As part of a Sustainable Cities module third year students from GGE studying courses in geography, sustainable development and environmental hazards presented to Kingstonfirst (the town centre management team) and the Old London Road Trade Association their recommendations for enhancing the Market Place, the Grade II listed Market House and Old London Road. The objective was to produce innovative designs and management strategies to develop the areas as key destinations and increase the number and diversity of visitors and their experience.
Old London Road
The groups presented recommendations for Old London Road; encompassing the location as well as the cultural dynamics of the area, to include the diverse range of shops and residents. It was considered by the groups that whilst the iconic telephone boxes had become a famous landmark for Kingston-upon-Thames it equally sets design challenges.
The winning group (Martin Hill, Chloe Hunt, Zain Iqbal, Charles Jones, Elena Keen, Julian Muller, Juliana Nunes) made recommendations in maximising on the ‘quirkiness’ of the area; taking into consideration the pedestrian and car user, as well as encouraging people to visit the area in the evening. Proposals to make the area more vibrant included signage, planting, improving low-level lighting, improving pedestrian access, attractive artwork to shield fences, a night market (once a month) to include food vendors and increased green spaces.
Market Place and Market House
The groups were asked to make recommendations to improve the area’s potential by increasing footfall and the visitor experience. Consideration had to be given to appealing to a wider demographic and encourage dwell time during quieter periods of late afternoon and early evening hours.
The winning group (Theodore Aung, Peter Collins, Melanie Cross, Jaime Curry, Laura Heaney, Jack Luffman) addressed the repositioning of the market stalls (opening up lines of sight across the area), maximising the use of space, introduction of further food stalls, a designated cycle lane (and how this could be implemented within a pedestrian area) as well as the aesthetic appeal of the area. There were further recommendations to have a designated plinth to feature artwork on a rotational basis from students at the University, colleges and schools (similar the project in Trafalgar Square).
The panel of judges Ros Morgan (Town Centre Manager), Paul Riordan (Business Crime Reduction & Interim Operations Manager), Shanta Bhagwandin (Events & Interim Operations Executive) Ian Horgan (Reduce Crime by Design MET Officer), Mark Field (Chair Old London Road Traders Association) commented on the ‘excellent standard of the presentations of the groups with the research that had taken place and ideas proposed’.
Dr Peter Garside commented
“The challenge for the students is to bring together a wide range of theoretical and practical knowledge into a coherent package, together with innovative and original ideas to meet current challenges in our local urban environment. This involves intensive fieldwork within their sites, meeting with stakeholders and users, and critically assessing why their sites might not work for everyone. It is a particularly challenging project as these are age old problems that the professions (planning, police, business, design and management) constantly struggle with and perhaps the key lesson that most of them learn is that it is as much challenge for politics as it is of design.
Kingstonfirst, the MET and Kingston Racial Equality (John Azar) have supported this process for several years, delivering lectures to the students, offering advice on the design process and offering additional contacts. However the students who produce the best solutions (as judged by the panel) seem to appreciate the several hundred pounds worth of John Lewis vouchers that Kingstonfirst offer as a prize!”
Dr Peter Garside
Principal Lecturer GGE