Monday, 25 June 2012

King's Cross: Link or Place?

The Mayor of London, responding to the GLA's challenge prior to this year's election, has through Transport for London committed to investigating the potential redevelopment of the road layout around Kings Cross.

This is promoted as being to improve safety especially for pedestrians and cyclists, increase pedestrian permeability, enhance the urban realm, and reduce the traffic dominated ambience of the area. This includes the possible conversion of the one-way system to enable part, or full, two-way traffic operation.

The roads which form part of this study can be divided into three distinct one-way systems:
-          A501 Pentonville Road, Gray’s Inn Road, Acton Street, A201 Penton Rise, King’s Cross Road.
-          A5203 Wharfdale Road, Caledonian Road, York Way.
-          A5202 Pancras Road, Midland Road.
(King's Cross Environment)

It will be critically important to involve local people who live and work in the area - for example through a neighbourhood plan being developed under the Localism Act 2011 - to ensure that this development is one which regenerates the urban public realm.
There are tunnels already aplenty here from the last three centuries - the Fleet River, Metropolitan Line, the Piccadilly Northern and Victoria Lines, and the recent Northern Ticket Hall under the Western Concourse. Urban regeneration in this transport hub area, Kings Cross town centre, would be the ultimate wider benefit of this ostensible 'technical problem' of traffic management. Another road tunnel like that at Euston Circus to the west (or Munich City Ring) would be environmentally "regrettable".
A cleaner, walkable and more pleasant urban hub area and streetscape will be economically and socially stronger (enhancing, not harming, the station tenants' businesses). Balancing use of the public realm between motorised users and non-motorised users might be done by slowing all movement to walking pace, restoring the urban and civic value and appeal of the area.

(Emerging from continental Europe to King's Cross in 2020, one will simply walk across to 'Play 2 Win' for a game of billiards at 1 Euston Road through gaps in the trees, between cafe tables in the sun and crawling traffic on the square!)

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