Upgrading run-down city centres by pedestrianising streets and introducing hard and soft landscaping has become a popular and cost-effective improvement option. In the 12 of this continuing series of cost models, QS Davis, Langdon & Everest costs four alternatives: model design and planning criteria; procurement options and a guide programme; a detailed cost build-up of the four landscaping options

Introduction Since the late 1970’s, shopping precincts in many of our larger cities and towns have been fighting a rear-guard action against the expansion of out-of-town developments, an continuous exodus of civic public utilities and investment and the loss of associated back street light industry. Although no specific legislation encouraged the dispersal of retail activity, there has been a correlation between events and the government’s views on retail development.

Nicholas Ridley’s free market deregulation plans of the mid 1980’s were followed by Chris Patten’s Common Inheritance environmental white paper in 1990 and culminated in John Gummer’s revisions in 1993 to Planning Policy Guidance Note 6 - Town Centres and Retail Developments. The original PPG6, issued in 1988, did not restrict out-of-town retail development but simply required local authorities to inform the Department of Environment of schemes in excess of 23,325m². However, the July 1993 revisions to this document, whilst not positively discriminating against out-of-town shopping, reflect current Government concern over the decline of city centres that is threatening their viability.

Most inner city pedestrianisation is funded directly by Local Authorities, as part of their annual capital expenditure programmes. However, for some years, certain schemes attracted additional financial support if they are associated with wider-reaching proposals to revitalize run-down, derelict, depressed, environmentally unhealthy, high accident-prone or congested city centres. Foremost among these grants were:
The City Land Grants, available from the DOE, aimed at improving derelict buildings or land and bringing them back into use.
The City Challenge schemes, which sought competitive bids from authorities with proposals to transform specifically run-down inner city areas and to improve the quality of life for local residents. Two City Challenge initiatives since 1991, when they were launched by Michael Heseltine, have resulted in 31 schemes currently under development. However, there are no known plans for a third round of City Challenge competitions.
Transport Supplemental Grants, available from the DOT, for revised traffic schemes or by-passes. In the past 5-10% or more of the costs of these schemes have been appropriated to deal with traffic calming/restraining measures in associated city or town centres.
English Heritage grants can be a further source of funds for raising pedestrianisation standards in Conservation Areas.

Following criticisms that not enough local jobs were being generated, not enough private investment was forthcoming and that unspent City Chalenge money could not be rolled over to the next year, the government reviewed its regeneration budgets. This resulted in 20 aid programmes from five government departments (excluding the DOT) being combined to form the Single Regeneration Budget. Although the SRB budget for 1994/95 is about £1.4bn, existing programmes have already swallowed up most of this. The amount available for 1995/96 competitive bids, to be submitted by early September 1995, is only about £100m.

The SRB will be administered through h10 regional government offices. They will also adminster any available European Structural Funds-European Union funds for revitalising areas affected by serious industrial decline. Bids for these funds are encouraged from private companies and public authorities, but priority will be given to schemes that meet local community needs, provide jobs, reduce crime and have private sector finance.

The Urban Development Council and Housing Action Trusts will continue as semi-autonomous bodies alongside English Partnership, the new regeneration agency that focuses on job creation, attracting investment and environmental improvement through the reclamation/development of derelict land or buildings. As the agency has taken over the responsibility for City Challenge and other city action schemes, and has limited resources, it does not bode well for future one-off proposals to pedestrianise city centres.

Design issue If you assume that shoppers spend 50% or more of their time looking at the ground, then a pedestrianisation scheme-even one using high-quality materials-is an economical way of upgrading an area.

Towns have a diversity of buildings, spaces, shapes and textures rarely, matched by out-of-town shopping developments and, provided schemes offer easy accessibility, good car parking and/or bus services and an improved and attractive environment, they can bring vitality back to city centres.

Until recently, pedestrianisation schemes in the UK were put to shame by urban landscape design in Europe, but the view now is that low budgets in the UK produced false economies. This is now being redressed. Councils are increasingly asking private developers to produce inner-city schemes with a substantial landscaping element. However, some still argue that there is insufficient money from grants for schemes in the UK to match the quality of those elsewhere.

However, pedestrianisation alone is rarely a panacea to halt city-centre decline (see The Pedestriniastion Myth, Edward Erdman (Lewis, 1994). It should be viewed as part of a package of solution to redress the problems of decline because, if badly conceived, it can hasten it. Potential problems include the creation of pedestrian barriers and “no-go” areas caused by inner relief roads, damage to secondary and marginal shopping streets and the death of city centres in the evenings because of the exclusion of traffic.

