East Lothian Council and the Fa’side Area Partnership commissioned Kevin Murray Associates to lead a town centre charrette in Tranent, working alongside Willie Miller Urban Design, Peter Brett Associates and icecream architecture.
The charrette was held over three days from 26 – 28 March in The Fraser Centre and in Ross High in Tranent. The Fraser Centre was an excellent venue to launch the charrette, being an old cinema building going through the process of securing funding for redevelopment as a community facing facility. Participants ranged from the Recharge youth group to community representatives and East Lothian officers. Through a sitewalk, groups discussion and scenarios, they worked to identify the following eight goals for Tranent town centre: (1) Build on the town’s special qualities, (2) Celebrate the heritage by telling the story, (3) Strengthen links to surrounding areas, (4) Improve the areas and paths behind the High Street, (5) Create community gathering spaces, (6) Slower and safer streets, (7) Diversify the businesses, clubs, culture and events on offer and (8) take advantage of the vacant opportunity sites.
The design team worked up options based on these workshop sessions to facilitate positive change and promote new ways of using the town centre. A key area of focus was Civic Square, which is currently an under-utilised central space in the town, with vacant outmoded buildings to one side. Redevelopment of these buildings could serve to re-animate the space, particularly with an active ground floor use. The key debate was around whether or not to use part of the square as a route for a link-road, to create a one-way circulatory system in the town or not.
To the north and south of High Street it was recognised that there were good community-facing assets that could all benefit from better connections to core of the town centre, catalysing the overall use of the centre.
The charrette event was supplemented with a follow-up exhibition and presentation on 30 April. The team had used the interim period to further develop the ideas from the charrette, and consider the implications of different options for Civic Square and approaches to the High Street. There was also further development of the ideas linking the areas to the north and south of High Street, in particular re-forming the lanes, known locally as The Backsides, as safe and attractive routes connecting facilities and public parking with High Street.
We would like to thank all who participated in the pre-charrette activities, the charrette events and also the follow-up and online through Twitter and Facebook. Participation is essential to collaboratively planning and designing good places, and to securing finding and policy support for the different projects.
The final report will be available for the Scottish Government and Council sites in due course.