A neglected public space in Manchester city centre has been given a facelift as part of the Manchester Garden City initiative.
Work on Albert Bridge Gardens off Bridge Street was completed this weekend.
The land, which is right next to the River Irwell, has been completely re-landscaped with new wooden seating and a hedge of lavender bordering the river to attract bees. Plants have been selected to create all year round interest including berries in autumn and winter. The scheme has been carefully designed by CityCo to be low maintenance and includes features to deter any anti-social behaviour.
The project led by city centre management company CityCo was also funded by Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police.
The gardens, which cover approximately 500 sq metres (5,382 sq ft) of river bank, were obscured from view at street level by a wall. Part of the wall has been lowered and a hand rail placed on top allowing better visibility and accessibility.
Work on the gardens also included jet washing all paved areas and walls, removing graffiti, painting railings and iron works and installing four raised planters containing magnolia trees.
Some of the work, including the painting of the railings, was undertaken by offenders completing Community Payback, supervised by Greater Manchester Probation Trust. The project was also supported by NCP who facilitated access to their Bridge Street car park.
The piece of land which is on the banks of the River Irwell facing the People’s History Museum, was, until recently, where the Joseph Brotherton statue stood which has now been renovated and returned to its rightful home across the river in Salford.
From the gardens, people can now see the Joseph Brotherton statue across the river at its new location and an interpretation board will explain the link and the history behind it.
The newly renovated statue now forms part of the revitalised Riverside complex, which has been developed by commercial property company, Bruntwood, in association with Salford City Council. It provides a new modern riverside walkway with user friendly signage – forming part of the Irwell River Park scheme.
Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council's city centre spokesperson, said: "This space was always intended as a place to sit and relax. We have recreated a pleasant spot by the River Irwell where people can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There are significant regeneration aspirations being realised on the opposite bank and these improvements will compliment these.”
Vaughan Allen, chief executive at city centre management company, CityCo said: “The Albert Bridge Gardens landscaping scheme has greatly improved this neglected piece of land. This is our fifth Garden City project and our most ambitious. This is a fantastic example of how the private and public sector can work together to revive an important green space, contribute to the Irwell project and make the city centre a better place for everyone.”
Councillor Derek Antrobus, Assistant Mayor for Planning at Salford City Council said: “This whole area is quite rightly benefiting from a wide range of improvements to create user-friendly spaces next to one of the North West’s most unique waterways. By offering green zones throughout our city centres, we are able to boost the wellbeing of users and provide a contrast to city life.”
Inspector Gareth Parkin from the Manchester City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We are fully supportive of this project which we hope will be a great space for people in the area and will also help to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. I know from speaking to the community that this will have a massive impact on the area.”
The Albert Bridge gardens scheme is the fifth Manchester Garden City scheme, which aims to make the city greener. Others include planting at Piccadilly Basin, Grow Boxes on Dale Street car park, the orchard in St John’s Gardens and the Northern Quarter pocket park of Thomas Street. Manchester Garden City is an independent initiative supported by CityCo, Manchester’s city centre management company and Manchester based architect and design practice BDP. It aims to increase the amount of temporary green space on brownfield sites and encourage gardening and sustainable eating.
Anyone wanting to volunteer or pledge their support for the Manchester Garden City initiative should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Manchester city centre visit www.cityco.com.