Design crtieria Constantly changing building regulations and standard mean there are few current and comprehensive bibles on hard landscaping. The most useful documents are Quality Street (Test, 1987) and Traffic Calming Guidelines (Devon Countuy Council, 1991). It is advisable to seek advice from architects specialising in pedestriniastion.

Designing and implementing a scheme would typically involve:

  • establishing the suitability of pedestrianisation, considering its effect on associated road systems, secondary streets and shopping, and looking at accessibility and car parking and public transport provisions
  • considering a theme for the scheme based on the town’s history and the juxtaposition of buildings and spaces
  • identifying whether to exclude private traffic completely or to limit access during a core period, say from 10am to 4pm
  • undertaking a survey of retail traffic and discovering whether deliveries are to the front or rear of shops
  • consideration of whether to limit unloading times and correlate vehicle movements with other traffic data from the highways and engineers department
  • deciding whether delivery/car access routes should have road humps, strengthened overruns, turning circles and loading bays
  • consideration of any phasing that would be needed to maintain bus services while the scheme is under construction
  • segregating pedestrians from deliveries and traffic by using trees, lights and seats, and using bollards to steer and restrict vehicles
  • identifying main intersections between paths and roads, together with likely pedestrian traffic routes and flows
  • designing attractive paving patterns at intersections that take account of levels and gradients and complement street furniture and trees
  • co-ordinating signage and information and display boards. Some income-producing facilities , such as displays, telephones and bus stops, may be available free of charge
  • developing proposals for specific areas, such as bandstands, water features, sculptures, lottery kiosks and WCs - keeping in mind that maintenance is of prime importance. For water features, trace-heating of supply pipes and automation to turn on systems can help alleviate problems in cold weather
  • determine the extent of any soft landscaping area that should take account of orientation, exposure and use
  • appreciating that poor sitting of shrub areas, such as in a wind tunnel or next to a fast-food restaurant, can result in rubbish accumulation and have a long-term detrimental effect on the environment
  • remembering that while street markets can improve vitality, they can be difficult to maintain and keep tidyq checking building facades, sight lines and long-distance views before planting trees
  • designing street lighting to comply with BS 5489 Part 9 - for an average of 30 lux at street level
  • selecting paving that is durable, non-slippery and provides a smooth surface
  • bedding pavings on flexible sub-base, as over time many lean concrete mixes tend to break up
  • making provision for the disabled and older people - seats should be included at 50 m intervals and pedestrian/vehicle crossing points should have tactile pavers to aid the blind or partially sighted
  • ensuring as much street lighting as possible is provided from building facades to highlight obstacles
  • discussing and agreeing all proposals, standards of design and specification with all those with a stake in the scheme, including public and private authorities, shopkeepers, owners, tenants and the public
  • tracking all progress, keeping all parties informed and ensuring all proposals have been adopted and maintained
  • seeking planning permissionm, resolving temporary and permanent revisions to traffic orders, maintaining accesses for emergency services, checking whether pavement areas are affected by licensing agreements and renegotiating wayleaves (legal ermission to fix objects to someone else’s building)

Procurement Pedestrianisation schemes are often procured by competitive tender based on GC Works and Institution of Civil Engineers 5 or 6 forms of contract plus quantities measured in accordance with Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement 2 or 3.

The cost of the work is most affected by the limitations on the construction methods. Problems that must be addressed include:

  • interruption to work schedules to maintain existing traffic/pedestrian flow
  • sequencing of complex paving designs - those involving a mixture of materials resulting in the fragmentation of work often put increased pressure on temporary pedestrian protection/routes
  • limitations on working hours or the flow of work because of trading. The contractor must have a flexible workforce able to undertake accelerated works or 24-hour working if necessary
  • further restrictions on working hours arising from noise, the need to maintain access and the vicinity of residential property. Many contractors would prefer to work unsocial hours, but are prevented by environmental health restrictions
  • evaluation of interface between programming of underground service connections and diversions, before repaving works start
  • essential liaison with statutory authorities and companies such as Mercury and Encom, which maintain services beneath roads-facilities must be provided and maintained to ensure pedestrians are protected from the work, plant and materials.

Because of the proximity of the public owners/tenants, local authorities often encourage early contractor involvement through two-stage tenders. Those selected at stage one are asked for a method statement and their liaison/management proposals for overcoming difficulties during the work.

Cost model The cost model includes four design solutions with associated costs for the pedestrianisation of a circus and adjoining streets in a town centre in the South East. It assumes competitive tenders submitted in February 1995. the solutions include different paving to each quadrant and associated street sector. The range and quality of items such as street furniture have been related to the standards of paving in each solution. Adjustments should be made to prices for schemes with different specifications, sizes, locations, procurement routes and market conditions.