Unacceptable traffic conditions around Harrods, and the numerous complaints from its residents about the issue, prompted Kensington & Chelsea Council to convene a series of meetings with all those concerned to try to find a way of improving the situation. The meetings were attended by several officers and council members, along with representatives from Harrods, the police, Transport for London and the London Cab Ranks Committee.
Although the large number of taxis which take passengers to and from the store are very evident in the congestion, the trade was certainly not held to blame for the chaos in and around the area. It was recognised that there are several causes notwithstanding the sheer volume of traffic which makes its way through the side roads surrounding Harrods. One issue that the trade was held to account for was the practise of taxis queuing or ranking illegally on the corner of Hans Road and Basil Street. It was considered that this junction was one of the key areas that needs to be addressed.
It was agreed that the following measures will be implemented on an experimental basis to hopefully improve the local traffic flow.
One space will be removed from the Hans Road rank. This will be to install a kerb buildout at the junction of Brompton Road, which it is intended will improve safety for the very high number of pedestrians who cross at this junction.
A yellow box will be introduced at the junction of Hans Road/Walton Place/ Hans Place and Basil Street, which can be enforced by camera and most likely will be. The parking bays on the approach to the junction will be re-arranged and these measures will replace most of the current yellow lines.
A new rank with space for five taxis will be introduced on the south side of Basil Street, just east of Hans Place. This will become a feed to the main rank further along Basil Street and will also serve as a rank in its own right for this corner of the site.
The ranks further along Basil Street will remain unchanged.
The proposed experimental measures will be introduced as soon as possible once the council has been able to complete its consultation and traffic order processes.
During the discussions it was recognised that some traffic diverts from Brompton Road to a rat run around the back of Harrods, due to the congestion on the main road which tails back from the Sloane Street and Knightsbridge junction. TfL acknowledges that this does not work as well as it would like.
The regulator has also agreed to evaluate the use of a loading bay east of Harrods on Brompton Road, which the ranks committee has suggested could be used by taxis for part of the day, to allow cabs can feed onto the rank at the front of Harrods.