News Update On Wick Map - Streets For All
7th September 2020
Frequently asked questions
Posted on Sep 7th 2020 by Tremaine Bilham, Community Engagement Officer, Wick Street Design
Thank you to all those who have contributed to this consultation so far. We've had an incredible response already (over 90 comments in just two weeks) and many of you had questions. Unfortunately, we aren't able to respond to every comment; however, we have compiled a list of your most frequently asked questions and answered them below.
Who will maintain all the greenery and keep parklets free of litter and dog mess?
Through a range of engagement activities, we found that adding greenery to the area was one of the most popular improvements the community said they wanted to see. The planting recommendations we've included in the palettes are designed to be low maintenance. While upkeep of these features is the responsibility of the council, keeping the town free of litter and dog mess is the responsibility of every resident and visitor. We also recognise the work of volunteers, as do many people in Wick, which was evident in the number of comments we received in October last year praising volunteers for their work in maintaining paths and planters. Across Scotland there are many examples of local communities and businesses working together with the council to ensure their High Street is clean and looked after. As this is a project delivered in collaboration with the community we will recommend that in the next stages of the project the council, together with other local groups, agrees the best mechanism for the maintenance.
How will the pipe band shows and other community events take place in the Square with all the trees, benches and parklets?
We aim to create a flexible, multi-use public space in the Market Square by providing space for a range of events and activities with options for fixings for removable furniture, a temporary canopy, and the Christmas tree. Therefore a limited number of street furniture and trees have been added to the Market Square to keep it open for larger events and festivals.
Won't the trees damage the flagstones/paving and drainage/block sunlight?
When tree selection and planting is carefully designed, many of the problems associated with trees in town centres and urban areas can be reduced or eliminated. In the detailed design stages, the design should reflect the installation of trees into what are called ‘tree pits', which when designed well ensure that tree roots are guided to grow away from underground services and can also include root barriers to prevent roots from breaking up the paving. Tree pits can also include elements of SUDs (Sustainable Urban Drainage) which further help with the drainage in an area. Careful tree species selection, for example selecting small-sized trees with a more open canopy of leaves, help to keep an area feeling bright.
How will HGVs with abnormal loads (e.g. those going to Subsea 7) navigate the junction if the pavements are widened and corner radii tightened?
Due to the complexity of the junction, proposals for the junction are recommendations at this stage, and will not be developed to the same degree as the rest of the concept design at this time. The recommendations for the junction have been proposed to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the junction and access the High Street, and to provide more space on the narrow footways on Bridge Street. Initial vehicle tracking was conducted to determine the amount of space required for larger vehicles, and as a result some proposed changes to the junction were eliminated as they would cause challenges for these vehicles. The tracking showed that widening footways is feasible, but requires further work by the council in the next stage of the project to determine the exact positions of the crossings and footway widening. In the recommendations for the junction, the corner radii on the kerbs remain the same, however markings on the road are shown to create a visual tightening of the radii with the aim of slowing traffic while still allowing larger vehicles to pass through. Further analysis, tracking and modelling needs to be carried out before these recommendations can progress to a concept design and, eventually, a detailed design.
Why are there no recommendations for shopfronts/private buildings?
The appearance of buildings (used and disused) and the effect on the feel of the street was frequently mentioned and it is an important factor for improving the High Street. However, the appearance of buildings is outwith what we can address as part of the Street Design project. We've collated these comments and passed them on to local councillors who will pick these up as part of the wider town centre regeneration project. So far, Wick and East Caithness Councillors have worked towards the acquisition, demolition and replacement of two derelict buildings mentioned in many of these comments. Councillor Nicola Sinclair will provide an update on the Town Centre Regeneration at our webinar on 9 September and will be on hand to answer your questions. Register to attend here:
An attractive design isn't enough to draw people in. What will they do once they get there?
Lack of amenities/things to do and the use of empty buildings was the most popular theme expressed by the community in the Discover Stage of this project, and while there are parts of the proposal which seek to address this within the public realm area, it is largely beyond the scope of the Wick Street Design project. The proposals for the High Street aim to create a flexible, multi-use public space, which enables different activities to take place. This can include market stalls, more public events, and art and heritage trails. Through our heritage workshops in the Develop Stage of the project back in January, we facilitated the initiation of the Wick Heritage Trail project led by Wick Paths, Step Forward Wick Youth and Wick Society, which involves the development of a heritage walking trail that passes through the town centre, including the pedestrian precinct.
