Friday, 28 October 2011

DIY King's Cross

It is increasingly apparent that agencies - LB Camden, LB Islington, Network Rail and Transport for London - are reluctant collectively to make King's Cross streets in the area around this internationally unique transport hub into a safer and more pleasant set of places to live and work.

One possibility for the holistic redesign of the area as a circulation system is not to leave it to 'fall between the stools' of these various agencies with their separate bureaucratic problems and resource limitations but to drive the process through a local group pf stakeholders.

The process could be modelled on what Sustrans calls DIY Streets : 

 and the 'Placecheck' method could be used for basic assessment of the streets.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Placeshaping - Shaping future King's Cross

King's Cross Placeshaping Workshop (20 Oct 2011, hosted by LB Camden Placeshaping, at the Camden Centre in the Town Hall)

This short list (pictured) of priorities for the future of King's Cross was assembled, all in response to the draft from October 2010 workshops and more recent documents drafted by LB Camden (pdf). Each group represented communicated its issues for the Vision for King's Cross. These were prioritised for importance and for desired engagement with 'Camden Placeshaping team'.
(Following an an unsuccessful touchy-feely draw a crest exercise)

The red dots here indicate partcicpants votes for importance of issue (12 dots per participant allocated as they wished)
Coloured Stars show the groups' desired (voluntary) resource commitment to each issue - except that police are not voluntary (9 per participant allocated as they wished)

Looks like the gyratory is of key importance, but then, that was clear years ago. Safety in the public realm on the (motor) traffic system which forms the armature of this urban area is unsurprisingly fundamentally important, especially in light of recent casualties on it.

Howewer, it seems that Camden does not have it within its scope or capacity to influence this, nor even to ensure that its planning requirement for public access across King's Cross station ("Battle Bridge" - top right) can be upheld against Network Rail, which now considers it unnecessary.


Participating Residents / Consultees: 7
Living Streets King's Cross 1 (Greg)
King's Cross Development Forum 1
Camden Square Neighbourhood Association 1
Camden Community Radio 1
The Calthorpe Project 1
King's Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association - Youth Services 1
Resident and Lib Dem Campaigner Lee Baker

Participating police officers in uniform: 2; PC Jonathan Oran, Sgt. Gary McGovern

Council Officers: 5
Facilitators: 2

There was an undertaking that Placeshaping document draft would be redrafted with these priorities and resources in mind, with Head of Shaping Services "Helen" and Matthew Furness leading at LB Camden. The exercise seemed to revisit many issues from the October 2010 workshop.

Monday, 17 October 2011

King's Crossings

Should there be a connection between King's Cross Square and King's Cross Traffic Gyratory? There is one already, in that many users of the stations cross the roads in order to use the surrounding area; shopping, residing temporarily or permanently, working, going to entertainments and recreation, etc.

Motor vehicles on these busy roads, which are part of the "arterial" and "ring road" road transport systems "A501" and "A5200" have had a history to date of dangerous and violent physical contact between users of the road , and also produce noise, pollution and an arguably anti-social effects every day for the ambiance of these public spaces, and affecting the people who visit or live in the area, and those who work in or visit shops and businesses in the area.

The licensed operators of heavy vehicles are not personally responsible for the environmental impacts of these vehicles, and even in a conflict or deadly accident, may be exonerated as merely 'inadvertent'. Does the responsibility for care of these public realms rest solely with the collective publics, then?

One part of King's Cross' the public realm here, the square, is managed by Camden/Network Rail/King's Cross Redevelopment, however another, the roads A501 and A5200, are managed exclusively by Transport for London.

King's Cross is currently the focus of local debate about traffic danger on junctions which could be potentially far safer and far more pleasant to walk through (and even to shop in). King's Cross Square is the subject of recent discussion about (privately funded) public art in this prominent London public space, where even the responsibility for maintaining dangerous icy pavements in front of bus stands is ambiguous.

Could these public realms be more harmoniously connected? Could there be a better balance between pedestrians and vehicles in these important spaces, despite the Mayor's preoccupation with (motorised) traffic, in line with Transport for London promoting walking and cycling?

new from King's Cross Environment

More on the call for a corporate manslaughter claim here in the Guardian Bike Blog.
Response in Drawing Rings Around the World blog with some useful data like this:

Imminent workshops on the King's Cross Place Plan  - although unlikely to address the Camden-Islington separation, may be another opportunity to discuss some of these issues about managing the public realm in King's Cross. rsvp!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wild Food

King's Cross Forage
Wild food walk - foraging on a radius around Camley Street Nature Reserve on a two hour walk, we found innumerable things growing in unexpected nooks by roads, along the canal, in ambiguous abandoned parts of road reserve, and on housing estates.
Six of us set off on a Thursday morning with a long forked birch stick, some books to identify species, a bucket and a blanket.

Some of our locations and finds included;
St Pancras Station road reserve on Pancras Way - a variety of nettles

At London's newest large street, King's Boulevarde, we found Plane Trees, and spoke to a keen street warden, and discussed the potential for guerilla planting some edible plants on the Boulevarde where Eat Street was setting up for the Central St Martin's students...

Grapes near Battlebridge Canal Basin

Local fishermen were catching (small) fish - mentioning pike, perch, dock, bream.

King's Cross Wild Grapes!

Many salads, including rocket and nettles were discovered, and flowers, like miniature Daisies... on the towpath

Blackberries were found growing on Goods Way, opposite the old Petrol Station

Cherries in Fyfe Terrace
Pears in Killick Street

A bucket of large apples was collected from trees in Birkenhead Street - shared with residents, and for Rubies in the Rubble..
Cherries in Judd Street....
Now to wash and process everything!

 page 1

 page 2

Addendum 24 October
Map to print double sided on A4 and fold to pocket-size!
Great Work Jeannine and friends