A new Crouch End? – Liveable Neighbourhoods and new town squares. Part 2, proposals and new thinking

With new cycle routes, better road crossings, redirected main roads, and even a proposed new public square in the centre of town, TfL’s ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods Initiative’ is a big deal for Crouch End. To read Part 1, an introduction to Haringey’s bid, click here.

In this section we take a run through the interventions the Council’s regeneration planners may have in mind. There are of course details and issues not included in this discussion, for example much of the work will take place in a Conservation Area – and the Clock Tower is a listed building. We would support the drafting of a detailed design code for the public realm at the earliest opportunity.

image above – a new town square (created by CENF, 3D imagery © 2018 Google)


STOP PRESS:  WE HAVE A QUESTIONNAIRE ON THE PRIORITIES FOR THE TOWN CENTRE. PLEASE DO VISIT AND LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS –

Polldaddy / Priorities for the Design of Crouch End Town Centre


Proposals & Ideas

Haringey’s bid document to TfL is an outline presentation delivering the vision required by TfL, it does not feature fully worked up proposals. Nevertheless we thought such ideas it did contain should be discussed and more widely available. Whether things proceed exactly as set out at this early stage is open to question.

NB. While the town centre interventions are the most eye catching, the overall package includes proposals for the wider area and the residential streets.

 

1. ROAD NARROWING

To repeat, nothing decided here, but we can hazard a few guesses. The Broadway, Tottenham Lane and Crouch End Hill are in the crosshairs.

The congestion on Tottenham Lane has been a subject raised repeatedly by the community. When parking is allowed on both side of the roads (at weekends particularly) the road often becomes impassable (see drawings below). Proposals would seek therefore to provide adequate carriageway widths whilst introducing raised parking bays and significantly widening footways. This provides opportunities for greenery and pavement cafés and the traffic would be calmed sufficiently to allow cycle use. Bus bays would be preserved.

Sections across Tottenham Lane (image by CENF)

In an earlier Haringey road safety study, options were produced to scope possible road narrowing in the Broadway. The images below are from that work, and although not part of the current project provide a glimpse into possibilities (the grey areas are extensions to existing pavements):

Broadway (N) study – options for narrowing

Broadway (S) study – options for narrowing

Clearly the benefits are to pedestrians and the public realm, benefits which may improve footfall for local businesses, with wider pavements and shorter road crossings improving the visitor experience.

The disbenefits probably centre on increased congestion, and there’s a question mark over what will happen to through traffic. Any impact on bus services must be closely assessed.

Local air pollution is also worthy of assessment. If everyone started cycling the air would improve, but we have to be honest and say that if congestion increases then there is a chance that roadside air quality levels will worsen. I guess the hope is for improvements in the longer term.

2. CYCLE LANES

We don’t know where a new cycle route would go, and within the town centre cycle lanes may eventually be restricted to The Broadway or Crouch End Hill (ie. not Tottenham Lane) – the cross section image below for a two-way cycle lane on the Broadway is entirely speculative, but illustrates possibilities.

Broadway section – possibilities for cycle lanes? (CENF image)

In general it is difficult to see how pavements can be much wider, traffic still flow, and cycle lanes be introduced. Something has to give. So far people seem happy to prioritise the footways, and help the cyclists through traffic calming.

The TfL studies do tend toward wishful thinking and confirmation bias. For instance, we have the data for cycle use in Crouch End –
Cyclists make up around 3-6% of vehicle movements in the town centre, however per capita this represents only 1.8% of journeys taken – you’d have to increase this number by a 1000% to have a noticeable effect on traffic! For every cyclist there are 15 pedestrians.

Beyond the town centre the creation of segregated cycle lanes is easier, and the project contains a number of suggestions with interventions on residential streets, cycle priorities, and junction improvements. Another route, the “Quiet Way 10” is already being created, and runs down Uplands Road (yes, a steep hill) finding its way from Finsbury Park to Bounds Green.

3. REMOVAL OF PARKING SPACES

Firstly, this is a theme that people have already spoken to us about – particularly in relation to congestion on Tottenham Lane. There are currently 31 parking spaces in the primary shopping area, and most of these will probably be lost.

