This is our association’s response to Camden Council’s West End Project consultation.
Generally we welcome the proposals to improve the Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street area particularly the addition of new public open space. We also welcome proposals to reduce the number of motor vehicle lanes on Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road. We commend Camden’s aim to reduce motor vehicle traffic speeds. However, we have a number of concerns about motor vehicle traffic being displaced into the side streets in Fitzrovia and the negative impact on the quality of the environment for pedestrians and cyclists in these streets.
According to the traffic modelling data, the plan to exclude taxis from Tottenham Court Road would negatively impact on Torrington Place, Grafton Way, Charlotte Street, Cleveland Street, Newman Street, and possibly Huntley Street (no figures given) as well as other streets. Even with allowing taxis on TCR it would appear that a large amount of delivery vehicle traffic will be displaced into the side streets.
Recently Camden has done much to improve the side streets for pedestrians and cyclists but the WEP plans threaten to undermine this. The recent introduction of cycling contraflows into Whitfield Street and other streets and the removal of through traffic in Warren Street have made a better pedestrian and cycling environment. It would be a shame to jeopardise this. Our association is strongly opposed to any increase in motor vehicle traffic in the side streets and these run counter to Camden’s policy on traffic management.
We are cautiously welcome of Camden’s plans to run all bus services along TCR. However, we are against the removal and relocation of bus stops. Currently there are four bus stops north bound and four bus stops (Gower St) south bound fairly equally spread along the streets. Removing the Percy Street (Windmill Square) bus stop does not make sense neither does removing the Goodge Street (Whitfield Gardens) bus stop. These stops are next to open spaces and offer convenience to local people.
With all the bus services along TCR instead of Gower Street there is the danger of creating a “wall of buses” similar to Oxford Street. As a large amount of people live between Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road it matters little if buses continue to serve Gower Street. The current bus gyratory makes sense to local people and helps to spread the impact of these large vehicles.
We also welcome the proposed widening and improvement of pavements along TCR and Gower Street. However, we are concerned about the “raised tables” and “informal crossing points” along TCR which are apparently supposed to enable people to cross the road other than at designated crossing points. This appears to be driven by the idea of “shared space” a concept we believe is flawed in a busy central urban area. We would rather see retained the traditional granite kerbs clearly marking the pedestrian surface and the vehicle surface. We would welcome wider pedestrian crossings and longer crossing times. We’d like to see a clear, legible pedestrian walkway that favours people of all abilities. We are strongly against a “shared space” environment. Buses and pedestrians need to be clearly segregated. And motor vehicles should not be encouraged to venture onto pedestrian space. This is also a problem with raised tables at junctions where the drivers of motor vehicles are able to drive across the pedestrian area.
We are also concerned about the safety of cyclists on Tottenham Court Road under the proposals. In places the WEP plans make the situation for cyclists worse than they are at present. We are particularly concerned about cyclists wanting to make a right turn into Torrington Place (and other streets) after heading north up TCR. We are also opposed to the siting of a bus stop just south of Howland Street as it conflicts with cycle traffic on the east-west route through the area.
We are also disappointed with the provision for cyclists along Gower Street. Whilst the “armadillos” may work in Royal College Street they are unlikely to be suitable for the harsh and busy environment of the central London area. We feel a much more robust segregated cycle track needs to be installed. We are particularly concerned that there is no protection for cyclists at junctions.
Our association is also against allowing all vehicles to use TCR in both directions outside the proposed restriction times. This would create a motor vehicle free-for-all outside the congestion charge times and could lead to an increased evening, weekend and night time vehicle flows. We would like to see a 24 hours 7 days a week restriction allowing only buses, taxis and cyclists to use TCR. However, we believe allowing all vehicles to travel north along TCR (to get out of the central area) in the evenings and at weekends would be acceptable. We are strongly against allowing private vehicles to use TCR southbound at any time of day.
We welcome the new open spaces particularly Alfred Place and look forward to working with the Council to achieve an attractive green space. We would also like to see a green space created at Mortimer Market as identified in the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan.
We are disappointed that there are no plans for a new public toilet in the Tottenham Court Road area. We suggest the council investigates siting a new public convenience at the deep level shelter on TCR near the junction with Torrington Place and removing the huge and unsightly advertising hoarding. Without a public toilet that is open long hours and free to use our open spaces will suffer with increased amounts of human waste.
There is also an implication in the plan that deliveries may be allowed out of hours and possibly at night time. We are strongly against deliveries being made at night time.