Liveable Crouch End, a timetable, an update, Jan 2020

The controversial Liveable Crouch End TfL-backed scheme is alive and kicking – and at an interesting stage in its gestation. In essence, if you have a good idea how to improve Crouch End for walkers and cyclists, now’s a good time to send it in. Designs are in flux.

And remember, whether Crouch End gets this funding or not, others are – the development of pro-active travel schemes are emerging across London, from Hackney to Kingston (Haringey’s next LNI bid will be for Tottenham).


Liveable Crouch End timetable

2020

  • Jan-Feb    Relaunched public questionnaire
  • Feb-Apr    Development of concept designs
  • Apr-Jul    TfL Gateway 2 process (we believe the targetted submission date is early May)
  • Jul-Sep    Statutory public consultation
  • Oct onward   Design development for preferred proposals (RIBA stage 3)

2021

  • to Jun 2021    Ongoing design development for preferred proposals (RIBA stage 3)
  • Jun 21-Feb 22   Detailed designs development for preferred proposals (RIBA stage 4)

2022–2023

  • Mar-Aug 22    Tender process
  • Aug 22-Oct 23  Implementation

Trial findings

Haringey have published much data from the recent trial (click here). For previous CENF posts on the subject, click here.

It may be worth reiterating that much of the overall challenge is perfectly well known. For instance that the diversion of traffic will cause significant displacement onto the main roads, and that that won’t be alleviated solely by evaporation… indeed the consultants are perfectly aware of this, reflected by the design of a trial aimed at gathering evidence on traffic movement. Additionally, most of the existing data on evaporation is poor and often inapplicable. They need to develop their own modelling for Crouch End. Which again, is precisely what the trial was intended to contribute to.

It is notable that many people have commented on air pollution. Plainly this problem essentially follows the traffic, so during the trial levels would have risen on the main roads, and lessened on Middle Lane. Indeed, this is so obvious they did not waste any money setting up a two-week study… not to say this issue isn’t important of course, and the effect of the overall scheme on air pollution will be measured closely, over years, to assess effects.

Others pointed to bus performance issues – the improvement of which is part of the core objectives for the scheme; and others commented upon the impact on local traders – which again is supposedly a core variable, and one CENF is particularly interested in.

Please do bear in mind that the trial looked at a small part of the potential overall scheme.

Will we still get a Clock Tower Piazza?  (image: Google with CENF additions)

 

Designs

Design work will recommence shortly, with the submission for TfL gate 2 very much in mind.

For what it’s worth, the Forum (and councillors) have carefully explained the characteristics of Crouch End to Haringey and Project Centre, who are now perfectly aware of the issues. But what happens next is less clear. TfL’s views will carry significant weight, probably more so than Haringey’s.

The two key challenges are that, –

  1. The main roads go through the town centre. This isn’t unusual of course, and the normal traffic management response (for about a millennia) is to build a bypass (indeed, that’s what the Bishop of London’s Great North Road was for, to bypass Crouch End, but that’s going back a bit). However, bypasses have fallen from favour a touch.
  2. 80+% of Crouch End traffic (and 100% of the problem) is through-traffic. If you don’t address that, you don’t address the problem.

The big wins are the list of TfL scheme identified benefits (environmental, health, etc.), but particularly for Crouch End, –

  1. £millions spent improving the town centre
  2. Modal shift

And as things stand, it looks as if there are perhaps three rough options for the conceptual designs coming forward (and we’re speculating here, we don’t know what will emerge),–

  • To press on.  ie. With a general thrust to create low traffic cells, some secondary road closures (eg. Middle Lane, Ferme Park Road, or Shepherds Hill), and occasional main road re-designs. The idea being that the traffic congestion in Crouch End will be so dreadful that it will force a high level of evaporation. Maybe they’d be right, difficult to say.
  • To scale the whole thing back.  ie. Limit proposals to more politically acceptable minor measures, such as school streets and a few filters on backstreets. The big problem with this is that it will have no effect on main road traffic whatsoever – a fact TfL have already communicated will be unacceptable. Likely consequence? Scheme failure and no money for Crouch End town centre..
  • To go large, and go Dutch.  ie. to close Crouch End to through-traffic. No designs exist, but think Broadway closure during rush hour to everything but buses. And (despite the sound of angry motorists), this is of course the logical answer to the challenges mentioned above. There’d be no congestion… though one doubts the political will exists.

There are no easy answers here – but there are huge benefits to be had if they get it right. Crouch End town centre is going downhill, is shabby, and full of traffic. The funding from Liveable Neighbourhoods is our one chance to change things. There will be no other resources available for infrastructure improvements for decades to come. This is it.

Whatever comes forward Liveable Crouch End will have to deliver at least a 10% reduction in traffic whilst maintaining bus performance levels. Tricky, though as other places in the UK (and the more so across Europe) seem able to produce far more radical schemes (alas, we, apparently, have difficulty with even a minor road closure), surely something progressive can be delivered.

Do let us know what you think, and do have a read through of the dedicated council website.

