Parks, leisure and the arts Stevenson Square Conservation Area

Improvement and enhancement

The main characteristic of the Stevenson Square conservation area is one of a closely woven network of narrow streets intersecting at right angles. An exception to this occurs in the Port Street area and in Stevenson Square itself, where there is a change in spatial quality. Moderately tall buildings, creating a varied and interesting tapestry of built form are located hard up to the back of pavement. One of the aims of improvement will be to restore this characteristic where it has been eroded.

A number of sites have been left vacant where buildings have been demolished. These tend to be used as car parks in the short term, which can detract from the visual appeal of the area. Ideally all these sites should be developed with buildings which contribute to the character of the conservation area.

The height, scale, colour, form, massing and materials of new buildings should relate to the existing high-quality buildings and also complement their character.

In the numerous buildings of special interest in and around Stevenson Square, there is not only an enormous variety of styles but also a common unity which designers of new and refurbished buildings must acknowledge. Superficial reflections or bland copies of historic buildings would make no positive contribution to the historic character of the area. Each building should have a vitality of its own.

Designers should be aware of proportion and rhythm in their buildings and also differentiate the ground floor, a middle portion and a top part which creates a varied sky-line, in order to enhance the area.

Apart from roof slates, there are no predominant building materials used in the Stevenson Square conservation area, although brick and stone, terracotta, or a combination of these, are in evidence throughout the area. Large expanses of cladding, concrete or glass should be avoided in preference for solid, traditional materials.

Most windows are of the sliding-sash type and vertically proportioned - i.e. taller than they are wide. In cases where they have deteriorated beyond repair, replacement windows should be set in the same plane and be of a similar kind and material to the originals. In new buildings, windows should be set back from the wall faces in order to create deep modelling on the facades.

The corner-emphasis characteristic of Manchester's buildings is very much in evidence in Stevenson Square and its use in new developments will therefore be encouraged.

Signs and canopies should be carefully designed so as not to compete with, or conceal, the architectural details of buildings.

We want to carry out environmental improvements in Stevenson Square and Oldham Street. In September 1992, work began on a feasibility study of the various options for improvement.

This includes possible pedestrianisation of part of Stevenson Square, allowing for traffic movement and servicing to properties. Improvements to Oldham Street will largely depend upon successful management of bus services and a reduction in the number of buses using the street.

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