This is how Manchester’s historic Albert Square could look under ambitious plans by the council to make it one of the “finest civic spaces in Europe”.
The plans include enlarging the square by around 20 per cent by pedestrianising three existing roads around it – while only Princess Street will stay open to traffic (and trams).
The council hope the plans will enhance the square’s role as a major events venue and the city’s most important public square – which is currently hosting the Manchester Christmas Markets.
The new plans form part of the ongoing town hall refurbishment project.
The council say the plans for the reconfigured square will also enhance its safety by removing the need for the current concrete barrier, open up views, reduce clutter, improve lighting and create a new tranquil space around the fountain to enable people to sit and enjoy the square.
Its expanded area will also give neighbouring food and drink businesses the opportunity to set up continental-style outdoor seating areas.
The square will be resurfaced with granite sett paving, removing trip hazards while “referencing” the traditional cobbles, with Yorkstone paving providing a route around it.
The plans will be considered by the council’s planning committee later this year, with works scheduled to begin on the transformation next year.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, lead member for the Our Town Hall project, said: “Albert Square is in many ways the heart of Manchester – somewhere people gather for celebrations, commemorations and other communal events.
“We believe these plans will put it among the very finest international public spaces, combining Victorian grandeur with modern facilities and accessibility standards in a welcoming, car-free environment.
“Our approach has been to accentuate the things which people love about the square while addressing some of the things which currently don’t work as well.
“Inclusive entrances to the Albert Square and Cooper Street entrances will ensure a dignified entrance for everyone – with no one needing to use a side entrance.
“This will complement other plans to improve accessibility inside the town hall, with new lifts part of the wider plans.”