‘Manchester deserves better’: Mancunians name triumphs and disasters of city planning

The best and worst made decisions of our city planners have been named at the Manchester Shield Awards.

For the last month, the public has been invited to vote for the good, bad and ugly of Manchester’s biggest developments and demolitions.

Award winners across 16 categories were announced last night at the Star and Garter – a Grade II listed building currently under threat.

Founded in March, Manchester Shield was set up by a group of campaigners who think locals should have a stronger say in the city planning.

“The awards show what’s important to people and it shows just how wrong our planners are getting it,” Manchester Shield founder Adam Prince told MM.

“People love art, culture and their history being preserved, it shows that there is a massive civic pride.

“So instead of continually eroding heritage, they need to see that people really respect those types of buildings.”

The Whitworth Art Gallery scooped the Best Built Design award for its £15 million extension and refurbishment while Mancunians thought popular gig venue Albert Hall deserved the Best Heritage Revival gong.  

The London Road Fire Station, which has been in disrepair for three decades, was the success story of the evening and picked up awards for Best Proposal, Best Heritage Proposal, and Inspired Public Engagement.

The building has recently been sold to on to Allied London after campaigners hit out at Britannia Hotels for failing to redevelop the iconic building.

The University of Manchester’s plans to create a new open space called Brunswick Park won the Best Proposed Public Realm.

In the individual categories, Actor Maxine Peake won the Civic Champion Award and Linda Carver from the Ancoats Dispensary Trust received the Unsung Hero Award.

Locals voted the controversial Library Walk as Worst Built Design.

“No one wanted it, it was the pig-headedness of the council not listening to anyone yet again,” said Adam.

“When there are homeless people on the streets and there’s cuts to massive resources they’ve built a completely functionless building that has just blocked what people used to think was an amazing and unique view.”

“It shows the hostile attitude towards the public of ‘we’re going to do it anyway and we don’t care what you think’, so I can completely understand why it won that award – it is very indicative of the failures of local politics.”

“It was an absolute waste of money and I think what angers people is the appalling consultation and the fact that so many architectural groups, civic groups, heritage and campaign groups took it to public inquiry.”

Construction of the glass corridor between the town hall extension and Central Library was fiercely protested by campaigners but Manchester City Council came out on top after a government planning inspector ruled in their favour.

The Worst Heritage Loss was the demolition of the grand Elizabeth Gaskell House on Upper Brook Street.

Joint winners of the Worst Cultural Loss award were 60s nightclubs the Twisted Wheel and Legends, while the Missed Opportunity award went to Piccadilly Gardens.

The historic Cornerhouse cinema, which closed its doors last year, picked up the Panic Station award for the building that Mancunians were most concerned about.

“These inaugural awards have caught the public’s attention,” said Mark Hammill, city planner and adviser to Manchester Shield.

“They highlight that there is lots to celebrate in Manchester’s architecture and planning, but also that more needs to be done to raise the bar of what is acceptable in terms of urban design, architecture, heritage reuse and genuine public involvement.

“Manchester deserves better.”

Image courtesy of John and Donald Judge, via Flickr, with thanks.

Related Articles