Road beautification plan could create opportunities for contractors
In a week that has seen one government department come under fire by MPs for their poor planning when it comes to managing contractors and providing opportunities for them to thrive, another could be making themselves more popular with contractors in the coming months.
The Department for Transport is planning an immense project which could completely transform the face of the nation’s road network with a ‘beautification’ programme. John Hayes, the Minister for Transport, is keen to make improvements to what he describes as the ‘biggest single asset owned by the government’. Plans have been announced to form a design panel similar to that which was responsible for the HS2 high speed rail link, in order to change the face of the UK’s landscape for the better.
Hayes has lofty ideas and announced the plans with reference to ancient empires such as the Romans and Greeks which both left legacies which are still apparent today.
Although the road network has much to recommend it in practical terms, it was designed for a purpose with little thought for its visual impact. Mr Hayes is hoping to integrate the roads into the landscape a little more, concealing some of the less appealing aspects of their construction using natural materials and taking inspiration from the surrounding countryside.
The importance of roads is likely to increase and it is unrealistic to overlook the fact that they are essential in terms of their economic importance to the country’s infrastructure, however, Mr Hayes is keen to point out that this does not mean that they cannot be appealing as well. He wants to put together a design panel which will identify the principles which should be adhered to when considering how to improve the look of the country’s roads, as well as keeping costs down to a reasonable level and providing a blueprint which can be used for any future building projects.
Mr Hayes’s ideal would be a network of award-winning roads which would set the standard for architecture and design in this country by stamping out the culture of purely functional design and promoting projects which appeal to all the senses. Stark structures, unnecessarily austere construction and secondary effects such as light pollution could all be tackled under these new plans to make the necessary features of modern life blend better with the natural landscape.
This is good news for contractors working in all areas of design, planning, IT, project management and construction as there should be plenty of opportunities for work resulting from such a scheme, especially with the plans to roll out the project nationwide.
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