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Stevenson Square – A Pedestrian Question

Ben Robinson on the redevelopment of the NQ square

Written by . Published on January 14th 2013.

Stevenson Square – A Pedestrian Question

STEVENSON Square, is the peach ripe for plucking in the Northern Quarter. It could be a focus for the whole district. Or it could be nothing. 

Presently, the dour square houses a range of art shops, bars, and cafes, plus spectacular former warehouses but it could be so much more.

The place is rich with history. It was purchased in the eighteenth century as a rival to compete with the ‘serenity’ of St Ann’s Square. It was built up first as a residential area, but really began to boom as it took on a commercial aspect with textile warehouses and wholesalers moving in.

For a while Stevenson Square became popular with open-air speakers. Processions would swing away on routes around the city such as the one held on 1 May, 1892 - see panel below. Anti-fascist speakers raged against Franco, Hitler and Mussolini in the first half of the twentieth century.

The idea to pedestrianise the square has been mooted frequently but is it really the key to redeveloping the area?

Then came the sepia tinged seventies and the opening of the Arndale Centre in ’75, a decline of the area’s shops, and also the onset of Britain's rapid de-industrialisation.

Today the processions come in the form of a steady stream of empty buses while local businesses claim the area has been forgotten and neglected. The square still has a lot of unused commercial floor space, although slowly the Northern Quarter's centre of gravity is shifting back towards this old position.

Img_8153Stevenson's Bus Graveyard

The square is home to the likes of Koffee Pot, Fred Aldous and Soup Kitchen with Slice Pizzeria, Chai Latte, Kraak Gallery and Eastern Bloc Records opening their doors in more recent times.

Mr Stevenson’s old square could potentially be a beautiful centre point to the area as it continues to expand up towards Piccadilly Basin. Indeed plans for redevelopment have been bandied around for years only to be stalled time and again.

The idea to pedestrianise the square has been mooted frequently but is it really the key to redeveloping the area?

Pedestrianisation can come in many forms – full pedestrianisation as with Market Street, part-time, where the area is closed to traffic during certain hours as with The Village, or Cross Street. The third option involves traffic calming, as on Thomas Street where the roads are narrow and reduced to one-way traffic and the number of parking spaces reduced.

Current development plans aren't always what local businesses want. Locals have been informed this January about impending work to widen the pavements and potentially plant a number of trees in the square – but that is as far as the plans go.

For Mike Smith of H. Blythe & Co. that’s not far enough.

"It’s disappointing that this is a step towards pedestrianising the square but we’re not going to get what we really want - which is full pedestrianisation," he told Confidential.

Img_8157H. Blyth & Co Art Shop

“It’s a bit of a half-arsed effort which means what really needs to be done to reach the full potential of the area won’t be done. We’d like full pedestrianisation but still plenty of trees and more public art in the centre.

“The potential of the area is really interesting, there’s nowhere else like it in Manchester that has this open area with these wide streets.”

The potential of the area is in no doubt, as the Northern Quarter is seeing an increase in tourist footfall, albeit more for the bars than the waning retail. 

With the square’s trade traditionally leaning more towards retail, pedestrianisation could possibly make a difference. Come 5pm however when the shutters are rolled down on everywhere but Soup Kitchen, Hula and Noho, pedestrianisation could be a disaster. This is exactly what happens with Market Street. When the shops close it becomes a sterile canyon.

Img_8158Stevenson's Wide Roads

Mark Aldous from the long-standing Fred Aldous art supplies shop believes transforming the square into a pedestrian friendly zone will help create a centre point for the Northern Quarter.

“There have been plans touted about and we’d love to see something happen, we’ve been pushing for it [pedestrianisation] to happen for quite a while,” said Mark.

“With everything happening on Thomas Street and then the over towards Lammars and Dale Street, it should be a centre point for the whole area.

 “I think something like Canal Street where it’s closed off in the evenings or weekends would be fine but all that’s really going to promote is the night time drinking aspects of the area. 

“I think the area will fall down long term if that’s all it’s known for, it’ll just become known as a party strip and people will drink and move on to the next place. What’s nice about the square is you’ve got a nice mix of premises at present.”

Img_8152Fred AldousThe Aldous family has been supplying local artists from their Stevenson Square location for 46 years and are now considering creating a local business lobby group. Getting things together is a tough task though as the running of businesses comes first for any proprietor.

Whatever the long term benefits of improving the square it doesn’t pay the bills for anyone involved and no one so far has been prepared to front any sort of formal campaign.

Full pedestrianisation seems to be the consensus from local businesses. All the locals who spoke with Confidential were in favour of the idea. 

Eastern Bloc Records moved from Oldham Street to Stevenson Square in 2011. “It’s a much better atmosphere here than on Oldham Street it’s more artistic,” said John Berry, founder of Eastern Bloc.

“You’ve got the art shops and camera shops along with the café’s and graffiti artists decorating the old toilet block in the middle. There's a much better bohemian feel to the area.

“Personally I think pedestrianisation would be really good and it would add to the square to get the traffic out of it. Pedestrianising it up to Lever Street could work so there’s still access back and forth. You could have markets, and more artistic displays and a lot more going on.”

Subsequent to this article first going live Gavin Elliott of BDP sent Confidential this image (reproduced below and at the top of the page) of what a renewed Stevenson Square may look like. 

Stevenson Square mocked-upStevenson Square mocked-up

A City Council Chief Executive report on the Northern Quarter from 25 June, 2008, suggested a similar scheme, with the main roads running north to south remaining open but the east to west Hilton Street closing. This would provide pedestrianisation in two discrete halves of Stevenson Square while avoiding the Market Street ghost town effect after shops close.

The council even partially costed the idea

Img_8151View From Newton Street

The report read (click here); 'Stevenson Square itself, is also key to transforming the overall economic positioning of the area. Initial cost estimates for a scheme in the square (which would maintain Lever Street as a through route and allow a level  of traffic access into the two halves of the  square) of £1,625,000 (or around £350 per square metre).

'This assumes using a palette of natural materials and is based on the cost of schemes such as New York Street and Spring Gardens. The figure includes lighting, street furniture and trees, something for design and management fees, Traffic Regulation Orders (including associated legal costs) and approvals and inflation.

'The estimate does not include the cost of any statues/public art or of filling in the redundant public toilets.'

Whatever the future of the historic Stevenson Square, it's clear local businesses want to see more substantial action than a “half-arsed” concession providing trees.

The problem is that in a climate of major cuts to council budgets public money is hard to come by. Perhaps despite the day to day requirements the businesses need to organise and take a lead themselves. 

P.S. As this story was being circulated we received the following response from the City Council. A spokesperson, said: "We have recently consulted with local residents and businesses over the temporary relocation of the bus stop at the bottom Oldham Street to Stevenson Square while private development work takes place to the former Nobels Arcade building at the corner of Oldham Street and Piccadilly. For the future, we are also exploring the potential of a greening scheme for the area.  We will continue to work with local people as and when plans are established." 

Follow Ben on Twitter @BenPRobinson

1 May 1892 - “a great labour demonstration” 

One of the major radical events to take place in Stevenson Square was the 60,000 strong procession of working class people, mainly unskilled, that assembled in the square before proceeding to Alexandra Park in Moss Side in 1892.

The purpose of the meeting was to demand a shorter working day (eight hours) and an independent political voice (in otherwords a Labour Party, originally called the Independent Labour Party).

The order of procession was:

The Manchester Fabian Societies
Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
Bakers & Confectioners
The Labour Church
Shirt & Jacket Makers
Salford Social Democrats
North East Manchester Labour Electoral
Spindle & Flyer Makers
Horsehair & Fibre Workers
Dressers, Dyers & Finishers
Enginemen & Cranemen
Navvies & Bricklayers
North Manchester Labour Electoral

Manchester's Radical History website (click here) writes: 'According to the report in the Manchester Guardian, a white ensign headed the procession with the slogan 'Work for all, Overwork for None'. Other banners stated 'Unity is Strength' and 'Equality by Right, Justice to All'. 

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

Calum McGJanuary 14th 2013.

