Plans have been submitted to pedestrianise the western half of Oxford’s iconic Broad Street this summer, creating one of the largest public spaces in the city centre.
LDA Design was commissioned by Oxford City Council to produce a detailed proposal for a temporary civic square where people can sit and meet up with friends and family. The project is designed to green this part of Broad Street with lawns and wildflower meadows. The Council hopes the public square will host community and arts events over the summer.
In submitting the plans, the Council is seeking to support post-Covid economic recovery in the city centre with a safe and vibrant car-free space, and to inform long-term options for creating better civic spaces.
LDA Design’s plans have been informed by extensive stakeholder consultation, including with the city’s inclusive transport and movement focus group. Broad Street is lined with listed buildings, and the UK’s largest academic bookseller, Blackwell’s, has traded there for 150 years.
Dafydd Warburton, a director at LDA Design, comments however that while Broad Street is very handsome, it is not easy to dwell there and enjoy it. “Currently the space is heavily contested, with pedestrians confined to narrow pavements. This is a fantastic opportunity to test new ideas for a more inviting public realm.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader at Oxford City Council said that with some flower power, Broad Street can be brought back to life. “Oxford’s iconic Broad Street is one of the best streets in Europe, and it’s set to get even better. On a perfect summer day, children will be able to play, people will be able to pause for cool refreshments.
“In the longer term, the Council wants to pedestrianise more of the city and to give the whole of Broad Street back to local people.”
As part of their social value commitment during the project’s development, LDA Design and highway engineers Stantec are each offering a two-week work placement to a design student from Oxford Brookes.
The decision on the application for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order now rests with the highway authority, Oxfordshire County Council.