Withington community welcomes proposed public space investment following consultation

  • Friday 22 March 2024

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An artists impressions of how Copson Street could look with more outdoor seating, planting and less space for parking

Local people and businesses have shown their support for two projects to improve public spaces in Withington Village and create a more pedestrian first approach to the high street.

Following public consultation early this year, of the 330 people who responded, 72% said they either felt positive or very positive about the two proposals for Rutherford Place and Copson Street – with many people choosing to provide detailed feedback and ideas that will ensure the plans work for the local community.  

Of the 258 online responses, 80% were local residents, with the remaining comments coming from people who either use Withington regularly, work there or have a business in the area.  

Key elements welcomed around Copson Street include: 

  • Wider footpath along with added street furniture 
  • More trees and better public realm 
  • Limiting vehicle access in this area to prioritise pedestrians and provide flexible events space 
  • Improved seating options, while removing street clutter 

At Withington Library / Rutherford Place, the responses welcomed: 

  • Prohibiting traffic in front of the library to create a new public space 
  • Better seating including space for outside seating for local businesses 
  • More trees and improved space for community events and activities 
  • Wider and safer footpaths 

Some comments were received with concerns around inconvenience for drivers and business customers. There were also comments which urged the council to go even further with plans for pedestrianisation in the local area.   

To note - the initial designs for Copson Street envisaged a full pedestrianisation of this space. Following engagement with local businesses current proposals for this space would allow for early morning deliveries and emergency access, while giving priority to pedestrians.  

All feedback is now being considered as part of the final design process.  


Background to the proposed investment in Withington Village 

The Council has been working with the local community through the Withington Village Regeneration Partnership to improve Withington high street for several years, leading to an extensive consultation in 2020.  

The feedback from this engagement helped to guide the Withington Village Draft Framework, which presents a long-term vision for how the district centre could be improved. And businesses were separately consulted about their access and delivery needs, which helped create the outline proposals.  

In 2023, Manchester secured £2.1m of funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to invest in local public realm projects in Withington 

This funding will support two priority projects:  

  • To create a larger and improved square in front of Withington Library (to be known as Rutherford Place) 
  • To encourage more footfall along Copson Street by making it more pleasant and pedestrian friendly 

Find out more about the investment proposals for Withington Village 

The next stage will complete the design work associated with the programme of work. 

If approved, work could start on site by the end of 2024, with the expectation that the works would be completed in 2025.   

Cllr Gavin White, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and development, said:  

“The feedback from local people has been overwhelmingly positive, but also detailed and insightful. This has been incredibly useful in the thinking around the improvement schemes and shows the impact good consultation can have in guiding investment in local areas.  

“We have a real focus on our district centres and we are investing in high streets across the city to ensure they remain an important resource for local people to access shops and services, and spaces that attract visitors and support local businesses.  

“Withington Village has a huge amount of potential and we will continue to work with this community to invest in and develop a high street that is the beating heart of the neighbourhood.” 


Dave Payne, Chair of Withington Village Regeneration Partnership said:   

“It's positive to see that so many local people are in favour of reimagining Copson Street and Rutherford Square, turning them into destinations that prioritise pedestrians.  

"This funding will encourage investment and regeneration and provides an opportunity to make Withington an increasingly attractive place to visit, work and shop - increasing footfall and helping our local businesses to grow. Withington Village Regeneration Partnership looks forward to seeing the City Council's updated designs following the public feedback analysis and we'd like to again encourage the Council to stretch the designs as far as possible to holistically transform these areas into shared spaces for the community."

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