London Road is a historic gateway to Southampton city centre for traffic arriving from the north. The section covered by the scheme is around 450m long. It is home to around 80 businesses, mostly retail. It also has a developing café society and night-time economy, and is considered ‘on the up’ after years of decline.
Before the scheme, it was also a road safety hotspot, with 31 personal injury collisions recorded from 2002-2004, particularly affecting vulnerable road users. The degraded streetscape reinforced anti-social driver behaviour, and marginalised pedestrian movement along and across the street.
Southampton City Council’s design team built on recent experience from European countries of ‘shared space’ approaches to street design. They placed a strong emphasis on innovative traffic management to reduce speed and improve walkability:
- carriageways were narrowed
- kerb heights were lowered
- the centre line and other superfluous road markings were removed.
Horizontal deflection was used to visually break the street into two sections, disrupting the traditional linearity. Parking was reorganised into discrete areas of echelon - angled - parking. Vehicles manoeuvring into and out of spaces increase ‘friction’ and help calm traffic speeds.
A banned right turn at the junction with Brunswick Place – at the southern end of the scheme – has encouraged through traffic heading south towards the city centre to use the A33. This has led to reduced traffic volumes on London Road.
Footways were widened - significantly in places - to give space for café seating and ‘spill out’ activity. Street furniture and signs were rearranged into a furniture zone so that pedestrian movement was not obstructed. Carriageway and footway lighting were combined to reduce the number of columns.
Informal pedestrian crossing points were implemented in three locations, using a change in materials and layout - but no traffic management signs or measures. Flush kerbs and granite sett paving were used on the carriageway to indicate the crossing.
Bus stop improvements like raised kerbs, new bus shelters and better information have significantly improved the public transport user experience. Bespoke Southampton wayfinding signs were piloted in London Road, and are due to be rolled out across Southampton.
Bespoke seating was designed by a local artist, focusing on the history of London Road. Two large seats replicate the shape of the main rose window of St Paul’s church, which formerly stood in London Road.