If we can waste money on a gig at the Cathedral (was it £450k) then I think we can afford to spend the relatively modest £1.6m tarting up one of Manchester's grottiest 'squares'. It would be nice if it were actually a square and not the mess it's become. Fair play to all the fab shops n bars in the area, tho. Keep asking and one day you'll get.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

100% agree. The sheer waste of various failed 'projects', the shambolic planning strategy of Manchester, means yet another area is ripe for redevelopment. The pedestrianisation and greener spaces would be welcome elsewhere in the city would be wonderful. Traffic will certainly find a route, for all those whinging! The ample amount of other spaces are crying for imaginative redevelopment and as the second city we must compete, create more allure and actually make things happen rather than just talking about them. The argument there is a lack of money is facetiousness as money pops up where it is desired. A fortune doesn't have to be spent to make neglected places (beyond Stevenson Square) better in the interim even!

Andrew SpinozaJanuary 14th 2013.

Organic urban revival takes a long time to happen in Manchester. We moved the original City Life magazine to the top floor of Nos 1-3 Stevenson Square in 1985; it had potential then, too. I'd suggest that with the indie bars and shops which have recently opened with a front door on the square, that it's better off now than at any time since that period. "Half-arsed"? You could say that at least the arse is half full...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Poster BoyJanuary 14th 2013.


Organic, holisitic urban renewal defines character and reason for being.

The last thing Stevenson Square or the Northern Quarter needs is a 'make-over', to make it look like Concert Square, or new Ancoats Village, or anywhere else.

And the last thing yet another part of the City Centre needs is more pedestrianisation.

There is no money, but if there was it should be spent on the fabric of buildings, encouraging the 'independents', a planning and business regime for the area, business rate relief, street and building cleaning etc etc.

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2013.

When did walking on a pavement next to a road become so difficult? And what's wrong with a bit of grot?? I don't want a shiney reformed Manchester that will date like the girls on take me out. That whole area appeals because of the apparent industrial feel.

Ray MakinJanuary 14th 2013.

If you track down back copies of The Civic Society's once famous paper you will find that TCS produced sketch proposals for a partial pedestrianisation of this square. It has become nothing but a confusing cross roads with a bus park to block the views and increase the hazards. Given the energy put into other squares in the city (some successful) it's high time Stevenson Square took its place as a nice place to be; maybe it could have its turn as a visitor market or some other attraction.

Kevin PeelJanuary 14th 2013.

It's a shame no one from Confidential contacted me or CityCo before producing what is quite a good article as we could have told you about all our exciting plans for the square.

I once thought pedestrianisation was the key but I have come to disagree with that view. There is a plan to move some of the buses from Oldham Street to the currently unused stops. Oldham Street can be a nightmare at the moment and easing the congestion caused by pedestrians and buses is something I hope everyone will welcome. Having more services start and stop in Stevenson Square will increase the footfall in the square and remove the problem of the aggressive street drinkers I often receive complaints about as a local councillor.

But the plans go beyond this. I want to see a much greener square with art installations and other features that make it a key draw for residents and visitors in the city. I'm working with CityCo to develop this and we have a meeting this Thursday to discuss plans in more detail. I hope businesses will engage with this. I'm already looking to engage with residents, particularly the Northern Quarter Green Group.

Cllr Kevin Peel
Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Manchester City Centre

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Heath ThomasJanuary 14th 2013.

Kevin, it seems to me the council have been delaying, putting off dealing with or just ignoring the issue around the sq and NQ upkeep in general. I am sick of writing and mentioning this to the council and no action is ever taken, just documents written and more meetings, costing more money..! It must have cost the council nearly the amount of the spend to write a local plan /strategy document for the area and countless meetings which no significant action has resulted than to just get on with it, re pave the area, plant trees and smarten it up...

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

A much greener square, but with more buses?

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

Kevin Peel. I am depressed by the Council's lack of initiative in so many areas of making the city greener. Stevenson Square deserves this yes, but how many derelict and empty spaces are STILL unforgivably sitting wasted and empty? I doubt this would take a fortune! What about the Bridge Park in Castlefield that was endorsed and then as usual becomes nothing? I doubt it is your fault or anyone's fault as a Councillor, but the whole system seems to endorse rhetoric and no action. Yes, these are austere times but I remain pessimistic as to any of these plans ever occurring. I hope you can prove me wrong, but it seems to me, low scale, not powerful enough politics talking fancies and fantasies not facts.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

& this is why voting is so low! 11,000 for the MP! People don't believe anyone in any party will actually make a difference or listen to the people. Yes there may be a failure in the whole political system but I think Manchester City Council has to take its own responsibility in the numerous cases of failure, rhetoric, inaction and estrangement from what people actually want. It must be depressing for you too as Councillors as to shake up that system needs shifting the sheer conceit, lack of action and deceit of our Cities Town Hall. Yes people want involvement but they are not listened too and become apathetic. I've seen it too many times. So LISTEN and make it HAPPEN and you'll be remembered more than most.

Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 14th 2013.

Kevin, I hear from the writer that we did get in touch with the contact we were given at CityCo but didn't get a response. And we also got in touch with the Council as well, who said there were no plans whatsoever at the moment and any meeting taking place was about a bus stop being moved.

JimJanuary 14th 2013.

Those buses are a nightmare. They make crossing the road a life threatening experience. I've no idea why the bus companies decided to make this the unofficial bus depot of the northern quarter!

JimJanuary 14th 2013.

Those buses are a nightmare. They make crossing the road a life threatening experience. I've no idea why the bus companies decided to make this the unofficial bus depot of the northern quarter!

Reader XxxJanuary 14th 2013.

Dear Kevin and everyone else,

As one leader of the NQGreening Group, we wish to convey that we would like to see a fully pedestrianised Square with no cars, taxis or buses. We would like to see a green open space where cyclists, children, mothers with children can enjoy and use leisurely without the threat of being run over, noise or polluting fumes.

We would like to see a focal point with a statue like in Piccadilly Gardens, a fountain and plenty of trees and benches; think Spinningfields; there are no cars on site.

Hope you can have the same vision.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Reader XxxJanuary 14th 2013.

Dear NQ resident - I have the perfect solution for you to avoid :
the threat of being run over
polluting fumes

...it's called NOT living in a city centre - I can't believe how stupid some residents are by moving to a busy, compact, post industrial city and expecting it to be like Kensington (or Amsterdam) ...

Manchester will end up as a sanitised suburban model where visitors aren't welcome and everyone is told to hush because Tarquins having a nap and Mater & Pater want to read the Sunday Times in peace..

Manchester should be a hub of arts, entertainment, industry and business- that's what a successful city does first and foremost ...living in it comes second in my mind and those that do, should embrace it and not try to infect it with a vision of domestic bliss...

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

I think Kevin or any Councillors, try as they might, are then cut off by the higher powers and then have to talk the talk how they see the vision differently. Its a real shame. Too much lip service and not enough action. I wish your fight well but Manchester City Council too often ignores the wishes of the people and does what it wants anyway. The consultations that would empower and improve the city are then bulldozed over by the rep-tape, stale Bureaucracies and leaders lacking genuine concern. Perhaps they'll build another car park in Stevenson Square, (after all and barely being sarcastic), the entire city seems to be one, where prime land is wasted everywhere! As for Kevin's green space argument, yes we'd all love to see it BUT I just wonder what the reality will be. Keep fighting the good fight and perhaps invoke the Localism Act to have more say over what will occur (well in theory). I do wish Kevin et al luck and I hope you win your vision... I just doubt the City Council will genuinely listen, or care but I hope my pessimism proves wrong.

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2013.

Surely moving the buses to Stevenson Square would compound the issue, rather than addressing it?

MattJanuary 14th 2013.

Market Street is what happens when the suits in the town hall get their hands on an area Stevenson Square is special because it is untouched.

As Mr Peel has pointed out, they're out of touch with what the people (Reader XXX - NQGreening Group) want and should be told to sling their hook. Get rid of the buses and put it on maps.

There should be business rates relief, clean up the area a bit, and get some festivities going on there. It's a huge wide open square, it's perfect for a music festival like Eurocultured at New Wakefield Street or something similar.

Margaret HoustonJanuary 14th 2013.

