We’ve delivered a number of successful projects in Southend-on-Sea, working with the Council and local education providers on buildings which combine public and private spaces to inject new life into the town. But the spaces between buildings are just as important, and our landscape team is currently exploring options for the public realm that sits outside the central library.
The site’s key challenge is antisocial behaviour, apparently caused by a lack of activity and its location away from the high street. In order to bring people into the space, we first needed to find out what they’d like to see there. We therefore ran a series of online events, consulting with stakeholders to find out what they thought of the current site, and what they’d like it to become.
These events highlighted a new issue: not all stakeholders were in agreement about what should be done, and several opinions sharply conflicted. Our task became one of resolving these apparent differences to create a space that worked for everyone – from residents to visitors.
Working closely with the Council, we created a hierarchy of needs that took everyone’s priorities into account fairly. This gave us the framework for approaching the project, and for devising a vision that linked the space’s current issues with those of Southend’s high street.
It became clear that the relationship with the high street was key, and we worked up a concept design that proposed something quite radical: by removing some buildings along the high street, we could open up the space to create a connected area at the town’s heart. To ensure this really was the best approach, our landscape and architectural teams worked together to assess the implications for housing and commerce, and to find an option that maximised the possible benefits.
The result is a set of proposals that pushes the boundaries of the brief, and interrogates a site’s purpose and potential in new ways. Our approach has been inspirational, encouraging other landowners and stakeholders nearby to consider new options for improving the area.
“ADP provided Southend-on-Sea Borough Council with an exciting placemaking vision for regenerating the town centre. Their ideas and engagement with the community have provided the Council withy a supported clear route forward.”– Emma Cooney, Southend Borough Council