Lively Cities project

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Between late 2011 and early 2016, Brighton & Hove City Council worked with local communities, urban design professionals and INTERREG IVB Lively Cities partners to transform the area around Ann Street and Providence Place Gardens (the small park opposite St Bartholomew’s Church) into a lively, safe and successful public space.

Construction work was completed in 2015 and the testing phase of the shared space element of the scheme finalised in early 2016. Rising costs meant that the works on the upper part of Ann Street will not be completed under the current funding scheme.

The delivery of this project relied on an innovative placemaking approach that involved a competition for ideas, temporary onsite testing of the Common Room idea developed by Plan Projects and Luis Trevino Architects and site assessments and surveys carried out by volunteers.

Time lapse videos of transformation of the area are available to view from the project's Facebook page

Consultation and the 'Common Room' pilot study

In October 2012 the area was radically transformed for two weeks by a series of physical and other changes into the ‘Common Room’, an outside ‘room’ for the use and enjoyment of all. This two-week pilot study was closely monitored and analysed so we could assess how the area should be improved on a permanent basis.

Following assessment of the Common Room experiment (PDF 2.66MB) and the obtaining of additional funding from a variety of sources, the council’s Transport Committee agreed on 30 April 2013 that plans would be drawn up for a permanent transformation.

In October and November 2013 the council consulted on proposed long-term improvements to this area. The consultation ended on 24 November 2013 and the results were reported to the meeting of the council's Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee on 14 January 2014, where the committee approved the plans for a permanent scheme in the area. Detailed plans have been produced for the necessary construction work. The location of new replacement on-street parking spaces have been agreed in the neighbourhood for those being displaced by the project and these will be in place before construction works commences in July 2014.

Local people are being kept updated of progress with The Common Room (PDF 152KB) a newsletter for residents, businesses and anyone else who may be interested in the project.

More about the Common Room pilot study

Between Monday 1 and Sunday 14 October 2012, the area was temporarily transformed into the 'Common Room' - the winning proposal of a competition for an innovative pilot scheme that could be tested over a two week period. The Common Room provided a fairly radical transformation which – along with community engagement - included the following changes:

Physical and environmental changes

  • Removal of street parking on Providence Place and bottom end of Ann Street.
  • Removal of all park railings and construction of wooden terraced steps providing both informal seating and a direct physical link to the park down the length of Providence Place.
  • Fixed and movable seating within the park.
  • Games equipment in the park.
  • A stage area on the south eastern corner of Providence Place Gardens, within view of the park and the terraced steps, to allow for impromptu performances.
  • Lighting of the park trees after dark.
  • Closure of the bottom end of Ann Street to traffic and provision of artificial grass, picnic tables and fixed seating to create a ‘pocket’ public square
  • A ban on heavy goods vehicles from entering Ann Street or Providence Place

Street Art commission

  • Creation of an art wall on the east side of the park with work commissioned in partnership with local art organisations.

Digital infrastructure

  • ‘Big capacity’ free Wi-Fi service allowing multiple users of devices to operate digital devices in the project area.

We would like to thank everyone who visited the space, those that provided us with feedback on the transformation – and particular thanks to our team of volunteer fieldworkers who collected a wide range of data during the two weeks.  This information has been invaluable in informing our assessment of the two week pilot and in gauging the varying levels of success of the various components that made up ‘The Common Room’.  This information will help us to determining the details of a permanent transformation of the area.

Further background information on the project

The report and other documents containing the findings of ‘The Common Room’ work is available to view via the following links.

The work is part of the EU INTERREG IVB assisted ‘Lively Cities’ (LICI) project- a four year project aiming to strengthen communities by reclaiming public space for public use.

Updates on the project and more information, including time lapse recordings are available on our Lively Cities page on Facebook

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