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Once in a generation chance to tear down Hull’s ‘Berlin Wall’

Hull should abandon its plan for a footbridge and take the radical step of reuniting its centre with the Humber by burying a section of the A63.

The Victorian Society is urging planners not to build the proposed A63/ Castle Street pedestrian bridge and instead to take the ambitious and radical step of reuniting Hull with its waterfront by burying the A63 through the city centre. This would clearly be much more expensive than a new bridge, but the Society argues that this step is vital if Hull is ever to realise its full potential.  

The A63 dual carriageway cuts through medieval Hull - severing the city’s historic connection with the Humber. A new footbridge across the A63 is intended to reconnect the waterfront with the city and to make crossing the road easier. The Victorian Society has objected to the footbridge on the basis that its size, scale, design and materials would be harmful to the setting of nearby listed buildings and the surrounding Conservation Area.

Christopher Costelloe, Victorian Society Director, said: ‘A truly radical approach is needed to solve the fundamental problems the A63 has caused Hull for over a generation. Its noise, traffic and pollution create a hostile environment that deters pedestrians from reaching the Humber, the city’s greatest asset, and blights the marooned southern third of Hull’s medieval heart. Hull’s city centre will never reach its full potential while it is severed by this ‘Berlin Wall’. A footbridge would not solve these fundamental problems; it would just be ‘lipstick on a pig’. By contrast the advantages of burying the A63 are huge: it would reconnect the waterfront to the city centre, improve access, safety and greatly reduce noise pollution. It would encourage economic development and would dramatically enhance the setting of numerous historic buildings. We are well aware of the cost and ambition of this proposal. Hull should be capable of realising a major strategic move to permanently improve its entire city centre. The Government has proposed a road tunnel under Stonehenge; the future of one of England’s great city centres is equally important and deserves similar attention.’

A much more ambitious scheme is needed to solve the fundamental problems caused by the A63 orbital road. It is a physical barrier which harms the character and appearance of local historic buildings and the Hull Town Centre Conservation Area. The Society proposes that the A63 / Castle Street should be buried between Mytongate and Tower Street, east of the River Hull, to permanently solve the problems it causes and allow Hull to realise its full potential. Once buried, the area above the road where buildings were lost to road widening could be re-developed to recover a portion of the costs.

Photo: Prince's Quay Shopping Centre Hull, and part of Hull Marina (Colin Westley) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Thursday 22 October, 2015

More recent item: Reading University should abandon plans to demolish hall used in WWI
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