London seems to be under-going one of the biggest shake-ups in modern history as every time I switch on my computer or open a newspaper there seems to be a new consultation. It’s rarely good news too, as I’m sure you are aware. When I see these plans my heart usually sinks and I fear the worst. However, the £28 million plan unveiled by Westminster to reduce traffic along the hellish stretch of road that is the Strand doesn’t appear to be designed to make our lives a misery.
The public consultation on the £28m pedestrianisation proposal is now open and the scheme could potentially start early next year. We have been to numerous meetings about this scheme and from what I understand, there isn’t too much for taxi drivers to fear, although it is early days and there are a couple of fine details to be ironed out.
Under the plans, the Strand would be closed to traffic — apart from a few service vehicles — for 230 metres (754ft) from the junction with Aldwych in the west to the corner of Melbourne Place in the east.
Another segment of the Strand from Melbourne Place to the eastern junction with Aldwych would be shared space with some access for cars, taxis and vans.
It is proposed that a new public plaza with planted areas and lawns be created around St Mary le Strand Church and in front of King’s College London, the Courtauld Institute of Art and Somerset House.
The three to five lane Aldwych gyratory would be become two-way and new pedestrian crossings will be installed to make it less hazardous for people to navigate on foot.
Westminster Council, which has become notorious in recent months for standing
in the way of Transport for London plans, is leading this proposal. It says the plans would “transform the Strand Aldwych,” an area only recently highlighted as one
of the most congested in the country (full story P29) into a world-class cultural and learning quarter.”
Richard Beddoe, Westminster’s planning leader, said: “This historic gateway into the West End is home to some of the capital’s most famous cultural and academic institutions, as well as a major leisure destination in its own right with landmark theatres, hotels and other attractions.
“But the future success of the area is at risk because of traffic, poor air quality and inadequate public spaces. So, working with local organisations we’ve developed some fresh ideas for the Strand Aldwych. These concept designs have come together following a great deal of discussion with local groups and we now want to get as much feedback as possible.
“Nothing is set in stone at this stage and we look forward to having constructive discussions as to how we can deliver a world-class scheme that benefits Westminster and London for many years to come.”
The Aldwych Strand area is said to be visited by about 14 million people a year. The consultation runs until March 13.
If you are interested in finding out more there will be a series of public events at the London School of Economics and St Mary le Strand Church between February 7 and March 7. The blueprints are also on display at King’s College London. More detailed plans are expected to be published in late 2019 when there will be a second round of consultation. I’m pretty sure that many of you are fed up to the back teeth with consultations but it remains important that we take an interest and have a say on any schemes that affect our day to day business.