As mentioned in an earlier blog, Lincoln’s Steep Hill has recently been awarded the Academy of Urbanism’s ‘Great Street 2012’ Award. Last week, Globe were invited to celebrate this recognition as the UK’s best street by undertaking a Placecheck consultation.
Working with Lincoln Business Improvement Group (BIG) and Stephen Bee representing the awarding body, Academy of Urbanism, as well as Rob Cowan, the pioneer of the Placecheck consultation tool, Steve and I led an afternoon dedicated to identifying the special character of Steep Hill and ways in which to improve it.
Bringing together local businesses, residents, Councillors and Council Officers from across the city, the group of around 40 was split into two smaller teams to take a detailed look at this local icon that we all take for granted. It was fun to work with others and consider Steep Hill with fresh eyes – noticing things long forgotten as well as taking time to appreciate the new additions and investments that have already taken place.
The diversity that Steep Hill offers, in terms of its mix of uses and architecture, was considered by many to be at the heart of its charm, contributing to its overall sense of quirkiness. In addition, it was interesting to note that on closer examination, there was overriding agreement that Britain’s best street functions as a series of smaller sections, linked by a network of open spaces and squares. This was very eloquently summed up by one of the participants who described Steep Hill as a waterfall, connected by a series of pools.
The event was an opportunity to bring people together, at a time of celebration, to recognise that it is not by chance that places are successful and to identify those factors which contribute to Steep Hill’s unique appeal. By identifying and understanding these characteristics, we can set a benchmark that can be used in future years to ensure that Steep Hill not only retains these features, but builds on them and develops them so that is remains one of the best streets in the UK.
I was pleased to see part of Steep Hill very animated early yesterday afternoon with a loud and colourful dragon dance to mark the Chinese new year as well as the official start of Steep Hill’s own year of celebration as ‘Britain’s best street’.