Designing town centres for walking and belonging


GUEST POST: Agata Szacilowska, Landscape Architect with the Greenspace Development Environmental Services team at North Lanarkshire Council (NLC), describes the design and regeneration of Motherwell’s historic town centre.

In Motherwell Town Centre, NLC aimed to improve the quality, function and appearance of the streets and public areas.

The design was developed through internal and external consultation, and was presented for comments during public displays, on hand delivered leaflets and on the council’s website.

The resulting project involved realigning and resurfacing footways and roads, and installing new street furniture, lighting, street trees and public art.

But its overarching themes were sensitivity to the town’s historic buildings and the movement of people around the public space.

Designing for historic buildings

The project centred around two public buildings – the Motherwell Library and the old Town Hall – and also included the footway link to the Motherwell Heritage Centre.

Paving the streets with granite slabs, setts and kerbs created a beautiful setting for the architecture, seamlessly merging old and new.

Bespoke granite benches not only provided resting and waiting areas, but also were used to present engaging facts about the town’s heritage.

The footway in High Road, leading up to the Heritage Centre, incorporated stainless steel and Corten steel lettering, which described the town’s history from its beginning up to the present day.

Granite columns created a gateway feature incorporating 10 historical images showing the town’s streets in the 19th and 20th century.

Designing for pedestrians and traffic management

The aim of the project was to improve access and circulation, especially for pedestrians, as well as to upgrade the appearance of the town centre.

The new layout led to the widening of footways and infilling of bus bays and loading bays to improve traffic management.

New bus shelters and bus stops were repositioned to enable easy access from raised granite kerbs.

Retractable bollards and bell bollards were installed to restrict illegal parking and keep the footway free from obstructions for pedestrians while maintaining the loading space used by the library.

Street clutter was reduced by removing all street guards and rearranging the street furniture.

The project also included tree pit installation, tree grilles, new street lighting columns, in-ground lights cored into the granite slabs, and planting of six street trees and four ornamental planting beds.

Product suppliers

Project details

  • Project Name: Motherwell Town Centre Phase 2
  • Category: Urban design/regeneration
  • Location: Hamilton Road, High Road and West Hamilton Street, Motherwell
  • Scheme type: Urban
  • Scheme size: 4000m2
  • Practice: Greenspace Development, North Lanarkshire Council (NLC)
  • Client: Planning and Development, NLC
  • Contract Value: £900,000
  • Completion Date: June 2011
  • Project team: Landscape Architect & Clerk of Works, Greenspace Development, Planning and Development, Roads and Transportation, NLC
  • Civil engineer: iD Consulting
  • Lighting engineer: Lighting Section, NLC
  • Quantity surveyor: TJ Ross
  • Contractor: Mackenzie Construction
  • Funding: NLC Capital Programme

For more information

Contact Agata Szacilowska, e-mail:,
tel: 01698 402108.


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One Response to “Designing town centres for walking and belonging”

  1. D Y Says:

    It’s a nice setting for the library but I’m not sure it meets the other goals. The type in the pavement on High Rd seems misplaced on a narrow side street mostly used for its taxi rank.

    Most of Motherwell’s shops, and footfall, are in Brandon Parade. The shops’ loading bays off West Hamilton St/A721 and the tower blocks to the north (4th photo) funnel pedestrian movement from Hamilton Rd/A723 and Merry St. The Asda superstore and new Lidl to the south of Brandon Parade are firmly designed for motorists.

    I think it’s a missed opportunity to put in a segregated cycle track on Hamilton Rd to start tipping the balance away from cars. It could have gone behind a normal bus shelter (parallel to the road). Putting the bus shelter at right angles shows how much empty space there is. I think wide pavements work fairly well on Graham St in Airdrie but Stewarton St in Wishaw is proving very controversial. All those examples are still a poor second to pedestrianised streets. The lack of provision for cyclists in amongst all the nice stone makes me think it’s form over function.

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