Merton awarded top prize for home zone

Merton Council has been awarded first prize in the home zone category of the Local Government News (LGN) Street Design 2010 competition.

LGN editor Laura Sharman presented the award to Merton’s traffic and highways engineers James Geeson (Merton Council), Colin Irvine and Mike Andone (FM Conway) for the design and build of the home zone in Laburnum Road, Mitcham.

Judging the home zone category, Chief executive of Living Streets Tony Armstrong looked at the overall quality of the scheme, the impact it has had on the local community and the sustainability of the project. He also assessed how the home zone achieved its objective of creating a streetscape that enhances the area and improves residents’ quality of life.

The council designed the home zone as an integral part of an overall scheme to bring new life to the Figges Marsh area of Mitcham which also included the 2008 opening of Mitcham Eastfields Station.

Merton engineers and planners worked with local residents through a number of informal consultations to develop the design and layout of the area, ensuring the council took into account their needs, especially those with mobility difficulties. Local police walked the area with council officers along with representatives of Safer Merton to develop ideas about how to minimise potential antisocial behaviour through the power of design. This included the introduction of CCTV.

The Home Zone meets the latest national recommendations. The design incorporates ideas such as the removal of kerbs, the use of coloured surfacing to differentiate pedestrian areas from those used by drivers, the formalisation of parking bays, improvements to street lighting, and the use of planting and contemporary street furniture to enhance the safety of the area. The council also made improvements to the children’s play area following an informal consultation with the children on the local estate.

Merton Council and Transport for London funded the home zone to the tune of £ 740,000.

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge said: “This is a wonderful example of design at its very best. I am proud that Merton’s own engineers and planners have designed and implemented this award-winning Home Zone. Most councils would have commissioned expensive consultants for this kind of work, but it is great that we have the talent in-house to meet the gold standard. Talking to residents about their needs was essential to the success of this project and I would like to thank them for their contributions to making where they live a true success story.”

LGN editor Laura Sharman said: “I am delighted to announce that the Laburnum Road scheme has been awarded the winner of our Home Zones category for the 2010 Street Design Awards. Merton Council impressed the judges by really listening to what the local community wanted and needed, especially those that had mobility issues or were visually impaired.”