The design of North Portsea Island Coastal Defence Scheme along the Tipner Lake frontage was created considering the need to provide flood defences, whilst shaping the existing landscape, environmental and public realm opportunities to fully reflect the character of the area. The aim was to realise opportunities for socialising, exercise, informal play and contact with nature, whilst respecting the environmental sensitivities of the estuary. The scheme balances the needs of both people and the environment whilst ensuring it remained compliant with funding from Defra.
The design was produced jointly between Portsmouth City Council, Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership and the appointed designers Royal Haskoning DHV and LDA Design, to transform this important pedestrian and cycle route for existing users and generations to come. Portsmouth is a densely populated city, so it was important to encourage future use of the area as a destination rather than solely as a commuter through-route.
The wider vision for Tipner Lake is to create:
“A series of beautiful and diverse open spaces and habitats, where people and nature co-exist in harmony. Continuous safe leisure and commuter routes for cycles and pedestrians will circumnavigate the island. A unique area offering a fantastic quality of life within an absolutely remarkable landscape and waterfront setting. Celebrating island living at its best and Portsmouth as the Waterfront City.” (LDADesign Detailed Design Report, January 2017).
The tarmac footpath along this route was a segregated smooth blacktop pedestrian and cycle path, that wound around 2km of Tipner Lake, from Twyford Avenue in the south to Ports Creek roundabout in the north. The path was well used for exercising and by locals for walking and cycling, and also as a through route for commuters.
Whilst the path gave panoramic views across the estuary, the route was considered monotonous, with a lack of opportunities for walkers to stop. In addition, due to the low levels, it was exposed to the sea and would overtop during storm events. With no fencing, there was also further risk of injury from falling off the promenade onto the foreshore 2m below.
The introduction of new coastal defences to the area also gave the opportunity to re-design the landscaping behind the sea wall, allowing the provision of new seating and play areas which incorporate features such as stepping stones and climbing posts. The land behind the defences has been raised in some areas to retain and enhance the panoramic views. The designs are inspired by North Portsea’s surrounding natural context and were carefully selected to enhance the area, to create visual interest for as much of the year as possible and compliment the adjacent seawall.
In line with Portsmouth City Council’s policy to introduce shared pedestrian and cycle routes to the city, a continuous, smooth 4m wide shared pedestrian/cycleway runs the full length of the frontage and largely retains its position near the waters edge. In localised areas, the pathway moves marginally away from the defence structure and is raised to provide uninterrupted views of harbour. Along the frontage, a secondary 1.8m wide path has also been introduced to create an interesting and varied experience for pedestrians and cyclists along the frontage. Find out more about sustainable transport in Portsmouth here: https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/travel/cycling-around-portsmouth Alternatively you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
At key points along the frontage, “social spots” have been introduced to provide new seating and planting, a place to stop and enjoy the surroundings. These areas are punctuated with Way-marker totems, interpretation boards, that provide information of the local area. A bird interpretation hide also provides opportunity to watch and enjoy the species who feed from the estuary mudflats.
“Nature in the city is precious. It provides benefts for stress reduction, reinforces identity, reduces the urban heat island effect and supports wildlife.” (LDADesign Detailed Design Report, January 2017).
Photo: Prior to works
Photo: Construction in progress, finishing touches
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