Laura Percy, Development Director at U+I, a Landsec Company explains the collaborative work behind Mayfield, Manchester's first new city-centre park in over 100 years and the benefits of urban green spaces on the local community.
Manchester has a brand new city-centre park for the first time in more than a hundred years – an incredible feat that has already had a massive impact on our city.
At 6.5 acres, Mayfield Park is the brainchild of the Mayfield Partnership – a dynamic public-private sector collaboration comprised of Manchester City Council, regeneration specialist U+I, Transport for Greater Manchester, and LCR, the UK government's placemaking organisation.
The aim of the partnership is to revitalise a 24-acre near-derelict site located next to Piccadilly station into a fantastic amenity for the city and its people.
Just a few short years ago the area from which Mayfield Park has sprung was a tangled mess of mud and concrete. But in 2020 the partnership secured planning consent for the park, as well as two office buildings and a car park – getting the ball rolling on one of the largest regeneration schemes in the UK. Then, in the depths of the pandemic, £23m of central government, Covid-recovery funding was secured. And just a year later, after an immense effort and hard work from all concerned, the park opened – providing a substantial green open space in the heart of the city, which everyone – residents and visitors – can enjoy for free from dawn until dusk.
A magnificent success in its own right, the park is a testament to what can be achieved when private-sector commitment and public-sector opportunity combine. Mayfield Park could not have been delivered without U+I's expertise or the engagement of our brilliant stakeholder partners. And what's more, this collaboration has ensured that environmental concerns were top of the agenda throughout its design and construction.
Access to good quality green space offers significant health and well-being benefits to our communities, and its provision is considered fundamental to ongoing development in Manchester. Mayfield Park features a vast public lawn which will be maintained throughout the year, along with more than 140 mature and semi-mature trees, and 120,000 plants and shrubs. It also hosts the city's largest play area, complete with an adventure playground featuring a dizzying array of family-friendly slides and climbing apparatus.
Through the park flows a newly opened-up stretch of the Medlock – one of Manchester's three founding rivers – offering people the chance to enjoy tranquil riverside walkways, as well as an assortment of wildlife, including kingfishers, ducks, Canadian geese and brown trout, which have returned to the city centre.
In addition to being a 'green lung' for the city, sustainability was at the heart of the park's delivery ethos; its creation saw the recycling and re-use of a large amount of existing materials, leading to a saving of more than 240 tonnes-worth of CO2 emissions.
Mayfield Park is a springboard for the wider regeneration programme, which over the next ten years will transform a swathe of derelict brownfield land into a new urban quarter in the heart of one of the UK's leading cities. The overall masterplan features more than 1,500 homes, 1.5m sq ft of commercial office space, and 200,000 sq ft of retail space, all built around more than 13 acres of public realm.
Seeing Mayfield Park develop from a concept into a reality – and in doing so, surpassing all our expectations – is tangible evidence of the hard work by all the parties involved in redeveloping a former brownfield site into a world-class green space, one our city and our people can be truly proud of. It is a first step towards creating a thriving new neighbourhood in Manchester. As we look ahead to the next ten years and the development to come, our continued collaboration with private and sector partners will create somewhere truly remarkable in the beating heart of our great city.
Learn more about the Mayfield Partnership by visiting their website or by arranging a conversation with them on the Manchester stand at UKREiiF.