Sidcup High Street Revival | LB Bexley
Sidcup High Street Revival was awarded the 2016 LI Award for
'Adding Value Through Landscape'
The Sidcup High Street Revival Programme aims to “continue to build momentum for positive change in Sidcup by enhancing Sidcup High Street for consumers, traders, and the local community creating a vibrant and sustainable High Street for existing and future generations, by supporting existing and new business, along with creating an accessible and attractive public realm.”
Bexley Council, supported by the GLA, appointed Urban Movement in partnership with Untitled Practice to review and develop proposals for the public realm and shop fronts, of Sidcup’s High Street. Detailed designs were developed following the production of a ‘Design and Identity Guide’ which set a framework for the proposed changes. These designs were then developed into the technical design by the framework engineering consultant, Parsons Brinkerhoff ready for construction by the Council’s term contractor, FM Conway. The first phase of works, which included shop front improvements and business development initiatives, was completed in the autumn of 2014. The Sidcup High Street Revival project was awarded the 2016 LI Award for 'Adding Value Through Landscape’. The budget for the project was approximately £2 million.
We paid a lot of attention to detail to achieve a bespoke, site responsive, high quality public realm that utilised a number of old and new techniques to achieve the projects aims. Granite was used throughout, to help create a strong character as it allows a greater degree of precision to be attained with specials that can be easily pre-cut off site at the originating quarry.
Instead of simply creating typical raised side road entry treatments we developed and extended our ‘Copenhagen’ continuous footway crossing detail to create two new pocket spaces, which could be used for events such as street markets and village ‘fetes’. Similarly, vehicle access crossovers were all raised and paved over to match the footways to create a smooth, step and tactile free transition for pedestrians. This language dictates that pedestrians have priority and that vehicles accessing and egressing the car parks, should give way.
Pedestrians using Nisbett Walk, which links the popular Morrison’s car park with the High Street, can now cross the High Street on a raised table, detailed to match the footway.
At side roads, traditional wide radii corners (typically 6 m) were discarded in favour of small radii (1.1 m) quadrants. These were detailed in silver grey granite to match the carriageway kerbs and incorporated a 50 mm drop to smooth the transitions for vehicles. By maintaining the full width of the adjoining side road carriageway, large vehicles (including buses) can still easily navigate these junctions.
Road markings have the effect of homogenising places as they are necessarily the same regardless of the place. In Sidcup we created a 'restricted parking zone’ so that road markings and signage could be reduced to a minimum. The only road markings on the street occur at the zebra crossings, and these were reduced to the legal minimum two zig-zags on entry and exit. This helps to allow the street and architecture to determine the visual character of the High Street.
To provide places to rest and create social opportunities, benches and seats were introduced. Due to lack of space on the narrow High Street footways, these were all located in the side road `pocket spaces’. They were all detailed in granite to be highly vandal resistant as Bexley Council had a moratorium on the use of steel and timber.
Due to the narrow street width, tree planting was also restricted to sites on side roads and private forecourts. Species were selected to reflect the suburban context and detailed with timber stake frames, to protect them from vehicle strikes. The surface below the trees was finished in self-binding gravel, to allow the root systems to ‘breathe’.