Design to 'change perception' of streets

Changing perceptions of streets in central London so they become spaces shared by people and traffic is crucial to improve safety and reinforce a sense of place.

This street-focused concept was one of the issues discussed by landscape architects and members of the All-Party Parliamentary Gardening & Horticulture Group (APGHG) during a walk through London's Bloomsbury and Tottenham Court Road last week.

The Landscape Institute-organised event was a chance for firms Land Use Consultants and Burns + Nice to share their visions for the area, and explore how squares and streets could be transformed to benefit users.

As part of the walk on 1 July - which was attended by APGHG chairman John Spellar MP, secretary Brian Donohoe MP and member Baroness Fookes - Burns + Nice director Stephen Nice revealed plans for Byng Place.

"We want to turn it into a public space through which traffic is allowed to go, but not without anyone else using it," he said.

He added that the idea was to create a place that linked the Bloomsbury squares - Russell, Gordon and Woburn - and was attractive to visitors to the area.

Under the plans, the road level will be raised so there will only be a very small kerb, and the cycle-way is to be relocated to pedestrian level.

Street seating and a cafe, as well as the possibility of a new public art feature and tree planting, are designed to create a "more active public space".

"We are looking at designing for the future and it is important we get people out walking and cycling to make this a more sustainable and pleasant place," Nice said.

"We are not trying to introduce Barcelona into London; we want to retain that Bloomsbury character."

Also up for change is Tottenham Court Road, which is currently the subject of an urban design study by Burns + Nice and Halcrow.

The aim is to reinforce a sense of place to the area and provide an uncluttered approach to the streetscape. Nice said: "We want to take away much of the unnecessary infrastructure and look at ideas for how we can bring in street furniture that reflects the fact that this is one of the iconic streets for furniture design."

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