Manchester

Manchester: Albert Square traffic ban plans approved

artist impression Image copyright Manchester City Council
Image caption New artist impressions show how the £13m project could free up more space in front of the town hall

The pedestrianisation of one of Manchester's main squares has been approved by planners.

The city council's planning committee backed the £13m project, which will see vehicles banned from roads around Albert Square, except Princess Street.

The scheme aims to increase the open space around the town hall by 20%, making it "a place of international significance, pride and influence".

Manchester City Council hopes the work will be completed by 2023.

It said it wanted to achieve "the transformation of Albert Square into one of Europe's finest open spaces".

Although councillors approved the plan, one pointed out how she thought the new square could be improved still further.

'Major events'

Labour's Mary Watson, who represents Whalley Range, said: "One of the great pluses of St Peter's Square is the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst. Albert Square has four listed statues and they are all men.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a woman just to counteract that?"

Planning officer David Roscoe responded: "We are very happy to take that back to the design team but we can't guarantee everything here obviously."

The planned expansion is part of a major council project to restore the neighbouring Grade I-listed Manchester Town Hall, which is due to be completed in 2024.

Albert Square has regularly hosted major events, including the Manchester International Festival, the Great CityGames and the city's annual Christmas markets.

Manchester's Victorian town hall was closed in 2017 ahead of its £330m refurbishment.

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