The works to revamp Albert Square are part of the wider Our Town Hall project, which is safeguarding, repairing, and restoring the Grade I-listed Town Hall for both current and future generations.
In the initial phase of the planting work, seven tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), two Japanese maple trees (Sophora Japonica), and one Foxglove tree (Paulownia tometosa) will be planted around the outer edges of the square over the next couple of weeks. (refer to the image to see the tree locations).
Weighing around two tonnes each, these healthy, semi-mature trees will be placed in large, specially designed tree pits and lifted into position by crane during the night. If the weather permits, it is estimated that the planting will take up to ten days to complete.
The trees have been carefully selected to complement other species found throughout the city and to enhance biodiversity within the city centre. They represent the latest milestone in the plans to transform the square.
These improvements also involve expanding pedestrian space, resulting in a 20% larger square once completed. This will create a more versatile events area and a pleasant environment, offering better views and reducing clutter. To achieve this, the roads surrounding three sides of the square have been pedestrianised, with only the Princess Road side remaining open to the Metrolink and other traffic.
New lighting columns have recently been installed as well. These columns will also include devices that can project themed images and patterns onto the square’s illuminated path, enhancing its use during events.
Additional tree planting will occur in the area behind the hoardings and within the site compound later on, alongside the four existing large plane trees (Platanus acerifolia) that were such a prominent feature of the old square.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, remarked: “This is another exciting milestone in the Our Town Hall project, and the introduction of these new trees serves as a visual reminder that progress is being made. The trees have been chosen with great care for their quality, maturity, and diversity, and their placement along the outer edges of the square will greatly enhance this world-class space.”
Matt Stirton, Principal Landscape Architect from Planit-IE, added: “Planit is honored to be part of the team contributing to the largest heritage project in the UK. Much of the restoration work has been taking place inside the Town Hall, but the planting of 10 new large trees is a significant milestone that marks major improvements to Albert Square. The trees will frame the newly expanded public space for pedestrians, creating a green canopy-lined avenue and a splendid backdrop for the restored building. More new planting and green space will follow to further enhance air quality and support our urban wildlife and pollinators, such as honeybees. The plans have been in the works for many years, and we are eagerly anticipating the first leaf and flower bloom of these trees in their new home!”