Lancaster

THE PROJECT

The Landscape Group was awarded the Square Routes project as main contractor by Lancaster City Council. The scheme involved the re-paving of several city centre pedestrianised streets including Market Street and surrounding streets within Lancaster’s busy city centre shopping district which hosts a twice weekly market, with over 100 market stalls.

New stone surfacing was laid throughout the whole of Market Square and the adjoining stretch of Market Street, Cheapside, Horseshoe Corner and Penny Street. Over 3000m2 of existing surfacing was taken up and replaced with Yorkstone and Tegula paving.

The works included the resurfacing of Horseshoe Corner and provided a new surface into which the infamous horseshoe was laid at the intersection between Penny Street, Cheapside and Market Street. The horseshoe is a local artefact of special interest; it is thought that this horseshoe belonged to John o’Gaunt’s horse, who shed this shoe when he left Lancaster castle for the last time.

CHALLENGES

The key challenge with this city centre project was the continuous interface between the works and the general public. The busy city centre location meant that all streets were required to be kept open and accessible for retailers, shoppers and deliveries for the duration of the works.

Each shop front along the busy city centre route required paving replacement to the front, which meant that our project team had to continuously liaise with shop owners and managers, the City Council’s market coordinator and market stall holders. There was also a need to coordinate the works so that larger, busier stores’ footfall was not affected by the works. This meant that a proportion of the works were carried out ‘out of hours’ to keep disruption to a minimum.

Prior to works commencing our project management met with the Council’s Market Manager to understand the requirements of the market stall holders and the temporary pitch location moves necessary to facilitate the works. Careful and detailed planning was undertaken to ensure that pitch relocations were kept to a minimum whilst ensuring that safety was always the priority.

The necessary market pitch relocations along with partial street closures meant that detailed public consultation was required. Our project manager liaised with all local stakeholders on a daily basis to ensure that everyone was kept well informed of the plans. The streets were in most cases the only access point for deliveries to the local businesses. Therefore it was essential that our project manager programmed the works so as not to block any access routes for the local businesses deliveries or emergency access routes through the city centre.

Works were also undertaken to Upper Market Street which adjoined the busy City Centre through-route road and so had to be carried out during the night which meant rescheduling all works throughout the day to ensure there was a team available to work through the night. These works came with its own challenges in that noise restrictions were in place as to not disturb nearby residences and hotels during twilight hours. A road lane closure had to be put in place which also involved the safe diversion of pedestrians, as the main pedestrian crossing had to be closed during evening working hours.

To ensure that our workforce were always accessible to all local stakeholders, we took the decision to site our project office within the project boundary. A vacant retail shop was rented and a drop-in project office was opened to allow all local stakeholders open access to the project team. The shop windows were used to display the proposed phasing of the scheme, and other project information. This was very successful in engaging with the local stakeholders and keeping them informed about the scheme.

As well as the locally accessible project office, the project team also engaged with the local community through the use of social media. It was used extensively to reach the local audience, and keep them updated on the progress of the works, as well as any temporary road closures and diversions.