New trees as Albert Square improvements take root

  • Friday 2 February 2024

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A tree on its side about to be planted in Albert Square.

Ten new, semi-mature trees will soon adorn Albert Square as work continues to enhance this much-loved Manchester public square and make it one of the finest civic spaces in Europe.

The works to transform Albert Square are part of the wider Our Town Hall project, which is safeguarding, repairing, and restoring the Grade I-listed Town Hall for current and future generations.

In phase one of the planting work, seven tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), two Japanese maple trees, (Sophora Japonica) and one Foxglove tree (Paulownia tometosa) will be planted around the outer edges of the square over the next couple of weeks. (see image for tree location).

Weighing approximately two tonnes each, the healthy, semi-mature trees will be planted in large, engineered tree pits and hoisted into place by crane at night. It is expected, weather permitting, to take up to ten days to complete the planting.

The trees, carefully selected to fit in with other species across the city and to increase the biodiversity within the city centre, are the latest milestone in the plans for the reconfigured square.

These improvements also include an increase in pedestrian space which means that when finished, it will be 25 per cent bigger than before, making it a more flexible events space and pleasant environment, opening views, and reducing clutter. This has been achieved by pedestrianising the roads round three sides of the square, with only the Princess Road side remaining open to the Metrolink and other traffic.

New lighting columns have been recently installed too: these will also feature devices that can project themed images and patterns across the square’s light path, which will enhance the use of the space during events.

Further tree planting will take place in the area behind the hoardings and within the site compound later, alongside the four existing large plane trees (Platanus acerifolia) that were such a feature of the old square.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council said: “This is another exciting milestone in the Our Town Hall project and the installation of these new trees is a visual reminder that work is progressing on the project. The trees have been chosen with great care: for their quality, maturity, and diversity, and their positioning on the outer edges of the square will make them a major enhancement to this world-class space.”

Matt Stirton, Principal Landscape Architect from Planit-IE comments: “Planit are honoured to be part of the team helping to deliver the biggest heritage project in the UK. Much of the restoration work has been happening inside the Town Hall but the planting of 10 new large trees is a momentous occasion that marks the next major milestone of significant improvements to Albert Square.

The trees will frame the newly enlarged public space for pedestrians, offering a green canopied avenue and a wonderful setting for the restored building. More new planting and green space will follow to further improve air quality and support our urban wildlife and pollinators, like honeybees. The plans have been many years in the making, and we are excited to see these trees come into leaf and flower for the first time in their new home!”

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