The Corporation Street area of Manchester City Centre has been redesigned, re-assimilated and reopened. The much-needed makeover is still under operation on the edge of the Northern Quarter, largely due to the construction of One Angel Square, the Cooperative Group's new headquarters.
Now that the shell of the building is complete, the roads around the new skyscraper have been modernised and are open again for free night-time parking. (Cooperation street starts on the edge of the Mancunian Way, just outside of the parking zone. See here.)
So thankfully there is no need to spend EIGHTEEN FUCKING POUNDS in an NCP if you happen to be designated driver for the night. Just drop it on the street after 8pm- there'll usually be a space, whereas further into the city, (Deansgate/Quay St for instance) there usually isn't. If you're parking there during the day, you also aren't restricted to the 3 hour maximum parking time enforced inside the zone.
It's safer, cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing than a lot of the city, and with the Northern Quarter bars and the Printworks just around the corner it's a win-win for all concerned. The only down side is that if you're driving, you shouldn't drink.