The Castlefield Forum, with help from Manchester-based architects, BDP, has come up an ambitious Masterplan to improve the Roman Gardens area with better access, lighting and continental café- style outdoor seating, which will be doubled in size between The Oxnoble and White Lion pubs on Liverpool Road.
The residents group has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £38,000 to submit viable plans for approval by Manchester City Council. BDP have already pledged £18,000 in in-kind support and £20,000 has to be found in less than 70 days under the Spacehive crowdfunding website rules.
The Forum consulted with local businesses, residents and Manchester City Council last year.
Key elements of the plans include:
· Opening up the site and make it fully accessible, 24 hours a day (currently it has wrought iron fencing surrounding the gardens with limited access points)
· Clearing away the scrubby areas but retain the healthy trees
· Lighting the area appropriately at night
· Introducing a rain garden, new trees, wildfllowers, Roman plants, a rain garden and raised community grow boxes
· Creating new landscaping and sculpting of some grassed areas; gentle slopes will invite children to play
· Replacing the broken and muddy pathways with recycled York stone from the site
· Marking out the pathway of the Roman road with a timeline etched into the surface
· Introducing some more formal relaxation spaces for the adjoining public houses
The cost of the project is estimated at £2m and the Forum is looking for Heritage Lottery Fund support. It is anticipated the project will be complete by 2020.
Castlefield resident, Calum McGowan, who is leading the project for the Castlefield Forum, said: “We want to deliver a world-class green space that ties together the 2,000-year-old Roman heritage of the site with the modern day city. We want to delight people who use the gardens, whatever their age, whatever month they visit and whatever time of day they happen to meander through. This will be a beautiful space to walk through, to relax in, to read a book, take in some sunshine, pick some growbox herbs, meet your friends for a drink in the dappled summer sun or walk your dog on a crisp winter morning.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver an amazing, inspiring urban retreat for Manchester. Being located at the entrance to the Roman North Gate, the site is also of great historical importance. We want to do the Gardens justice. At the moment, they are sad and tired.”
If planning is approved, the Forum will work with Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service to hold a series of community digs to uncover more about the Roman heritage of the Gardens. Once the work is complete, Forum members will work with a network of community volunteers and the National Trust to maintain the gardens.
The crowdfunding campaign ends in June and it is hoped, subject to funding, a planning application will be submitted in the autumn.
For more information on the Roman Gardens project and to pledge visit http://www.spacehive.com/romangardens