New ‘Shared Space’ in Ipswich from Mike Brain

As a former scientist and engineer, I usually applaud the exploration of new ideas by means of well planned experiments. The ‘Shared Space’ in Ipswich (Newsletter July 2007) is literally close to home for me, and I agree that there is much in the development to recommend it, and not merely compared with what went before.

Author Anita Seymour admits, however, that it was debatable to apply the ‘Shared Space’ principle to a major arterial road such as Handford Road, and this represents the gravest of several concerns for me. Handford Road is used not merely by light vehicles but by HGVs of all kinds, from buses and coaches to the largest articulated delivery lorries serving the town centre shops. Since there is barely room for two such vehicles to pass each other in the roadway, there is no meaningful sense in which this ‘Space’ can be ‘Shared’ with pedestrians: the vehicles have no option than to take whatever space they need, and the consequences for pedestrians can be frankly, terrifying!

I would therefore be interested to know whether the residents and other pedestrian users of Handford Road consider the experiment an improvement or a cause for concern. I wonder whether such a narrow arterial road, flanked in places by claustrophobically high retaining walls could be seen as anything but ‘a runway for motorised vehicles’, and seeking to ‘reduce the sense’ of this by removing road markings and lowering the pavement merely serves to heighten the sense of extreme vulnerability and danger for pedestrians.

Moreover, the height of the kerb has to be restored at bus stops in order to provide disabled access, creating a further hazard for anyone stepping on or off what they expected to be only a 50mm kerb.

However, I am very happy that Handford Road should be included with the central aim of ‘giving streets back to local communities’, since this may help with another significant challenge faced by this neighbourhood. So how might his goal be achieved? By ceasing its use as an arterial road, perhaps?


Handford Road ‘Shared Space’ - A reply from Anita Seymour, Senior Planning Officer, Suffolk County Council

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to Mike Brain’s letter. We acknowledge from the outset of the project the Handford Road presented a challenge in respect of ‘Shared Space’ and the approach undertaken reflects the constraints presented to the design team and advice from out Highway colleagues. As a demonstration project the lessons learnt will feed into subsequent projects in this county.

We have recently completed traffic survey of Handford Road assessing speeds and usage including pedestrians and cycles. A further perception survey will be undertaken later this year. Results of the monitoring study along with our European partner’s experience of ‘Shared Space’ will be published in a final document at the end of the project.


Listed Parks in Ipswich from Bob Kindred, Conservation Officer, Ipswich Borough Council

I was slightly puzzled by your reference on page 8 of your July Newsletter to Ipswich having three Listed parks and I assume you are thinking of Christchurch, Chantry and Holywells?

I wish this was indeed the case but the position is that while they are all within designated conservation areas – Christchurch 1974 (part) and 1985; Holywells 2003 and Chantry 2005 – only Christchurch (added June 1984) and Chantry (July 1988) are on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, both at Grade II.

Our several attempts to get Holywells added to the National Register have been rejected despite the eligibility for the Heritage Lottery Fund Historic Park Restoration Programme.

The third Ipswich item on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens is Ipswich Old and New Cemetery added December 2001 although it is neither a park nor a garden.