An innovative regeneration scheme, to reinvigorate Altrincham Central Way, was completed in March 2015 after Trafford Council commissioned landscape architects Planit-ie and Stockley to develop a new town centre strategy. The objective of the 727m² landscape was to maintain the distinctive and unique feel of the area, whist modernising it for the demands of contemporary life.
The project hinged around the market place, which has existed in various forms since the 13th century and involved the refurbishment of an area focusing on ten key streets as part of a £15m regeneration project. To ensure a sense of cohesion with the vertical brickwork surrounding the market, Planit-ie, selected pavers from Wienerberger’s clay paver range via Hardscape Products Ltd. To achieve the desired visual effect, Auraton and Vintage Tumbled Blue Brindled clay pavers were laid on edge in a 90-degree herringbone pattern creating a subtle contrast between the landscaped environment and the surrounding area, whilst still fitting within the harmonious design framework.
The aim of the redevelopment was to make Altrincham the definitive ‘modern market town’ and to secure the market, and its surroundings, in the heart of the community. Before its redevelopment, the public’s perception of the space was broadly negative as the area was tired, worn and lacking in appeal. Creating an attractive urban landscaped environment has increased footfall, which in turn has encouraged investment and opportunity for local businesses. Now complete, the redeveloped area consists of a series of both permanent and occasional tenancies for traders and producers, whilst also forming a pivotal link between the high street retail space and the main market building.
Beyond the demands to increase footfall and the broader commercial requirements of the redevelopment, the design had to be in keeping with surrounding conservation areas, many of which date from the closing years of the 19th century. The selected pavers worked well with the Victorian red brick surroundings due to their myriad of colours and textures. By using high quality clay pavers with a worn patina the renovated area links to the broader landscape, whilst also benefiting from the hardwearing nature of clay.
The pavers proved to be well suited for the project due to the innate characteristics of clay, including colour retention - which is expected to hold throughout the duration of the paver’s lifespan – and ease of maintenance over a period of up to two hundred years. Beyond these inherent benefits of clay, highly durable blue pavers were specified in preparation for high footfall and heavy goods vehicles, which can easily take their toll on less durable or robust pavers.
The specification of the pavers also had benefits during the planning stage of the project, as clay pavers are easy to maintain and replace if needed. When coupled with the standard method of construction employed by the contractor, the architects were able to effectively satisfy the highway authority as to the suitability of the pavers. This consideration is important because it has a positive impact on the longevity of the project, which is a core requirement in public sector construction projects.
The regeneration of Altrincham Central Way clearly met the objectives set out by Trafford Council and linked the newly developed area with its older, stylistically rigid surroundings. Beyond aesthetic considerations, the specification of the clay pavers has meant that after the consistent use of the area in the future, the fabric of the landscape can easily be maintained and, when ultimately required, repaired.
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