Today, we’re sharing the ideas for the Foss Basin.
The Foss Basin came up time and again as a real missed opportunity. People find it as a quiet but also a quite inaccessible space. The meeting point of our two rivers is seen as a place of huge importance and potential….as a destination and as a route into town. This video shows how pedestrian and cycle routes into the city, new waterside homes and water-based leisure activities could bring life to the Foss throughout the year.
In this blog we speak to Andy Kerr, who has been managing the Castle Gateway project for the council, to set how the ideas have emerged and why certain ideas have been chosen within the final masterplan.
Foss Walk – why not under Castle Mills Bridge?
We know so many people wanted to go under the Castle Mills bridge. This turned out not to be possible, as Andy explains:
‘We explored a tunnel under Castle Mills bridge to allow access through to the other side. However, due to the low height levels of the bridge and the utilities and servicing that are underneath the road it proved to be an impractical option.
We also considered a suspended walkway underneath the bridge. Unfortunately from our discussions with the Environment Agency this is also not possible. Even though the walkway would be suspended over the water it would still result in river debris getting caught underneath which would impact on the water flow. As the Foss is a slow moving river any impact on its flow in this location would result in causing greater flood risk upstream.
Having ruled out these two options the best solution was to create a pedestrian crossing over the gyratory, giving pedestrian and cyclists priority to cross over all 4 lanes of traffic. This is a similar style crossing to the one at Sheaf Square outside of Sheffield railway station which is very successful (photo attached). It also has the advantage of allowing us to improve the junction in to St George’s Field, as stopping the traffic will allow a right turn in and right turn out of the new multi-storey car park’.
Lots of people said they wanted to bring more life to the Foss Basin – but why are apartments a good idea?
Andy explain that the apartments do offer a variety of benefits:
‘Creating new homes in the Foss Basin will bring life to the area at all times of the day and throughout the year. The apartments would overlook the basin and frame the backdrop, also creating a visual screen to the new multi-storey car park beyond. It also generates a financial income for the project which is vital to help pay for the expensive public spaces and bridges which are key to the masterplan vision.
The apartments would be built on the flood wall, placing it above the flood level, and also retain the Environment Agency’s access road to the Foss Barrier. The entrance to the apartments would be from the new St George’s Field multi-storey car park which again sits above the flood levels allowing safe access at all times’.
Why not a cycling and walking route up the Foss Bain?
Lots of people said they wanted to have cycling access to the Foss Basin, but the plans suggest this isn’t possible. We asked Andy to explain a little bit more the thinking behind this:
‘The original vision was to create a new cycle and pedestrian route alongside the River Foss and cycle/pedestrian bridge over Castle Mills lock. However, once we explored the detail of how this would work it became apparent that the riverside is too narrow to safely allow a separated route that cyclists and pedestrians could both use – safe co-existence of pedestrians and cyclist was a key theme from the pubic engagement (read more on a Walking and Cycling: Conversations still to come blog).
Consequently the proposal is for a new separate dedicated cycle route through St George’s Field which would lead to the new crossing point over the gyratory. That is not to say in times of flood that cyclists could not use the River Foss route, but given how narrow the space is it isn’t a route that would be promoted for cyclists’.
These are the overall ideas and vision for Castle Gateway going to the Executive in April. However, as with all the ideas this is not the end. There is still so much more detail to be decided on – more specific briefs to be developed for each element – and lots of chances for anyone interested to get further involved.
Stay in touch
Find out more about the vision for cycling and how to get involved in shaping the walking and cycle paths