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Greening our streets for economic revival

Skate park pop-up on the Strand near Somerset House (Westminster City Council / Vans)

Westminster City Council has begin to implement ambitious new proposals to convert busy roads into new public spaces at the Strand and across the Aldwych.

'Skate the Strand' a new free temporary pop-up skate park located on the Strand outside Somerset House, marks the start of the longer-term vision for the Strand Aldwych area. The project is part of the wider Westminster Reveals campaign and kicks off 'September on the Strand', inviting people to return to the city's streets and enjoy the capital's famed cultural scene, connecting celebrated talent and communities.

Westminster City Council has ambitious plans for Strand Aldwych, which will see this ancient route adapted to become a pedestrian-focused destination, transforming this historic gateway to the West End into a world-class and contemporary traffic-free public space.

The proposal converts busy roadways into a major new public space at the Strand, to become traffic free in front of Somerset House and King's College London, and an enhanced pedestrian experience across the Aldwych, including new crossings, wider footways and a new green space.

The new Strand Aldwych project aims to bring the inside out - by combining the best of Westminster's arts, culture, learning and business, utilising the wealth of cultural and creative organisations based in the surrounding areas to reveal the joys of Strand Aldwych as a unique place to visit. It will create a new public space for London car-free, centred around the majestic St Mary le Strand Church, which will stand pride of place in its newly created architectural and historic setting.

The reinvention of Strand Aldwych as a world-leading, fit for future, urban green space is the latest step in the council's ambitious plans for the West End and its vision for a greener, smarter city. This project is being delivered by Westminster City Council along with key partners including Northbank Business Improvement District, King's College London, Somerset House Trust, St Mary le Strand, The Courtauld and Society of London Theatre.

Ruth Duston OBE, QC, Chief Executive of The Northbank Business Improvement District said:

'The BID is proud to have pioneered the early thinking for the project, which will at as a major catalyst for growth, with the area becoming a new focal point for the world class creative endeavours in the area.'

Public realm improvements in the Strand Aldwych area started in January this year and are due to be completed in late 2022.

LDA Design is the Project Lead for Strand Aldwych. The firm has also recently been appointed by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) to research the role of design codes in achieving net zero targets and promoting nature recovery. Design codes set the rules for the design of new development, and now they need to specifically address climate, resource efficiency and ecology so they become a strong framework for users like council officers, applicants and the local community.

LDA Design will work with City Science and BSG Ecology to produce two design codes, based on fictional towns, to be used in conjunction with existing government guidance on design for site-specific and district-wide development. Findings will be published in autumn 2021. The project is being conducted in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The research comes as the UK government is undertaking an overhaul of the planning system in England, part of which involves shifting to a zonal planning system with areas designated for growth, renewal or protection. The project will build upon the National Design Guide, and the National Model Design Code which was published this summer.

Tom Perry, LDA Design Director will join TfL's Head of Strategy, Christina Calderato in Future Cities Forum discussions this week how how to create healthier streets, more sustainable infrastructure and greener cities.

Below - 'Designing for the planet - communal gardens sketch' (LDA Design)


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