At the Institute for Economic Development (IED) conference on 4 December, the Midtown Economic Development and Public Realm Vision project won an award in the Most Innovative Strategy category.
Following several public realm studies in the area that had not secured funding, engineering firm Arup was commissioned by BEE Midtown to develop a joint economic and public realm strategy. The purpose of the project was to concurrently develop the economic and public realm requirements of the area, to ensure the design strategy served an economic development purpose.
The project developed a strategy to make Midtown a safer place for active travel, to relieve congestion around public transport and to encourage investment through a better quality of place. It also recognised that, as a major employment centre, investment in public realm is essential for encouraging end-to-end sustainable travel options for workers, which must be prioritised in the context of the area sitting at the crossroads of major arteries in London.
To achieve the objectives of the project, Arup produced an innovative strategy for the district underpinned by a strong evidence base. Specifically, they undertook a detailed appraisal of Midtown and its spatial/policy context to inform a ‘public realm’ baseline study that was used to set objectives for investment.
The deliverables included a delivery plan for public realm interventions to meet the strategic needs of Midtown. The project involved substantial stakeholder engagement, including consultation events, to help achieve local buy-in and to gain traction in the formation of both project objectives and priority schemes for the area.
To win the IED Award, Arup beat 14 other submissions in the Most Innovative Strategy category, which “celebrates those strategies which brought something considered to be new or innovative to the economic development sphere.”
Zach Wilcox, Associate – City Economics, at Arup said: “We are thrilled to win the IED’s Most Innovative Strategy award for a project that we are incredibly proud of. We brought together a team of economists, landscape architects, urban designers and transport planners to think holistically about the place. We worked closely with BEE Midtown to ensure the economic purpose of the district informed the design needs, and the design sought out to maximise economic and social value for the area…. Improvements in the public realm will contribute to Midtown’s growth as a leading centre of business and cultural activity, building on its rich history, diverse mix of uses, presence of world-leading institutions and architectural heritage.”
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