Better Queensway

SWAN Housing
Civil and Transport Engineer
Urban Infrastructure
Active travel
Low Carbon
South England
Landscape Architects
Won "Excellence in Masterplanning and Urban Design" Category, The Landscape Institute Awards, 2021

Queensway in Southend, which passes through Victoria Station plaza, a significant arrival point for rail passengers, is currently an urban motorway, designed to accommodate fast vehicle movements. It separates the city centre from the train station and the residential areas to the north east.

Pedestrian and cycle permeability across Queensway is poor and the amenity value of this space is non-existent. Previous schemes for Queensway proposed capping over the carriageway, effectively fixing the status of the road as a traffic-focused conduit, with little potential to accommodate changes in the way people move in the future.

Taking inspiration from highly acclaimed schemes, such as Rue De Garibaldi in Lyon, our proposals are to turn Queensway into a tree-lined boulevard, creating space for walking, cycling, parkland and residential development.

Our design of a Better Queensway started by considering a fundamental reallocation of space to better balance movement choices across and along the street, as well as the environmental quality associated with non vehicular uses. By creating new pedestrian and cycle routes and treating Queensway as a street rather than a barrier, the potential for active travel between the city centre and the residential areas to the north and east was considerably increased.

Detailed proposals for the road explored different cross sections and tested these against traffic demands, vehicle speeds, parking provision, public transport movement and amenity value. Proposals for reconfiguring the junctions looked at ways to reduce the dominance of traffic, slowing vehicles and providing safe crossing points.

We provided examples of where similar designs had worked successfully elsewhere and looked at empirical evidence to assess the relevance to the proposed scheme. We produced detailed junction designs, analysed the impact on wider city centre traffic flows, and carried out preliminary junction capacity testing and swept path assessment. As the design progresses, the proposals will feed into a strategic traffic model to test the wider impact of the scheme.

Repurposing the Queensway underpass as a water storage and attenuation facility will significantly improve the flood risk and the bathing water quality to the sea front area and help to bring the system in line with regulatory standards. The storm water attenuation tank within the infilled underpass would reduce the rate at which surface water run-off can flow into the Anglian Water surface water trunk sewer. This has the potential to reduce surface water surcharging and flooding further down the system at the sea front while potentially reducing the frequency of combined sewer overflow contamination incidents at the outfall.

There is an existing residential community in Queensway, however they live in dilapidated 1960’s high rise blocks that offer little by way of ground floor activation or any decent relationship with the public realm. The new neighbourhood is a holistic mix of building scales, tenures and architecture, laid over a carefully consider landscape, encouraging walking and cycling as well as dwell, play and stay.

A key part of the engineering narrative is the phasing and deliverability, diverting traffic, infilling existing underpasses and re-designating spaces. Change on this scale is complicated and technically challenging. Critically the reengineering of the Queensway is what enables the project as a whole, a central plank of the business case viability. The work will be staged in a way that fits with the seasonal access demand for this seaside town. The footprint of part of the existing highway will be decommissioned to enable new high-density housing and walking and cycling routes to come forward. We have prepared an assumed sequence strategy in the form of a risk assessment and method statement.

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