Clapham Old Town Landscape + Urban Realm | LB Lambeth
WINNER: NLA Awards 2015
WINNER: London Planning Awards 2015 ‘Best New Public Space’
WINNER: London Transport Awards 2015 ‘Excellence in Cycling & Walking'
HIGHLY COMMENDED: RTPI Awards 2015 ‘Excellence in Planning for the Public Realm’
The historic heart of Old Town Clapham had become a utilitarian expanse of concrete and asphalt to provide space for bus stopping and standing activities as several services terminated here. We were appointed by Lambeth Council in 2007 to explore the feasibility of re-organising bus standing and stopping to create a new town square or market place along with a range of public realm improvements aimed at reconnecting the Old Town with the adjacent neighbourhoods, improving access to public transport and making walking and cycling more appealing.
Working closely with a steering group made up of local residents, council officers and TfL we developed and refined various options through numerous public consultation events. The final design, completed in 2014, included the following key interventions: the removal of a fast and dangerous one way gyratory traffic system and replacement with a standard two-way carriageway; new on and off street contra-flow cycle facilities and improved cycle parking; widened footways with trees, seats and raised parking and loading facilities and a public space with seats, trees and ornamental planting. The widened footways now accommodate more tables and chairs space for the various cafes, restaurants and pubs in the Old Town adding to the vibrancy of this local centre.
To ensure pedestrian priorities along the main walking routes a new style of side road entry treatment or crossing was designed. It was nicknamed the `Copenhagen Crossing’ as it was similar to details used in Copenhagen and other mainland European cities. The design is unique in the UK as the footway simply runs across the mouth of a junction negating the need to warn pedestrians (with tactile paving and kerbs) that they are crossing a carriageway. As vehicles are crossing the footway, the new language means that they give way to pedestrians, or at least pause to `negotiate’ before proceeding. This type of side road crossing detail is now featured in TfL’s 2016 edition of its Streetscape Guidance.
Through traffic was encouraged to by-pass the centre of the Old Town, whilst maintaining access for residents and businesses, through inventive junction design. Traffic speeds were reduced by narrowing carriageways and introducing twenty mph zones making it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross. The several zebra crossing in the Old Town were all retained but re-sited to relate to the new circulation patterns.
Over 100 new trees were planted in the widened footways and public spaces. A mix of species were used including native Field Maples, Limes and London Planes. The footways and public spaces were paved with traditional yorkstone slabs in standard and narrow widths where they were to be over-run by vehicles. Most of the historic wide granite kerbs were lifted and re-laid to edge the carriageways but set at a new lower height of 50mm to reduce the step height and make informal crossing easier.
The scheme cost approximately £3.5million to build with most of the money coming from TfL’s Major Schemes fund.
In association with: Project Centre Limited (Highways engineering); Marks Barfield Architects and Diane Bell (Detailed design of Polygon Space) and FM Conway: (Construction).