Manchester City Council has commissioned a team to “develop a vision and permanent design for Deansgate”. The plan is to spend £14m on the transformation of the historically significant Manchester street.
The cash, if won in a formal bid, will come out of the fund of just over a billion pounds which was allocated to Manchester by central government in 2022. This money is part of the City Regional Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS), a £5.7 billion investment divvied up between eight city regions across England to be delivered over five years from 2022-2027. Its aim is to provide secure long-term funding for improving local transport networks.
This funding means the project must focus on supporting sustainable travel, like walking, cycling and public transport. A bus gate (a stretch of road only open to buses, black cabs and pedal cycles) that runs between Blackfriars and King Street West was introduced earlier this month. but the Council says it will also be thinking about other changes that could be made to Deansgate.
The proposed plans are divided up into four sections of Deansgate. While the Council’s bid to pedestrianise the whole of Deansgate in 2020 was not accepted, that doesn’t mean it definitely won’t happen. However, it could be that pedestrianisation is on the cards for sections of the long street rather than the entire length of it. Ideas on the table also include things like adding cycle lanes, introducing permanent one way systems, and widening of pavements.
The Council says, “We hope we can bring about the transformation of Deansgate from a traffic dominated environment to one that puts those using sustainable transport modes first. We’ll be thinking about how to create improved space to walk, wheel, and cycle, space for businesses to use, a safer night-time environment, improved air quality, and how to support regeneration.”
The Council previously said in its City Centre Transport Strategy that its main aim is for 90% of all morning peak trips to the city centre to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2040 as part of its ambitious zero-carbon-by-2038 target. The Council has also said it wants to create “an easier, safer and more attractive route for people to move around the city centre.
This consultation comes after planning was approved to completely revamp the Great Northern Warehouse including Deansgate Terrace, the section of the building leading up to the Beetham Tower which currently houses a range of shops, restaurants and other businesses.
There has been much discussion of what should happen to Deansgate with many still in favour of a full pedestrianisation of the throughway to make it into a more European-style shopping and socialising area, and others vehemently opposing such a prospect.
Comments on Place North West’s article about this were mixed with some people calling to fully pedestrianise Deansgate and make it “like Las Ramblas”. Some gloomily predicted “a sea of tarmac, guard-rails galore, harsh kerbs, motorway-style lighting, ugly filter lanes, and garish paint.” Others were dead against pedestrianisation saying, “Roads need opening up, traffic flow freeing up and instead road space is reduced, one ways, closures, pedestrianisation.” Yet others said it “should have been pedestrianised 20 years ago”.
If you want to have your say on the consultation, you can read more and answer a questionnaire on the Council’s website. You have until Sunday 26 March to give them your thoughts.
There is also an in-person drop-in session where you can speak to members of the City Centre Growth & Infrastructure Team on 21 March 2023 from 1-7pm at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. See the Council’s website for more details.