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Naked roads project hits Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 01:30 10 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

DESIGNS for a radical revamp of three Ipswich roads have been presented to some of Europe's leading experts on the concept of "naked roads".

Months of preparation and consultation with residents have culminated in the plans for a major overhaul of Handford Road, Alderman Road and Cullingham Road.

DESIGNS for a radical revamp of three Ipswich roads have been presented to some of Europe's leading experts on the concept of "naked roads".

Months of preparation and consultation with residents have culminated in the plans for a major overhaul of Handford Road, Alderman Road and Cullingham Road.

At a conference in Ipswich this week , experts from five European countries considered the plans to return control of the roads to residents and pedestrians.

The £480,000 Ipswich Village Shared Space project, which is being led by Suffolk County Council, aims to slow traffic and increase safety for pedestrians and residents without using traditional methods like speed humps, traffic islands and pedestrian crossings.

It is the first of its kind in Suffolk and is one of only seven pilot projects to receive European Union funding.

It could see footpaths widened and road markings removed, extra lighting installed and public artwork erected at major intersections.

The work has drawn on 20 years of experience from The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Denmark and has led to much of the conventional wisdom on traffic management being discarded.

It aims to make drivers less certain about their surroundings by removing the clutter of road signs, railings and traffic signals. If they are affective "naked roads" force drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to look out for themselves and each other.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie , a member of the expert team leading the Ipswich project, said: "The signs, the road markings, the curbs and the railings all divorce the driver from having to think."

In Cullingham Road and Alderman Road the expert team leading the project has battled to transform dark spaces dominated by parked cars and overhead telephone lines while in Handford Road it faced the task of taking control back from the 15,000 cars which use it everyday.

Stephen Flynn, the lead consultant for the project, said: "People long ago retreated behind their front doors and left the street to the cars. What we're doing is fairly provocative in parts, for example taking out car parking and putting in trees."

In Alderman Road the team has worked with artist Irene Rogan to develop ways of making residents feel safer about being outside at night.

Ms Rogan said: "I'd heard all the stories through the consultation with the residents of the self-imposed curfew in the streets.

"I discovered it was extremely dark. None of the residents were out, it was a self-imposed curfew."

Public art featuring dramatic lighting has been designed to brighten the dark corners and make people feel better about their street.

The Shared Space project in the seven pilot cities is due to be completed by 2008.

N Do you think the measures will work? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


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