All data relating to the theme of amenities/activities was shared with Wick Community Council to contribute to the feasibility study regarding the use of the former Woolworths/Old Factory Shop building. Some ideas for making use of derelict buildings as amenities for the community included displaying the Johnstone Collection and having rotating exhibitions of local art. All of this information and any further comments will be passed on to local councillors to be addressed as part of the wider, ongoing Town Centre Regeneration project.
Caithness flagstone is part of our heritage. Why is the Caithness flagstone paving being removed?
Caithness flagstone is indeed a key heritage element and has been celebrated in the design through the retention and artistic embellishment of the pillars as gateway features at either end of the pedestrian precinct, and in some parts of Market Square and the linear areas. In the early engagement with the community, the flagstone paving was raised as a slipping hazard in wet weather, especially in areas where moss has grown. Maintenance of this paving has also been cited as an issue, whereby flagstones become unstable and loose, and broken flagstone is often replaced with tarmac, creating an uneven walking/wheeling surface. The draft concept design suggests replacing this surface with paving that is more easily maintained and provides a safer, more accessible surface for walking and wheeling.
Bridge Street, the non-pedestrianised part of High Street, lanes to car parks and links to the river are more in need of a redesign - why aren't these areas included in the design?
The Wick Street Design project is focused on improving the pedestrianized zone of the High Street including Market Square, and the two signalised pedestrian crossings on Bridge Street. These areas were in the initial application to Street Design in 2019 submitted to Sustrans Scotland by The Highland Council and Wick Community Council. The funding must be spent working on these areas.
Bridge Street between the junction and the bridge was also open for comments in order to understand the wider context for people accessing the High Street by foot, wheelchair or bike. This resulted in providing recommendations for the Bridge St and High Street junction, and the lanes, which need to be developed further. All comments collected for the area outside the project have been passed to local councillors.
In addition to the Street Design project, The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) is working to develop an active travel masterplan for Wick. This masterplan will detail a range of improvements that need to be made to provide safe and pleasant walking and cycling routes across the town, and outline a set of actions that will be taken forward by HITRANS, Highland Council and other partners.
Visit their website to have your say: https://wickactivetravelmasterplan.commonplace.is/
Why aren't the visualisations are a truer reflection of Wick?
The visualisations aim to communicate how the designs can change the way the High Street is used and feels, including at different times of day and different seasons, however, they are merely impressions. Buildings in the visualisations have been kept white to emphasise the changes being proposed by the concept design. A range of design features, including heritage elements, have been shown as examples in the palettes and we would appreciate your input on what types of elements would be more appropriate, and more accurately reflect Wick's identity, linking it to the Victorian aesthetic of Pulteneytown and the Harbour.
How is the project being funded? Could this money be spent on something else?
Sustrans Scotland's Street Design programme is funded by the Scottish Government. The funding is used to support staff and related project costs to develop ambitious concept designs and site specific behaviour change measures directly with communities across Scotland. For the Wick Street Design Project the total cost is circa £150,000. Highland Council is matching Sustrans non-staff costs through identifying and committing equivalent spends in staffing commitments and reciprocal services to deliver the project.
Funding for this project could not be spent on any other type of work, nor any other area.
Once complete, Highland Council will be encouraged to apply to Sustrans’ Places for Everyone fund for detailed design (100% funded) and construction and delivery (30% match funded) for the creation of walking and cycling infrastructure for everyday journeys.
How do cars / lorries get past the bollards at shore lane end?
The purpose of the bollards in the High Street are to ensure that only emergency, delivery, maintenance and blue badge vehicles can access the pedestrianised High Street during the day, allowing the High Street to be a more warm, welcoming, and active place for people to spend time in and access local facilities. The automatic bollard system has been used successfully in Inverness to manage their pedestrian zone, and the replication of the same system in Wick is recommended.
The bollards will have controlled and uncontrolled periods, depending on the time of day. During controlled periods, the bollards will only lower for registered vehicles, while during uncontrolled periods, the bollards will lower for any vehicle which approaches. In Inverness, the controlled period is on weekdays between 11 am - 3pm, and on Saturday 10am - 5pm, and for Wick High Street, the controlled period will be agreed in the detail design stage.
During the controlled period, a registered vehicle which approaches the bollards is recognised either manually by a Council Operative in a control room through intercom and CCTV, or alternatively through an automated Number Plate Recognition technology. Once the vehicle is recognised as registered or permitted, the bollards drop to allow entry.
During the uncontrolled period when all vehicles are allowed to enter the pedestrian zone, the bollards will lower once any vehicle approaches them, without further process.
If you are new to the project read all about it HERE