The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association (FNA) has called on Camden and Westminster councils to consider making Fitzrovia a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), in line with the Mayor of London’s Streetspace plans to help people with social distancing and enable walking and cycling.
The FNA has asked for both the Camden side and Westminster side of Fitzrovia to be considered together as a single LTN. The neighbourhood’s Georgian streetscape is about one square kilometre and is ideal for the installation of modal filters as set out in the Streespace Interim Guidance to Boroughs, and is similar to the successful Mini-Holland projects rolled out in Enfield and Waltham Forest.
The FNA says this can be best achieved with many of the districts narrow streets being closed to through motor traffic and making the neighbourhood access only, some on-street car parking removed, and more space for cycle parking added. The FNA wants a 10 mph speed limit across the LTN.
Access in and out of the Fitzrovia LTN can be quickly achieved from the Euston Road and Marylebone Road via Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road on the Camden side and via Portland Place and Great Portland Street on the Westminster side.
All businesses and homes could still receive deliveries to their door and the plan would not displace motor traffic into other local streets or neighbourhoods, unlike pedestrianisation schemes.
The proposed Low Traffic Neighbourhood would require very little work and would make use of several recent improvements by both Camden and Westminster councils. It would only require small changes to the existing network of one-way and two-way streets over short sections and would incorporate the changes due in Camden’s West End Project, as well as take into account Westminster Council’s emerging Oxford Street District plans.
But the FNA is concerned that Mortimer Street and Goodge Street could see increased traffic, as the lockdown is eased and from possible restrictions in Oxford Street, unless the east-west route is closed. In 2018 the FNA found that pollution from NO2 at the junction of Goodge Street and Charlotte Street was nearly fifty percent higher than the legal limit.
The low traffic project could also offer opportunities for increased greening and tree planting around the areas where through motor traffic is blocked.
The FNA hopes that transport officers in both Camden and Westminster council’s will work together with them to achieve the proposal for a Fitzrovia Low Traffic Neighbourhood.
Councillor Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden said:
“The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created new road safety challenges in Camden.
“We want to make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle locally, shop on their local high street, reach their local green spaces, schools and NHS sites, all while maintaining physical distancing. We are also looking to tackle future challenges caused by changes in the way that people travel once lockdown restrictions are eased.
“This includes a predicted rise in walking, cycling and car use with people less likely to choose public transport.
“To respond to the challenges from Coronavirus (COVID-19) quickly, we are making a series of safety-based changes to streets in Camden. This includes widening pavements, creating low traffic streets and neighbourhoods by reducing through traffic and improving cycle facilities including adding new pop-up cycle lanes. This will make it easier for people to access amenities and to use local roads to journey to key destinations or simply for exercise while staying two metres apart.
“We will study the proposals for Fitzrovia with great interest. Any changes will be more likely if local residents and businesses are supportive, as well as Westminster City Council. We will also need to take into account TfL plans for central London,” he said.
Cllr Andrew Smith, cabinet member for environment & highways at Westminster Council said:
“We are considering a range of measures, in line with government and Public Health advice, to ensure that people can continue to safely use streets in Westminster whilst following essential public health guidance. An emphasis will also be placed on encouraging more journeys to be made on foot or by cycle where possible.”