Ambitious plans to create a new urban park in the sky over Manchester are starting in earnest today, with it due to open this summer.
The Castlefield Viaduct project will turn half of a 330 meter section of the old railway line into a park for one year.
Scheduled to open in July, the National Trust says the initial pilot park will be used to gather feedback on how to use the space in the future.
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The £1.8million scheme will see new planting, information signs and an all-weather area installed on the Grade II listed derelict structure, which has not been used since the Great Northern Warehouse closed in the trains in 1969.
“This is a hugely important moment in our plans to create a unique green space to benefit the surrounding community and bring more nature to people’s doorsteps,” said Trust Chief Executive Hilary McGrady. “The project is also a fantastic way to celebrate our industrial heritage, bringing it to life for the 21st century.
“The pandemic has shown us the importance of our local parks and gardens, but it has also highlighted significant inequalities in access to green space in urban areas like Manchester.”
When the park opens, 100 people will be able to visit daily, with free tickets open to the public and not just National Trust members.
In the meantime, the four-month project will see Manchester Cheshire Construction, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, undertake an extensive program of engineering works.
This includes strengthening the Victorian stonework so that it can support heavy machinery to clear current debris.
“We are absolutely delighted and incredibly proud to be playing a pivotal role in the regeneration of the Castlefield Viaduct,” said Russ Forshaw, the company’s group chief operating officer.
“This project will transform this unused historic space into a green oasis and support the economic growth and social wellbeing of the local community in Castlefield and beyond.
“As a local SME that has just celebrated 50 years in business, we see this as a historic project, adding to our legacy of work in the city of Manchester.”
Visitors will be admitted to a guided tour when the park opens, with reservations going online shortly before its scheduled opening in early July.
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