Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is part of the Government’s strategy to keep the lights on in the UK. National Grid is building a high-voltage grid connection for the project, between Bridgwater and Seabank near Avonmouth. In 2009, we were tasked to develop and deliver a consultation strategy to support the Development Consent Order application. We have been retained ever since, taking this major project from planning through to construction. The project is in construction, and we continue to support National Grid and its contractors. Our team also works to protect and enhance National Grid’s reputation to leave a positive legacy for the project.
The number of business premises used for transport, logistics and warehousing in the UK has almost doubled over the past ten years.
As reported by the Financial Times, “COVID-19 has led to a surge in ecommerce and CBRE estimates that an additional 300m sq ft of warehouse space will be needed in Europe by 2025. The UK, already one of the most developed ecommerce markets in the world, will require an extra 60m sq ft of space — equivalent to 14% of existing warehouse space.”
No easy task
Logistics plays a huge role in the UK economy. It is estimated that the sector is worth £55 billion, comprising 5% of GDP and employing more than 1.7m people. With the continued growth in online shopping since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the logistics sector is poised to go from strength to strength.
The infrastructure required to deliver 60m sq ft of space is no easy task. While steps are already being taken to grow warehouse space and, with logistics one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, it’s essential that both central and local government recognise the need for warehousing, according to the UK Warehousing Association.
A bigger seat at the table`
The political landscape over recent years has centred on building houses. But it’s vital that warehousing is supported across all tiers of government and treated as much a priority in planning policy, in the same way that housing and education facilities are often welcomed by local authorities to meet national targets.
While logistics infrastructure won’t ever need to take priority over housing and education, it should have a seat at the planning table. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said new orders for the construction of warehouses were worth £5.6bn in 2021, higher than in any year since 1985.
West Midlands Interchange
A key example of this is the West Midlands Interchange (WMI), being delivered by Logistics Capital Partners (LCP) and Oxford Properties. WMI is A DCO approved development site, with consent to develop a strategic rail freight interchange in the West Midlands and deliver up to 8 million sq ft of Class A Logistics warehousing, in the middle of the so-called logistics “golden triangle”.
The development is centrally located in the UK, northwest of Birmingham in the key West Midlands logistics corridor. It will deliver significant economic benefit to the region by creating 8,500 jobs and a further 8,100 indirect jobs. It is also expected to generate around £430 million of local economic activity and, through the supply chain, more than £900 million of economic activity nationally each year.
Soon to be the largest logistics site in the UK, it will showcase what can be delivered to support the industry and economy.
How do you generate public support for logistics developments?
Achieving widespread public support for logistics and warehousing is not easy. Local residents and community groups need to be engaged with at the earliest opportunity when it comes to building new infrastructure.
The visual impact on the landscape is always going to be a key factor when considering support for a development, particularly one that includes significant warehouse space and an entirely new road network to support vehicle movements.
Developments such as WMI are working to deliver multimodal access to support net zero targets, and have engaged with local councillors and community groups. Considering environmental and local impacts, aesthetics and access is intrinsic to success.
So what steps can you take?
- Early engagement: Talk to local communities, prior to planning application submission
- Community input: Allowing local communities some autonomy and input into design features such as community parks or local area improvements
- Tell the story: Ensure you tell a clear story about the project – its benefits to the local economy, employment opportunity, net zero aims, traffic management and how you will minimise construction disruption
In conclusion, while large scale infrastructure developments will never be universally popular, they are essential to the backbone of our economy. Inadequate infrastructure negatively impacts the UK and will reduce the efficiency of the logistics sector.
It is vital that infrastructure is in place to support new warehousing and logistics facilities to meet post-COVID demand. Managing public support is a necessity for success in this world and community engagement must be at the forefront of plans.
July sees the start of the Festival of Archaeology. The festival helps over half a million people participate in archaeology, explore stories of place, and connect with the environment around them.
