, confirming what most people already suspected: "The brief for the redevelopment was ... a new distinct urban commercial quarter, a movement hub." The project in so far as the landscaping is concerned WAS mismanaged on the client side starting with a wishy washy brief leading, no doubt, to vague acceptance criteria. Please explain what a "movement hub" is and how the specification of the various elements in the landscape scheme satisfies that? The commercial quarter element is an undoubted success but we already knew that - but this was always the priority wasn't it the result being the needs of property developers being elevated beyond those of all other stakeholders; a successful office block but a dismal, dismal piece of landscaping.

Mark FullerApril 22nd 2014.

City centre czar, councillor Karney is I think correct to assert that sentimentality and nostalgia is preventing the masses from appreciating the world class "movement hub" that is Piccadilly Gardenless Gardens. But is nostalgia an inherently bad thing? For those of us who have happy childhood memories of the old gardens ablaze with colour during the school holidays, it's entirely natural, human and not a "problem" to feel that way. Nostalgia needn't lead to a stultifying fixation with the past. It informs us of our need for a sense of continuity, to carry forward worthwhile traditions and practices into the present and future. In the context of Piccadilly Gardens, the vitality and colour of the sunken gardens could be carried forward in the creation of new art on the pavilion and walls. The area can be both radically different to it's previous incarnation and have a connection to it. Mr Karney should try to understand the craving for greenery and colour felt so strongly by city dwellers and collaborate with creative and imaginative people to bring drab,grey areas to life.

Matthew BurnsApril 22nd 2014.

A square and a park - proof that the two are not mutually exclusive, if done correctly in the right place. en.wikipedia.org/…/Park_Square,_Leeds…

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

It's beautiful but that square/park is in a relatively quiet bit of Leeds city centre, it's not on the main route from the station to the retail district. And I doubt the barristers and financial types would allow Leeds council to turn it into some down market overused village green for the city.

Natalie ProctorApril 22nd 2014.

"Further investigation is perhaps needed into the legals of how the council could lease the wall and its attendant eateries out for 250 years on land left for public use by the Mosley family." If that's the case - that is criminal! The council have no regard for history as they showed with the Free Trade Hall which was also left to the people of Manchester after the Peterloo massacre and then promptly sold to the highest bidder for a 5 star hotel! Surely this is all illegal?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

The same journalists might look at how public money has been spent on other favourite MCC pet-projects like First St (ASK Developments) and Hardman Square (Allied Developments) only to find they are no longer “public space” any longer. The worse deal has to be how £20million in public money (plus land holdings sanctionedby Labour & Co-operative Councillors on the Council Executive at the time!) was given to the new Co-op HQ and speculative NOMA project to inflate the land value- with the unnecessary and dangerous ring road move and Angel Square. There been zero sign of the vast number of jobs and economic value to date which they claimed justified such a donation. The Co-op have since sold the lot for £145million to Chinese and German investment funds- what was the taxpayer’s cut on that?

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

The Peace Gardens in Sheffield is another good square/park combination which is always busy in good weather, hosts various events and is well looked after. en.wikipedia.org/…/Peace_Gardens…

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

JUST NO LOOKED AFTER......A DISGRACE & makes me ashamed to be from Manchester....

DavidApril 22nd 2014.

I hope that journalists in Manchester have finally learned it's not their job to be 'friends ' with the council,even if they are personally Labour supporters.They should be on the side of the public and their concerns. Labour members also need to stand up to the leadership of Leese and represent the views of the people.Otherwise if Labour cannot renew itself in this city there will come a time when the people turn against them for good.They should not just take for granted the fact that Manchester is a Labour supporting city.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 23rd 2014.

You'll be standing for election then will you?

Peter CastreeApril 22nd 2014.

The problem is that, no matter what improvements are made to Piccadilly Gardens, the city council is chronically incapable of providing the necessary basic maintenance of public property and monitoring of the public's use of the facilities. Ever keen to spout about 'world class' this and that, Pat Karney and his colleagues take a very parochial view of Manchester's public realm. The image the city presents to the world is far too important to be left to his kind of thinking. What we're talking about here is the centre of a major European city, not the local village green. Let's see a permanent presence in Piccadilly Gardens to maintain the quality of any improvements made. Any self-respecting city does this. Otherwise more good money is just being thrown after bad.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

"the city council is chronically incapable of providing the necessary basic maintenance of public property and monitoring of the public's use of the facilities." What nonsense. No notable problems with St Ann Square, Exchange Square, Cathedral Gardens, most of the parks...

Ghostly TomApril 23rd 2014.

The squares you mention don't have grass and the gardens are parks don't have 60,000,000 pairs of feet crossing them annually. That needs to be factored into the refurbishment of Piccadilly Gardens. The grass really has to go.

