HOW CAN OUR HIGH STREETS BE IMPROVED?
Many of our high streets have become concrete jungles, with not a lot of life, biodiversity or colour. This creates more pollution within our cities, intensifies urban heat islands and creates an unattractive space for the local community, as well as links to poor mental health and wellbeing. Our challenge is to turn this around, and create more green spaces for the community and sustainable transport links to connect people, places and wildlife, and to improve the overall sustainability of our high streets and the local’s wellbeing. It is important that the community can come together in a safe and pleasant area that not only helps the environment but helps themselves as well
– Green Spaces In Urban Environments have decreased by nearly 10% in the last 15 years
– Having a green space nearby is said to increase mental well-being by 55%
– Just by planting public trees it can decrease air pollution by 7%
Our Concept Design
What do you like about our design, and how can it be improved? Please use the comment box at the bottom of the page to let us know – we want to know what you think!
How Would You Rate Your Local High Street?
What changes would you like to see to your local high street? Are there major changes or just little tweaks that would solve a lot?
You can share your comments at the bottom of the page. We also have a survey that can be found HERE if you would prefer to answer using that.
Is your high street inclusive? What do you think?
We want to know why you think so, so we can adjust our designs to reflect your feedback.
You can use the comment box at the bottom of the page to let us know.
Do you feel like your community addresses environmental issues? If so, how? Use the comment box to tell us about the issues that you want to see being addressed.
Our group is taking over the PLACED Social Media accounts on the 1st of September. Visit them on that day for more content around our idea.
Mike Farragher RIBA
Fantastic project guys. We will find our microclimate warming up in the cities. London already has real problems with too many glass buildings that are energy inefficient and a problem with heat being trapped as there is to many hard surfaces that trap energy. Your designs are amazing and show good shading by trees which are great for throwing off heat from the sun. Inclusive environments are really coming through here that are not necessarily in straight lines and add more open space for people to meander and enjoy life. Keep up this great work. You would all be fantastic Architects or Architectural Technologists.
Great topic, many of our high streets certainly need upgrading and improving to suit our changing social needs and patterns. I can only see the four computer generated images of the streets, but I’d also like to see more about the materials pallet, the feel and character. How would you manage these changes – would this be a community of volunteer gardeners? Would you encourage ‘guerilla’ gardening too? How will the spaces be used, can you encourage positive social interaction, increased dwell time in the high street? Will it feel safe, will it be looked after? What about encouraging the active shopfronts to engage with the street? Have you considered street art? Just some thoughts, but a really interesting start here well done.
I really enjoy the work and effort you’ve put into this concept design. The principles of urban deisgn you’re exploring seem to be sound and I like the way the spaces open up.
The social spaces you’ve provided look interesting and are sure to be important as post-Pandemic a lot of shopping is now taking place online, but high streets remain a key place for social interaction and just being around other people. What kind of establishments might you encourage into your high streets accordingly.
And how do they get their deliveries? Think about Bold Street, or Liverpool One, which have two different ways of handling this. One allows heavy traffic down only at certain times of the day, the other has shared spaces and delivery zones aroun the back, away from the pedestrian area. What might be the most suitable for the high street you have in mind.
I would also echo the ideas others have raised about haing more visible bike parking areas, and it might even be worth speaking to the Bins group about their bin designs – your projects would seem to dovetail neatly into one another!
The first thing I liked about your showcase was how you’d very clearly set out the problem with some easy to understand information and statistics. You’ve provided a really good introduction. Some of your street designs are great, I particularly like the idea of bringing green spaces into cities and onto high streets. making places for biodiversity throughout our cities can help to make the ecosystem more resilient and your designs would help with that. You’ve also asked lots of questions to encourage reflection from the audience. I think the way you have connected multiple issues together for high streets is really important too. Often it’s tempting to focus on one aspect at a time, but with a lot of issues like making our high streets fit for the future it’s more complicated than one issue. And we have to try and tackle the complexity together.
I like the way that the green elements of your design have been well integrated with the buildings – could there be even more grassed over areas? I liked that your design felt very safe with no cars and just pedestrianised zones and cycling, with places to lock up your bike too. Do the green walls on your buildings represent living walls? Could you also have living rooftops too? Maybe some recycling facilities? Could these also be ‘greened’ to encourage biodiversity? What do you envisage the use of the high street – what shops would you have occupying the different buildings?
Currently my local high street has a lot of take-away restaurants, too many, which could be rationalised. I don’t think they encourage healthy eating and also produce a lot of waste as people dump their packaging which doesn’t look nice. There are a lot of charity shops which I think is great as it encourages recycling and sustainable living/fashion. There is also a library which is a fantastic facility and is well-used, it is a good public resource. I’m happy that there are also a lot of trees along the pavements. There are also more and more empty buildings which is sad to see, I would like to see them being used and wonder what will happen to them. I also don’t think it is that inclusive. I’m not sure all areas can be easily accessed by wheelchair users (although the library can). There are also lots of homeless people and I’m not sure they have or make use of support available and I wonder why not…
The bins in the parks in my community are too small to cope with increase use especially since the pandemic with litter often over-spilling. Although I saw staff from McDonalds coming out to litter pick so maybe my community addresses this issue in this way as apparently they do it once a month. Also, there are lots and lots of trees that have been planted throughout the years I have lived here. The council also replaces any trees which are removed for whatever reason. There are more recycling facilities within some of the shops and some of the newer shops are trying to reduce single-use plastic and encouraging people to use their own containers. There is also a community garden and there are also lots of allotments where people grow their own food. There is a co-operative grocery who have had a living roof installed, they have their own bees and use sustainable packaging / zero packaging.
