At the end of October 2016 Phil Jones Associates, in conjunction with Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), held an excellent event in Exeter entitled 'STREET DEMOnstation' :-
1. What is a StreetDEMO?
The StreetDEMO concept is an innovative approach to reviewing and appraising the streetscape and urban environment.
The approach brings together a range of experts and key stakeholders to consider a street from a range of professional and stakeholder perspectives. The approach combines a site-based walkaround and interactive workshop to consider the competing demands for street space, the diverse user groups, the quality of the urban environment and the wider place context.
Study areas are selected as ‘streets with potential’ and aims to:
Identify what is good and bad about a street;
Undertake an honest review of issues – not apportioning blame;
Bring stakeholders together in an open forum to allow issues and ideas to be debated honestly;
Challenging process – many urban street problems are complex and inter-related
Showcase ideas and innovation;
Lead to change – however big or small, fast or slow.
The collaborative approach aims to consider the study area from a fresh perspective and devise solutions or interventions with the aim of improving the urban environment for all.
The events are intended as a thought provoking but constructive design activity, bringing
together a range of local stakeholders and experts to arrive at a constructive and collaborative design solution or series of options.
The Street DEMOnstration focuses on improving the street through a process of:
Understanding place context;
Understanding the demands for street space from different user groups;
Experiencing the quality of the urban place through a walkabout;
Debating and design workshop; and
Lobbying for and being open to change.
The Queen Street event was supported by the South West Region CIHT committee and was primarily intended as a CPD activity. However, the intention of the exercise is to produce realistic and constructive proposals that have the potential for further development and possible funding bids.
2. Queen Street Study Area
The Queen Street area of Exeter lies to the north of the main City Centre in Exeter. Queen Street itself connects the High Street to the Clock Tower roundabout junction via Exeter Central Station. The street is Victorian in origin, constructed as an alternative route to St. David’s Hill from the city centre rather than the Iron Bridge.
The identified Queen Street study area runs from the Paul Street/Gandy Street junction in the south up to the Exeter College Campus entrance on Hele Road in the north. This study area was chosen as it covers a range of land uses and represents a very busy route between the various college sites and the heart of the city centre.
Historically, Queen Street has always been a place of activity and demand from users with shop frontages, Exeter Central Station, public transport corridors and local attractions all drawing people to the ‘place’ rather than passing through.
Queen Street Today
The Street in its current forms provides a direct link for Exeter College between several main campus buildings as well as providing a link between the City Centre and Exeter’s two main stations – Exeter Central and St. David’s. Queen Street also links the city with the University Campus via New North Road.
From a vehicular perspective, the street provides a connection to and through the city centre from the north and an alternative link to the very constrained Iron Bridge route.
Due to the destinations and attractions that the street connects, the pedestrian demand along the street is very high throughout the day, with students, commuters and shoppers all travelling along the footway.
To consider the context of the current conditions along Queen Street, data relating to traffic flows, pedestrian flows and personal injury accidents has been collated.
The data shows high pedestrian flows along Queen Street along the footway on both sides of the highway between the town centre and towards the station and beyond. Weekday and Saturday flows are very similar in volumes showing student flows are replaced with shoppers at the weekends and demand remains high. Pedestrian flows on Paul Street are, in comparison, very low demonstrating the limited pedestrian attraction of this car dominated and unattractive link. Traffic flows are reasonably high with approximately 7,000 two-way movements across the weekday and Saturday 12-hour periods. The clear majority of traffic is through traffic from Queen Street to Paul Street and onwards.
At the Clock Tower junction, three of the five arms have strong traffic flows – Queen Street, and New North Road in both directions.
An examination of the personal injury data for the area shows clusters of incidents at the Clock Tower junction and outside Exeter Central Station. At Clock Tower, there is a high level of cycle-related incidents recorded suggesting an existing safety issue at this junction.
3. Issues and Opportunities