An application has been submitted to expand and pedestrianise Manchester’s Albert Square, developing its role as an ‘international’ public space.
The proposed plans, which will be reviewed by the Council’s Planning Committee in December 2019, are part of the ‘Our Town Hall’ project, to protect and enhance the Town Hall and its surrounding area.
Improvements are predicted to cost £13 million and will increase its current size by 20%. This would be achieved by making the roads around the square car-free, with the exception of Princess Street.
Following the Council’s commitment to accessibility, the plans comprise of a gentle slope, which will allow inclusive access to the Town Hall for the first time. Seated spaces around the fountain and improved lighting are also in the projected plans.
Councillor and lead member of the project, Nigel Murphy, said the approach “has been to accentuate the things which people love about the square while addressing some of the things which currently don’t work as well”.
The safety of the square will be improved and so there will be no need for the current concrete barrier. Resurfacing the square with a granite sett paving, all whilst maintaining the traditional cobbles, will remove any trip hazards.
Olivia Ryan, a Physics student at the University of Manchester, said: “The plans sound like a win-win. Fewer cars and pollution in the area combined with more space will make it a more appealing place for people to meet in the city”.
The square is home to Remembrance Day commemorations, the Manchester International Festival and has been a crowd-gathering area for sporting world cups. Next year will be the first time in 20 years that it does not host the Manchester Christmas markets, as the renovation begins.