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Library Walk: 'Unique' right of way in Manchester heard by inquiry

image copyrightFriends of library walk
image captionMorag Rose of Friends of Library Walk said it was "very special and unique in the city centre"
A public inquiry into a council's decision to close a right of way at night has begun in Manchester.
A £3.5m glass walkway built on Library Walk linking the city's main library and the town hall extension will improve public safety, said Manchester City Council.
The walkway will be locked between 22:00 and 06:00, barring public access.
Friends of Library Walk's Morag Rose said the council was "stealing something generations have enjoyed".
If the Planning Inspectorate inquiry finds against the council, the structure's automatic doors will have to remain open 24 hours a day.
Council leader Sir Richard Leese said Library Walk was "very rarely used and more often abused" at night and the new structure "maintains the distinctive curve while complementing the historic buildings it will connect".
image copyrightGerald England
image captionSir Richard Leese said Library Walk was "very rarely used and more often abused" at night
He said it would transform "an underused shortcut, which many felt was unsafe outside peak times, in to a welcoming walkway, public space and a clear and visible entrance to the complex".
"It is estimated that up to a million visitors each year will use the connection and so it is important we create a quick and easy access, but also a striking and ambitious architectural statement."

'Special and unique'

A 1,300 signature petition against the walkway was submitted when the council announced plans to create it in 2012.
Ms Rose said Library Walk was "a really beautiful place and fundamentally we believe that we have a right to walk through the city and enjoy it".
"It's very special and unique in the city centre and we think that if you start taking away public space, where is it going to end?
"To deal with a problem which is mainly about weeing by [building the walkway] sets a really scary precedent.
"There's got to be a better solution than stealing what is something that generations have enjoyed and want to carry on enjoying."
The inquiry is due to last two days. A ruling on the decision to close the walkway is expected to be given before the end of the year.

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