Manchester City Council has revealed plans to permanently pedestrianise Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter.
New plans show the majority of Stevenson Square which is at the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter will be permanently pedestrianised following temporary road closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A series of consultations have taken place over the future use of the square since 2019, with the aim of improving the space for walking and cycling, promoting active travel within the city.
The square originally closed in 2020 under temporary Covid powers to encourage people back into the city. It provided a space for al-fresco dining, increasing restaurant capacity and proving popular with business owners and customers.
Giving more space for pedestrians and cyclists has proven to be incredibly positive and signalled a shift in how people want to interact and engage with Manchester city centre.
Greater Manchester has a goal to cut down short car journeys and promote active travel as the natural choice for short trips.
This reliance on private cars for transport contributes to inactivity levels, climate change, congestion, poor air quality, and significant costs such as road building and maintenance.
Research by Greater Manchester Moving found that 47% of the Greater Manchester population would cycle more if the conditions were better; this includes feeling safer on the road, more cycle routes and easier access to bikes.
Promoting active travel will help the city reduce emissions and support its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2038.
However, the latest consultation held in December 2021 highlighted the need to balance access to the square for all users, including those travelling into the city centre on public transport.
To meet this need, the council proposes to close three-quarters of the square to vehicles and provide limited access via Lever Street for buses and Hackney carriages, to link up with Oldham Street and Piccadilly connections.
Permanent improvements to the square will include:
– The pedestrianisation of most of Stevenson Square.
– A two-way cycle lane will run through Stevenson Square at carriageway level, with cycleway demarcation blocks on one side, and tactile crossings put in place and new signage for cyclists.
– Pedestrian and cyclist crossings will be installed at the junctions of Oldham Street/Hilton Street, and Newton Street/Hilton Street. Footpaths will be widened in the area to give more space to pedestrians.
– Pay and display bays in Hilton Street will be removed.
– Some loading bays in the area will be relocated to allow for these changes to be made, whilst still retaining important space for businesses to trade.
Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “For a long time the Council has been committed to the full pedestrianisation of Stevenson Square and we remain so but for now we will provide limited access for buses and Hackney carriages in a small area of the square.
“We are pleased that the vast majority of the space in the square has been preserved for pedestrians and cyclists, and we will be working with businesses to ensure they can maximise the benefits of these changes.
“For the Council, our bigger picture is being at the forefront of a switch towards walking and cycling in the city centre and turning places like Stevenson Square into vibrant and economically strong neighbourhoods.”