Belgravia: Westminster blind to traffic

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Westminster appears to be largely oblivious to traffic and car parking in its audit of the Belgravia conservation area.

Although rightly lauding 'Westminster’s exceptional built heritage', the audit seems to have closed its eyes to the motor vehicles that make Belgravia a less attractive place for pedestrians and cyclists – as well as detract from the architectural value.

Belgrave Square
Belgrave Square: dominated by traffic and car parking

Although referring several times to traffic on the main roads around Belgravia, such as Knightsbridge and Buckingham Palace Road, the audit has largely ignored the number of vehicles parked and moving in streets elsewhere. It also ignores the effect of one-way streets in raising traffic speeds, creating a less attactive environment for pedestrians and cyclists. And it fails to show the imagination that the council once showed in reducing traffic in Ebury Street or Camden has shown in redesigning Bedford Square, Fitzroy Square and Russell Square.

 

Bedford Square
Westminster's management of Belgrave Square contrasts with Camden's management of Bedford Square (above).

 

The audit does acknowledge that 'In Belgrave Square [pedestrian] movement from terrace to terrace and onto the central garden area is greatly affected by the dominance of traffic and the poor placement of crossings.' Its proposed solution is to 'reduce [the] impact of traffic on [the] conservation area, especially around Belgrave Square.' Reducing the impact of traffic is not the same thing as actually reducing traffic and redesigning the streets to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles!

 Eccleston Street
One-way streets can be unattractive for walking and cycling.

Westminster is required to undertake regular detailed review and appraisal of its conservation areas. In preparing the draft audit, the council consulted a limited number of stakeholders, who raised the impact of traffic as an issue. Unfortunately the council largely ignored them.

Read the audit for yourself. Public consultation lasts till 11 December 2013.

This post was edited by ColinWing at 4:07pm 15 November 2013.

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