Whitelaw Turkington's re-working of Ashford town centre
Ashford is one of the UK’s four major growth hubs under the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan. Fundamental to the success of this plan is the need to improve the town centre to create a viable and sustainable place for living and working. Central to this strategy was the need to break through the barrier, created by the ring road, between the town centre and adjacent development areas.
The brief was to reclaim the public realm from vehicular dominated space and deliver a 'unique and distinctive' public realm for Ashford.
The ambition is to extend the town centre, improving connectivity and unlocking development potential, creating a fully integrated network of streets and spaces based on a clear movement hierarchy which re-stitches the town centre to its surroundings.
Inspired by the concept of ‘shared space’ and a more enlightened approach to streetscape design, the transformation of roads in to more civilised public spaces was at the heart of the design.
A series of key principles underpinned this approach; the design should respond to its local context not to slavishly follow highway regulations, to create a legible, logical public realm which gives expression to a hierarchy of routes and spaces. The design creates integrated streets, not roads, and provides an inclusive public realm which promotes use and engenders interaction and respect amongst users. It was also of key importance the design should provide a better balance between all users of the street,
and promote a fully integrated approach to art, the environment and engineering.