The Manchester Garden City project began in 2010 to address the lack of green space in the city’s centre. The BDP team realised that through voluntary efforts and the application of landscape architecture and multi-professional expertise, a more liveable urban environment for the community of Manchester could be achieved.

To date, Manchester Garden City has delivered seven completed schemes, achieving tangible increases in the amount of green space across the city. The campaign has supported a number of projects, including on-the-ground physical improvements, and has raised awareness of the value of green infrastructure and biodiversity amongst key city businesses and stakeholders and the national press.

Manchester Garden City was conceived with a clear brand, complemented by intent to raise awareness and achieve a permanent and ongoing increase in the biodiversity value of central Manchester by:

  • Seeking to increase the amount of permanent public green space.
  • Creating the temporary provision of green space on stalled building sites and derelict land.
  • Introducing space for community gardening and food production.
  • Ecologically improving and reducing the amount of surface car parking.
  • Encouraging the introduction of ecological planning and development policies.

The role of the landscape architect has been to collaborate with and connect property owners, businesses, design and planning professionals, contractors and residents, using skills and expertise to identify new opportunities, present ideas and build and manage smaller installations. In the early stages, this included presenting exciting concepts for sites across Manchester to key businesses and public bodies which illustrated the possibilities that the city centre has to enhance its public realm, biodiversity and social value. On each project the landscape architect has been a catalyst, leading the collective vision, producing innovative design solutions and providing technical advice on landscape matters.

In a short space of time the project gained much praise, interest and support from both public and private sectors across the city. Volunteers teamed up with CityCo, a non-profit membership organisation of city centre employers who were able to generate funding, materials and volunteers for the construction and maintenance of the proposed projects. In 2012, Manchester Garden City was officially launched by CityCo and a coalition of design and economic development interests was created.

The creation of the Dig the City Festival has also been a spin-off from Manchester Garden City in continuing to raise awareness of green issues and fill the city with green spaces for a limited, high-impact period of time. This has resulted in two legacy garden spaces for the city, achieved through collaborative activities between Manchester Cathedral, Manchester City Council and CityCo. The Manchester Garden City team was instrumental in creating a vision which delivered the city’s first ever urban garden and horticulture festival.

BDP and CityCo became members of Manchester: A Certain Future (MACF) and Manchester City Council’s Green and Blue Infrastructure consultation group (BDP’s Steve Merridew chairs the group and sits on the steering group), making key decisions on the introduction of planning and development policies relating to ecology and green infrastructure.

Manchester Garden City has also evolved in its role as an enabling body that shares expertise and enthusiasm to achieve the mission statement: ‘creating bio-diverse environments for the people and wildlife of the city’.

BDP has recently been working with city centre community group The Castlefield Forum and recently achieved planning consent for the regeneration of Roman Gardens in Castlefield – a Manchester Garden City project. The Forum is now exploring funding streams to secure future phasing for the project.



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