Plans progress for West End Project

Gower StreetCamden Council have published a report following their consultation on the West End Project transforming the Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street area. It is one of the largest public realm projects in London, and one which our local group in Camden, Camden Cyclists, has been campaigning on for a long time. The Tottenham Court Rd and Gower St (image above from July 2014) area is described as one of the worst ten locations in the borough for collisions, with 259 casualties in total in the last three years, of which 36% involved pedestrians and 27% involved cyclists. Tottenham Court Road also has one of the worst pollution levels in the borough.

The full report, which will go to the Council's Cabinet meeting on 21 January, can be seen in the meeting papers. The plans are to deliver a ‘radical transformation’ of the West End area, including introducing protected cycle lanes and measures to reduce congestion and pollution across the area. 

The detailed plans represent a significant improvement on those put forward for public consultation in June last year. Camden Council have adapted proposals from Camden Cycling Campaign to replace the semi-segrated cycle track with a stepped track allowing more width.

The stepped track, at a level between the footway and road level will be at least 1.75 metres wide and 2 metres where there is enough space. The original proposal was for a 1.5 metre wide track.

In response to concerns about extra traffic on side streets the Council are proposing a trial to have a cycle track on both sides of Torrington Place and restricting motor traffic to one way operation. That would prevent rat running and, if approved, would meet the LCC Space for Cycling ward ask supported by all the local council members.

Camden Council say that traffic has reduced by 30% since Charing Cross Rd as closed in 2007 for the Crossrail works, and that they would like to retain the level of traffic reduction and ‘improve road safety, make the area better for walking, cycling and people using buses and create new public spaces delivering a better area for residents, businesses and visitors.

The proposal to be decided by the Council's Cabinet would include:

  • Protected cycle lanes, using stepped tracks, rather than the 'light segregation' option of armadillos or planters, in both directions on Gower Street and Bloomsbury St, with all bus routes moved to Tottenham Court Rd
  • Cycling permitted in both directions on an additional 15 streets through the area
  • All parking removed from Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street (loading bays would be available between 10am-2pm Monday to Sunday)
  • Sections of Tottenham Court Road would be closed to motor traffic except buses and cycles (permitted in both directions) from 8am-7pm Monday to Saturday; to be reviewed in a year.
  • Improvements for pedestrians, including new pedestrian crossings at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.
  • A trial of dual cycle tracks in Torrington Place with restrictions on rat running motor traffic.

Gower St

We’re pleased to see stepped tracks - vertically separated cycle tracks at an intermediate level between the footway and main carriageway – in both directions on Gower Street in the plans, which we recommended in our response to the consultation. However, we do have some concerns about the width of the track, which we don’t want to see go below 2 metres, and about loading bays which would be in operation from 10am-2pm. Overall, though, the scheme would offer much better space for cycling than there is at present, and we hope that Camden Council’s Cabinet will approve the scheme. 

The Cabinet is offered four options:

• Support the proposals in full

• Support the plans but allow taxis throughout Tottenham Court Road

• Keep the one-way gyratory system but keep proposals with full support such as new public spaces

• Do not implement the plans but provide extra space for pedestrians around the new rail station.

Read our response to last year's consultation on the plans. 

Do you have thoughts on the proposals? Let us know: comment below, or email campaign@lcc.org.uk.

Note: In the council's meeting papers the proposals and changes are set out in Appendix D with full details and drawings in Appendices F(i) to F(xv)