It is possible to introduce raised on-pavement parking spaces, which are the preferred solution. Along a section of Tottenham Lane perhaps?

Raised on-pavement parking in Clapham Old Town

4. WIDER FOOTWAYS

This is the key move in terms of improving the public realm and we would suggest that in the shopping area the value of wide pavements outweighs the advantage of cycle lanes. There are possibilities for pavement trading / street cafés on the new Square, along Tottenham Lane and at the entrance to Weston Park. It is crucial that we are able to present a case to local businesses that identifies clear advantages for them, including a rise in footfall, despite the loss of parking spaces – the widening of footways is an essential component of the presentation.

5. ROAD CLOSURES

The possibility of closing the already restricted entrances to Crouch Hall Road and Weston Park is contained in the bid. ‘Modal filters’ would be introduced which allow cyclists to pass through. This would create new public spaces, suitable for pavement cafés, greening, and public art.

Rat runs and servicing clearly require careful consideration.

Venn Street Clapham


6. The Clock Tower Square & a new T-junction

Obviously the headline grabbing proposal.

A new town square (image created by CENF, 3D imagery © 2018 Google)

There were two options to begin with (sketches and analysis are actually drawn from the 2016 road safety report prepared by consultants Steer Davies Gleave), –

Concept 1 appears to resemble the Arc de Triomphe. This would be on the shared surface model (go see Seven Dials), with the roads calmed and everyone jostling for position. With hundreds of vehicles per hour and more than thousand pedestrians, it would be an interesting experiment. I’m not sure we’d all survive – but I’m interested if people view it positively.

Clock Tower concept 1. The dangerous one

Concept 2 is the favoured choice of creating a new T-junction for road traffic and using the surplus road space to create a new Clock Tower Square.

This follows the logic of recent high profile schemes, beginning with Trafalgar Square, with more recent local examples at Archway and Highbury Corner – ie. one side of a gyratory system is closed off forming a new paved space.

Clock Tower concept 2. The preferred one

As can be seen in the image below this is possible, there is the physical space, and the swept paths of buses and larger vehicles making the turn can be accommodated. Bus routes are unaffected.

The arrangement is a huge improvement for pedestrians, with only one road to cross instead of the current three. The new Square offers more trees, more room, more places to sit. Somewhere to dump Chinese hire bikes, or sit and drink all day.

The drawback is once again the likely reduction in the capacity of the roads and resulting congestion – this is because the junction currently has just two phases for road traffic, with the pedestrian crossings complying with the sequence (which is why it’s so lousy for pedestrians now), whereas the new arrangement would have three phases, ie. an extra one for a pedestrian crossing-only phase. Perhaps technology allows the ‘green time’ for the road users to be optimised however (and they do this near Highgate tube on the A1 don’t they?).

If a bit of extra congestion is unavoidable, the question is, is it justifiable? Well, this is surely the point of the exercise – to prioritise pedestrians over cars. If TfL are willing to redesign Archway, affect a dozen bus routes and cause long tailbacks on the A1, it is difficult to see how they could argue that the Crouch End scheme would be unsupportable because of the affect on the W7. We’ll see.


7. OTHER PROPOSALS

A variety including, –

  • Copenhagen crossings (ie. raising the road surface to pavement level)
  • Removing unnecessary street furniture
  • Improving other streets through traffic calming, road closures
  • Better, more secure cycle parking
  • Parklets (small green areas)
  • Car clubs, play streets, bike hire

Conclusion?

Will this project will make things better in general? The trade off may be a simple one – swapping 10-15 parking spaces in return for wider pavements, greener spaces and hopefully a more vibrant town centre. If we see a line of shop closures the damage caused is too deep. If we get it right, the economy will flourish and it’ll work.

The real gains will be for pedestrians, shoppers and visitors, particularly along the main drags – but we need to be honest about negative impacts in the new arrangements. I doubt the imposition of cycle lanes is quite the panacea some cyclists think it is, and I do think that in any scheme there are likely to be losers.


It’s not too early or too late to hear your thoughts. What impressions do you have? What changes would you like to see? Please do let us know.

In Part 1, an introduction to the Liveable Neighbourhoods Initiative.