Agenda item

Clay Pit Lane Public Realm Improvements

To consider a report by the Chief Planning Officer which sets out details of the Clay Pit Lane Public Realm Improvements scheme.


(Report attached)


The Chief Planning Officer submitted a report which sets out details of the Clay Pit Lane Public Realm Improvements scheme. Members were informed that the works did not require planning permission but were presented for information at the request of the Panel.


Site photographs and plans were displayed and referred to throughout the discussion of the application.


The Chair introduced Mark Burgess (Design Group Leader) Anna Driver, Senior Asset Management Officer, City Development and Andrew Price (Reform landscape consultants) who spoke in detail about the proposal and highlighted the following:


·  The design had been conceived to accommodate the high volume of pedestrian traffic and desire lines. The existing under-utilised green space to the back of Queen Square was encompassed by the design proposals and acted as a backdrop to the new central lawn. The proposed space was designed as a green ‘pause’ along this key route into the city, providing pedestrians with a reprieve from the busy road environment.


·  A central lawn is proposed, framed by bench seating, clipped hedges and tree planting. A ‘prunus subhirtella’/ autumn cherry feature tree would sit within the lawn acting as a sculptural focal point and providing year?round seasonal interest.


·  The existing cherry trees to the north of the site would be retained and would provide a sense of maturity to the design and also help to create a buffer, reducing the noise and visual impact of the traffic to the surrounding properties.


·  A birch tree grove is proposed to the north?west corner of the site that would sit within a metal grille. The retained cherry trees are enhanced by the addition of a feature cherry tree within the lawn, and by the proposed birch grove and street tree planting. Stepping off the main pedestrian thoroughfares onto the narrower path around the southern side of the lawn provides access to seating and a space to rest or pause.


·  High quality concrete paving is proposed to the primary pedestrian routes that edge the proposed lawn.


·  Access to the benches that sit to the southern edge of the lawn is provided via a resin bound gravel pathway and is of a deliberately different quality from the main pedestrian thoroughfares.


·  High quality granite kerbs and metal edging are proposed, and a feature metal grille (beneath the grove of birch trees) anchors the northern corner of the space.


·  Cast stone benches with timber tops, back?rests and arm?rests frame the central space and provide ample opportunity for resting at this busy junction.


·  Three forms of lighting are proposed – column lighting providing the primary light source, under?bench strip lights and tree uplighters provide accent features, creating a more dynamic environment after dark.


·  The two primary desire lines (along Woodhouse Lane – to and from the city centre, and east-west towards Merrion Way and the Arena) are accommodated, with 3m wide footpaths providing space for those in wheelchairs and those with pushchairs.


·  The site is fully accessible with all gradients shallower than 1:21, and with primary paths at a suitable width to allow wheelchair access (3m).


·  Non?slip paving materials are specified, with a contrast provided between surfaces and kerbs. Benches are fitted with back and arm rests and are located at sensible distances to allow places for resting. These alterations were designed to accommodate the needs of all users.


Members raised the following questions:


·  Were there any protection/ security measures (bollard/ barriers) planned for the public realm area.

·  One Member suggested that sycamore trees may not be suitable for this location due to their dense canopy, a silver weeping lime tree may be more compatible with an urban environment

·  Had a safe separate cycleway through the public realm area been considered

·  Who would be responsible for maintenance of the site once completed

·  The scheme before Members was just for one corner of the junction, what was happening with the three other schemes

·  Who had the responsibility for supervising the junction improvement works as a whole.


In responding to the issues raised, the officers said:


  • Tree planting and hedges would provide a natural barrier, the intention was not to add clutter to the street scene
  • It was suggested that sycamore trees were a reliable species and adequate spacing would be provided between the trees but alternative species could be considered
  • It was reported that a dedicated cycle route would run along Woodhouse Lane, however, in view of the concerns raised by Members about cyclists using a short cut through the site, it was accepted that further details about cycling provision were required
  • Members were informed that future maintenance of the site would be the responsibility of the Parks and Countryside Service
  • Members were informed that the junction improvement works were the subject of separate applications from different developers and varying timescales
  • It was suggested that the Chief Officer, Highways and Transportation had overall  responsibility for the scheme


In offering comments Members raised the following issues:


  • Members requested that further consideration be given to the species of trees to be planted
  • Further consideration be given to providing a safe cycling route through the site
  • The overall management of the scheme required greater supervision


In summing up the Chair thanked all parties for their attendance and contributions commenting that Members appeared to be generally supportive of the proposal, but there were some areas where further consideration was required.


RESOLVED – That the contents of the report be noted.

Supporting documents: