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Olympic links

Source: Public Sector Executive May/June 12

Peter Kelly, project delivery manager for the Leyton Links programme in Waltham Forest, describes improvements to the high street in a scheme that is both special and sensible.

Improving access to key roads can help residents, as well as visitors, make their way around their hometown and encourage greater participation in the community. The host borough of Waltham Forest has invested in work to increase connectivity and promote a sense of identity along High Road Leyton.

Project delivery manager Peter Kelly talked to PSE about the development of Leyton Links, which was part of the larger Leyton Open Spaces Investment programme, funded by the Olympic Delivery Authority.

The Leyton Open Space Investment works are underpinned by three corporate priorities; the political commitment to secure a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games and in particular to demonstrate tangible community gains, the strategic priority to enhance open space in the south of the borough, and the need to address deficiencies of publicly-accessible green space and playing pitches in the south of the borough.

Special & sensible

When the programme was designed, ‘special’ measures were planned along the road, to coincide with junctions and open spaces that formed the more ordinary aspects of the road. These included decorative lighting and the planting of more trees.

“The key was to have a series of special moments which physically fitted quite nicely with junctions and interfaces,” Kelly explained.

This theme combined practical improvements to access and security with iconic, eye-catching details that aimed to encourage residents to experience their own services and take advantage of the easy links to Olympic sites.

Kelly said: “With regards to access we are physically widening footways, making it easier for pedestrians to cross the carriageways by the introduction of speed tables to reduce speed of vehicles and to give less vehicle dominance to the area.”

Raising the game

The programme was slightly different from more traditional upgrades, and more difficult to implement, which meant communication with the workforce was necessary to explain the reasoning behind the design.

Kelly said: “I think the biggest challenge is getting everyone to raise their game slightly, we are really working on the right first time principle.

“We’ve had to sell someone else’s vision to an extent, but that’s been embraced I think, all in all, and people have taken pride in their work so I think it has been a success!”

This different approach significantly improved the outcome of the work, with members of the public as well as politicians providing positive feedback. Part of these good relations were fostered by the minimal disruption to the area. “It was a price quality tender, and one of the quality questions was what measures are you going to put in place to minimise disruption to the travelling public and to shopkeepers and residents in the area.

“We’ve looked at regular contacts, all the local businesses and residents, making sure that their given a contact name if they’ve got any concerns. Letting them know that if deliveries need access on a certain day let us know and we’ll do what we can to accommodate you. We’ve had very few complaints in all,” Kelly commented.

Signpost to success

A key part of the programme was to improve orientation, for both visitors to the area, and local residents. Kelly explained that while wayfinding was generally for the benefit of visitors, either during Olympic times or otherwise, added signage helped to give the area an identity. The introduction of public arches could also be useful as landmarks to direct people for leisure or business.

The programme is coming to an end now, with the last few sections still to complete as PSE went to press. The work has been so well received that this completion has been rolled out further and further, as politicians call for the improvements to continue.

Kelly said: “It’s been, ‘Oh, can you carry on up the road and a bit further and do this part and that part?’ so we’re coming to the end of the month, just rolling into June, we’ll see the completion.”

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