Getting around Bloomsbury and Holborn
Getting around South Camden by any mode of transport isn't easy. There are endless roadworks, utility repairs, large construction projects, as well as changes to the highway network. The aspiration to reduce through traffic by closing roads can reduce pollution in some streets, only to increase it in others.
The cycle lanes are now having to cope with people on electric bikes, electric skateboards and electric scooters - zooming past ordinary pedal bikes at speeds that may be legal (15mph) but could be intimidating to the less experienced cyclist. Pedestrians often find themselves overtaken by scooter-riders, whose swift and unexpected passage along the pavement can be startling.
The lack of a bus service from Bloomsbury to the West End has made life very difficult for bus users, especially the elderly and less able. Following the removal of the no 10 bus, there is a suggestion that the no 98 bus (which currently terminates at Red Lion Square) could terminate at Euston, thereby providing a much-needed bus service from Russell Square to Marble Arch. But this would impact on Holborn residents for whom the options for local residents to get to Oxford Street are shrinking too.
Changes to Holborn: the Liveable Neighbourhoods Project
In March 2019 Transport for London announced that 11 new projects would receive £50 million investment to create healthy streets across London. Holborn was identified as one of the areas. To quote:
“The Holborn area is currently dominated by a highly traffic-congested and polluted gyratory and main road network, and suffers from high numbers of collisions, inadequate footway space and poor cycling facilities. This ambitious project will seek to remove the gyratory, reduce severance, significantly improve the public realm and introduce protected cycle lanes along High Holborn and Theobalds Road. Sections of New Oxford Street and Great Russell Street are proposed to be closed to motor vehicles and a section of Bloomsbury Way is proposed for buses and cycles only. Plans to pedestrianise Great Russell Street would dramatically improve the setting for the British Museum, and an enhanced pedestrian environment around Holborn station will deliver a much improved gateway to the area. A freight reduction scheme will be delivered in partnership with the local Business Improvement District, BeeMidtown, who will also be closely involved, along with other partners in the development of the project.”
Camden will receive up to £9.48m funding from TfL’s Liveable Neighbourhoods programme to improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists in the Holborn area, as well as creating an enhanced public realm and access to public transport. Together with other match-funding sources, the total package of works will amount to at least £12.5m.
Further details and a map can be accessed from the Camden Cyclists website.
Although the proposals for Holborn sound great in principle, they will inevitably have an impact on how residents of South Camden move around their local area. The logistics of getting deliveries to where people live is becoming more and more complicated. We are also concerned that closing roads to create healthier streets has the effect of attracting drug dealers to ply their trade.
Camden Consultation - Vision and Urban Strategy for Holborn
Presumably in preparation for these changes, Camden Council has been running a public consultation on a draft document called 'Vision and Urban Strategy for Holborn'. This ended on Wednesday 3 July.
The exhibition boards had been on display at Holborn Library, and although the consultation period has ended, the relevant information can be viewed using these links:
Responses to the consultation will now be reviewed and used to inform the final version of the Holborn Vision and Urban Strategy, which the Council is intending to adopt as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) later in 2019.