Parks, leisure and the arts St Ann's Square Conservation Area

Improvement and enhancement

At the time the Square was initially pedestrianised, the former Greater Manchester County Council undertook a refurbishment scheme but, after a decade, paving and street furniture were in need of renewal.

The new scheme was completed in December 1994, apart from the fountain, which was installed in May 1996. Given the high value of the area there are no vacant sites awaiting development.

From time to time, however, a building will need major refurbishment or reconstruction, and this provides an opportunity to create a design that contributes positively to the character of the conservation area. A mix of uses would be appropriate, and this might include housing.

It is important that the narrow-fronted character of the older buildings is retained in any new development. This will ensure a vertical rhythm in the 'street wall' when viewed in perspective.

The height, scale, colour, form, massing and materials of new buildings should relate to the existing high-quality buildings, and also complement their character. Existing buildings within the conservation area exhibit a great variety in style but retain a common unity, which designers of new and refurbished buildings should acknowledge in their proposals. That unity is in part provided by the tri-partite subdivision of elevations of an over-large ground floor, a middle portion (where there is sufficient height to do so) and a top part, which creates a varied skyline, in order to enhance the area.

Although there is great variety in the building materials used in St. Ann's Square, such as stone, brick and stucco, it is stone which predominates. These solid traditional materials should be used in preference to large expanses of cladding, concrete and glass. Most windows are of the sliding sash type and are 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 similar section 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 buildings is evident too in St. Ann's 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 architectural details of buildings.

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