Motherwell was once the steelmaking heart of Scotland, fired by the Ravenscraig Steelworks, but has suffered significant decline since the steelworks’ closure. North Lanarkshire Council have committed to a phased programme of streetscape improvements within the town centre with a view to enhancing its appeal as a business and retail destination through the townscape framework strategy, in order to benefit from the Ravenscraig redevelopment rather than be threatened by it.

A series of exhibitions and consultation meetings were held to ensure that stakeholders and the general public had an understanding of what was being proposed and why.

The design aimed firstly to address the functionality of the street; the existing design resulted in poor pedestrian flow due to the narrowness of the main pavement on which were located a series of bus stops. Coupled with this the vehicular section of the street, intended only for buses and taxis, was being used as a rat run for vehicles avoiding the town centre ring road. The re-design addressed this by widening the footpath with a resulting reduction in carriageway width; thus preventing overtaking and making the road less attractive as a short cut for cars which now have to wait behind the buses. The wider footpath allowed freer pedestrian movement and a more pleasant shopping experience. Lastly, the design of the pedestrian precinct was revised to encourage pedestrians to use both sides of the street and to use the central area for relaxation and socialising whilst also providing two large open areas for public events or mobile facilities to be temporarily located in the precinct.

The design concept was to improve the function of the street, enhance the aesthetics and introduce features and artworks to make the area more attractive as a commercial and social space. It was considered that the local church spire was a strong and attractive landmark and the design of the pedestrian precinct was developed to lead the eye towards this focal point. The town’s strong industrial heritage, and the presence of an existing industry-based sculpture in the form of George Wylie’s ‘Motherwell Tree’ were used as the basis for new artwork. Plenty of seating has been introduced in the form of granite benches and single seats with arm-rests positioned to allow people to chat if desired – the latter are proving popular with local workers taking lunch outdoors. At the quieter end of the precinct en route to the underpass, is now found a raised lawn that provides additional informal seating along with colourful shrub planting and local authority bedding plant displays. These are enhanced by a set of glass and metal artist panels. Finally, a lighting designer was commissioned to design both the functional and feature lighting of the street. New lighting columns that complement the suite of street furniture have been installed along with colour changing feature lighting and tree up-lighting that has enhanced the ambiance of the street at night.

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