View of Bloomsbury from top of Standard Hotel, Kings Cross
Who we are and what we're doing
The Bloomsbury Residents' Action Group (BRAG) was formed four years ago (May 2016) due to a growing concern that decision-makers in Camden and TfL seemed unaware of (or didn’t care about) the tens of thousands of permanent residents who live in streets south of the Euston Road.
South Camden is regularly defined as a 'commercial and entertainment district', when is it is in fact a mixed-use but predominantly residential area - a reflection of its original character as London expanded northwards towards the Euston Road in the late 18th/ early 19th century.
The presence of a large transient population of students and tourists does not negate the fact that ‘Residents Matter’ - which is BRAG’s key mission statement.
Traffic management schemes
Since 2016 the streets within the three ward boundaries that define South Camden (Kings Cross, Bloomsbury and Holborn & Covent Garden) have been the focus of an ever-increasing number of traffic management changes. This started with the removal of one lane of traffic along the Torrington Place -Tavistock Place Corridor that runs east-West between Gray's Inn Road and Tottenham Court Road.
The realisation that a proposal to alter traffic flow could be implemented without any consultation with the very people it would affect was a major impetus for the creation of BRAG as a local campaign group.
The changes to Tavistock Place, which have impacted on the growing number of elderly and disabled people who are long term residents of this neighbourhood, was followed by the poorly consulted-on proposal by TfL and Camden to close the north end of Judd Street. Despite considerable local opposition, this was given approval, along with the decision to prevent any northbound traffic entering Guilford Street via Lansdowne Terrace (not yet implemented). The closure of the southern end of Bloomsbury Square to all vehicles (except cycles) has also caused issues for people living nearby.
BRAG feels that the inherently worthy (and essential) aspiration to reduce pollution in central London has simply not taken into consideration the need for residents to live an ordinary day to day life. We are trying to get the Council to define clearly what they see as "essential" and "inessential" car use as all these changes are making access for disabled people even more difficult.
With £9.4 funding recently allocated through TfL's 'Liveable Neighbourhood' initiative, residents are likely to experience further inconvenience as more and more streets in Holborn and Bloomsbury are closed to vehicles.
There are a large number of Community, Amenity, Tenants & Residents and Friends groups within South Camden that care about the well being of historic squares, local neighbourhoods or specific housing blocks. BRAG feels that greater links between these individual groups could be beneficial as residents tend to share similar concerns about crime, getting around, traffic management, noise nuisance, over-development and other issues.
An example of the unity of community purpose resulted in the decision by the Evening Standard not to progress their proposal for (in our view) a far too large / too long Festival of Culture in Russell Square, the historic and well used open space that lies at the heart of our important residential area.
Following extensive research and analysis of crime statistics, we are working with other local groups, such as the Bloomsbury Association, Marchmont Association and Friends of Argyle Square, to campaign for more police resources in the three wards of South Camden. This initiative is supported by Councillor Nadia Shah, Camden's Cabinet Member for Community Safety, other councillors and a large number of local groups. The pressure seems to have resulted in additional police resources being allocated to Bloomsbury and Holborn & Covent Garden wards. We monitor the monthly crime figures produced each month. We are concerned that a lack of reporting (due to apathy or a feeling of ‘will it make any difference’) might affect the figures released for Kings Cross ward.
A Voice for Residents
BRAG is a member of several Community Liaison Groups, which have been set up to ensure residents have a voice during the construction of large developments in the Kings Cross / Bloomsbury / Holborn area.
When requested, we support residents who are objecting to planning applications that will impact negatively on residential amenity.
We are trying to work with Camden officers to see whether their consultation process can be improved, and endeavour to pass on news and relevant information about consultations via the BRAG website and occasional newsletters.
BRAG campaigns for developments that do not undermine residents' quality of life.