To mark the Festival of Archaeology we sat down with Sam Fieldhouse, Community and Education Manager at Wessex Archaeology, to learn more about Wessex’s work to connect people with project archaeology and the power it has to teach and enhance the experiences of individuals and organisations alike.
Wessex Archaeology is the UK’s leading provider of archaeological and heritage services, and an educational charity. Established for 40 years, Wessex offer a range of services with organisations across sectors, including construction, to deliver practical, sustainable solutions to manage the historic environment. Wessex’s experience and knowledge helps projects engage communities and enhances the value of national historical assets.
What gives heritage its unique value?
It can be quite hard to understand life 3,000 years ago, but daily life was very similar. We all come from the same people, so heritage can give people an empathetic understanding of each other. We are all intrinsically connected to one another, we’re intrinsically connected to the land and heritage connects us to all of these things.
For me it’s about using archaeology as a hook, it can be a stimulus for learning about ourselves, building empathy with people who lived in our world in the past. It’s about understanding how the things have changed and it’s about telling that story to communities. Heritage gives us the opportunity to form a sense of place and to look back at where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
Through heritage we have the opportunity facilitate engagement with the landscape, the archaeological process, and those discoveries. From this we enhance well-being and learning about science, culture and heritage.
What do large construction projects unlock in terms of local history and heritage?
Big infrastructure gives us a unique opportunity to see large amounts of archaeology that we would otherwise not be able to. We work with construction projects to celebrate the archaeology and to give communities the opportunity to engage with it for decades to come.
If it wasn’t for these projects, we may never understand the history of certain communities. We’re able to tell people about their history as the their future is being shaped by new infrastructure.
How can archaeology be brought to life for communities?
It’s our drive to tell stories in a way that different audiences will understand. We look at the barriers people may have when interacting with archaeology in order to improve their understanding and enable them to reflect on the historical significance of a site.
We conducted a dig for a new housing project for soldiers returning from Germany and found that 3,000 years ago settlers from another country came to that site. Fast forward to the present and we’re seeing the same story unfold, so we used it as an opportunity for people to think about their legacy – what will they leave behind that people may one day come across. We won’t always make huge discoveries, but we know any find will be of importance to people. We look at ways to collaborate with organisations that invites local communities and wider audiences to discover the history of a project landscape.
How does archaeology shape community engagement for construction projects?
Archaeological activity can be used as a hook to spark interest and it’s a really good way for contractors to engage with communities, build understanding and advocacy,
We provide the opportunity to enhance public perception of a project, unlocking the potential to go beyond what is set out within the planning stages and get people excited and involved in a positive way.
Working with Wessex, Copper has developed engagement strategies and programmes for construction projects, encouraging people to discover the archaeology and heritage that is all around them – unearthing the journey of sites that make local communities so special.
You can find out more about the Festival of Archaeology on their website
As the first quarter of 2022 comes to an end, we have been reflecting on and celebrating the achievements of Copper’s Construction Practice.
From a recruitment perspective we are delighted to have welcomed several new starters to the Construction Practice, to support a strong start to the year and further growth.
While our Director, Caroline Romback, has been appointed to the board of the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) as a non-executive director, enabling us to further contribute to knowledge and best practice sharing across our client, contractor and consultant audiences, and wider industry.
As part of that knowledge sharing, we’ve delivered a range of thought leadership campaigns. Back in February, our paper: ‘Levelling up: a construction perspective’, was published and unpacked across media/social media. This document helped decipher the contents and reactions to Michael Gove’s Levelling Up White Paper, which sets out how the Government will spread levelling up opportunities more equally across the country and the impact these new policies will have on the construction sector. Our news story analyses the 12 topics incorporated in the paper and how this will impact the future of UK construction.
Also in February, we were proud to highlight talent across the industry as part of National Apprenticeship Week. We drew on the skills of individuals from our clients, featuring some incredible professionals from Transpennine Route Upgrade (East), National Highways, J.P Murphy and Sons, and Eiffage. All those who featured spoke with passion and authority on the benefits of recruiting apprentices.