Jon GarrettApril 22nd 2014.

It's a mess and embarrassment and blights any visitors view of our city. How to sort it out ? Simply interview visitors at the scene, compile a montage of soundbites and twitter/youtube/facebook the whole response big style. Shame the council through social media and it might just stir them into a clean up and then eventually they may sort out in the long term.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

It's easy to solve. Just change the grass to artificial. That way it doesn't wear out at the sides, isn't affected by the weather and can be removed easily for events.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Alex24April 22nd 2014.

But it would look even cheaper and nastier than what's there already. Concrete or stone has to be the way forward.

AnonymousApril 22nd 2014.

Maybe mosaic stones in huge piece of floor art by a great artist. If stone for Piccadilly Gardens in wide public space, make it art and exciting.

Ghostly TomApril 23rd 2014.

I think a mosaic by a great artist might rescue the wall seeing as it won't be going anywhere for the next 250 years.

AnonymousApril 23rd 2014.

A mosaic would be amazing around Piccadilly Gardens if want to avoid bog mud. Would rather see floor mosiac but if those wall won't ever go, some massive artworks that would be vibrant and exciting would really add life to the 'dead concrete'. Different texture, mirrors, lights. Could even get some iconic look for the floor and walls. Twitter's @McrMosaics might have ideas!

AnonymousApril 23rd 2014.

More ideas re Piccadilly Gardens mosaics. If surfaced raised and lighting behind or beneath would make amazing nightime ambience for a city of lights. Mosaics could tribute to urban graffiti and could reference Manchester History, icons, music or more. We need more night lights and neons. And if horrid walls have to stay, bold and memorable sculptures on top (might be overdoing it)?! Maybe even just the word Manchester (in case people forget where they are)!!

Andrew MaynardApril 24th 2014.

You only have to read trip advisor to see what visitors think of Piccadilly gardens. You leased an eyesore out for 250 years ??? That in itself is shameful & you all should resign. Manchester is dirty, filthy, litter strewn & an embarrassment . I'm speechless.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldApril 29th 2014.

The rule of life is clear. Trip Advisor a guide to hotels just possibly as for the rest of life, forget it.

Jonathan SchofieldApril 29th 2014.

Spence there are multiple opinions among the writers in Manchester Confidential not just Gordo's. I wrote the article and never mentioned the people using the Gardens because I was talking about the uselessness of the present design. All cities need squares such as Piccadilly Gardens unfortunately it isn't a square it's a dismal compromise. Of course you reveal a chip on the shoulder by mentioning Hardman Square. Cities are about diverse environments. Albert Sq should be different from Picc from Exchange and Hardman Squares and vice versa.

tblzebraApril 25th 2014.

I have no doubt the wall/pavilion will remain for quite a while. So could the concrete be treated with something to make it less grim-looking and dirty, e.g. whatever product was used on City Tower? And then maintained, regularly.

Peter CoppingApril 29th 2014.

The designer of the wall has indeed made a suggestion why as Man Con not told you? www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/tadao-ando-architect-piccadilly-gardens-1766108… I'm sure Gordo could afford the repro fee. I made a similar proposal three years ago Mine was hanging creepers in the summer. I even mentioned it to Ed Millibrand. Gardens on wall are high fashion. Naturally manconreaser dislike the Gardens. they are the wrong sort of people in them. Just stay away and go to The Avenue and Hardman Square instead

soulman1949April 30th 2014.

Two thoughts. Firstly they are called Piccadilly Gardens and not Piccadilly Square for a reason - all the areas in Europe that I have seen which have been constructed from stone or concrete are called Squares. Garden implies greenery. As a 64 year old I remember the lovely sunken gardens with the attractive flower beds. So nice. As for the concrete wall, why go retro and recreate the Berlin Wall. The fall of Communism saw the fall of the wall. Maybe we need to tear it down too! Agree fully with the wall designer's second thoughts to have it "greened over".

AnonymousNovember 12th 2014.

Rooftop garden? HAHAHHA....... www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/hated-piccadilly-gardens-wall-facing-8085740…

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 12th 2014.

So, more of Piccadilly Gardens to be developed on so we can have more Costa Coffees etc. Great.

AnonymousNovember 12th 2014.

Perhaps, but at least there's less room for drug dealers to hang around www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/thirteen-dealers-jailed-major-drugs-8072866…

rinkydinkDecember 11th 2014.

WTF is that sorry attempt at a light and sound installation on the pavilion? Just wrong. So wrong... I actually laughed out loud like a nutter as I walked past

Piccadilly GardensJanuary 30th 2015.

Haters gonna hate.

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