Pixmore Paths

Bolton at Home

Living Streets, the national charity that stands up for pedestrians, began working with Bolton At Home and local residents of Hall i' th’ Wood in 2009 through its Fitter for Walking project.

Background

Hall i' th' Wood is a medium density suburb of social housing on the outskirts of Bolton. Pixmore Avenue is characterised by 1950s semi-detached brick built properties, many with mock Tudor style frontages.

The project works with local communities to improve their walking environment and get more people out walking locally. Bolton at Home were keen to partner with Living Streets to improve Hall i' th' Wood, and initially, Living Streets organised local walks with residents to discover local spaces of interest and identify barriers to walking where improvements could be made.

Local residents, families and Bolton at Home, particularly through the UCAN (Urban Care and Neighbourhood) centre, were keen to engage with the project. Some residents had never ventured into the local green space and woods or explored the Hall, now a museum.

Two main focal points for action were identified. The unique 16th Century Hall, from which the town takes its name, was on a route leading to a beautiful river valley, but it was blighted by fly tipping and household rubbish.

Also, Pixmore Avenue, a dead-end road in the heart of the community, felt underused and a muddy path had formed along the route residents used for walking to the train station and shops. The group wanted to make this a more attractive walking route, so set about making a difference themselves through regular walks and clean ups. They collected 33 bags of rubbish along the route and planted daffodil bulbs along the edge of the path.

Project delivery

Bolton at Home supported the project by supplying an artist through its Housing Percent for Art scheme. Working with Living Streets and local children from St Columbus Primary school, a walking map of the improving area was created. 

To celebrate the launch of the map, Living Streets and Bolton at Home worked with local residents to organise a street party. Pixmore Avenue was transformed with street puppets, market stalls and bouncy castles bringing the whole community to life. 

Since the initial street party, the area at the end of Pixmore Avenue has now hosted several events. People became aware of the potential for the space as a community hub, and with Living Streets' support, Bolton at Home, Bolton Council and local councillors were able to put together a package of funding to clear the land and transform it into a ‘Village Green’ with a new path, landscaping, planting and drainage. 

Living Streets and Bolton at Home engaged residents in developing plans for the green through several design workshops with support from the artist. With the walking map in a display case along the route, and the council having invested in a better road crossing at the station, walking around Hall i’ th’ Wood is being appreciated more than ever and residents can’t wait for spring when the grass and planting will really brighten up the recently dug up space and complement the new paths and map. 

Maps have now been distributed to all Bolton at Home tenants.

Impact

Hall i’ th’ Wood has been awarded the Living Streets Neighbourhood Award in recognition of the changes to the walking environment, and for getting people out enjoying their local community and walking more locally.

Evaluation of the Fitter for Walking project across several similar projects has indicated that community members are positive about the impact of the project on their local areas.

A wide range of environmental barriers to walking were removed and an increase in number of people walking was generally observed.

There was a perception that people had used local routes more in the last 12-18 months, had discovered new routes for walking, were generally walking more themselves and that there were more people walking in the local area. Improvements in social interaction and community cohesion were also reported. (Evaluation carried out by British Heart Foundation National Centre at Loughborough University, 2011) 

An economic appraisal taken from surveys from several similar projects around the country has found the projects are generally likely to result in significant financial savings from decreased mortality as a result of an increased number of people walking (Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments, University of the West of England, 2011).

Quotes

‘We have done quite a bit of joint work with the Living Streets charity over the past two years. The alliance has been very productive in terms of bringing joint resources and ambitions in the area together. Bernard from Living Streets has supported various projects with funding, time and expertise.’

Sam Higham, Bolton at Home

This has given the children something better to do than sitting in watching telly, and it’s been fun doing it.’

Carly, attended the map making sessions with her sons

“The area has changed a lot as a result of projects like this, they really work."

Local PCSO Mark Flannery

Funding

Total project costs £20,000. Living Streets: £9,700 (funded by BIG Lottery), Bolton at Home: £10,300.

For further information visit the Living Streets website