In March, Copper hosted an industry leaders round table, in partnership with Construction News, focused on how we build back better with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Participating organisations, including HS2, Heathrow, Considerate Constructors Scheme and multiple Tier 1 contractors, shared their insights and best practice from across the sector.
We were also privileged to showcase a diverse range of leading women during Women in Construction Week and International Women’s Day, including features from inspirational women, such as Carolyne Ferguson from Kier Highways, Natalie Penrose from HS2, and our very own Fiona Woolston.
Copper is proud to ‘buck the trend’ with our Construction Practice having such a strong female presence. We’ve long been advocates for inclusivity in the Construction industry and are proud to practice what we preach.
March also saw us confirming our membership of Social Value UK, aligning with our Social Value specialism at Copper and an increasing focus in this area in support of contractors and clients developing early approaches at bid stage, through to on the ground delivery at construction stage.
Our final highlight for March is our response to the Spring Statement Report by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to highlight and explain what the government’s fiscal decisions mean for the UK Construction industry and its impact on our sector in the years to come.
We’re only three months in, but our plans for the rest of the year remain just as ambitious. Our next exciting event is Net Zero: A Material Consideration. This breakfast panel discussion will feature construction product manufacturers, architects, contractors, and consultancies. It will consider some of the ways in which the built environment can address Net Zero carbon and explore the steps the industry is taking to increase the circularity of the construction industry.
We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Social Value Act by asking Social Value industry experts to contribute to a Copper podcast led campaign and insight report. We look forward to sharing the findings with our network.
We’ll also be attending UK Construction Week (London) in May 2022, the UK’s largest built environment event with various shows and stalls, allowing us to engage with our wider construction colleagues.
For more information on our work, or if you’re interested in discussing this article further, please get in touch with our Director, Caroline Romback, at: email@example.com
Hinkley Point C is a nationally significant infrastructure project and a major investment in the region’s electricity network. However there was significant local opposition to the proposals throughout the planning and development stages. This posed a risk to the project if it were to continue into the construction stage. We needed to switch the communications approach from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ and reposition the narrative to concentrate on the project’s benefits.
We worked closely with National Grid’s team to identify and promote positive stories about the project. We used this as the foundation to develop and implement a sustainable programme of project communications to meet the formal requirements of the Development Consent Order.
To minimise the risks of project delays, opposition and criticism we provide clear and timely information to stakeholders about the work in their area too, and quickly respond to any concerns. We devised procedures to inform and update local communities and other stakeholders about construction work and the steps National Grid and its contractors take to reduce local impact. We also put processes in place to monitor the mood of local communities, allowing us to identify and respond rapidly to any emerging issues.
Since construction started, we have communicated with more than 10,000 households. We also maintain and regular update a project website, making it the ‘go to’ place for stakeholders to learn the latest information. We have established positive relationships with local community groups and parish councils and use these links to help spread information as widely as possible. Should there be any concerns amongst the public, a responsive 24-hour contact centre service enables the local community to get a swift response.
Despite the highly disruptive nature of the work, there is widespread public acceptance of the project. A minimal number of complaints have been received and no issues have been escalated by local residents or community stakeholders to the media or their elected members. These successes have given National Grid the confidence to reposition the project narrative going forward. In the future, communications and engagement will place an even greater emphasis on the positive impact and benefits National Grid will bring to the area over the next five years and beyond.
Cadent is carrying out essential gas mains replacement work across London, replacing ageing metal gas pipes with new plastic ones. Our role is to work closely with Cadent and their contractors to deliver a strong communications strategy, ensuring all affected communities and stakeholders know the benefits and critical nature of the works.
