Southampton City Council have been collaborating with local businesses and residents in the Bedford Place area to formulate a package of transport and public realm improvements that will make the area safer for everyone, enhance its unique character and enable it to thrive in the future.
The Bedford Place Co-Design Working Group included both residents and local businesses as well as other key stakeholder groups. They have met monthly since October 2021 and have made recommendations on a preferred scheme for Bedford Place, Carlton Place and Winchester Street which will showcase the area as one of Southampton’s boutique leisure destinations.
Caroline French, Managing Director of W.J. French & Son, comments:
“My family business has been in Bedford Place since 1890 and has seen five generations of our family live here.
The proposal is an exciting opportunity to invest in Bedford Place and Carlton Place which will attract new footfall to the area and encourage people to stay longer. The scheme will improve our environment both aesthetically with lighting, improved layout and street furniture and will help create a safer area with some traffic calming measures and pavement improvements.”
Lesley Gilder, local resident, comments:
“I am delighted with the plans to enhance the ambience of Bedford Place. The area has a unique significance for the city providing high quality shops, cafes and restaurants in an architecturally protected area within walking distance of the centre. The plan to promote the area visually, manage traffic and plant trees, will enhance the atmosphere, attract attention and activity - bring it back to life!”
A key feature of the proposed design is the permanent closure of Carlton Place to traffic, which is unanimously supported by the group. It will be enhanced with a square at the junction with Upper and Lower Bannister Street to provide a space that is suitable for use as an event space, or for weekend markets, and will provide an outdoor dining area that is more accessible to everyone. The temporary barriers currently in use on Carlton Place will be replaced with high quality permanent alternatives.
Proposed measures to reduce traffic speed on Bedford Place include positioning of wider pedestrian areas at specific points along the street, with enhanced lighting, greenery and seating. The effect of these ‘buildouts’ will not only provide a more pleasant environment for pedestrians and easier access for disabled users but will reinforce a wider 20mph speed limit planned for the Polygon area. Structures will be placed at the top and bottom of Bedford Place and the entrance to Carlton Place to clearly define the area’s arrival points. These will be unique and will complement the look and heritage of Bedford Place.
Councillor Jeremy Moulton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Growth, says:
“Southampton is renowned as a thriving hub for businesses in general, and Bedford Place, in particular, is very popular with independents and entrepreneurs.
We recognise the benefits that this scheme has for residents, hospitality businesses and shops. This is a balanced approach and will support our pledge to get Southampton moving while ensuring that visitors investing in our economy can move around safely and easily.”
I want to thank all the businesses that took part in the working group and I look forward to their feedback on these exciting plans. Seeing local businesses thrive is something we will always support.”
The proposed changes will be consulted on with the local community over the summer.