LDA has been involved in the scheme since 2017. Credit: via MCC

Manchester sticks with LDA for tricky £25m Piccadilly Gardens job 

The design practice has beaten off competition from West8, Planit-IE, and Studio Egret West to win the opportunity to change the face of the much-maligned public space. 

LDA Design will lead a team featuring Arup, United Creatives, Nayan Kulkarni, CPTED UK, The Liminal Space, Authentic Futures, and Gardiner & Theobald in drawing up a planning application for the £25m project, which is due to be submitted next year.

The team will be responsible for reinventing Piccadilly Gardens in line with a brief set out by Manchester City Council. 

The authority, which has come in for criticism over its handling of Piccadilly Gardens – particularly in relation to crime – wants the city centre zone to become “a special place with a strong sense of identity, [that is] welcoming and uniquely Mancunian”.  

LDA has been involved with Piccadilly Gardens for the last six years. The landscape architect was behind 2017 proposals from leaseholder LGIM Real Estate to regenerate the area. 

The £2m overhaul was popular with the public but wasn’t progressed due to challenges around funding. 

In 2020, LDA was appointed by the city council to draw up concept designs for the regeneration of Piccadilly Gardens. 

It was those concept designs that informed the brief for the competition LDA has just won. 

Mark Graham, Manchester studio lead at LDA Design, said: “We are thrilled to be selected for such an important project in Manchester’s transformation. Our team uses Piccadilly Gardens every day, so we take great pride in now having a role in creating a positive future for the space.

“The city deserves a beautiful public space that showcases all that is great about Manchester and brings the city together. We want the gardens to feel strongly Mancunian, in a very special way that delivers a lasting legacy for the city. We can’t wait to work with the community to shape our ideas and hear what people think.”

The 10-acre project, which Manchester City Council announced two years ago, includes not just Piccadilly Gardens itself, but also Mosley Street, Parker Street, part of Portland Street and part of Piccadilly.  

The new-look Piccadilly Gardens aims to promote public safety and retain the existing monuments, statues, tramlines, infrastructure and the Pavilion structure, owned by L&G.

Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig said: “We know that people have strong views about Piccadilly Gardens and serious work is continuing to realise its potential as an outstanding, welcoming public space – somewhere people want to linger and enjoy, not just pass through.

“There’s still much more work to do and today is not about us announcing the plan but appointing the experts who will help produce one, taking the views of Mancunians very much into account.”

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Well done LDA – all eyes on this one as urban planning takes on a site with complex social issues. It can’t get any worse…..

By Danny Crump

Recladding and retrofitting One Piccadilly Place would also e chance the area.


Only in the U.K. could a perfectly beautiful sunken garden ,with mature rose trees in the centre of a city now look like this. Nothing could look worse than it does now.

By Elephant

Best of luck LDA with this one… a very challenging space to design with a real mix of users. On the plus side its not a difficult to better the previous design which has been dire. Top of the list should be removal of the concrete wall!


What was the point of a lengthy (expensive) design competition, to then award to the practice that wrote the original brief for the competition..

By Anonymous

Still waiting for a good reason why the “Pavilion” the actual Great/Berlin Wall (as opposed to the short section removed as a political stunt) has to stay, or would be even remotely desirable. Widely hated, limits any new plan, apparently hard to let/make a go of the units, and any improvements likely to be well into lipstick on a pig territory. If L&G really insists it is a prime asset, or has much value at all, would it not make more sense to cede some space to improve the F&B units below 1 Piccadilly Gardens, or perhaps allow them to build up as part of a more comprehensive refurbishment?

By Rotringer

Get rid of the concrete wall, it’s totally out of character


The wall / pavilion was flogged to L&G on a long lease. I suspect they’re happy to sit on it and make it the council’s problem who flogged it to them in the first place.

Get rid of the statues, they’re ugly and consume a lot of space. Also not the place for a kids play area – get rid of that too.

@Elephant, the sunken garden isn’t remotely practical or safe given how much busier the space is and the presence of the tram tracks. It would also be threatening and dangerous at night. This is a transport interchange in the centre of a major city, not tranquil botanical gardens

By Anonymous

Nothing will.work.unless you move the bus station and put the tram lines underground and then demolish the ugly office building on side of gardens.

By Mat Jones

When is the container depot going to be removed from Piccadilly Gardens it’s an issue

By Mark Zielinski

If the concrete wall stays a big waste of time and money. Should be a completely open space.

By Anti Concrete Wall Society

LDA should first study photos of Piccadilly Gardens in the 1950s and 1960s, and use that as their template. As regards that disgusting wall, a controlled explosion would be a good start.

By Francis

The photo used in this article demonstrates that the problem it’s not the design of the place but the inexcusable lack of cleaning, maintenance and vigilance. It doesn’t matter what they build there, if the same amount of neglect that we see now is applied after the revamp, the place will look awful in a few days.