The work poses potential disruption to those living in the community and local businesses. With the risk of negative community reaction and opposition, we’re tasked with clearly articulating how Cadent is committed to delivering gas mains replacement works across London, particularly in high profile areas, in the safest and fastest way possible to local communities. While Cadent is making sure the customer experience of gas works is as non-disruptive as possible, it remains vital that the economic and community benefits of the gas mains replacement programme are promoted.
In granting Cadent permission to undertake the work, Transport for London and local authorities in multiple London boroughs asked for a significant commitment to stakeholder engagement.
Our targeted strategic approach concentrates on articulating the essential nature of these gas mains replacement works and developing mutual understanding and tolerance for the work amongst communities across London. We continue to explain the consideration given to residents and businesses in the planning of works and efforts to keep disruption to a minimum, while emphasising the long-term benefits for the capital. We have also implemented processes to protect Cadent’s reputation and minimise adverse reactions.
We created and maintain a robust communications narrative around the project’s community and safety considerations and are working with Cadent and contractor teams to ensure they live these values. Our team is continually producing promotional materials to explain the needs for the works and translate complex engineering information into concise explanations to generate understanding and acceptance from the public.
Public exhibitions, community liaison working group meetings and briefings relating to key developments for local MPs, councils, schools, businesses and the wider public are integral to our engagement strategy. This is underpinned by providing regular stakeholder updates through email and letters to mitigate risk of project delays and sustained stakeholder opposition.
To mitigate the risk of project delays, negative media coverage or sustained stakeholder opposition, we respond to stakeholder feedback, using the expertise and specialist information provided by Cadent project teams working across London.
This project is ongoing. So far, we have successfully helped Cadent articulate the importance of investing in London’s gas mains replacement programme to millions of stakeholders. Clear, concise, relevant and timely information and materials are being delivered every day. We have improved political, business and community stakeholder relationships with Cadent, as well as communication channels between Cadent and the city’s other key service providers.
In his flagship levelling up white paper Michael Gove has set a path for the future of UK construction. What does this white paper actually say, and crucially is it enough?
The levelling up paper is made up of 12 key areas, however most relevant are the focus on Local Leadership, and Pride in Place.
Arguably, Local Leadership is the most prominent part of Gove’s herculean 12 ‘missions’ with its focus on devolution. Gove signals a shift away from Whitehall towards a system change implementing the “London style mayors” in other regions of the UK, with nine areas so far being invited to negotiate these powers. What this will mean, and whether a London mayoral system will serve these areas, will have to be seen. As Zoe Billingham, co-director from the Centre for Progressive Policy’ states “without fresh funding in the next budget, local leaders will lack the fiscal firepower to deliver on the Government’s good intentions”.
Some could argue, and the paper itself actually references, how this idea of devolution through mayors has been largely inspired by Europe, especially Paris where the mayor has greater powers in terms of welfare, schools and some aspects of health. An interesting aspect to watch will be what this devolution will mean in terms of planning regulations on a national and local level.
Under the banner of Pride in Place and ‘Restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging’, the ambition to regenerate 20 of England’s towns and cities is highlighted. This is heavily focussed on remediating brownfield land, and a combined public and private sector approach to ‘transformational developments’ including ‘housing, retail and business in sustainable, walkable, beautiful new neighbourhoods’. This will be supported by the Office for Place which is currently an advisory board for the government’s Planning for the Future. Again, what this means for the future in terms of planning or construction is not really expanded upon.
Interestingly, as MACE’s CEO Jason Millett comments in Property Week, the regeneration of derelict areas is a step forward but, the report could go further to put sustainability truly at the heart of the levelling up fund by mentioning initiatives such as retrofitting older properties. Millet goes on to point out that ‘with 80% of building stock by 2050 already built, failing to reduce the emissions from these buildings could further disadvantage local communities.’
How the report will ultimately address sustainability, let alone how Net Zero will be managed given greater powers of devolution, is not clear. Yet, as Stephanie Hyde, chief executive at JLL UK states, the “substantial commitments to funding for regeneration and housebuilding in the Levelling Up white paper underlines the central role that the real estate industry has to play in supporting this important agenda”.
