TfL Streets: "whilst I appreciate your view that we should civilise the roads where people live, work and shop, this needs to reflect the reality that the management of the TLRN network is more complex than for local roads.
These routes provide vital arteries for London’s commercial traffic, in addition to their place, function and importance for pedestrians and cyclists. In considering lower speed limits on such routes, therefore, the potential benefits in terms of both safety and liveability of our town centres needs to be taken into consideration alongside the important transport functions these routes perform..."
In a recent letter from TfL Streets, this statement suggests that, in the difficult business of balancing place and movement, the "reality" of managing TRLN roads (Transport for London Road Network - the strategic arterial routes) is complex, implying that it may be difficult to change.
Is the "commercial traffic" transport function and the average speed of "commercial traffic" (higher that 20mph? - usually default of 30mph in built-up areas) more important than walkability and liveability of high streets? For what reason does this (historical, commercial) motorised movement take precedence over place in TfL Streets approach?
The TfL Streets response above does not answer my original question about the effect of 20mph limits on journey time reliability (as part of the smoothing traffic flow agenda) on TRLN roads. I have followed my question with another enquiry about TfL Streets' methodology for balancing movement and place (see Manual for Streets MfS).
Yesterday at New London Architecture gallery, Sir Peter Rogers from the Mayor's office talked about regenerating 90 outer London High Streets where people live and work. Case studies were presented from Willesden Green, Streatham / West Norwood, and Brentford. Transport - and TfL Streets management of high streets - were hardly mentioned until the question was raised at the end. Mark Brearley, head of Design for London, cautiously broached the topic of the ongoing problem of "recalibrating" the motorised traffic balance with place quality in the public realm.
Thursday, 1 March 2012
I enquired about the public realm function of central London TfL roads, considering that the professional highway planning guide, the Manual for Streets (2010) calls roads with an important public realm function - ie. most in central London - 'streets' for planning purposes.
Transport for London gave me this advice:
"The guidance published by TfL on streetscape principles (“Streetscape Guidance 2009: A guide to better London streets” , link) applies to any public highway managed by TfL (TfL red routes such as Euston Road) and it therefore goes beyond the traditional classification between roads and streets.
Documents published by London Borough of Camden and the Mayor of London (Local Development Framework, Unitary Development Plan, London Borough of Islington and Mayor’s London Plan) guide the development of King's Cross Central including King’s Cross square. I would advise you to contact London Borough of Camden to find out about specific design principles applied when King’s Cross square planning application was reviewed."
I found that the Mayor of London in 2009 included King's Cross Square as one of "London's Great Spaces" but at that stage the street (A503) was not part of the square, nor was this clear in Camden's LDF, its UDP or its SPD. The Planning Applications (2010/3152/P, 2011/0019/P, 2011/1961/P, and 2011/4782/P) for King's Cross Square (discussed in the news) are on Camden's planning applications website.