St Peter’s Square Public Realm

CEEQUAL Excellent (79.1%) – Whole Team Award
Version 5, May 2015 | Manchester, England

Shortlisted – CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards 2016

Client: Manchester City Council;
Designer: Latz + Partner;
Contractor: Laing O’Rourke;

Assessors: Vanessa Wall, Simon Sullivan, Bruce Sharpe (AECOM)
Verifier: Nigel Sagar (Skanska)


The redevelopment of St Peter’s Square in Manchester was a central part of the complex Town Hall Transformation Programme. The regeneration involved the refurbishment of two listed civic buildings – the Central Library and adjacent Town Hall Extension – plus the addition of a new glazed link between the two buildings. The CEEQUAL assessment covered the surrounding public realm works completed as part of the transformation programme.

In addition to the CEEQUAL Assessment, AECOM also provided the Environmental Impact Assessment for the whole scheme, structural engineering consultancy for Central Library, and archaeology and ecology services throughout.

Project background

The design intention was to create a pedestrian-dominated, multi-functional space that respects the historic architecture of the area. A major element was the relocation of the Cenotaph and associated monuments to create a fit-for-purpose area for contemplation and remembrance.

The scheme was the result of an international design competition within the North West Construction Hub framework and came with stringent requirements around sustainability issues: responsible sourcing, local sourcing, community inclusion, energy use, and water use were all integral to the brief set by Manchester City Council. The design response from Latz + Partner and the implementation by Laing O’Rourke were key contributors to the Excellent CEEQUAL rating.

Project features

  • A continuous carpet of locally sourced York Stone paving provides cohesion across the square.
  • New trees, grown at a local nursery, have been planted in bespoke tree pits to ensure longevity in an area of high footfall and nearby traffic.
  • New LED light fittings have been installed at the base of the trees and in heritage lamp posts along Lloyd Street. In consultation with heritage specialists the lamp posts have been returned to their original colour as recorded in 1877. The 1920s phone booths have also been reinstated.
  • Bespoke seating, designed for all abilities, is provided across the square


Physical Resources

Choosing the paving

The York Stone paving slabs were carefully selected following an assessment of products based on multiple factors:

  • Quality (strength and aesthetics)
  • Delivery time (availability and reserves)
  • Cost
  • Experience with the contractor
  • Distance of quarry to site
  • Company’s environmental management system

The selected stone from Marshalls requires little maintenance and is in keeping with other pedestrian areas in Manchester. The paving was laid to reduce cut-off and waste.

Durable, dismountable benches

Iroko timber was selected for the benches because it is durable and does not require regular treatment with oil or varnish even when used outdoors. At the end of their useful life, the metal fixings can be easily removed and the benches dismantled for recycling.

Minimising energy and water consumption

To minimise operational energy consumption, LED lighting is used throughout: in the lampposts, at the foot of the trees, and underneath the benches. On completion, the project will have a small water demand, mainly for street cleaning.

During construction, energy and water use was keenly monitored. The electricity used for the project was provided from the existing CHP plant in the Town Hall Extension and PIR sensors were used in the site cabins.

Zero waste to landfill

A local waste company recovered or recycled 100% site waste so that no waste was sent to landfill.

People and Communities

The project team achieved 98% in the ‘People and Communities’ section of their CEEQUAL Assessment, with no questions scoped out.

Consultation with communities

Extensive consultation with key stakeholders and members of the public was conducted throughout design development and into the construction programme, including public exhibitions, dedicated project website and press releases). A liaison strategy was implemented to maintain regular communication with neighbours such as the Midland Hotel, Transport for Greater Manchester, Metrolink and surrounding offices.

Minimising effects on neighbours

Measures to mitigate effects caused to neighbours during construction included:

  • Implementing a Traffic Management Plan which placed restrictions on routes and times based on local circumstances such as schools and advice from local authority and emergency services
  • Monitoring debris on local carriageways and using a road sweep as appropriate
  • Communicating good practice to site operatives through inductions, Toolbox Talks, and Daily Activity Briefings
  • Sending letters to local residents and businesses to keep them informed of specific or unusual noise generating activities
  • Ensuring lighting from temporary site lighting systems was focused downwards and inwards to minimise impact on residents

Site hoardings were also utilised to maximise awareness of the project details. During relocation of the Cenotaph, perimeter fencing was designed to look like stone with ‘engraved’ lettering explaining why the memorials were being moved. Post planning, the castellated tree grilles and glass covers to the uplighters in the trees were re-specified to increase slip resistance and the lighting designers included measures to reduce light pollution and glare.

Inclusive design

An Equality Design Tracker was used to identify risks and ensure that:

  • Pedestrians would not be impeded by construction phasing
  • Adequate street parking would be provided for disabled staff
  • Seating would be inclusive
  • Tramlines would contrast sufficiently with their surround
  • Scattered trees would not create obstacles to the visually impaired

Water Environment

The project team achieved 100% for the ‘Water Environment’ section.

Underground attenuation tanks collect surface water run-off from the slot drains in the paving. These have been sized to mitigate future climate change and are a useful additional to an urban paved space.

Land Use and Landscape

The project team achieved 94% in the ‘Land Use and Landscape’ section.

The site straddles Albert Square Conservation Area and St Peter’s Square Conservation Area with George Street Conservation Area sitting immediately adjacent to the east. The Environmental Statement considered landscape and visual factors including these conservation areas, listed buildings, topography, vegetation, the different townscape character areas surrounding the development site and their features, the zone of visual influence and visual receptors. This early stage analysis resulted in a sensitive design in keeping with the area.

Ecology and Biodiversity

A biodiversity statement identified potential habitat for protected and notable species and mitigation measures to enhance the ecological value of the site. Although the Peace Gardens were removed to make way for the Second City Crossing (Metrolink tram line underway now), this area had low ecological value. An arboriculturalist approved the specified trees which were selected to adapt to urban conditions without inclination to disease. The trees were grown at a local nursery in specially designed pits so that they could be transported to site with their roots intact, and replanted as semi-mature trees to achieve a finished scheme straight away. The tree pits will continue to protect the roots from the impact of heavy footfall, maintaining room for the tree to breathe and water to permeate into the soil.

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