Shelters at the Triangle: timber vs living sedum roof

“The ‘New’ Sedum bus shelters which are to be installed are constructed of recycled material and the living sedum roof attracts bees and other pollinators when the plants are in flower.”

“I was at the bus stop when they took the old one away. The glass one is completely out of character with the town. Sad.”

“Even in towns, the design of most contemporary metal shelters is so poor that they don’t even blend in there either. In towns with historic streetscapes, the contrast is especially brutal.”

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There has been a bit of correspondence of late on the Sidmouth Community Facebook pages:

Does anyone know why the lovely timber bus shelters have been changed to cheap modern versions at the Triangle? It completely changes the feel of the area.

One was burned down a few years ago and a member of our community paid for a new wooden replacement.

Walked past this morning to check as agree it would have been a shame to lose that one, the other 2 new ones do look quite good, bigger, mostly all glass and a partial bench in them, hold more people with space and good visibility all around.

Could it be a case that the timber ones run the risk of being burnt down? sad to say, even if they have been there for quite sometime.

I was at the bus stop when they took the old one away. The glass one is completely out of character with the town. Sad.

What a dreadful thing to do. They were attractive and provided a good seating area away from the weather when necessary. Suited our elderly and those with health problems and were part of the character of the town. Doubt whether the new bus stop will last anywhere near the time of the timber! So sad!

How many times were the wooden ones set fire to? However, it won’t be long before the plastic “glass” will be covered in melted spots by people using lighters

Sidmouth Community | Does anyone know why the lovely timber bus shelters have been changed to cheap modern versions at the Triangle | Facebook

A commentator has asked whether the shelters are in a Conservation Area.

The ‘Three Cornered Plot’, situated next to Kennaway House and a stone-throw from both the Parish Church and Fortfield Terrace, is indeed in the Town Centre Conservation Area.

See the map on page 43:

Looking at the District Council’s own page on Conservation Areas, it is clear that ‘street furniture’ should be taken into account:

When the Council considers which area should become a Conservation Area it considers the whole area as well as individual buildings and landscape. The factors it considers include:

  • Building styles and historic architecture
  • Use of traditional materials
  • Street furniture

Conservation areas – East Devon

Historic England’s publication ‘Streets for All’ looks at these issues:

This guidance, together with the Streets for All regional documents, provides updated practical advice for anyone involved in planning and implementing highways and other public realm works in sensitive historic locations, including highways engineers, planners and urban and landscape designers. It looks at making improvements to public spaces without harm to their valued character, including specific recommendations for works to surfaces, street furniture, new equipment, traffic management infrastructure and environmental improvements.

Historic street furniture
Old post boxes, telephone kiosks, bollards, seats, railings and memorials can all enrich our streetscapes.
Their familiarity and historical associations reinforce a sense of local identity.

Seating
Seats and benches offer places for people to meet, rest or enjoy their surroundings. They need to be
designed and sited in conjunction with other street furniture.

https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/streets-for-all/heag149-sfa-national/

The County Council is largely responsible for such planning and replacements – and it has acted sensitively with the lighting along Salcombe Road, where the old street lamps have been retained but a new eco-friendly light has been integrated – as referred to an earlier posting on ‘Making heritage greener’:

New energy-efficient lighting and heritage street lamps were referred to in a recent Sid Vale Association talk on ‘local heritage’: Heritage Talk – YouTube The council is replacing street lamps across the county: Devon County Council LED Streetlights – Devon Climate Emergency Including on Salcombe Road – where it is still managing to keep the original street furniture

Making heritage greener – Vision Group for Sidmouth

In October last year, Sidmouth’s county councillor Stuart Hughes – who is also in charge of highways – explained why the wooden shelters were being replaced at the Triangle:

The ‘New’ Sedum bus shelters which are to be installed are constructed of recycled material and the living sedum roof attracts bees and other pollinators when the plants are in flower. ‘These shelters will tick ✔️ the environmental agenda boxes in not only providing shelter for passengers and encouraging more bus patronage but also attracting and encouraging pollinators through the living roofs’

ECO LIVING ‘SEDUM’ ROOF BUS SHELTERS UPDATE

It was followed by a press release in May this year:

Work is expected to begin soon on replacing seven dilapidated shelters with new ones that will have their roofs planted with sedum, a succulent plant often used for this purpose… Once the shelters are in place, the plant trays on their roofs will be put in separately. Sedum plants are often used for green roofs because they have very shallow roots and do not need much care or maintenance. They store water in their leaves and are resilient to diseases, pests and extreme weather conditions. They also remain green all year round. This will be the first phase of introducing ‘living roof’ bus shelters in Sidmouth. There are plans to instal them in other locations…

‘Living roof’ eco-bus shelters will make Sidmouth a greener town | Sidmouth Herald

Sedum ‘living roofs’ are indeed becoming very popular:

Pollinator Gardens on Bus Stop Roofs Grow Across Europe – EcoWatch

Renaturing Cities and Restoring the Natural Water Cycle Through Green Infrastructure | Luigi Petito

Bus Stops with Green Roofs Can Improve City Wildlife – Greenroofs.com

The question is, however, whether ‘traditional’ bus shelters can also be ‘green’.

Here’s an excellent discussion – which looks at the famous thatched shelter in Broadclyst:

Quite apart from the many failings of a great many bus shelters (too dark / draughty / let the rain in / rubbish or leaves blown into corners / no glass / glass isn’t glass but scratched polycarbonate / structure is going rotten (wood) / structure is going rusty (metal) / no seats / no sides / has sides but no front / has sides but the side facing oncoming traffic is an advertising poster frame so you can’t see buses coming, etc) there is another to add to the list. That is that so many of them are so utterly disrespectful of their local environment. Wooden ones (and I’m talking good quality ones in good nick, not semi-derelict shed-like things) work well in rural areas, but can seem incongruous when placed in towns. Metal ones in the countryside are an ugly invasion of an entirely unsuitable aesthetic.

Even in towns, the design of most contemporary metal shelters is so poor that they don’t even blend in there either. Unless, of course, the town in which you live comprises flimsy-looking metal-framed buildings with large polycarbonate windows, and air gaps on the ground floor, in which case I strongly suggest it’s time to relocate to a real place. In towns with historic streetscapes, the contrast is especially brutal.

Vernacular Spectacular: Bus Shelters Which Break the Mould – The Beauty of Transport

   
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