Kevin Murray Associates led a team alongside Willie Miller Urban Design and Urban Movement on the North Berwick Town Centre Charrette. The North Berwick Coastal Area Partnership, supported by East Lothian Council and the Scottish Government Charrette Mainstreaming Programme, commissioned the charrette with a particular focus on accessibility in the town centre.
In advance of the charrette, extensive community engagement took place with schools in North Berwick and surrounding towns, with North Berwick Day Centre, North Berwick Youth Project and local golf clubs; there was also on-street engagement and a pre-charrette survey that was distributed to over 7,500 addresses. There were also site familiarisation visits arranged through the On the Move sub-group of the Area Partnership, and with Council Officers from Planning and Roads.
The charrette was launched on Tuesday 30 May 2017 at the North Berwick Community Centre, followed by intensive design workshops held over three days from Thursday 1 June to Saturday 3 June 2017 across various venues around North Berwick’s Town Centre.
Beginning with a site visit using the Place Standard evaluation tool, the charrette progressed through a series of workshops exploring issues, potential solutions, testing and prioritising before a final community presentation on the Saturday afternoon. This final afternoon session at the St Andrew Blackadder Church Hall comprised an exhibition and closing presentation to a full house.
The charrette was enthusiastically attended with a very good spread of groups represented across all the sessions. Participants ranged from various community group representatives, to individual residents, school pupils, young families, retired and semi-retired, shop-keepers and small business owners, as well as East Lothian officers and councillors. Cumulatively there were over 300 involved, not counting all those who contributed to the pre-charrette work.
From the site walks, groups discussion and workshops, some 44 projects were identified. A good number of these focussed on the central part of the town where there are serious equality of access issues, with incredibly narrow pavements. The full suite of projects has been brought together under the following four Action Plan Themes; (1) Street and public realm improvements, (2) Traffic and parking, (3) Character, quality & amenities, (4) Sustainable travel & accessibility.
The leading three priorities identified through the charrette process were:
1. Improving walking and access as the east end of High Street – making major people-focused improvements to walking and access conditions along this narrow section of the street.
2. Providing a better parking strategy – to increase effectiveness and turnover, enabling other projects and contributing to a people-focused town centre.
3. Improvements for people movement – a programme of individual projects that combine to create a much-improved, high quality place giving more space for people and activities.
A community hand-over presentation was organised as part of the Area Partnership’s AGM on the 19 September, to update the community on the outcomes of the charrette. The community, most of whom had participated, generally supported the outcomes of the charrette and now looked forward to taking the various projects forward.
We would like to thank all who participated in the pre-charrette activities, the charrette events and the follow-up, including online through Twitter and Facebook. Participation is essential to the collaborative planning and design of successful places, and also of course to securing funding and policy support for the various constituent projects.