Council plans to build stainless steel and glass ‘safety fence’ along Canal Street

Perhaps you thought you’d seen every half-baked, damaging, badly-thought out planning decision that Manchester City Council could come up with or approve for the gay village area?

It allowed ugly modern buildings to go up next to Victorian warehouses on Canal Street, replaced the cast-iron bridge with a concrete one, gave the go ahead for a giant skyscraper that would overshadow the whole street and granted endless licences for bars. It allowed the gay village, which was once a safe space, to become a binge-drinking hellhole where people get murdered.

Well, if you thought you’d seen it all, think again, because the latest lunatic proposal will make you gasp…

In the background, the cast-iron bridge on Sackville Street that was replaced with concrete in 2007. In the foreground the wall along Canal Street.

In the background, the cast-iron bridge on Sackville Street that was replaced with concrete in 2007. In the foreground the wall along Canal Street.

Canal Street, Manchester

Canal Street, Manchester.

The City Council has proposed that a stainless steel and glass ‘safety fence’ should be built right along Canal Street, from Minshull Street (where the Courts are) to Princess Street. It will stand in front of and above the existing wall. You can see the design here (PDF).

It comes after a man died after falling and slipping into the water in March 2008, while trying to rescue his 24-year-old stepson.

Though this incident is extremely sad, accidents are a fact of life. The wall has been there for 200 years and is an essential part of the character and history of the street.

But in a typical modern-day over-the-top reaction, the Manchester coroner ‘urged town hall chiefs to act’.

While it’s unclear whether alcohol was involved in this particular accident, it did occur at 2.25am in the morning. No doubt the city council is now concerned about being seen to act, hence this total madness.

In the local press, rent-a-quote councillor Pat Karney suggested that a ‘wall or netting’ might have to be put up and it might be necessary to ‘change the character of the village’.

Interestingly, some of the stories in the press fail to mention both the age of the stepson and the time of the incident.

The truth is, Manchester City Council will do ANYTHING other than tackle the real problem, which is binge drinking and anti-social behaviour in the gay village. Of course, reducing alcohol consumption would hit the profits of the big businesses that control most of the bars.

So, once again, this minority of troublesome, but highly profitable, people are allowed to destroy the city centre for everyone else.

Consultation on this proposal ends on 19th June, though Officers will still take comments received later than that to the Highways Committee on 25th June.

If you would like to comment, the application is on the Planning website.

The application reference number is 089880. Put that number in the top box on the page and click ‘search’ at the bottom of the form to open the application. Hit ‘click to view’ and then click the button marked ‘submit comments’. You may need to tick the ‘I live outside the area’ box whether you do or not.


* See the design here (PDF).

* Canal users are also unhappy.

* An archive photo of the wall back in 1901. and a photo from 1907.

* A photo of Canal Street Police Station in 1906 – the ugly ‘Spirit’ and ‘Manto’ bars stand on this spot now.


  • Mel says:

    Yeah I spotted this earlier and I’m as disgusted as you. And they’re only accepting comments til Friday? That’s terrible.

    I wonder who will be the first to have their head smashed through a glass pane when someone’s had a few too many?

  • GS says:

    Whatever it is made of, this ugly fence is going to look a real mess. The irony is, it will blight Canal Street and make it less attractive to those people who might visit for some reason other than ‘getting bladdered’. Tourists for example.

    It detracts from the history of the place. Much of the ‘regeneration’ that has happened elsewhere along the canal has been awful (the wire boxes filled with stones near Tarif Street for example).

    Many people would say that, due to the unsympathetic development that has been allowed, over concentration of bars and takeaways, ugly street furniture and tacky monuments, the gay village is already a far less attractive place than it was 20 years ago, when it still had some Victorian charm.

    Despite all the hype we are witnessing the destruction of Manchester as a pleasant place to live and visit and all in the name of short-term profit and idiotic health and safety jobsworths.

  • S says:

    Never mind a safety fence to the canal, can’t we erect one to keep the increasing take-over of the hen parties and foul mouthed smackheads out?

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