Albeit tricky due to inevitable after-dark anti-social behaviour, it would be nice to see some GREEN in the city centre for a change, rather than the constant paving slabs that Manchester seems obsessed with that look new for about 5 minutes before it rains. Having read the June proposed plans for the old BBC site in dismay, as that would be a perfect site for some greenery, I wish that Manchester Council would insist that some space central to the city be 'donated' for locals to sit and relax on those not-quite-so-rainy days. Trees is one thing, but how about some grass and shrubbery perhaps? Piccadilly Gardens is an example of how modern design has turned something of horticultural texture and detail into a vast plain of muddied turf, concrete and a couple of trees with paths symbolically cutting into each green plain. When we compare Manchester to other cities, particularly in Europe, its centre is comparatively starved of green spaces. I am by no means an environmental activist, nor am I about to knit clothes for trees, but I just feel that Piccadilly Gardens doesn't do nearly enough in allowing us a natural environment in which we can relax amidst the shopping chaos. Making more of a statement of Stevenson Square by creating a communal, green focus for the Northern Quarter would be a fantastic little opportunity in my opinion, one worth exploring as soon as possible.

Reader XxxJanuary 14th 2013.

Having proper grassed surfaces would be a dream come true; we would look after it as we already do with the pocket parks in Thomas Street, John Street and Piccadilly Basin.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

We can but dream! & with our bloody Council I think we'll be dreaming a long, long time!

FlumpaphoneJanuary 14th 2013.

^^^What she said. Please Don't let anyone who was involved in the (AWFUL) redesign of Picadilly Gardens be involved in this. Spinningfields is equally bland.

How is this difficult?
Use Cobbles not paving so it fits in with the rest of the area.
Let cafes put out seating in places.
Bushy trees. Not the architectural ones with no leaves.

The area is more Spanish Plaza than modern shopping area. think that way and you can't go far wrong. Don't ruin feel of the place and its history.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

FLUMPAPHONE I know! The Berlin wall fell in 1989 and then was Resurrected in Manchester after 2000. I still wait for that monstrosity to be sorted or 'improved' - and the 'how difficult is it' question applies to so much the Council fails with!!!!!!! Then its the arrogant like it and lump it attitude that prevails!!!!

They have to make it as a convoluted and as difficult process as possible, preferably ignoring the public's wishes and then botching it in another failure and then declaring it a success!

This council needs to become dynamic, responsive and to LISTEN the people rather than rail-road them and give the pretence they care!

The sheer wastefulness and endless 'strategy' meetings (in a time of a financial boom) to create that depressing mess of Piccadilly Gardens therefore doesn't bode well for this project and what could and should be achieved.

Reader XxxJanuary 14th 2013.

....unfortunately the square is surrounded by sh*tty wholesale stores and back alleys full of trade waste - it's basically a very large back street - it's also surrounded by legions of urban flat dwellers who ring up the council's noise complaints line if there's so much as the sound of a leaf fluttering - so it couldn't become a public space for arts and events as it once was (ironically the original self determined brief for the young guns who actually regenerated n1/4 with their grassroots cultural bravery) - I'd make it a lively public transport hub just to annoy everyone....people are avoiding Manchester slowly but surely as the price of the Tram and parking rockets ever upwards !

Reader XxxJanuary 14th 2013.

Dear Kevin,

The message is quite clear; we make a mess of the Square and competitors like Liverpool and Leeds will take the business and the glory.

Listen to the people; we all need a pedestrianised green open space.

Urbis is not too bad although lower Deansgsate is concrete jungle...

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2013.

The article puts forward a seriously spurious argument.

Market Street is dead out of hours mainly because it is single use (retail). The Arndale Centre prevents any east-west movement so there is little reason to use the street other than a means of access between Piccadilly and Cross Street. Finally, as a small, linear street it cannot really function as a destination where people congregate.

Stephenson Square has none of these attributes.

Would you advocate returning cars to St Anne's Square? Of course you wouldn't.

So ruling out pedestrianisation is a complete red herring; one which Councillor Peel appears only to happy to jump on for not pursuing a more ambitious scheme.

If public money is tight, then the Councillor should be working to promote a Northern Quarter BID http://www.ukbids.org/. It is beyond belief that Manchester has only recently set one of these up, many years after the powers were introduced.

Reader XxxJanuary 14th 2013.

Thanks for the above post! Very Good!

Exactly! We need an open green space to socialise; otherwise my pennies stay in my pocket and are saved for trips out of town. Simple!

MJanuary 14th 2013.

I seriously don't moving think bus stops to Stevenson Square is going to help the place, though I appreciate the reasoning due to the Nobles Arcade development.

There are few more effective ways to lower the tone, comfort and vivacity of an area than to drop a miserable, claustrophobic bus stop in the middle of it. And that's not snobbery. I get the bus every day and believe many who live in the city could benefit (mainly financially) by doing the same.