8 Comments

  1. Adrian Essex

    There is a question on the newly announced Liveable Crouch End questionnaire which asks
    “In order to improve air quality and reduce traffic in high pedestrian areas of the Town Centre, one idea is to stop through-traffic on key main roads, such as The Broadway, Crouch End Hill, Crouch Hill, Park Road or Tottenham Lane. Interventions may be 24 hours or only at certain times of the day and would not affect bus routes or emergency vehicles.”

    This is a proposal which seems to have much merit.

    Much of the anecdotal evidence (mainly complaints) was that there was little diminution in through traffic during the trial, resulting in jams.

    This proposal will effectively eliminate through traffic altogether.

    This, I think is the To go large, and go Dutch. option in a recent Neighbourhood Forum blog.

    It is an approach that has worked well elsewhere, for example, Pontevedra in Spain. The article in the Guardian identifies some of the problems that remain.

    My reply to this question was that I would be very supportive.
    For an mage and for links to a couple of articles click here http://opinion8.ning.com/forum/topics/does-crouch-end-need-through-traffic-no-resoundingly-no-it-does-n

    Reply
  2. Adrian Essex

    There is a question on the newly announced Liveable Crouch End questionnaire which asks

    “There are many residential streets that could be closed to through traffic, but would not result in any noticeable impact on other streets because there is little through traffic on these roads*.

    Such interventions would improve the safety of the environment for people to walk or cycle and use the street without negatively impacting on the main roads. Access and parking would not be affected.

    How supportive of these interventions are you?”
    I think one has to ask “what is the point of making proposals that don’t make much difference?”

    Reply
  3. Mark Afford Author

    Two immediate thoughts spring to mind:

    1. They already did do it to us, the redesign of the Archway gyratory has pushed extra vehicles through Crouch End. At least we think it has – Haringey asked Islington for the modelling data, but never received it.
    2. This is not the last LNI scheme in Haringey. The council have already submitted a bid for Tottenham in the 2019/20 funding round.

    We should, as you say, get in while we can.

    Reply
  4. Mark Afford Author

    The articles on no-car urban spaces are becoming the new normal. Some Crouch Enders won’t be happy, but is there something here for us?

    Phasing Out Cars Key To Paris Mayor’s Plans For 15-Minute City
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/carltonreid/2020/01/21/phasing-out-cars-key-to-paris-mayors-plans-for-15-minute-city/#69333da16952

    “the 15-minute city would feature “hyper proximity,” with accessibility to “essential living needs” always close at hand, and certainly within short walking or cycling distances.”
    “Chrono-urbanism must be at the heart of our roadmap for the years to come.”
    “Chrono-urbanism—or the close proximity of shops and amenities to where people live, linked with cycling and walking infrastructure—describes the urban design already standard in Dutch cities such as Groningen and Utrecht.”
    “turning streets into spaces of carbon-free mobility by walking or cycling, of reinventing new hyper-proximities, of rediscovering biodiversity”

    No mention of the bypass roads necessary for the notion to function tho’.

    Reply
  5. Cengiz Rifat

    Mark/Adrian,

    This is really good work and I think your comments across the board are fair and considered.
    I think you’re right, Crouch End is in decline and option 1 of pressing ahead feels like it’s worth a try however with this policy comes a real danger of Crouch End becoming known as a difficult place to access with ‘no parking’.
    It already feels quite hollowed out with too many shops serving too few customers and this could become worse.
    So in my opinion if Crouch End town centre is to prosper then I propose four ideas to help that happen:

    1. Creation of office space to drive greater daytime footfall. The old BT Exchange building would be a great office block for startup enterprises or co-working space.
    Maybe the mooted CIL money could go towards this or similar?

    2. Open up dialogue with the Council to re-purpose some of the retail and food and beverage offerings on the borders of Crouch End. We have 300 shops which is probably 100 too many. There’s not enough trade to sustain all of them and none of them end up doing very well.
    But the Council does need more affordable housing and these fringe offerings, which generally seem to decrease in quality as they go further from the town centre, can provide just that thing.

    3. Safety is becoming a bigger and bigger concern. If you want people to walk to local restaurants with their families after dark or young people catching the bus after a night out, then they have to feel safe. So a big crack down on Anti Social Behaviour, more CCTV, better lit streets, removal of graffiti and so on.

    4. Regarding the few parking spaces that are to remain in the town centre, turn them into charging points for electric vehicles. This will have the benefit of encouraging cleaner vehicles to visit the town centre and still provide parking for people that want to come to Crouch End by car.

    Food for thought.

    Reply
  6. David Karlin

    The whole project is spectacularly missing the point. You can’t solve a London-wide air pollution problem by a competitive process whereby different areas attempt to shift traffic to each other: just look at what happened to the Marylebone Road/Euston Road when the Congestion charge was brought in. You *have* to fix it by reducing the demand for travel: more homes located close to workplaces, more workplaces located close to homes, fewer miles driven by people struggling with road works, less pollution from building sites and refrigeration trucks spewing out fumes from cheap red diesel, reducing e-commerce delivery journeys – in short, all of the things that don’t play nicely with the “bash car drivers because they must be evil and lazy” agenda that’s popular in Haringey. “Go big” is a better option that either scaling it back or hammering on as is, but I frankly don’t trust that our council has the imagination or the competence to “Go big” and get it right, let alone do in a such a way that is fair to surrounding areas.

    Reply

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