New 6.5 acre park at Mayfield will boost city centre amenity

The average playing area of a Premier League football pitch is one and a half acres, the new Mayfield Park, now under-construction, is 6.5 acres. 

Or, if you want to look at it a different way, that's the whole of the Piccadilly Gardens area, including all the bus and tram bits, from City Tower to Oldham Street and from Primark to the Ibis Hotel on the south side of Portland Street.

That's easily enough area to give a good designer space to have fun. Add a water feature, the River Medlock, running through the centre of your new park and it just gets better.  

Mayfield got its shovels ready first and is ahead of any other schemes nationwide

The park is part of the huge Mayfield scheme which covers 24 acres in total. Here's the number-crunching for the scheme: 1,500 homes, 1.6m sq ft of commercial space, 300,000 sq ft of retail and leisure facilities plus 14 acres of new public realm including the park. 

The total value of the scheme is £1.4bn and is led by Mayfield Partnership. This is a public-private venture with regeneration company U+I, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and developer LCR.

The park development has been kickstarted by the government’s Getting Building Fund to the tune of £23m. The government wanted ‘shovel ready’ projects for a post-Covid economic boost. Mayfield got its shovels ready first and is ahead of any other schemes nationwide to break ground. 

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Mayfield Park and new buildings on the old platforms of Mayfield Station

The designers of the park are Studio Egret West. The park will be privately owned. Already you can hear the howls from those with doctrinaire views about green space not being in public control. But there is good news for these people too.

A Friends of Mayfield Park group will be formed in 2021 ‘to ensure full community involvement and wide public engagement in the delivery of the park’ with local groups and charities. This will include a ‘park charter’ with the ambition of ‘ensuring Mayfield Park becomes an exemplar urban public green space that endures as a safe, stimulating and sustainable place for everyone in the city long into the future’.

Fine words. 

Now those sentiments must be realised. 

More good news is that U&I have so far revealed themselves to be both imaginative and energetic in their work at Mayfield while demonstrating a desire to operate within a Manchester sensibility. This is underscored by the determination of the company to retain key aspects of the former Mayfield Station including the splendid colonnade of iron pillars which will be a real feature of the design. The huge hydraulic buffers will also survive.

The way U+I and Broadwick Live have worked together, for example, has been a model of its kind, as has the addition of the excellent Escape to Freight Island this year. 

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The River Medlock will run through the Mayfield park

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, has said about Mayfield.

“There are some development projects that have such transformational potential that we await their beginning with great anticipation. Mayfield is most definitely one of them. 

“This part of the city centre has been under-used for decades and it’s brilliant that we can now celebrate the first shovels going in the ground on the new city park and a green sanctuary at the heart of our city - followed closely by significant investment in new commercial space and new homes. 

“Mayfield is a project of exceptional ambition. And ambition is the very tonic we need as we navigate our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic towards economic recovery – in part through high-quality, impactful investment in our city, such as this.”

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A green sanctuary with the key the re-use of the stronger elements of the former station, in this case the robust columns

Bring it on. 

The city centre has received a real shot in the arm (apologies for the vaccine analogy) with the commencement of the greening of Mayfield. 

As for when we can enjoy a walk in the park, give it a couple of years. Spring 2023 looks a likely bet.  

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Escape to Freight Island opened in July with street food stalls and entertainment and occupies part of the site of the new park
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The platform level of the former Mayfield Station with the buffers due to be re-used, see the image below
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The buffers are at the bottom of this image showing how they may be re-used