Future plans for Castlefield Viaduct revealed and designs underway for extension

Jun 6, 2024 | Uncategorized

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The ‘Strawberry Garden’ area as featured in the Vision for Castlefield Viaduct. Copyright BPD

The National Trust has revealed plans for the long-term future of the Castlefield Viaduct ‘sky park’ in Manchester, to enhance access to green space in the city centre.

The masterplan, termed the ‘Vision,’ is a direct response to public feedback from viaduct visitors and the local community who took part in a series of workshops, events and an online survey in autumn 2023. Plans include several entry and exit points to the viaduct and a walkway giving access towards Salford and Trafford. More places to sit, relax and take in the views of the city, and pop-up spaces for community activities and events, also feature in the plans.

The ‘Village Hub’ area as featured in the Vision for Castlefield Viaduct. Copyright BPD

In the Vision, seven ‘character’ areas have been identified as part of the future viaduct. A new welcome area called the Castlefield Platform, a green and playful area called the Global Garden, and the Village Hub which provides an area for community growing, all feature in the designs. The midway point on the viaduct would become the Strawberry Garden, taking inspiration from the 19th century lost recreation gardens of Cornbrook. Designs for the latter half of the viaduct take advantage of the open-air views, with the absence of the viaduct’s over-head iron girders which only cover the first part of the structure, offering elevated vistas across the city from The Lookout. The Cottonopolis area takes inspiration from Manchester’s industrial past, before the Pomona Walk leads visitors through treetops and on towards Pomona Island.

The National Trust is now actively seeking investors and funders to support the plans and secure a future for the urban park.

The conservation charity opened the viaduct in July 2022 as a pilot to gauge public opinion on the future of the Manchester landmark. Members of the public and local community have shown strong support for the viaduct, wanting the Grade II listed structure to remain open as an accessible green space for people and nature. The plans for Castlefield Viaduct are part of the National Trust’s Urban Places work to increase access to parks and green spaces in and around urban areas, so that more people are in easy reach of quiet places with wide open skies.

Nichola Jacques, Castlefield Viaduct Project Manager at the National Trust, says: We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who fed into these plans and designs by visiting the viaduct over the last 18 months, joining workshops and completing our online questionnaire. It’s clear to see that the community want the viaduct to reach beyond its potential in the future, not only benefitting people and nature but also establishing itself as part of Manchester’s DNA. These plans mark the start of our next era for the viaduct; a bigger, bolder and more beneficial green space. This won’t happen without big investment, and we hope these plans will now encourage more funders and supporters to come on board and work with us to achieve this for the city.”

The ‘Global Garden’ area as featured in the Vision for Castlefield Viaduct. Copyright BPD

Landscape architects from Manchester based design practice, BDP, were appointed in 2023 to work with the Trust, partners and the community to develop plans for the future of the viaduct. Over 1,000 local people took part in workshops, events and an online survey in late 2023 to share their views which have fed into the community-led designs.

Darrell Wilson, Landscape Architect at BDP, says: “The art of landscape architecture is to bring city spaces to life, connecting people and nature and adding prosperity and activity. There is no better example of this in the UK than this vision for Castlefield Viaduct. We designed this project with people in mind but crucially, with people involved so it is a reflection of the diverse and vibrant communities of Manchester. We are so excited to see it become a reality.”

 

Phase 2 plans

The ambitious plans for the viaduct’s future are being approached by the Trust and its partners in distinct phases.  Work on the extension of the sky park, termed ‘Phase 2’, is expected to start in 2025. This could increase the scale of the viaduct experience for visitors from 150 metres to the full 330 metre length of the structure. Currently, visitors walk through a series of spaces and gardens before coming to an untouched section of the viaduct beyond a glass wall. It’s this untouched section which the Trust and its partners are turning their attention to next.

Subject to planning approval, the National Trust has provisionally secured a significant proportion of funding to deliver the Phase 2 extension and is actively seeking investment for the remaining amount. As part of the Phase 2 viaduct designs, the National Trust is looking into the possibility of a second entry and exit point towards Mancunian Way to improve access and allow more people to visit. Other features could include winding paths to encourage people to slow down and take time out from the busy city beneath them, as well as a series of viewing points and planted areas. Designs and proposals for Phase 2 are expected to be submitted for planning application in late summer.

The ‘Look Out’ with raised walkways as featured in the Vision for Castlefield Viaduct. Copyright BPD

Local members of the public can find out more about the longer-term vision and help shape the look and feel of the Phase 2 extension through a series of upcoming events. More information on these events can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castlefield-vision

 

Calum McGowan, Chair of Castlefield Forum, says: “Ever since we clapped eyes on the mighty Viaduct, we have always wondered “what if, why not, and how might we?”. To see it in managed decline always brought a tinge of sadness. So to hear that plans are progressing, which will not just double the length of the pilot but secure the very future of this incredible industrial asset, provide a brand new through-route and even more green space for Manchester city centre, is frankly incredible. We are very proud to have all this going on in our patch and can’t wait for the next phase to open so that even more people can enjoy it.”

To help turn the longer-term plans for Castlefield Viaduct into a reality for Manchester, and cover the remaining funding needed for the upcoming extension to the viaduct. As a conservation charity, the National Trust is keen to hear from organisations, businesses or individuals who would like to support the project. Ways to back the project include the Castlefield Viaduct Club inviting corporate companies to pledge their support. Those visiting the viaduct day-to-day can also help keep it growing by donating on the day or via the website.

 

The viaduct will remain open to members of the public throughout 2024, with no need to book in advance. To find out more about Castlefield Viaduct and view the future Vision for the green space, visit:

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