You could put up a good argument for saying the most depressingly miserable few square metres in the entire city centre is the congested bus stop on Oldham Street outside Nobles amusements.

If you move some of the buses you'll improve the Oldham Street but you're just moving the misery to the place you're trying to make better.

Bus stops should be places out of the way of things, not in the middle of them. See the big one opposite Owen's Park on Wilmslow Road as a good example of placement of a busy bus stop. If you wanted Fallowfield to be more vibrant you wouldn't move it to where all the shops are because then it brings bus stop misery into a functioning area and ruins it by making it irritating and claustrophobic.

Honestly think about it. Nobles Amusements. The bus stop down the road by on Church Street near the Unicorn. Blackfriars Street, near Deansgate outside the Red Hot World Buffet. Piccadilly outside Spar near The Brunswick Pub. They are miserable places and busy bus stops are the cause.

As mentioned, above, the current 'bus depot' effect has a negative effect on the area as it is. Unless you want the square to be busy in a 'Piccadilly bus station' kind of way then you want to be shifting them to Shudehill, not Stevenson Square.

Thankfully the temporary move forced by the Nobles redevelopment will no doubt highlight all these problems before anything becomes permanent.

B CJanuary 14th 2013.

"We would like to see a green open space where cyclists, children, mothers with children can enjoy and use leisurely without the threat of being run over, noise or polluting fumes."
Based on my experience of arrogant cyclists who want to drive on the road road through red traffic lights and on the pavement at speed in dark clothes at night with no lights I'm not sure why anyone is allying with this particular group.
"The message is quite clear; we make a mess of the Square and competitors like Liverpool and Leeds will take the business and the glory."
If I'm spending a night out in Manchester I'll choose another part of Manchester (or Salford e.g. Kings Arms") every time over Leeds or Liverpool. Please don't suggest that anyone will travel so far for a good time just over one part of Manchester not being optimised.

Heath ThomasJanuary 14th 2013.

I have been lobbying the council and their representatives for 4 whole years about the square and northern qtr in general (including, Richard Lease, Kevin Peel, Thorsten Mayer (re-gen)) amongst others and the apathy around the sq and NQ in general is astounding. This could be made into a proper city centre destination, £1.6m spend bringing massive revenue over the medium to longer term for the city from visitors and the like. The council is far happier ploughing money into other areas of the city where council tax receipts are low/non existent and into the re-gen of St. Peter's sq. I am astounded by some of the decisions made by this council....clueless and lacking urgency!

Heath ThomasJanuary 14th 2013.

Oh and £113m spend for the Brunswick area of the city....! Need I say more! I'd LOVE to know how much revenue in council tax and business rates (that is actually paid by residents....I think people will know what I mean) that area brings into the council versus areas like the NQ on a per head basis! Need I go on!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

We have a very red council. They like that sort of thing.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

Brunswick is a PFI scheme. Duh.

Gary SeymourJanuary 14th 2013.

I had a wander into the square a few months ago, my first visit to the area since I left Manchester in the late '70's. It wasn't much to look at even back then. I only remember it as a bus terminus really, just the place I got on or off the 216 bus when I went into town with my mates as a teenager but after all the regeneration that has happened in Manchester since then it was a huge shock to see how run down it looked now - an area that has clearly been forgotten and ignored by developers and the city in general. So sad that it is just a few minutes walk from the heart of the city. I may never see it again but I truly hope something changes for the better.

AnonymousJanuary 14th 2013.

I'd love to see some work done to Stevenson Square, it's in a great location and although desolate due to the horrible road layout, pedestrianising it may be a bit too far. There is a surplus of 'road' space which could be reduced to allow a better defined public space. I don't think it nothing too fancy, as too much money spent on it could discourage independent shops (of which I would like to see more of in NQ) if it pushes up rent!

David Michael EvansJanuary 14th 2013.

This square definitely needs to be changed to something imaginative. Its got great potential . Look to the Netherlands or Scandinavia for something imaginative...it needs trees, even a fountain...imagine how nice it could be.

1 Response: Reply To This...
MeJanuary 15th 2013.

Piccadilly Gardens has trees, and a water feature and look at the state of that, and the people it attracts. The tattiness adds to the appeal. I do agree it needs some form of regeneration.

