Hackney's Dutch-inspired street design wins top award

A Dutch-inspired street design in Hackney which puts pedestrians and cyclists before vehicles has picked up a top design award.

Hackney Council’s reimagining of Leonard Circus, in Shoreditch, impressed at the Urban Transport Design Awards where the project was named overall winner, thanks to its transformation of the tired, car-orientated junction into an attractive reused yorkstone and granite public place.

The new layout, at the junction of Leonard Street and Paul Street, has seen trees and seating take centre stage, kerbs removed, and road markings and traffic signs minimised to deprioritise vehicles.

Judges said the area had been “transformed from a nondescript junction to a place to meet and eat your lunch”, and that the design was “a great example of what ‘place-making’ means.”

The space, which opened last June, replaced the confusing and vehicle-biased ‘Hitchcock’s Reel’ plinth, reintroduced the original diamond-shaped layout, and is now more user-friendly for people with accessibility needs.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Sustainability, Hackney Council
I would like to extend a huge congratulations to the team who redesigned Leonard Circus on this award. They transformed what was a bleak, dangerous junction into a people-friendly social space.

The Council is dedicated to looking at ways to improve and prioritise our urban spaces for more vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Sustainability, Hackney Council

Designer Adrian McWhinnie, from the Council’s Streetscene Service, said: “I’m delighted we won. These are prestigious awards and we were up against some stiff competition, including Bexleyheath Town Centre and Clapham Old Town in Lambeth.

“The judges said they liked our design because it was innovative and it made the best use of space in an appropriate location. They also commended its simplicity and attention to detail.”

The awards, organsied by industry experts from Urban Movement and PTRC, recognise schemes which improve the urban environment and benefit a range of users.