News article created on 23 March 2022

Consultation begins to improve the Rochdale Canal in Manchester

We're asking for views on potential improvements to the Rochdale Canal Undercroft in Manchester City Centre.

Picture of a dark tunnel with a canal running through it Rochdale Canal Undercroft

This stretch of the Rochdale Canal towpath runs largely underground between Dale Street and Minshull Street and includes the historic structure of the undercroft itself, where the towpath passes below Piccadilly.

What has been done?

Working with Manchester City Council and other partners, we and our volunteers recently improved the Rochdale Canal between Castlefield to the Aytoun Street Bridge, where the Undercroft starts, making it greener and cleaner. This considerable achievement is reflected in the vitality of this area today and in it being awarded Green Flag status, an international accolade recognising well managed parks and green spaces.

By contrast, the Undercroft has been troubled by anti-social behavior in recent years, with access to the towpath now restricted by a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). Despite these challenges, we believe that this unique, underused location has the potential to be much more. This first stage of consultation on the Undercroft will open a conversation about how to realise the full potential of this space.

We're keen to hear feedback and ideas from people with different backgrounds and interests in the area, from local residents and community groups, through design professionals to regional and national organisations, and anyone who is interested and wants to share their ideas.

Invaluable green spaces

James Long, our engagement manager, said: “The canal is an invaluable green space in the city centre which offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Currently, the Undercroft feels unused and uninviting, and we want to change this as part of our exciting plans which are transforming the Rochdale Canal.

“Over the last few years thanks to the hard work of staff and volunteers, the Canal is much greener, cleaner and safer and has been accredited with the prestigious Green Flag award. This consultation will give us some inspiration in what people would like to see happen and further enhance and improve the canal for everyone to benefit from.” 

We want your feedback

The consultation which started 23 March and will be open until Friday 22 April encourages people to highlight and take inspiration from examples of creative adaption and reuse of industrial infrastructure and challenging spaces, both internationally and closer to home.

Feedback from a range of stakeholders at this stage will help us understand how people perceive the space, what improvements people would like to see and what may be possible. This will help to inform options and proposals to be discussed through further stages of consultation.

The project team will also be holding a pop-up event on Wednesday 30 March in the entrance to 111 Piccadilly. The event will be open from 11.30am – 4.30pm, providing an opportunity to talk to us about the project face to face.

More information about the Undercroft and how to get involved can be found on the consultation website.