Should Piccadilly Gardens be changed back into actual gardens?

Peter McDermott / Geograph

Walking through Piccadilly Gardens these days it’s hard to imagine that it was once an actual blooming, green garden. Yeah, there’s still some grass there, but when you look back at pictures from the middle of the 20th Century you’ll find yourselves wishing you were back in the ‘good old days’.

These days the gardens have garnered a rather unsavoury reputation, with drug use and crime becoming more and more synonymous with the central Manchester hub.

The dramatic increase in homelessness in recent years combined with the explosion of Spice on the streets of Manchester have helped turn the gardens into a hotspot for drugs, but even if you took all of that away the brutalist Berlin-style wall and abundance of concrete are an absolute eyesore.

Gerald England / Geograph

So what’s the solution?

Well, in my opinion, the gardens should be transformed back into their former glory, with the wall knocked down and the current grassy areas converted into the welcoming green space it was previously, with flower beds put in once again and more trees planted.

We recently ran a poll and the response was overwhelmingly in favour of changing them back:

Over 1,000 people agreed it should be turned back into an actual garden, while only 32 thought it shouldn't.

Joseph Thomas Smart wrote on Facebook: "Yes it should [be changed back] but with more controls on security and policing to rid it of drugs, drink, homeless and gangs. Just make it nice again rather than a joke and laughing stock that it is".

Tim Hoolahan added: "Keep the fountain, turn the rest back into gardens, knock down that shocking wall, police it every night so people feel safe to be there".

What Piccadilly Gardens used to look like

There should also be the addition of a big screen down at the Primark end, so people can watch huge sporting events and other televised moments that bring the nation together. On top of this there would also be potential for popup bars and street food during the summer, which combined with the large screen would turn the area into a thriving hub.

To help tackle the safety issue, improved lighting at night and a dedicated police unit for the area would help reassure the public, and the introduction of more seating - with picnic benches as well - would transform it into a desirable place for families to visit on a day out in town.

As one of the first places tourists see when they arrive in Manchester, we need to restore some civic pride in the area and change its perception in the public eye.

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