How street furniture will transform high streets post-Coronavirus
The impact of coronavirus and social distancing is accelerating the greening and pedestrianisation of UK towns and city centres, helping attract people back into retail and commercial areas with permanent street furniture.
More and more local authorities and property management companies are turning to street furniture as a long-term solution to ensure shoppers, workers and cyclists can enjoy town-centre environments safely, according to Robert Hawgood of Landmark Street Furniture.
Such systems are also actively helping ensure social distancing through careful design to direct the movement of people, or access control, whether on foot or bicycle.
“The UK’s town centres as we knew them will be much different by next year. Bike and pedestrian-friendly retail and commercial environments are now a must to ensure social distancing and temporary measures put in place before the summer are being upgraded to permanent measures,” he said.
Permanent social-distancing solutions
“We expect the majority of town and city centres will have implemented permanent solutions such as this by early next year. Many are already retrofitting systems into existing buildings and public areas.
Mr Hawgood said many local authorities had either already implemented plans or had gone out to consultation with businesses and communities on long-term solutions.
He said such measures signalled a reassurance to people that they can go shopping or walk or cycle to work safely.
Governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been offering funding to communities to help implement temporary and permanent streetscape arrangements.
Landmark Street Furniture is one of the leading designers and installers of street furniture in the UK. It has been working with local councils, railway companies, education establishments, property developers and retail centres on methods for social distancing in public areas.
Attracting shoppers back to retail centres
Mr Hawgood added: “The retail sector has had a tough time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown earlier this year impacted dramatically on retail businesses, as are current local lockdowns and restrictions.
“However, with good planning there are solutions that provide reassurance and attract footfall safely back into retail and recreational areas. Chambers of trade, town councils and property management companies have all been looking for the best ways to do this.
“In addition, street furniture systems can actively guide people to socially distance.”
Landmark has introduced timber planters that are ready with soil and plants and can replace bollards and cones for spacing and assisting movement.
Green screening furniture has also been introduced for use between seating areas.
Key products being introduced to town centres include:
- • Seating
- • Planters
- • Shelters
- • Bollards
- • Secure cycle storage
- • Landscape structures and shelters
Anti-skateboarding studs are also being introduced to protect architecture and deter skateboarders in town centres, making it safer for pedestrians.
Increased cycling demands safe storage solutions
“Such routes are also being made more permanent, resulting in a need for secure cycle storage for public use as well as in private commercial and residential centres.
“Recent surveys have found that bike theft and damage are the main concerns for people taking up cycling and so the infrastructure needs to be in town centres and places of work.
“With people being encouraged not to use public transport, more people will add to the pressure on cycling routes and bike storage facilities.”