Your design looks very professional and achievable. What are the materials you would you use? Do the green walls represent living walls in your design and could it be more diverse in foliage to attract birds and bees / biodiversity etc.? I really like the cycle routes, cycle storage, and benches. I think it is great that you’ve made it traffic-free. There is a sense of openness, community and tranquillity about your design which makes it seem a really pleasant place to spend time.
What kind of shops would you have in the area? How would you manage who occupies the retail outlets? Might subsidies be available for independent businesses and sole traders rather than costa coffee grabbing all the spaces? Have you considered space for a weekend market to attract people and promote local business?
I think the major change my high street needs is traffic reduction to reduce pollution and congestion, make it safer and a more pleasant environment for people shopping and spending time there.
I didn’t know that having a green space nearby increases mental wellbeing by 55% but I am not surprised. There is a very small park close to where I live, it takes about 10 minutes to walk there. I have always visited and enjoyed it but the space has become much more important to me during lockdown and remote working. It is a space to take a break, breathe and enjoy being in nature. A quick walk before work and at lunchtime here has really broken up my working day and helped my motivation.
I love how your design concept includes lots of trees and planters, there is something uplifting about being surrounded by nature. Designing a high street which is pedestrianised really considers the users experience of the space, making it a safe space to walk around and spend time as well as reducing the air pollution, congestion and noise from cars. I like how your design also includes cycle routes to encourage a more environmentally friendly way to get around which has added health benefits too. I wonder about accessibility for those using the high street who cannot walk or cycle? The pedestrianised zones would give enough pavement space for wheelchair users… would there be alternative transport links nearby such as bus stops? Trams? How would these operate in a way which is good for the environment? Perhaps your design concept is for a high street which has amenities within walking / close distance? A bit like the “15 minute city”? I really like how your high street design includes lots of seating areas, it gives it a sociable feel and encourages a sense of community and inclusivity.
I am lucky that I live nearby a high street which is very vibrant, thriving and lively so I would rate it quite highly. There are lots of independent shops, cafes and bars encouraging support for small, local businesses and the traders are very well connected, promoting each other. There are some small trees and planters and a couple of benches but there definitely could be more seating areas and greenery. There are also some recycling bins however there could be more. Cars still go down the high street and dominate the road quite a lot with parking on both sides which limits the pavement space for walking and means the high street can get quiet congested with traffic. It would be a more pleasant experience if it was completely pedestrianised, reducing the pollution, congestion and noise from cars and making it a more attractive space to spend extended periods of time. There are no cycling lanes and limited places to lock up bikes so I would say this is not encouraged enough. Most of the amenities are aimed at young professionals. There could be more variety to cater for the different needs of different people in the community e.g. a library, community centre, something for children/families/older people rather than just lots and lots of bars and cafes.
I think my community addresses environmental issues a little. There are recycling bins and there is also a re-fill sustainability shop which promotes zero waste. There could be more grocery shops like this and they need to be affordable for everyone. If there were larger green spaces incorporated in the layout of the high street, there could be opportunity for community gardening to encourage a “grow-your-own” initiative as well as promoting inclusivity.
I love your ideas, great work!
Ronnie Hughes, Placed Ambassador
Great idea. Our city and town centres have far too few green and pleasant spaces to sit, rest, talk and watch the world go by.
One thought is that as you’re obviously encouraging cyclists, I can see several of them in your drawings, you need more and obvious bike parking than I can see. And near to carry shopping from, and visible, from the shops, I happen to know, My partner Sarah being a keen cyclist who’s beenarticularly annoyed by some bike parking recently installed in a new shopping centre on Edge Lane in Liverpool. Where priority has once again been given to cars and the bikes are shoved out of sight and far away, like an obligation the designers could barely be bothered with.
So don’t do that would be my advice!
Eddy Taylor, PlanSpace
I think high streets should be more social places and greenery can help this.
Traffic calming and changes in priorities so that pedstrians and cyclists are rioritised higher than motor vehicles would be a massive improvement.
The designs have some active travel which I like and places for sitting down and some activity in them making the spaces soical. One or two of the walls seeem to be a bit blank but this could be improved by making them active. There are lots of ways to do this such as opening them up with doors and windows if possible but where that is not possible then planting, cash machines, murals, seating, bike parking and lighting and other things can help make the walls more active.
I feel like communities and green space are ignored. We build and build with no consideration towards the environment or community around. Green space is fantastic for wildlife, for mental health and for general well-being, we need more. The high street needs more green space, not just small bits of trees here and there. Bigger parks, dedicated green space areas with places to sit and eat, to socialise. Your designs are great for implementing this