Crime hot-spot Piccadilly Gardens set to be re-vamped in bid to make area safer

  • City council to restore Piccadilly Gardens with £25m budget plans
  • Key criteria for re-vamp include accessibility and increased lighting
  • Community arts organisation, Get it Done, aims to transform Piccadilly Gardens into more inclusive space

Piccadilly Gardens – originally intended to be a welcoming, green space in the heart of the centre – is a hot-spot for crime, theft, drug-use and anti-social behaviour, according to police figures.

Crime statistics show the area is not a safe space, with 481 violent crimes reported in a year.

In January 2021, the council planned a consultation to redesign Piccadilly Gardens.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of the city council, released a statement saying: “Piccadilly is an important part of the city. We know it can be better and we are committed to bringing forward improvements.”

Councillor Leese said the council plans to create a “friendly, lively and welcoming public space designed to balance the different functions it serves. We don’t want to turn back the clock to a time when there were far fewer people using the city centre”.

Community arts organisation Get it Done is working on a campaign to re-design the gardens to make it safe and inclusive.

They hosted an all-day event in Piccadilly Gardens over the weekend to explore issues the public face in public spaces.

Members of the public came together to discuss the issues within Piccadilly Gardens

The event was open to the public and included activities such as redesigning the gardens, a city tour hosted by Invisible Manchester and a discussion circle for people to voice their opinions.

At the discussion circle it was noted that the council need to make sure “people who face barriers for whatever reason can use these public spaces” and that we need to “challenge these inequalities” that people may face.

Members of the public said the gardens and surrounding areas lack public toilets, which is a necessity for many with chronic or severe illnesses.

They also described feeling uncomfortable especially late at night when in the gardens.

Mimi Dearing, who runs the organisation, told the Northern Quota the objective of the campaign was to “strive towards a vision for Manchester’s public spaces that is more inclusive to all but especially to those on lower incomes or facing inequalities.

“The gardens is a central space to protest and voice your opinions and for different groups of people to come together”.

She said that at present Piccadilly Gardens is a space people don’t feel comfortable in and for many doesn’t feel safe.

The council’s key criteria for the gardens includes increased lighting and CCTV and an emphasis on the area being a pedestrian-first space.

It hopes increased use of lighting and CCTV will improve levels of safety in the gardens and members of the public using them more frequently.

Get it Done will present their ideas and findings to the council in December this year.