Client: Blackpool Council
Type of works: ACO KerbDrain® and ACO RoadDrain® surface water channels specified for award-winning shared space urban regeneration project
ACO Technologies drainage systems have played a vital roll in Blackpool Councils regeneration of Layton District Centre, this years winner of the Urban Traffic Scheme of the Year Award. Not only could this pioneering scheme now form the blueprint for other similar areas across the country, it has also played a key role in the development of a new generation of aesthetically harmonised drainage products. Robert Sutcliffe, Senior Engineer at Blackpool Council explains.
Two miles east of Blackpool, Layton District Centre was a shopping area split in two by the towns main dual carriageway link with the M55. Appearing drab, cluttered and run-down, the area did not reflect the character of the local community and, as a commercial centre, its long-term sustainability was threatened by the high speed of through traffic and the unwelcoming and intrusive use of safety barriers and railings.
The decision was made to re-design the area as a shared space - a concept pioneered in the Netherlands in the 1970s and now used across mainland Europe to create safe and attractive mixed-use zones.
Shared spaces aim to strike a balance between vehicular traffic and all other users. They work through the physical alteration of the streets and roads in the targeted area. By blending the pedestrian environment into the carriageway, motorists awareness of other users is heightened, forcing them to drive with greater care and at lower speeds.
Within the finished scheme the road has been reduced to a single 20mph carriageway in each direction with the reclaimed space used for parking. All the traditional pedestrian crossings have been removed and replaced with raised continuations of the refurbished footways. These extend across the carriageway acting as speed humps - and are clearly demarked using Harvest Buff coloured block paviours and driveway mix.
The central reservation has been turned into a pedestrian island, lowered to carriageway level and finished to match the footways. All the barriers have been removed and replaced with lighting, benches and trees laid out to encourage interaction between road users.
The use of contrasting yet complimentary colours across all the materials was critical for the zone to achieve its bright and attractive appearance. Here the drainage system finish played a key role.
The scheme designers had selected ACO Technologies surface water channel products, ACO KerbDrain® and ACO RoadDrain® to lie on the demarked boundaries between the pedestrian walkways and the vehicle carriageways close to a 1000m of product in total. The traditional resin concrete colour and smooth finish of the standard products, however, did not sit in harmony with the colour and texture palette for the zone.
Working closely with Blackpools engineers, ACOs production team devised a new method of tailoring the finish of the material to precisely match the designers colour requirements. Introduced to the resin concrete base mix prior to moulding, the formulated colour additives do not impair the long-term stability of the material or the in-situ performance of the finished product.
To blend with the surface textures of the surrounding materials, each section of KerbDrain® and RoadDrain® was subjected to a series of new surface treatment and conditioning processes that expose the aggregate beneath surface to the desired degree.
The ACO team also devised a new method of cutting and bonding both straight and quadrant (90°) KerbDrain® stones. This was used to create the precise 135° angle sections required for the pedestrian island perimeter and the parking zones. These were all manufactured at ACOs production facilities to ensure a uniform, complimentary finish with all the other units and to improve the speed of installation on site.
Through these production innovations it is conceivable that ACO could now manufacture its range of resin concrete systems to any
aesthetic specification and to any boundary shape or configuration. This will help traffic scheme designers around the country introduce bespoke shared spaces in centres suffering similar problems to Layton, creating attractive, vibrant and safe areas in which the road users and the environment are totally integrated.