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New Cathedral Street has been designed by Urban Solutions -a partnership between MEDC, the Council's engineering design experts led by Chris Barber (left), the council's Landscape Architecture department and the commercial architect's practice led by Jim Chapman (right).

Jim explained the group came together to invigorate the design of the new city streets and to make them as exciting and innovative as possible whilst meeting legal regulations and the requirements of the people using the city.

He explained: "We want to work with the winning designers to retain the fun and pizzazz in the scheme -those special qualities that make great cities so popular.

"Our brief is to develop a design which retains quality but equally to make sure the spaces are accessible to all. Manchester is looking at a total design solution, from the quality of materials to how all the details work. Literally every stone has been considered."

Chris added: "When we propose a new street we look at what it is trying to do and who is going to use it. The first thing we do is talk to a whole range of people from the Masterplanners, the designers of the buildings, pedestrian and disabled people's representatives to bus and taxi organisations, the people who put in telephone kiosks and heritage groups."


BASEMENT LOADING AREA To keep Marks & Spencer and the Shambles West shops fully stocked, a loading area is being built immediately below New Cathedral Street. The area has been designed to accommodate large articulated lorries to ensure deliveries are as efficient as possible.

UNDERGROUND PARKING Although the new city centre is designed to be pedestrian-friendly and easily accessible by public transport, new facilities will also be included for car drivers. On the second basement level below New Cathedral Street there will be Marks & Spencer's collect-by-car area and 158 new parking places below the store, including special spaces for disabled people and young families.There are also plans for further parking spaces under the Shambles West shopping development.

PAVEMENT SURFACE Using natural stone, there will be bands along the street to reflect the design of Exchange Square. "A great deal of work has gone into looking at surface materials," explains Chris. The position of every single paving stone has been precisely designed to ensure all the slabs match exactly, with special adaptors made for each manhole cover to make sure everything fits perfectly. A lot of time has been spent to find a natural stone that will look good and cope with the wear and tear of thousands of people walking along New Cathedral Street each hour.

MINIMISING DISRUPTION Because of the complexity of working around all the different rebuilding projects, most of the street works will have to be done in many different stages. The main emphasis is minimising disruption for the people using the city while the construction goes on. When each phase of work is finished, it will be made to look permanent -even if there are further stages to be built on afterwards.

TACKLING LITTER The overall design of the street is to be as simple and uncluttered as possible allowing pedestrians to move easily and making it easy to clean Chris explained: "If you don't put any bins on the street, the street is uncluttered but needs frequent cleaning. We have compromised by putting a couple of top quality litter bins in New Cathedral Street which will be emptied frequently. Jim added: "Maintaining New Cathedral Street after it is built will require good management.If a public area is kept clean and well-maintained then visitors will respect that and co-operate by putting litter in the bins rather than throwing it anywhere.

DRAINAGE AND UTILITIES New Cathedral Street has been designed so that only the bare minimum of pipes and cables -drains and electricity for the lights -are buried under the surface. This will minimise the need to dig the pavement up for maintenance in years to come.


LIGHTING The new street lights will be striking and bold as they bounce light off a curved reflector, (above) illuminating the way along New Cathedral Street. Jim explained the thinking behind the design.

"We feel that these lights will be seen as pieces of sculpture and not just traditional street lamps - work that someone has designed with care. They will draw people along the street to Exchange Square. The lamps are set on a curve to emphasise the form of the street and create spaces for people to both wait and meet." The team has worked carefully with BDP, who are designing the M&S store, and with the designers of the Shambles West shops so the lights on the streets will complement rather than clash with the lighting from the stores. "We've designed something that gives a far softer way of lighting the space. It's very simple but because it's so different it took a lot of persuading people to go with this idea."

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