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.”