The Government’s Planning Inspectorate has granted Manchester City Council permission to extinguish the Right of Way along Library Walk, the pedestrian area between St. Peter’s Square and Mount Street in Manchester city centre.
The decision follows a Public Inquiry which concluded in November last year at the Town Hall and a campaign launched after one hundred and twenty three objections were received about The Stopping Up Order.
Manchester City Council had applied for the order to remove the public right of way from the curved city centre walkway connecting the Central Library and the Town Hall with plans to instal a £3.5m Ian Simpson designed glazed link part way along the passageway, and close it off late at night over concerns for public safety.
Following the decision, the Friends of Library Walk issued the following statement.
“The Friends of Library Walk are very disappointed in this decision. We are also deeply concerned about the precedent it sets regarding the enclosure of public space. Manchester City Council granted itself planning permission and proceeded to build over a public right of way despite clear opposition from residents. We have always felt their justifications for doing this were spurious, and it is frustrating The Planning Inspectorate were unable to give weight to many of the issues we raised. These included concerns regarding equality and access by Manchester Disabled People’s Access Group. Experts in architecture and heritage including The Twentieth Century Society and Manchester Modernist Society provided testimony about the importance of the world class architectural merit of Library Walk. Many citizens spoke passionately about their love of Library Walk and criticised the Councils lack of consultation. Questions were also raised about accountability and the decision to spend £3.5million of Manchester citizen’s money, ‘at risk’ until the Inspector’s decision, on an act of cultural vandalism despite lack of evidence it was needed. We believe the streets of Manchester are our common treasury, and within this realm Library Walk is a particularly special gem. Something precious will be lost with the extinguishment of the Right of Way.”
“We are now exploring our options and how best to continue the fight to Save Library Walk. In the meantime we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the thousands of people who have supported our campaign.”