Landscape & Amenity Awards 2009: Best Commercial Project

WINNER: BDP -- Baldock Town Centre

What you see now is not what you saw then. Baldock, a historic market town, was not very historic at all, being crammed with parked cars, drowned out by the drone of fast-moving traffic from a nearby bypass and lacking the human buzz that should characterise the classic market town.

BDP changed all that when North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council decided to buy into Baldock as a market town with distinction. The multidisciplinary practice was charged with creating a lively town centre that was safe, attractive and more friendly to pedestrians.

Designers had to re-jig the public realm to rationalise parking and traffic flows. They had to give a badly needed blast of green to otherwise grey streetscapes with new trees and green spaces. And they wanted to give some eye-catching finishing touches with classy street furniture and lights.

"Throughout the design process the local people were kept informed of what was happening through newsletters, updates on websites and information at various events," says the team's entry of the transformation that took place with a capital-works budget of around £2m.

"Among the highlights of the scheme, a new marketplace has been created in the heart of the high street. This multifunctional space links up with other new squares and shared spaces with improved pedestrian links. New trees have been planted to add continuity and introduce seasonal change."

Large areas of grass, meanwhile, soften some of the town's greyest edges while flower bulbs will throw up spring-time vibrancy along the high street. New flowerbeds and box hedging fringe the town's war memorial, which is now accessible to wheelchair users.

BDP says the project was finished on time, was well-received by locals and represents a finely tuned compromise between meeting engineering requirements, maximising function and providing strong visual appearance.


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