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Bromley town centre set for public space transformation

Tue 20 September 2011, 4:23 pm

Bromley's Area Action Plan will produce high quality urban design - striking buildings, bespoke street furniture and stunning pedestrian routes - according to architects working in the borough.

Speaking at a session on urban design held at the Invest Bromley conference, David West, founding partner of the firm Studio Egret West, outlined changes to the town centre's public realm would be focused on creating a pleasant pedestrian environment.

“Bromley's rather special because it sits at cusp of countryside and city; it has a sense of urbanity, wonderful views and place. One of our fundamental aims is to bring that countryside in,” he told the packed audience of investors and key stakeholders.

“As well as good buildings, fantastic public realm is the glue that pulls it all together. One of the incredible things about Bromley are its parks and gardens but if you walk up the high street you can be oblivious to this and one of our crucial objectives  is to pull these in.

“Our role is simply to make those routes more convivial and meeting places higher quality. “

David outlined how Studio Egret West are planning to use Bromley's heritage colour of yellow to create way-finding for the town centre on widened pavements, using colour and detail on buildings, pavements, trees, inset pavement lighting and bespoke street furniture to create a more pleasant pedestrian experience.

Studio Egret West are the appointed designers both for the Bromley North Village public realm and for the Cathedral Group-led development at Bromley South. Speaking at the conference, West said: “It is exciting because both these projects are coming forward and we have a once in a generation opportunity to glue it all together .

He was supported by Richard Upton, CEO of the Cathedral Group, which is developing the Bromley South site with an ambition to incorporate in it the best in urban design.

“In Bromley we have a site with huge potential for change and we have not just created a scheme that stacks up financially but works because it is well-designed, inspiring and place-making,” he told the conference.

“If we want to build places where people want to live, businesses want to invest and where people want to come to spend time with their families,  we know it is important to work with the best urban designers we can find to make people happy by creating plans which are distinctive, unique, and take heritage into account.

“The South End of Bromley High Street needs help; it is not attractive at present for the evening. You do not get a sense of a vibrant entertainment portal so we have huge job to do to change perception.

“We work hard to get under the skin of a place to understand its people and really know what kind of place it is. We want people to fall back in love with their town centre and set the bar high for our creative schemes.

“Good design is rewarded – if we build buildings better, they sell better, our partners are happy, our people are happy, it restores pride,.  Good design not a luxury or a whim, simply good business  for all involved.”

Panel chairman Mark Brearley, head of Design for London, said: “I'm thrilled to be here in Bromley because Bromley is exactly the type of place that 15 years ago might not have had such high aspirations for change – might have seen itself as a nice, average town in England, but today it has that spirit of Londonness, being part of the wonderful powerhouse of growth and doing things well that is London.

“Everywhere in London can change in way that makes change better – people increasingly get the importance of design and doing place-shaping well and that's why it is an exciting moment in Bromley.”

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