We attended the Transforming Cities Conference, where we spoke with a number of industry leaders who showcased how to transform dead and unsafe town centres into vibrant and sustainable places.
The speakers explored diverse approaches to city centre regeneration schemes. From the importance of developing community-led designs to instilling elements that can make town centres attractive and safe.
The government understands the repercussions of unsafe and polluted cities. And they’re making funds available to change this to benefit both the public health and local economies. We’re also living in a post-pandemic world, where people are actively claiming back liveable urban spaces. It is the right time to make an effort and give back the public realm to its people.
Project Centre has a multidisciplinary team focused on developing sustainable urban spaces. We spoke at the Transforming Cities Conference to share best practice and lessons learnt from public realm projects .
Regional Director Chris Harrison presented our work on Levelling-Up projects, including achieving on site works in under 12 months and town centre regenerations, implementing active travel schemes that have been approved by Active Travel England and designing public realm spaces that are community centric.
Principal Landscape Architect Stefano Scarano presented case studies on some of our town centre transformation projects, showcasing before and after pictures of how we made them accessible, sustainable and community-centric.
Chris Harrison presented “Levelling up – Scheme updates and taking schemes forward”
Chris has been involved in supporting our clients who were successful in Round 1 Levelling Up Funding and has guided further clients on securing round 2 funding.
We develop community-led design designs for clients across the UK. This includes our work with Gainsborough Council to transform the city centre into an identifiable, vibrant and legible new quarter. Some of our interventions include:
- Revitalising the existing riverside park
- Creating a riverside pocket park
- Activating the historic market square
These measures are set to make the community embrace the area, encouraging active travel and social activities.
We’re also working with Ealing Council to deliver the redevelopment of Northolt using funding allocated from Round 1 Levelling Up. Northolt was deprived of sustainable infrastructure due to a historic lack of investment. Our multidisciplinary team listened to the community’s needs and is working with the client to include elements in our designs such as:
- New places for entertainment, including public art, pop-up events, and informal play
- Greener areas, to increase biodiversity and improve drainage systems
- Improved transport solutions as well as accessible routes
- Reduced traffic and parking bays
- Improved seating, lighting and shelter areas
Creating liveable and sustainable cities can positively affect how people feel about a place. It gives new spaces for small businesses to spill out onto, as well as reduces traffic and air pollution. These are changes that benefit the community’s health and safety, reducing the risk of diseases and incidents on roads.
Stefano Scarano presented “Creating people-centred design for communities”
Too many high streets present a lack of character as well as heavy traffic and no green areas. Stefano presented case studies of how we incorporated identity, biodiversity and active travel into urban spaces.
We worked with Worthing Council to reshape the identity of Portland Road from a grey, inhabited and car-dominated street. We proposed design elements that:
- Increase footway space, cycling routes and seating areas to improve accessibility and encourage active travel
- Reduce traffic and parking, but still keep the opportunity for people to access the area by car should they need to
- Increase green areas and biodiversity, including more trees and seating planters
- Installed public art, cost-efficient lighting and waymarking
From the before and after pictures below, it’s clear how we transformed the grey overlooked feel of Portland Road, giving the space back to its community. It is now a lively and vibrant part of the town centre, where users are encouraged to walk, seat and shop.
We also developed a design for Dartford Town Centre. From the pictures below, it’s clear how the town centre was previously car-dominated and lacked identity. Interventions such as the installation of seating planters as well as pedestrians-only footways encouraged businesses to spill out and communities to live in the space.
Why should you invest in transforming your city centres?
Our engagement team works intensively with communities, and most of our surveys and events show how people nowadays want to live in vibrant and safe places. Public health and air pollution are also top priorities. Climate change is making drastic changes to our environment, and this is worsened by the number of cars and lack of active travel.
Transforming your city can boost the economy and productivity as well as benefit your community’s health and safety.