Agnes GuanoJanuary 15th 2013.

I didn't even realise this was a square! The word 'tatty' doesn't really do justice to just how tatty this bit of the Northern Quarter is.

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

There are far too many snobby anti-bus comments above. People need to realise that buses are essential for getting people into the heart of the city (the far more intrusive trams only serve a few areas) . Buses are much cleaner with more efficient engines these days and within the next few years will become electric or alternative powered.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

Its not snobby anti-bus comments! My concern is the sheer waste of great spaces in a City Centre (endless carparks, derelicts land). Stevensons Square having a SQUARE does not mean traffic could not go elsewhere on other routes?! How is that snobby?

MattJanuary 15th 2013.

Noone is being snobby about buses, just saying that this is the wrong area for them.

Reader HubbleJanuary 15th 2013.

But theres a huge but station up the road!

pacoJanuary 15th 2013.

We are one of Britains main City's we need to start acting like it. Barcelona has many Beautiful squares with character we need to follow suit. We can be just as good if not better we have the Culture. All European cities untilise their squares come on Manchester show some class.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

Absolutely! Just so sad here we'd have to have 10000 meetings and still achieve nothing. Respect these spaces and make them open and engaging.

Jo NightingaleJanuary 15th 2013.

"Look to the Netherlands or Scandinavia for something imaginative..." - aren't any parts of Manchester allowed to look like Manchester anymore? Or to have functional uses (bus stops, loading gates)?

I assume it's also one of the more affordable parts of town for small independent retailers and catering outlets, because it's a bit grotty. Which are what make it one of my favourite bits - we need to think before we gentrify the life out of our city.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Manc GuyJanuary 16th 2013.

If the NQ as a whole is more affordable for independent retailers, why don't they sell affordable things?

MeJanuary 15th 2013.

I live in the NQ and have done for over 5 years now. I drive through Stevenson Square twice daily, if not more. To close this off, and block access to Thomas St and High street is ludicrous. I know the roads very well and to have to divert traffic to the already busy Great Ancoats St would be crazy.
Stevenson Square is a large space with the majority being road space. This could be better designed to allow for a one way system for access towards Thomas street etc, and drivers heading in the other direction to use Church Street. This would then leave a large proportion to pedestrianise and draw people to the area.
I live on High Street, this isnt pedestrianised, although in summer you would think it so. The wide pavements allow for a large number of people to enyoy the area, and the same could be done for Stevenson Square.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
MattJanuary 15th 2013.

So you're upset that you might have to drive around. And you're worried that the ~10 cars per hour are going to add to congestion on Great Ancoats Street.

Suck it up and drive around.

Manc GuyJanuary 16th 2013.

I assumed people that choose to live in the city centre do so because they work in the city centre!

Chris HawkeJanuary 16th 2013.

Living around the city centre is great and not only the province of city workers. I would very much like to also be working in the city centre but for me unfortunately no.

I'm not convinced about the merits of a complete traffic block but there seems so much excess road presently and none of it seems vital. I tend wander all over that road when crossing without looking a great deal cause its pretty rare I see a car moving around (Lever street buses excluded).

MeJanuary 18th 2013.

Matt I'm not upset by this, if I have to go that way, I have to go that way, I am just saying that it should still have a cut through. If I have to I can still cut in at Tib street, I just dont want it turning into the hell hole that is Piccadilly gardens. These rumours have been flying around for years, if it ever happens I'll probably have moved by then anyway. It surely poses problems for emergency services who will then only be able to drive up Newton street, onto Houldsworth street, Up lever Street and round to to get to the other side of the square, rather than straight through like currently. I'm all for the regeneration and supporting local business but we still need access to at least lever street or Thomas Street, and there is ample space for both.

Reader XxxJanuary 15th 2013.

I wonder who designed the "mocked up" picture of the Square at the top of the rant; it looks so good...

I wonder if the Council will consider the picture as a bit of inspiration for the option of a pedestrianised green space...

Steve RomanJanuary 15th 2013.

As a regular user of buses to/from Oldham, I would welcome any improvement to the bus stops on Oldham Street that made fellow passengers from Oldham and the north-east suburbs not feel like forgotten pariahs. The stops are a congested disgrace and at times 10 minutes can be added to a bus journey to get from Great Ancoats Street to the terminus. Therefore Oldham Street and Stevenson Square need to be considered as a holistic programme of improvement.

