Thoughts and musings
Lewis | February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
Unlike Dan Brown’s novel, which is full of mystery, there is no mystery surrounding why there is the perception of UK’s highways being branded as “ugly necessities”, according to Roads Minister John Hayes. The reason behind this, he claims, is that designers have been ‘driven to conformity’ through the lack of funds available to them to create a visually-stimulating landscape to go along with roads all over the country.
He may have a point. Mr Hayes implores that everyone will have their own worst example in their mind’s eye when thinking about roads that divide the landscape rather than threading through it. He himself cited the Boston Manor viaduct. Me? Definitely the M3; the contrast of leaving my beautiful university city onto this road could not have been greater!
But I digress. As the Roads Minister, John Hayes was revealing plans to make transport schemes more beautiful in the UK, and to end the perception outlined above. He believes the ‘sub-standard, ubiquitous, drab, cheap, soul-sapping design’ requires the need of a roads design panel to help improve the aesthetic element of British roads. This panel will be introduced to the design process at a much earlier stage, and Hayes claims this will enable the planning process to be quicker, as it would help secure ‘a consensus on aesthetics, which are so often a cause of dismay and delay in the planning, when the schemes are in their infancy’. Not only this, Hayes is adamant this will ensure environmental issues are also considered alongside the usual topics quintessential to road design.
This author has to agree with the Roads Minister. This country is a beautiful one; it may have become a cliché over time, but it is true. There are beautiful landscapes, both natural and man-made in all four corners, but when it comes to our public highways, it isn’t the prettiest sight. The only way I can word it is like driving through an urban jungle. Agreed, improving the landscapes in heavily developed areas, such as Greater London, are going to be extremely difficult. But focusing on the highways Hayes is talking about; it could transform the way people take to driving on long motorways. In addition, with the talented landscapers the UK has to offer, it shouldn’t be a difficult mountain to climb. Let’s just hope an increase in funds allow Hayes to follow through in his mission.
This blog post was based on an article from the Landscape Institute, which you can read by clicking here.
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