1. A6 road, leading into Chapel Street
2. Central open space of Salford University campus
3. Albion Place/Fire Station Square
4. Peel Building
5. Art Gallery/former free library
6. Maxwell Building
7. Potential viewpoint over river
8. River Irwell
9. Unused open space
10. Adelphi campus
The overriding feature of the site is the A6 which dissects the university campus in two. This causes problems in several areas:
1. It acts as a physical barrier as there is only one pedestrian crossing point with long waiting periods for the green man. This reduces the value of the historic buildings to the south of the road in terms of their effective use as academic space.
2. It is a source of noise and air pollution due to the volume and composition of the traffic. There is a high proportion of buses and heavy goods vehicles. These factors have a highly negative effect on the important spaces to either side of the road.
3. It is a potential safety hazard. Due to the inconvenience of the single crossing point and the waiting times, pedestrians are often tempted to cross at undesignated points, providing the potential for accidents.
4. The potential for the road from the universities point of view is not exploited. The view perceived from the car of the campus is largely one dominated by railings and underused spaces. The volume of traffic suggests a huge untapped potential in raising the profile and enhancing image of the university.
At the centre of the university campus are two major pieces of open space.
The first, to the north of the A6 is surrounded by the Peel, Maxwell and Art Gallery buildings, and consists of a grassed area with a raised bed of planting and statues of Victoria and Albert. Small areas of surface parking also exist at the fringes of the space. This area is at the heart of the campus and is the first point of access for most visitors and users, however, the space is used for very little other than access. The large area of grass is rendered useless for recreational purposes by the presence of the road.
The second, known as Albion Place or Fire Station Square, lies to the south of the road and consists of a largely cobbled surface with a circular fountain (disused) and various benches. The surrounding buildings are of historical interest and have grade II and II* listings.This space is also greatly underused as itís potentially strong character is severely impaired by the road.
Both these spaces have great potential due to their location at the heart of the campus and the quality of the existing surrounding buildings. Open space with a high level of utility is perceived as vital to a success of any campus. Therefore any scheme that wishes to release this potential must articulate a strategy for dealing with the hugely invasive nature of the road.
The site has some striking topographical features. Whilst the areas of open space and the road already discussed are essentially level, the ground falls away sharply to the north east to meet the Irwell river. The dramatic loop in the river, known as the Crescent, encloses a vast piece of grassland formerly used as a running track but now entirely unused due to itís inaccessibility.
Views of the river are currently unavailable from the open space at the centre of the campus, but the potential is there for this link to be made to the eastern edge. Potential also exists for a bridge link to the unused space in the loop of the river. Such a link would make this large space available for development if required, or simply as a recreational area.
There is also potential for such a bridge link to be continued right across the loop in the river to the Adelphie campus of the University located to the east of the Irwell. The current isolation of this important part of the campus is a key problem for the university and feasibility studies for some form of link have already been undertaken by them.