Albert Square: work gets underway in Manchester to make public space ‘bigger and better’

Work on Albert Square has been brought forward and will now be completed next year – two years ahead of the original schedule.

The first ground has been broken as work to transform Manchester’s Albert Square into a world-class public space – increasing its size by around 20 per cent – gets underway.

At the heart of the city, Manchester’s Grade I listed Town Hall is a much-loved landmark, but – having opened in 1877– the building was showing its age.

The improvements are part of the Our Town Hall project to protect the building and enhance its setting - the biggest heritage project currently taking place in the UK.

The reconfigured square also aims to enhance safety, open up views, reduce clutter, improve lighting, make the building more accessible and provide better infrastructure for events.

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 work means closing the roads on two sides of the square to traffic and incorporating them as part of the pedestrianised public space. Only the Princess Street side will remain open to traffic.

This first phase, focused on the area outside the existing square,  has been brought forward and will now be completed next year – two years ahead of the original schedule – to minimise the impacts on surrounding businesses and ensure they can benefit from its traffic-free environment more quickly, supporting their recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Work to the remainder of the square, which is currently behind hoardings and housing the site compound for works to the Town Hall, will complete in 2024.

Four local apprentices are being employed by Adana Construction, who are the public realm conractors for the Albert Square element of the project, as part of Our Town Hall’s commitment to creating a lasting skills legacy.