Erith - Town Centre Improvements
Local Authority: Bexley
Funding Body: ODPM
Summary: Erith is a small historic estuary town which has lost much of its distinctive character through extensive redevelopment since the 1970s. Erith provides an example where there has been a successful scheme to minimise street clutter, such as the removal of a number of large signs within a conservation area. The scheme also provided improvements to pedestrian circulation and the reduction of traffic speeds. The scheme was funded by the ODPM and all works were completed on site by July 2006. This has always been a dilemma for traffic engineers who are responsible for both providing information to road users and maintaining highway safety, though no signs are required by Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions (TSRGD) 2002 per se. There is increasing realisation of the intrinsic value that a quality uncluttered street environment brings to its surroundings, and designers should start from a position of having no signs, and introduce them only where they have a clear function.
The Erith sign reduction scheme included the following process:
Sign and post inventory gathering
An inventory of existing signs and posts within a defined area of study was taken and the data recorded on a plan to an appropriate scale. Positions for signs and posts were sited on plans, numbered and labelled to match or correspond with their pictures. Sign locations and picture records become vital when examining options for the amalgamation of some signs.
Eliminating unnecessary signs and posts
A group of engineers and highways council officers with local knowledge walked the scheme to decide which signs and posts needed to be removed. At this stage unwanted street bollards and other signs like street names were recommended for removal.
Rationalising of signage
Once unnecessary signage had been removed, there was then a rationalisation of any remaining signs, and those that could be amalgamated into one were combined. Where combined signs met the road safety standards but not the TSRGD legislation 2002, then special dispensation was requested from the Department of Transport. On many occasions, ‘direction’ signs were repeated too often and were combined and located strategically.
Keywords: DESIGN IN CONTEXT