High Wycombe Masterplan
A major, transformative project to overhaul the town centre of High Wycombe continues to make significant progress ahead of a scheduled completion in 2019. Divided into six key phases, the High Wycombe town centre masterplan has a number of objectives including the transformation of public spaces, the strengthening of the economy and bringing the town together.
After a significant period of planning, the masterplan began on site in 2015 with phase one of the work taking place. Phase two, the latest aspect of the project, started last year and was completed in July of this year. Phase three will be run in conjunction with a local development scheme while phase four will commence in September 2017.
The High Wycombe town centre masterplan is a partnership project between Buckinghamshire County Council, Wycombe District Council and Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership. By improving existing public spaces, as well as creating new ones, the masterplan will make the town centre a more attractive proposition for shopping and leisure. The scheme will also create new opportunities for businesses, jobs, shops and leisure.
The most significant aspect of the work, however, will be the changes to the road network to reroute traffic around the town. Included within this will be changes to the traffic flow around the town centre and improvements to other streets and pedestrian spaces in the town centre. Paul Battye, HIP Team Leader (South), spoke to Premier Construction about the project:
“The project we have just completed is one of six projects within the High Wycombe Masterplan. The overall aim of the scheme is to improve the road network around High Wycombe as part of this large public realm improvement scheme. One of its major aspirations is to deliver and enable economic growth in High Wycombe through changes to the road network within the town centre.
“It’s part of Wycombe District Council’s strategic local plan and comes off the back of projected housing growth and forecasted increases in vehicle numbers. The scheme will hopefully enhance the economic viability of High Wycombe and make it a more attractive place to live and work.
“Everything has been running on schedule so far. We’ve just finished phase two which was a complex and long running scheme. It was on site for around ten months and ran through a key residential and shopping part of High Wycombe. An awful lot of planning went into it to make sure we limited public disruption and it ran on budget
“A lot of the work is the renewal of the highways, replacing all of the footways, kerbs, drainage channels and the road surface. There is a new design so that the road layout isn’t exactly the same and some of the junctions have been modified to ensure they can handle greater traffic volumes. We’ve changed junction priorities with regards to improving journey time and improving network options, capacity and resilience.”
The design of the new network has been undertaken using the Manual For Streets 2 guidance from the Department of Transport on proven techniques for urban design which create naturally low speeds. With this approach traffic is able to flow at a lower speed, reducing stop-start delays and pollution effects. Other key features include less traffic signals, energy efficient LED lighting columns and a reduction in formal pedestrian crossing. Paul added:
“The challenges have been the usual sorts of thing with a project like this. We had to make sure we could deliver the appropriate schemes within budget but with a real focus on how it is delivered to minimise disruption to businesses and traffic. It’s a fairly complex set of schemes all happening together so we had to programme that sensitively. Ultimately this project is about improving the public realm so it’s got to look good and last so we’ve used quality materials. We’ve really focused on elements like new street lighting columns and granite kerbing to make sure it achieves the desired effect.
“Completing phase two is another step on the journey. We’re now looking at completing phases three and four which will really change the local network.”
To keep up with the scheme, please visit buckscc.gov.uk/services/transport-and-roads/strategic-economic-plan/high-wycombe-town-centre-masterplan.