Our UK cities are growing, writes Stephen O’Malley of Civic Engineers. Despite accounting for only 9% of the landmass, they accounted for 65% of the national population growth between 2007 and 2012. This rate of change and city growth is accelerating, bringing with it a higher density population, with high rise apartments in closely clustered neighbourhoods.
This change brings many potential benefits, people live closer to where they work and socialise; the distances they need to travel are reduced and active travel becomes the preferred option. This presents us with a real opportunity to change the way our city streets look and feel, how they are used and how they perform – putting people, not cars at their heart.
We must grasp this opportunity and restructure our streets so that they respond to these changing needs. We must focus on introducing more green infrastructure and offering much more valuable public space. This will allow people to be more active, they will walk or cycle more. Providing more space offers city dwellers and visitors with areas to occupy outside of their own homes, creating a real sense of community and ownership. All these elements have also been proven to improve health and wellbeing and ultimately deliver a healthier city for all those who live, work and visit.
This opportunity has presented itself in Glasgow where we have recently been appointed by Glasgow City Council to deliver Block A of the transformative ‘Avenues’ project which seeks to dramatically improve the quality of the city centre environment. Focusing on seven key city-centre thoroughfares, the aim is to improve connectivity, introduce sustainable green infrastructure through attractive streetscapes and enhancing biodiversity, protect space for cyclists and pedestrians, improve the way public transport is accommodated and continue to foster positive experience and perceptions of the city.