In Copper’s recent levelling up podcast featuring the Financial Times’ Whitehall Editor, Sebastian Payne, Payne states how the levelling up white paper is the first serious granular attempt to address the national disparity that came to the fore during the 2016 Brexit referendum and 2019 general election. Payne describes it as a fundamentally interventionalist approach which demonstrates a new conservative steer away from traditional party by-lines. Payne goes on to state the major problem for the white paper will be the investment that’s required and if a more fiscally conservative government is willing to back it.
Overall, there has been a mixed response to the paper, with the British Property Federation saying that the delivery of the government’s ambition needs to be “bolder” and that the paper itself could have gone further. Where it has excelled, and as Stephen Beechy, Group Sector Director at Wates Group highlighted, it shows how the construction industry has a critical role to play in delivering government targets. It will certainly be interesting to see how far this paper will go in practice to revolutionise the way in which the UK system operates, and whether the 2030 deadline will be met. Ultimately, we will have to wait and see, and as Andrew McFarlane, Head of Regions at Colliers has said, we hope that the paper goes far enough to “level up our regions once and for all”.
Copper Consultancy has appointed two senior construction communications specialists, to support the agency’s growth, strengthening the construction team and demonstrating Copper’s commitment to clients and the development of major infrastructure projects throughout the UK.
Copper has an established pedigree in construction communications, helping the largest projects across the country to maintain and enhance their licence to operate, while supporting major construction companies to achieve their goals. Copper’s construction practice has continued to grow substantially in the last year, supporting projects including Hinckley Point C Grid Connection, West Midlands Interchange, HS2, and working for companies including National Highways, Cadent Gas, National Grid, Costain and Murphy.
Georgina Bass joins as Associate Director following recent senior roles at built environment communications agency Redwood Consulting and in-house at property developer Delancey, bringing a proven track record of strategic communications delivery and developing placemaking initiatives to promote cross-functional relationships contributing to business growth. She has advised on some of the largest and most complex construction programmes in London, such as the Elephant and Castle Town Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Earls Court.
These skills, combined with previous agency experience of delivering creative campaigns for construction product brands such as Prysmian, Knauf and Serge Ferrari, help to add value to Copper clients and will drive continuous growth within the construction team.
Commenting on her appointment, Georgina said: “I am thrilled to have joined Copper at a very busy and exciting time for the construction team and the company as a whole, as client confidence and investment into the sector begins to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“My previous experience will help provide strategic support for clients and drive business development into new areas of the construction sector. I am looking forward to supporting the substantial ongoing growth of Copper as it continues to tackle some of the country’s largest infrastructure projects.”
Ella Sanders, joins as Account Manager from Faithful + Gould, bringing with her a wealth of experience in communications and stakeholder engagement to assist clients as they navigate the complex regulatory process associated with major infrastructure projects.
Speaking of her appointment, Ella said: “I’m extremely excited to join such a dynamic and fast-growing team. The construction space has evolved rapidly in the past year and Copper is exceptionally well positioned to deliver insightful, data-driven and creative communications. I’m looking forward to building on the success of the business and delivering for our clients.”
Director of Construction, Caroline Romback commented on the appointment: “During the last 12 months the construction business has gone from strength to strength. We’re working with more and higher profile clients than ever before and are running dynamic and engaging campaigns.
“This is an exciting period for Copper and we look forward to Georgie and Ella providing integral roles in helping to realise our ambitions to grow the construction business and contribute to Copper’s continued success as a leading communications consultancy.”
Copper is currently recruiting additional talent to help deliver a range of exciting projects across its Construction, Economic Development and Infrastructure sectors.
To find out about our latest job opportunities, visit our careers page or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a specialist communications consultancy that’s dedicated to infrastructure, we have a unique opportunity to become involved across the whole development lifecycle. We have a role from policy development, through planning, construction and eventual operation of everything from roads, to windfarms to schools and hospitals.
