lea bridge road + bakers arms | lb waltham forest
Lea Bridge Road represents a strategically important east-west corridor through Waltham Forest, linking a number of key centres and providing one of the few passages across the Lea Valley in north-east London. Waltham Forest council commissioned Urban Movement to develop designs for a series of public realm improvements along the corridor that would act as catalysts for economic regeneration.
Successful highway authorities tend to adopt a consistency of approach over an extended period of time, requiring strong leadership and good corporate memory. Our strategy, therefore, for the Lea Bridge Road has been to expand upon the council’s existing successes rather than trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ or adopt the latest fashionable materials palette. Equally we wanted to ground our engagement process and design in factual research. The assertion that the health of local centres is wholly reliant on through traffic is widely held but incorrect. In fact the largest proportion of visitors to local centres in inner and outer London arrive by bus, with the second largest group arriving on foot. Since shoppers who take the bus or walk have a higher weekly spend than those who drive it makes economic sense, as well as creating a convivial public realm, if these users are prioritised.
To this end we proposed widening and resurfacing footways and 'tightening’ junctions to reduce pedestrian crossing distances. Trees, seats and cycle stands were carefully located to avoid causing obstructions and parking and loading bays were raised to footway level, providing more space for pedestrians when not in use. We also worked with artist Ian McChesney to develop a sculptural 'piece’ for the Bakers Arm’s Junction. The project was implemented in 2015, but didn’t unfortunately include Ian’s community oven due to budget constraints.