Candidate: Steep Hill

Location: Lincoln, UK

Category: The Great Place Award

Year: 2012

Learning Moments

1. There is strong collaboration between local stakeholders and the council working towards promoting and enhancing the street, its public realm, shops and heritage through the vision of the Business Improvement Group (BIG) that channels ideas brought forward and coordinates and implements projects, events, and management, resulting in the high quality and maintenance of the public realm that responds to the needs of the traders

2. Steep Hill has a unique yet challenging topography that is architecturally representative of Lincoln

3. The social structure of Steep Hill is expressed through the involvement and pride of local residents and business owners

4. The public realm is enhanced through design, events and public art, and it appears that the right balance between these elements has been struck, thereby maintaining its role as a functional street that is able to adapt while respecting and enhancing its heritage

5. Pedestrian traffic is prioritized, and council has made conscious efforts to minimize vehicular traffic and develop public transport links along the street, strengthening links to nearby streets

Assessment Summary

Steep Hill connects the High Street of Lincoln with the Castle and the Cathedral, overlooking the town. It therefore forms a strategic link between the town centre and the most important historic area. It is both a residential and commercial street, with housing over shops.

It is originally a path which was developed on the back of the main Roman road. It then took a life of its own, developing as a main route during Medieval times and is as such part of the DNA of Lincoln. It is a narrow paved street flanked by two/three storey buildings, which provide continuous frontage throughout and a good sense of enclosure. It is distinctive because of its dramatic slope to the northern end. The gradient is very steep and this does not make it an easily practicable street, but the response of urban form to topography gives a great sense of place and makes it unique.

The buildings and the street have been able to adapt to socio-economic changes. Both ends of the street are more commercial areas with the middle stretch being mainly residential. The southern end links with the High Street and the northern end ties in with the Castle and Cathedral.

In addition to performing the function of a through route within Lincoln, Steep Hill is a place in its own right. It is a very well maintained street with a strong sense of history and community. Shopkeepers and residents are proud to be part of it and find it important to invest in the public realm.

The real novelty of Steep Hill is in the management model of a historic street. The Business Improvement Group (BIG) has been created to channel the needs and aspirations of local communities to the local authorities and ensure the implementation of projects and the good maintenance of the public realm. It has demonstrated its added value in Steep Hill, which is extremely well maintained without being turned into a museum or impeding its evolution or adaptability. The fact that half of the retailers are willing to contribute to the funding of BIG is a great testimony to their achievement and value.

The Academy of Urbanism (Number 2) Limited is a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales 0595604, 11c Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 IXE, United Kingdom.
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