By Anonymous

Manchester council has already ruled out the only real solution, a recreated sunken garden

By Andrew Battersby

Over the years a lot of money has been spent on Piccadilly Gardens and for me it is not a appealing place, to much concrete . It’s a bit ugly . I hope you get it right this time

By Christopher Wilkinson

Please keep the wall – I love the way it screens off the busy public transport systems, but creates a gateway from the tram and bus station to the gardens

By Craggers

Keep it as it is 🙂

By Concrete wall lover

This will be as much about long-term place management as design. No point spending tens of millions (which it will be) when the area ends up used as a Deliveroo assembly point.

By Anonymous

That wall in Piccadilly gardens has to be one of the ugliest structures that I’ve ever seen! You could use that monstrosity as a blank canvas to display some art by some of Manchester’s best artists! Anything is better than what it looks like now! All I know is me and everyone I ask say that the gardens used to look so much better than it does now! (pre wall) Piccadilly gardens is a hell hole at night and that wall makes it worse! I bet whoever is reading this doesn’t like the look of it! You know I’m talking truths here. Anyway,thanks and I’m glad work is finally being done to revamp that eye sore!

By Ian Napier

Craggers you’re joking right?

By Gilly

That wall makes me think councils don’t listen to what people want and just throw up ugly architecture regardless! Colour it in or something please!

By Anonymous

The only way to truly improve this is:

– Relocate the bus station from Parker Street
– Demolish the “pavilion”
– Remove children’s park (we have Mayfield now)—it should just be near-continuous lawn to encourage people to sit there in nice weather
– Remove water feature—again, near-continuous lawn

Don’t envy this project. It’s a poison chalice with the restrictions being imposed.

By Tom

Empires have come and gone, stars have formed and died, and still this never ending symbol of festering abject civic failure drags its mouldy corpse ever onwards. Still,… mustn’t grumble.

By Nimrod

I like how some people think kids should only have one place to play in the city centre – why shouldn’t there be space in Piccadilly?
The wall shields the bus / tram station – if they stay, then so should the wall. Get rid of the near-constant shanty town on the fountains and have the fountains functioning. When it’s good weather (!!) the fountains were great – lots of kids and adults messing about, having fun. They can’t to that in St Peter’s Square.
The main failure of the current setup (once the office block was built) was the lack of policing. If there had been a permanent police presence since the most recent incarnation, there wouldn’t be the issues we are stuck with now.

By harpisord

It is to much money for that could be better spent

By Anonymous

Mat Jones has the correct comment and it’s something that a large majority want. They should pedestrianise Mosley St after they move the met underground as well.
Otherwise we’re just going round in circles with redesigning it.
It’s slightly before my time but I’ll never understand how One Piccadilly got built in that spot. Totally ruins it.

And the buildings which surround Piccadilly Gardens are actually quite regal. They wouldn’t look out of place in Belgium, Amsterdam etc.

By Anonymous

@Nimrod – I must say, that was quite poetic….all true though.

By Manc Man

Here we go again ! MCC have dawdled, shuffled, delayed and sat on the fence for far too long now despite the anti social havoc we citizens have to put up with. No, we do not want an area so children can play either ! This is a civic place – the centre of Manchester and must reflect the achievements of Manchester’s Victorian heritage. Think Rome, Paris, Vienna. No cheap compromise scheme either. But we all know what this leftie council will push through…glass half empty !

By Rodders

What a waste of everyone’s time and hopes with the design competition, only to announce the same firm. Any of those other international companies would have provided something world class – instead it’ll be same old same old

By Anonymous

Of course the tram should go underground…….who could possibly disagree. But the government only investe in major infrastructure schemes in London. The problems of the north just don’t exist!! £25 m won’t touch Piccadilly Gardens but as others have said the real issue is policing or rather the lack of it

By Realism

What’s the point of letting developers take the city for a ride if the general public aren’t seeing proper benefits?
It’s obvious that Manchester is trying to level itself up, and fair play, but if it can’t provide the best planning outcomes for what is one of the main civic areas of the city centre then how the hell are we meant to stay positive? I don’t mind turning a blind eye to a few crap schemes but the green space and public realm situation is dire and it needs addressing now. Manchester is starting to fall behind significantly in these aspects and as much as I love Mayfield it’s nowhere near enough.
The fact there is hardly any outdoor space in the city centre and they’ve filled Pic Gardens with those awful looking markets. It’s a kick in the teeth.
And whatever it takes, get rid of those offices and the wall as a minimum, otherwise its just never going to be good enough and the current proposals will just be more wasted money.
It’s needs opening up and the old buildings surrounding it out on display.
What does the new Manc leader Bev have to say about all this? I thought she was pro greenspace or whatever. Get and interview with her PNW!
If there’s anyone with any power in planning and an ounce of respect for our city, can you do everyone a favour in this brilliant city and just sort it out ffs.

By Anonymous

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