The move is cited as environmental, but the income certainly won't hurt....
This is interesting, underlining the evolution of the vision for the city centre.
The City Council are taking back into direct control thirteen off-street city centre car parks. These have been run for two decades by NCP under a joint venture agreement. That will end on the first day of 2021.
There’s potential gold with the sites of those car parks
From that date the City Council will operate the car parks as ‘pay on arrival sites, where customers pay in advance, either through the PaybyPhone App, or by card at a payment machine’. This can be topped up remotely. All car park charges will remain unchanged for now. Existing season ticket holders will be contacted by NCP and invited to get in touch with the Council, to arrange transfer of their season ticket.
The idea is ‘improve the parking service’ through measures such as adding extra cycle and motorbike storage and ramping up the number of charging points for electric vehicles.
The key passage in the statement from the Council is this one. ‘(Taking back control) will enable decisions on future parking provision and policy for the city centre to be closely aligned with the city’s bold environmental and transport strategies, while factoring in how emerging parking technologies can be used to customers’ advantage.’
The move is all about fulfilling environmental commitments to make the city zero carbon by 2038 while also boosting the council coffers. There is no indication of how many of the sites (named in the panel below) might be sold off for developments other than car parking, but some definitely will.
This is made clear in the most recent draft of the Manchester City Centre Transport Strategy. Thus off-street parking will be ‘reducing over the coming decades, through the redevelopment of current parking sites’. The idea is to remove up to 12,500 car parking spaces and use their sites ‘for other uses’.
Right, hands-up, who’s going to be the first to ask if several of these sites could be landscaped and turned into green space? That seems to fit the brief of boosting the environmental ambitions. The answer is probably none of these sites will be given over to purely public amenity since the City Council with Covid-19 following ‘austerity’ needs money more than magnolias.
However, indulge me, let me dream for a little. If there were one place that could really benefit from a gorgeous bit of landscaping that would be the Faulkner Street car park which sits in the heart of Chinatown like a square waiting to happen (see main image). And I mean a square, benches, the odd cherry tree but no flower beds and lawns, just some lovely hard quality landscaping.
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, describes what's happening this way.
“This is a big opportunity for us to look afresh at our city centre car parks and gives us the flexibility we need to ensure that they serve the public better in the future. Manchester is changing and has set an ambitious target of becoming zero-carbon. We will be working to ensure that sufficient parking space is available to meet the needs of those who live, work or visit the city, while also taking full account of the bold proposals set out in the new City Centre Transport Strategy and the city’s zero-carbon goal.”
Either way, this bringing back of these thirteen sites into City Council direct management seems a sound idea. There’s potential gold in them there car parks either through continuing management of them as car parking or for future sale.
People wishing to purchase season tickets for these car parks after 1 January 2021 will be able to do so via www.manchester.gov.uk.
There’s a consultation taking place over the Manchester City Centre Transport Strategy. You can have your say here: to www.manchester.gov.uk/consultations.
These are the car parks reverting to council control.
The Grand / Piccadilly Gardens
King Street West
Market Place / Deansgate