Steve5839January 15th 2013.

One mans - sorry persons beauty is anothers crone, any development will not satisfy everyone.

Nice to see the inverstment

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2013.

But the investment or design of Stevensons Square isn't clear. If the people want a completely pedestrianized space then the City Councillors shouldn't then turn around and say that's not what they'll get! Mr Peel & Council listen for once!!!!!

Kevin PeelJanuary 15th 2013.

Some really interesting comments. Clearly people feel very passionately about green space in the city centre. You may be interested in getting involved in the new resident-led city centre green group soon to hold its inaugural meeting. Its purpose will be both to submit funding bids for specific green projects and also to lobby the council and others to include green space in new developments and improve green cover in other areas. A really enthusiastic bunch of residents from right across the city centre area are involved and I think it will be an exciting and influential organisation. I'll speak to Jonathan about some coverage for the launch.

SimonJanuary 15th 2013.

Its a wonderful square, I think we should all agree that something should be done (Not an Arndale). If anyone remebers peanut pete and lifeline magazine their description of the Arndale was by far the best. !! Glad its being talked about again

Reader XxxJanuary 16th 2013.

Let's get it right Mr Peel. Thank You :-)

Manc GuyJanuary 16th 2013.

Pedestrianisation or not, it would be great if the Victorian underground toilet, that's slap bang in the middle of the Square, could be converted into a bar like The Temple, where NQ locals can discuss new app's over a real ale, or maybe turn it into a shoe shop that sells canvas shoes for £200 to young bearded men that sport tweed man bags.

1 Response: Reply To This...
StephJanuary 26th 2013.

Good idea Manc Guy I'd certainly frequent it. Perhaps you should set up an NQ planning group to think up these excellent ideas.

Local Business OwnerJanuary 16th 2013.

If the Square undergoes heavy development and full pedestrianisation it will become more attractive to large companies and chain outlets. Rents will rise and the independent businesses that make the area what it is will be forced out. Homogenisation will take place and the area will become as bland and soulless as Spinningfields. Are there not already enough pavement cafés and terraces across the city? Stevenson Square works just fine as it is. More businesses are locating there because there are decent units close to the centre that don't cost a fortune. Once the rents go up the area will die. I agree the bus stops aren't ideal and there are frequently drunks/junkies on them but maybe a few quid spent on community policing would alleviate that? Is the economy of Manchester going die if we don't suddenly pave the Square and put some bushes in - no, it's not. Before anything rash takes place why not wait a year or so until more units are occupied and see what happens naturally. My dad tells me that the square once used to house a lot more cafés and record shops in the 60s and I would love to see more independent retail and leisure outlets but the only way indies can survive is when rents are affordable - development must by sympathetic to this otherwise before long there'll be a branch of Costly Coffee and a Subway - and who wants that?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
MeJanuary 18th 2013.

I totally agree, it will become Piccadilly Gardens. It has character currently, the appeal is that there isnt all the High Street crap there.

Poster BoyJanuary 21st 2013.

Nail on head.

Alex24January 16th 2013.

As somone who has lived very close to this square and has ongoing business interests in the area, I would just like to add my voice to those calling for full pedestrianization.

Manchester needs more quality public spaces to distract visitors from that s***hole Picc Gardens.

AnonymousJanuary 16th 2013.

Go on then, pedestrianise it, and where do you move the buses that are laying over there as to not mess Oldham Street up go?

Oh wait there is nowhere

1 Response: Reply To This...
Chris HawkeJanuary 16th 2013.

Buses could wait up in the block between Oldham road and Rochdale road. That bit with the skate park in the middle. As a city planner what do you do with that area? Almost half of it is now open air parking upon old demolished building foundations.

Seems like not so long ago the Hat and Feathers was pulled down for 7 proposed stories of "student accommodation". Another open air car park now I believe.

Reader XxxJanuary 17th 2013.

Here you are; a solution is available to the bus stops and all that misery being moved out to an empty site...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 17th 2013.

Which is further away, and therefore makes travelling public transport, which gave the Arndale 73% of its custom last year, less attractive

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