Strategic Landscape and Townscape Interventions in East Cramlington // Cramlington, Northumberland, UK // 2015
East Cramlington: Translating Vision into RealityAfter approval of the Cramlington Landscape Framework in September 2014, Kapok and Robinson Landscape Design have been commissioned to investigate East and South East Cramlington as priority areas for improvement through a series of concrete proposals to be implemented between 2015 and 2018.
East Cramlington lies between Cramlington Village in the West and the A189 at the eastern edge of town. The housing estates of the district are situated around a central spine created by Village Road running from Cramlington Village East to the edge of town, and Front Street with runs perpendicular to this parallel to the A189. They are characterised by detached and semi-detached houses and bungalows with generous interstitial green spaces which, as in much of the rest of Cramlington, are largely without character and underused.
To the South-East of the district is the site of the new Hospital on the East side of the A-road lies the site of the new Hospital. This new situation for the neighbourhood, between the Town Centre and the hospital represents a new potential significance for the district.
The Framework applied to East CramlingtonThe overarching tools as formulated in the Framework, such as “Rus in Urbe” , “Turning Roads into Streets”, “Focal Points of Orientation and Encounter” and “The Appropriated Townscape” underpin the suite of proposed interventions.
The emphasis has been on improving streets and spaces around shops, houses and businesses along the main arterial routes through the area to create a link between the town centre and the new hospital as well as a series of convivial public spaces.
The focus on Village Road and Front Street is complemented by an improved and augmented cycleway network, as well as a series of Pocket Parks throughout the housing districts.
It is proposed that the improvements identified here will be progressed during the next few years to coincide with the opening of the new hospital, which will result in a significant increase in the number of visitors passing through East Cramlington.
A Network of InterventionsWe have identified locations for community buildings such as sheltered accommodation, affordable housing and drop-in centres along the main circulation artery of Village road and Front Street, as well as landscape and townscape improvements which create distinctive spaces contributing to orientation and neighbourhood identity and encourage their everyday use and appropriation.
Six focal points for the proposed interventions have been identified:
1. Needle Point - Northumberland Road / Village Road
2. The Boulevard & the Crescent - Village Road
3. Burton House Corner - Village Road / Front Street
4. The Mayfield Angle - Front Street / Clifton Road
5. The Promenade - Front Street South
6. Dolly Heap Park - Clifton Road / Percy Street
1. Needle Point - Northumberland Road / Village RoadWe propose a vertical artwork, “The Needle”, at the small roundabout at the junction of Village Road and Northumberland Road, as an orientation point and entrance marker for the district. On the extensive grassland around the junction community buildings could to be introduced, lending the junction a more urban character, such as affordable housing on the southern side of Northumberland Road and a school annexe and a community building on the northern side of Northumberland Road.
The houses on Cornhill Road, Cambo Drive and Chipchase Avenue enclose a large space that could become and enclosed community garden for residents with the proposed housing terrace and improved by additional hedge and shrub planting.
A cycleway is proposed on both sides of Village Road as part of a general expansion of the town’s cycle infrastructure and integration with the road network. The generous green space along the road corridor is structured with extensions to the existing hedgerows, a boulevard of trees and the introduction of areas of wildflower seeding.
2. The Boulevard & the Crescent - Village RoadA row of affordable housing with a central community facility (for example a nursery), “The Crescent” is proposed along the curve of Cambo Road to create a new front to Village Road.
Relocated Bus-stops with shelters together with landscape treatment complement the building to create an urban focal point along the road. Bus stops with new shelters are to be
Key road crossing points are identified and marked by raised tables in differentiating surface materials to slow down traffic, introduce a rhythm to the street and facilitate ease of crossing between the northern and southern areas of the neighbourhood.
3. Burton House Corner - Village Road / Front StreetAt the eastern end of Village Road is the junction with Front Street. The large green area on the northern side of the road is another location for a community building such as sheltered accommodation, with the possibility of shops on the ground floor to the junction. Both these facilities would help to support Front Street as a local shopping hub and create an enclosed space to the North, protected from the street as the site for a community garden shared between the residents of the proposed housing and those of the adjacent cottages.
The area immediately north of the Burton House pub and adjacent shops is to become a striking a better balance between its use as an access and car park area, its position at the end of Village Road and its role as an entrance foyer to the local facilities.
A continuous cycle way along the length of Front Street would allow the carriageway to be narrowed to create a more appropriate street profile and facilitate connections between both sides of the street. Planting along the street protects pavements from improper parking and create a more convivial public realm for pedestrians using the shops.
4. The Mayfield Angle - Front Street / Clifton RoadThe junction of Front Street and Clifton Road and it is to be celebrated by a 2-dimensional public artwork on edge of the small public space to its northern side. This work will create a backdrop for the landscape treatment of the space itself.
A refurbished car park and service access area is proposed with entrance and egress moved from Barrasford Road to Clifton Road to encourage its use by visitors to the adjacent shops and create the context for reduction of parking spaces on the street itself. The boundary to this area is to be reinforced by hedge and tree planting.
The public realm in front of the shops is to be improved with planting and seating to encourage its everyday appropriation, and at the same time limit the presently excessive on-street parking.
5. The Promenade - Front Street SouthFront Street South is another important local shopping hub requiring a major improvement in its public realm. We propose restructuring the balance of hard and green areas to create a generous pedestrian area in front of the retail units and a strong green edge with trees along the road. A two-lane cycleway is proposed along the green edge, connecting to the new hospital site and South East Cramlington, as well as linking in to the existing cycle network to the West.
The route under the A189 viaduct is the proposed location of for a major light artwork, linking the two sides and introducing the town to visitors from the West or the hospital.
6. Dolly Heap Park - Clifton Road / Percy StreetThe Dolly Heap, a former slag heap from the former local mining industry, is one of the significant topographic features in the town. It is currently a characterless, unused area of municipal grassland, but, because of its historical importance and characteristic form, an important local feature. We propose developing the area into a small local park with an emphasis on sport and physical activity and making use of its form and central depression to create a natural amphitheatre.
New pathways through the site and topographic adjustments respond to natural desire lines to open up and subdivide the space, creating places of encounter.
A Multi-Use Game Area acts as an anchor in the centre. Together with other sports equipment situated in the round central area this is overlooked by seating elements integrated naturally into the topography. The surrounding housing areas are shielded from the noise of the activities by the topography.
Along the southern boundary there is a confluence of different paths for pedestrians and cyclists where we propose a new hard public space for the locality.