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Only the highest quality materials are being used in all footpaths and public spaces around New Cathedral Street, Royal Exchange and the brand new Marks & Spencer store.

The stoneware, much of which is natural York stone and granite, has been selected for warmth and durability. Urban Solutions, the design partnership between the Council and R James Chapman Architects (RJCA), have specially identified materials that will blend in with the character of both the historic and new parts of the new city centre

Strong contrasting textures have also been selected which is particularly important to those who are visually impaired.

For the first time, samples of all the materials which may be used can be seen and felt by everyone as a special display, funded by Manchester Millennium Ltd, has been laid in the Peace Gardens in St Peter's Square, near the Visitors' Centre.

Also at the site are samples of litter bins and double sided and single sided seats together with trees and special uplighters which would be situated within the footpaths.

Urban Solutions' resident engineer, Paul Swann and landscape architect Paul Scragg are keen to find out what people feel about the proposed materials.

"We want everyone to go to the Peace Gardens to see the benches, stoneware and lights and then into the Visitors' Centre where there is an exhibition explaining how we have gone about selecting these materials.

"Most importantly there is a box in which suggestions slips can be posted, so that all the comments can be considered."

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