Until very recently we had been expecting a final decision on the Tavistock Place – Torrington Place scheme on 22nd February. Therefore we were very disappointed on reading the report at http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=29988#mgDocuments to see that there was going to be a delay. We understand that when the trial was set up in autumn 2015, the necessary copy of the ETO (experimental traffic order) was not lodged at 5 Pancras Square. If someone objects to this, then there would have to be a public inquiry. The council has been given legal advice to have a voluntary public enquiry rather than waiting for one to be triggered. In the meantime, if the scheme were approved in principle, Camden would apply to have the temporary scheme extended.
We attended the Cabinet Meeting at which there were four deputations.
- John Hartley spoke on behalf of CCC (download CCC Tavistock Place deputation)
- Simon Munk spoke on behalf of LCC (download LCC deputation statement)
- BRAG and the LTDA spoke against the scheme
The Webcast for the meeting is at
You can select the deputations from the menu of agenda items on the right.
Cabinet members then questioned the deputation speakers; John Hartley made a good defence of the benefits for local residents.
Cllr Phil Jones then made an excellent statement in support of the proposed scheme and the reasons for rejecting the alternatives proposed by BRAG, the Hotel Group and the LTDA. Officers assured all stakeholders that they would be asked to give input to the Public Inquiry. We were pleased to hear the supporting speech from Bloomsbury Cllr Harrison. See the Webcast at 22 mins in.
Cabinet members were all supportive but asked officers many questions, which included quite a few on the findings of the EIA (Equality Impact Assessment). The report contains a very thorough EIA in Appendix 9E. Finally, Cabinet agreed unanimously that the council should apply to extend the ETO, to hold a Public Inquiry and then to make a final decision based on the results of the Inquiry.
Some extracts from the officers’ report
The officers’ report and accompanying appendices are very thorough. Download the consultation report (Appendix C). The consultation report gives a very thorough analysis of the responses to the consultation, coming from 55 organisations and over 15,000 individuals. These included over 2000 each of residents and University Staff and just under 2000 each of employees at local businesses and students as well as about 8000 ‘passing through’. It’s likely that many of the latter were people that we gave cards and leaflets to when they stopped at traffic lights.
When classified by their usual means of travel in the area, there were ~7000 walking and ~10,000 cycling with 2-3000 each by bus and underground. Nearly 2000 were driving taxis and just over 1000 each were passengers in taxis or car drivers.
When asked whether the trial layout should be made permanent, 79% said ‘yes’ and 21% ‘No’. Of Camden residents, 73% said ‘yes’ and 26% ‘No”. Of particular interest were the residents of the WC1 postcodes where 56% said ‘yes’ and 43% ‘No”. In other groups over 90% of employees at local businesses, students and university staff said ‘yes’ ; while 57% of business owners and providers of local services (excluding taxi drivers) said ‘yes’. The only groups against were taxi drivers (99% against) and hospital patients (52% against).
The statistics were followed by a summary of comments made on the scheme. The many positive comments related to safety and comfort for people on bikes and on foot (e.g. easier to cross the road), improved air quality and reduced noise and motor vehicle nuisance; as well as advantages for children, older people and disabled. Negative comments related to displaced motor traffic, congestion and longer routes for motor vehicles; air quality; and related disadvantages to older, disabled people and families as well as delays to emergency services. It is interesting to read officers responses to these and other negative issues on pages 30-40.
The next section deals with suggested improvements including those that we mentioned in our response e.g.
- attempt to make the track width 2.5 m wherever possible to cater for future growth in numbers
- blended junctions – will be considered where possible and appropriate
- remove loading bay outside Planet Organic – to remain
- Byng Place: mark boundary of westbound cycle track – officers considering options
- safe junction at Judd Street – vague response
This report is very thorough and contains an amazing level of detail. It provides an excellent case for the scheme and the Appendix 9d on the alternative proposals does a good job of exposing their inadequacy. Download Appendix 9d.
The remaining hurdles
As described above, Camden proposes the following:
- apply to get the ETO extended – apparently this is usually granted to enable a Public Inquiry; and if successful we will be able to continue to use the tracks as they now are.
- hold a voluntary Public Inquiry – Camden wants it to be an assessment of the merits of the trial scheme but they also said that the scope will be decided by the inspector. The officers’ report looks like an excellent basis for the Inspector’s judgement. However, although we are optimistic, we have no idea as to what could actually happen.
- write a report based on the findings of the Public Inquiry with recommendations as making the scheme permanent and implementing improvements.