A Bristol street reimagined

The bold reclamation of a dual carriageway proposed by a Bristol community and LDA Design comes at a time when towns and cities across the UK are making radical changes to road space to support more walking and cycling as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

The residents of Redcliffe in Bristol want to reclaim an oversized dual carriageway that severs their neighbourhood to create a new piece of city where people belong.

The Redcliffe Way, which connects Bristol Temple Meads rail station to the city centre, sharply divides Bristol, leaving South Redcliffe amongst the most deprived areas in England.

The Redcliffe Residents Action Group & Neighbourhood Forum have partnered with LDA Design to show how tarmac and traffic could be switched for affordable homes with roof-top gardens, local shops and services, and playful, green public space.

Local resident and member of the Redcliffe Residents Action Group, Melissa Mean, said: “We want to stitch North and South Redcliffe back together to create a new city centre green space that all of Redcliffe, and all of Bristol, can enjoy and be proud of.

“We have been campaigning to reclaim Redcliffe Way for a long time, but Covid-19 lockdown has meant many more people are looking at their towns and cities with fresh eyes and realising just how much space has been given over to polluting, noisy, space-greedy traffic.”

The proposals, which are informed by Transport for London’s Healthy Streets, will create a new pedestrian and cycle friendly gateway. Key drivers include cleaner air, inclusivity and affordability for all, and making space for nature. As Mean explains: “When Bristol opens up again, we want to say yes to development that prioritises clean air, and makes space for nature and people to play, walk and cycle. This is especially important in neighbourhoods like Redcliffe where many people live in cramped flats, with no access to outdoor space, and suffer an unequal burden of air pollution, and as a consequence significantly poorer health.”

Redcliffe Way: as it is today and how it could be.

LDA Design’s Bristol studio has provided pro bono support for the project, drawing on work from across the practice, including the transformation of central London streets around King’s Cross, Holborn and Covent Garden and the reimagining of notorious traffic bottleneck, Strand Aldwych.

LDA Design’s, Clare Wilks, who leads the Bristol office, said: “Our vision for Redcliffe Way is to shift the focus away from cars to create a place where people love to spend time, one that wows those arriving in Bristol from Temple Meads. It is a great opportunity to re-organise this incredibly wide street to provide more homes and offices, design delightful new spaces and develop hubs of activity along the route. As someone who has worked in the area for the past eight years, I believe Redcliffe Way could offer so much more for city life in Bristol.”

The scheme celebrates and puts centre stage local heritage, including the currently neglected Grade 1* listed St Mary Redcliffe Church. It will create space for people to sit and relax and circulate.

Achieving a more humane density is likely to be a driving force in how we shape our city centres in the coming years. The vision sets out affordable new housing at no higher than six storeys, with an activated ground floor providing local shops and services. More commercial space will be available on the middle floors. Spacious apartment on the upper floors will all have access to outdoor green space.

Mean sees reclaiming the highway as an important and meaningful part of Bristol’s evolution: “Almost 20 years ago the busy road that cut through Queen Square was taken out. Dealing with Redcliffe Way could be part of the next chapter in the story of restoring our city for people.”

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