Despite the brief hiatus caused by Covid-19, we are enormously optimistic about the state of our sector. The UK has faced numerous challenges for decades, from imbalances in the economy, to low levels of productivity and poor connectivity, to the looming need to decarbonise energy generation and transport.
These problems have seemed insurmountable. But that may just be changing.
There has been an acceptance across all levels of government that things can and must change fundamentally if we are to establish a successful net zero economy. That change will be all pervasive, impacting our working, as well as domestic lives, and it is inspiring an infrastructure revolution.
The outcome is that the infrastructure sector is booming, and Copper is growing fast to help accommodate and support it. We have expanded substantially in recent years, increasing the number of projects we are working on, the sectors we support and the services we offer. We expect to continue that growth in years to come, and see that our partners across the infrastructure sectors are experiencing the same increase in opportunity.
The biggest single thing that we need to capitalize on that opportunity, and to enable the change to UK infrastructure that’s needed, is to boost the availability of great people.
We have worked enormously hard to attract people into Copper, but more broadly into the infrastructure sector. We recruit at all levels, from those beginning their working life, to experienced seasoned professionals, and we are continuing to do so.
But the whole industry needs to capitalize on our moment in the spotlight, not to achieve short term growth, but to revitalize our offering to the people we work with and ensure that we are able to attract the brightest and the best people, from all walks of life.
We can offer a career path that provides rapid development, but perhaps more importantly enables people to make a tangible difference to the country. We cant promise an easy life, as infrastructure projects are complex and frequently demanding, but we can promise a job with an enormous amount of satisfaction and sense of achievement.
But that must be matched with offering ways of working that are compatible with modern family life, that are flexible and that trust people to work how, when and where will deliver the best outcomes, rather than forcing people to comply with outdated office-bound structures.
In our own really small way we are trying to take a lead in this area, enabling a completely flexible working arrangement, and allowing our highly capable team to work in ways that are right for them. People at Copper can work from any of our three offices in Bristol, Birmingham and London as suits them, but also remotely, and to decide how they structure their working week.
We support a wide range of working arrangements, with a number of our team choosing to work part time to support family commitments or academic studies.
We also offer an increasingly flexible range of benefits, including a fitness fund to support wellbeing and a flexible training fund to support personal and career development, in addition to on the job training and support.
We are far from a perfect employer and we are continuously striving to do better, with our dedicated People and Culture Director helping to ensure that we do everything we can to attract the very best people from across our industry and beyond, and to demonstrate the wonderfully fulfilling career that infrastructure can offer.
Carol Stitchman, Technical Director Rail Group, WSP
In Copper’s Perspectives series on UK rail stations, we’re asking construction sector leaders for their insights on challenges and opportunities arising from the new ‘golden age’ of station development.
Following on from her role as a panelist in Copper Consultancy’s recent event, Insights from a new golden age of rail stations, Carol provides a behind-the-scenes account of modern station design and accessibility.
The redeveloped Birmingham New Street Station opened in September 2015 after a £750 million transformation. Carol’s work at Birmingham New Street spanned 14 years from feasibility to completion.
As Head of Design for Network Rail, I worked to transform Birmingham New Street station into a major transport and shopping hub, stimulating economic growth and regeneration for the Midlands region. Today, Birmingham New Street is the busiest major station outside of London.
At the heart of the development of Birmingham New Street is inclusive design. Inclusive design aims to deliver spaces and places for everyone and puts people at the core? of the design process of spaces and places. In the development of Birmingham New Street, we worked with stakeholder panels to help us develop spaces that were truly inclusive, ensuring that people were at the centre of the design process, so everyone can use the railway safely, easily and with dignity.
We did a lot of work around accessibility with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people. A key priority for us was how could we make Birmingham New Street station a lot easier to navigate for the visually impaired.
