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The proposed site is located at the junction of two main roads. On one side of the site there is main Edge Lane (A5047) road, which is a major distributor road, connected to M62 motorway giving easy access to Liverpool City Centre. And on the East side, there is Rathbone road. The Southern boundary of the site is restricted by Liverpool to West Coast Main railway line.
As explained in 'Development Framework', team Perry in conjunction with Liverpool city council and a private body 'Liverpool Vision', formed a design charrette. As per client's approach to site considering its importance as a 'Eastern gateway' to the region of Liverpool, and council's vision to develop this site as a major link to 'North West Region' due to its geographical importance, team Perry have prepared the development scheme for this area. There will be a mix-land use, like social housing, affordable housing, retail, offices etc considering the sustainability aspects in this development. Creation of Car-free environment and provision of more green spaces will be the main aim of urban design for this scheme. These proposed features in the development will help in encouraging the sustainable patterns.
While preparing the road network of this new development scheme, one thing has kept in mind that the access to each land use will be given as per its purpose, like for retail plots major approach roads from the main highways and proposed new link road are required. Because there will be a immense need of good access for heavy transport vehicles to retail plots. Loading and unloading facilities will be provided in architectural detailed drawings, inside of the plot.
Considering the requirements for the retail development from client, there will be provision of large retail units, with a landmark structure with small retail amenities, sports and community complex, cafeteria, bar lounge, car free environment, and greener community space. Pedestrian dominated circulation within the site was preferred by client. Eventually the master plan road network was worked so as to get a direct road access from all sides of the plot. This will make the plots easily accessible.
Ø Strengths -
The location o the site is very good. It is located on the junction of Edge lane road, and Rathbone road, which gives access to Liverpool and Manchester. Existing residential area (Image 1) and surrounding office and technology park area (Image 2) will give a big customer support to the retail development. There is a good transportation facility like existing railway station and the nearby bus stops, are available on the periphery of the site.
The existing urban design quality of the site is poor, in terms of internal road network & permeability. Also site lacks in sense of place and identity. It is observed that overall site has limited provision for pedestrians. Many internal roads like Binns road obstructing vehicular access due to provision of Bollards, to the proposed retail development plots.
Ø Opportunities -
Proposed new link road on south-west side of the site, and the 'Mersey tram' transportation system will enhance the accessibility of the site. There is no other major retail district centre in the surrounding area of site. It will encourage retail investors to increase the economic stability of the proposed development. Proposed retail development will create the employment and shopping opportunities for the surrounding population.
Ø Threats -
The current 'valuation office agency report' on housing says that the property market in Liverpool has remained static for a long period of time. So it may affect the economic viability of retail development if the residential units are not sold. Due to the proposed development the existing green space on the North-east corner of the site will be demolished.
While working on actual design proposal, three options for the retail development plots were prepared. Out of which client decided one option which fitted within its constraints and requirements. Here is the illustration and comparison between all three urban design proposals for retail development.
Â· Option 1 has vehicular connection from the heart of each plot, connecting front and rare side of each plot. This option has a great accessibility feature. Considering large profit for the private developer (Client) only large retail land use has provided in this option with inward looking parking. It reduces the walking distance but this option does not fulfill car free development, pedestrian priority development patterns of sustainable development. Also most of the space is eaten by car parking reduces chances of providing internal community open space. So cannot be called as better urban design proposal.
Â· Option 2 is designed as to overcome unsatisfying characters in option 1. Reducing number of large retail buildings, feature of mixed land use is enhanced. Considering a feature of priority to pedestrians, there is a provision of separate entry and exit for pedestrians and vehicles. Also green space around the periphery of both the plots, acts as visual and sound buffer. Provision of public square area tries to achieve better pedestrian circulation and community enhancement. But it fails to provide a car free environment by allowing vehicles to enter within the pedestrian area. Also there is no provision of internal community open space. This option is having some sustainable patterns but necessity of revised option arises eventually.
Â· Option 3 is a modified version of option 2. Good features of this option are this option is having vehicular and pedestrian area do not interfere each other. Restricted vehicular circulation enhances low car dependency element of sustainable patterns. Option is having separate vehicular and pedestrian entry. This option also has green space along the periphery of each plot, creating visual and sound buffer. Also provision of internal community open space makes positive effect on the micro climate of the surroundings. The requirement of car free development is achieved in this option. More mixed land use and provision of sports complex, gym, and cafeteria like local required amenities will be helpful for catering required amenities to surrounding people.
Above illustrations, comparisons and matrix indicate that option 3 is well suitable urban design proposal for development of retails plots. As this option is derived from earlier two options and has proven itself satisfying to client, this scheme will be used as a final design scheme for retail plots in proposed urban redevelopment at WRDA.