Castlefield Viaduct: new ‘park in the sky’ to open to the public next year

The National Trust has been told it can turn the area into a temporary urban park next summer, to see what people think about the idea.

Castlefield Viaduct will be opened up as a green space, after Manchester City Council gave permission for a pilot project.

The National Trust has been holding a public consultation to ask people’s views on the future of the Grade II listed structure.

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And now, from next summer, the area will be turned into an ‘urban oasis’ for a year to allow the Trust to get feedback from visitors on what they want to see in place in the longer term.

Entry will be free with a booking system to help manage numbers and visitors will be able to join a guided walk on the viaduct.

The middle will be transformed with plants and foliage to help attract wildlife, there will be space for public art, and people will be invited to get involved in planting.

Part of the viaduct could be used for local organisations to display art, planting and growing Credit:Twelve Architects & Masterplanners

The pilot scheme, supported with cash from the People’s Postcode Lottery, also includes an undercover area where visitors can see ideas for the future design of the viaduct and can share their ideas and feedback.  

What’s been said about the pilot?

Duncan Laird, Head of Urban Places at the National Trust, says:We’re delighted that our temporary planning application has been given the green light by Manchester City Council. It’s a positive step towards realising our plans, and those of our partners and supporters.

“Earlier this year we invited the public to share their thoughts and give feedback on our plans to open the viaduct as a temporary urban park.

“We were encouraged by the positive response we received with so many people sharing our excitement about the potential benefits the viaduct could have on the area and those who live locally.

“We’re still in conversation with a number of key organisations whose support we need to make this a reality for Manchester, but we’re looking forward to sharing more news on our plans and progress in the New Year.”

Castlefield viaduct as it is now Credit: National Trust Images, James Dobson

Mike Innerdale, Regional Director for the North at the National Trust, added: “The pandemic showed us the importance of our local parks and gardens, but it also highlighted significant inequalities in access to green space in urban areas like Manchester.

“The approval of our temporary planning application means we can progress with our ambitions to transform the viaduct into an accessible green space for the 50,000 residents living within a 20-minute walk of the area.

“We also want to share the viaduct’s story with the people of Manchester, many of whom are likely to have walked on the cobbles underneath this mighty heritage structure, or spotted it on the Castlefield skyline, without knowing its history.

“The viaduct has stood in Manchester for over 125 years and we want to help the city to protect it, injecting the viaduct with a new lease of life so it becomes a space people can use and be proud of.

“We hope that by testing ideas, finding out what people really need from this unique space, and growing the number of supporters who can help us to make this happen, we can create something that will benefit generations for many years to come.”