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University of Bradford plans quiet revolution for the city's streets


Bradford could be home to the world's first 'Tranquillity Trail' following a presentation at an international conference in the USA.

Professor Greg Watts of the University of Bradford announced at the INTER-NOISE 2015 conference in San Francisco that the trail had been mapped and was now the subject of discussion with Bradford City Council.

The trail follows a 3.5 mile route from the city centre and has been designed to take advantage of the maximum tranquillity available near the city centre.

Its creation follows an extensive study, led by Professor Watts and Dr Rob Pheasant, both of the University’s Centre for Sustainable Environments, which analysed the relative tranquillity of urban environments, using a tranquillity rating prediction tool, previously developed at the University.

The tool combines ratings for noise levels, natural and man-made features, including historic buildings, traffic, vegetation and green space, and environment, including litter and graffiti. In this way, the relative tranquillity of urban roads and spaces can be predicted and routes planned that provide the optimum level of tranquillity.

The research complements studies that have shown the health and wellbeing benefits of being in natural surroundings with little or no man-made noise, particularly in reducing levels of stress and anxiety, and demonstrates that acceptable levels of tranquillity can be found in urban environments, making such routes easily accessible to large populations and without the need for car journeys on the city’s congested roads.

The trail starts in City Park in Bradford city centre, with the large 19th century Grade I listed city hall and fountains and shallow pool in view, and heads north via pedestrianised shopping streets, through the gardens of Bradford Cathedral close, dating from the 15th century, to join the attractive Peel Park with large grassy areas, mature trees, ponds, fine statues, monuments and flower beds. The return route is via the grade II listed historic Undercliffe cemetery, with impressive memorials and extensive views over surrounding moors, and then continues along green residential paths back to the Cathedral grounds. The trail then returns to City Park following the same route as the outward leg.

Professor Watts said: “Even in a densely populated metropolitan area not noted for its abundance of open spaces it is possible to find a relatively tranquil route. To establish the use of the trail it would be important to provide maps of the route in attractive pocket-sized leaflets and on the city’s web site for easy download. Additional information about notable buildings and natural features could also be provided. Signs indicating the Tranquillity Trail would clearly be an advantage.”

“Such a route would address the key psychological benefits of reducing stress and anxiety and restoring the ability to concentrate, while more generally contributing to individual fitness and wellbeing. Implementing the Tranquillity Trail might also act as a spur to making physical improvements, such as enhanced safety at road crossings, additional plantings to ‘green’ the Trail and the provision of benches to create rest points.”

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