The RNIB suggested that most members would want to first and foremost be able to access and navigate to the ticket office simply to buy tickets and or seek assistance for travel. To do this in a vast area, we located the ticket office in the centre of the station. In this area, we included a contrasting floor surface in the centre of the station in the atrium. We referred to this as a ‘pebble in the pond’, and the flooring in this area, glass blocks, differentiated texturally with the granite surface around it. If you are sweeping your cane in that area, you can feel the change in texture helping you to identify exactly where you are in the station.
We also included sensory aroma cues to act as a navigational aid in the centre of the station. The Pret a Manger coffee shop which has a distinctive smell has been deliberately placed centrally by the textured flooring to act as another navigational instruction for our visually impaired travellers and visitors. Both sensory indicators are designed to tell visually impaired customers that they are in the centre of the station and the ticket office is located right in front of them.
There are three distinct entrances into Birmingham New Street station, and we also created a ‘shoreline’ to help with access into the station. Shorelines are an important element of how a visually impaired person navigates. Shore lining is following a wall, kerb, hedge or other contrasting surface to the one a person is walking on to maintain a specific orientation while travelling through environments to arrive at a decision-making point. Shore lining allows a person to use their cane either to constantly contact a surface or use two-point touch technique to cross an open space and easily travel towards the station.
From speaking to visually impaired groups interviewed early in the design stage, we found that they often counted the number of steps to help them navigate themselves from point A to point B, so we placed positioned lighting columns in particular locations along the shoreline at the eastern entrance opposite the Bullring and a certain distance apart, so they acted as another helpful navigational aid.
Looking to future station developments in the city, the future HS2 Curzon Street Station in Birmingham – which, when built, will be the first brand new intercity terminus built in Britain since the 19th century – is unique, as it has a lot of landscaping around it which is very unusual for a railway station in a city centre location.
One distinct feature of the Curzon Street Station design is the change of levels from the different entrances from the east of the west. One question we asked ourselves when designing this new station is how we could help our visually impaired passengers navigate through each entrance/exit, so they know which entrance they are approaching.
To help announce to visually impaired passengers which entrance they are arriving towards, we asked our landscape architects to introduce scented landscaping that would differ at each entrance/exit to help with navigation, and we also included shorelines into the design, like at Birmingham New Street. Shorelines at Curzon Street include the buttresses that are part of the architectural design that support the roof.
In the Curzon Street design, a customer information hub has replaced the traditional ticket office. Following feedback from visually impaired groups, this is placed directly at the front of the station western entrance and not at a right angle to the main entrance. Obstacle detection and warning can improve the mobility, as well as the safety of visually impaired people especially in unfamiliar environments.
Based on our increased understanding and consideration of wellbeing and mental health awareness, a new element has been incorporated in the Curzon Street Station design to help our passengers who perhaps are not comfortable in large crowds. Large transport buildings like railway stations and airports attract large numbers of people, however for some, this is not a comfortable situation to be in. We incorporated quiet rooms in the design where people can retreat from the crowds. For passengers who would prefer not to be inside at all, the Curzon Street station design has a large public square to the western entrance with the opportunity to create areas outside where they can wait in a place of safety and be under cover, sheltered from the sun and the rain.
Accessibility in station design must be a priority. Taking a journey by train is not as straightforward process for all passengers. Passengers have unique needs, therefore, it’s vitally important that this is taken into consideration in station design. Speaking directly to groups that use our stations means we have a better understanding of how we can design infrastructure that is accessible and inclusive for everyone, ensuring that all passengers can use and move through the station safely and independently.
Carol Stitchman, Technical Director Rail Group, WSP has worked in the railway industry for over 20 years. Major projects under Carol’s belt include Birmingham New Street station where she was Head of Design and led the design for the station redevelopment. Following her award-winning work at Birmingham New Street for Network Rail, Carol went on to work for WSP as a Technical Director in the Rail Group division.
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