Pavements

The pavement in Oxford Street is dominated by buses and taxis (photo 2015)

The pavement in Oxford Street is dominated by buses and taxis (photo 2015)

The first settlements were groups of dwellings with no special treatment of the land between the buildings. Since then, paving has become popular. From the Old French paver, the very ‘to pave’ means ‘to cover (a street etc) with stones or other material’. In wet or dusty conditions the pavement is a considerable amenity. But the job needs to be done carefully, thoughtfully, sustainably and beautifully. The following are common problems with paving:

  • too often, paving is impervious and therefore hostile to the goals of sustainable urban storm water management
  • too often, paved footpaths are beside busy roads so that vehicle emissions have an adverse environmental impact on pedestrians
  • too often, third rate paving materials are used
  • cities have too few green streets and too few shared streets
  • urban squares are much more likely to have too much paving than too little paving
  • paving materials are a neglected aspect of urban landscape architecture
Much of Oxford Street, which has the highest retail turnover in the UK, is paved with trashy paving  materials (photo 2015)

Much of London’s Oxford Street, which has the highest retail turnover in the UK, is paved with trashy paving materials