Boris backs roundabouts

Think of all the worst bits of town planning and the chances are that they have a roundabout in the middle.

Brockley Cross and Lewisham town centre are good examples of how to blight an area with the introduction of a traffic roundabout. Elephant & Castle's regeneration was heavily dependent on the removal of its southern roundabout.

Now, only weeks after scrapping plans to replace the roundabout by the Houses of Parliament with a major new square, Mayor Boris has blocked funding for the E&C project. According to Estates Gazette, Kulveer Ranger, Johnson’s director for transport policy, "called for more details of the effect the removal would have on car travel before funding could be committed," throwing the scheme in to turmoil. The money would have been used to replace the roundabout with a T-junction with wide pedestrian crossings.

Estates Gazette quotes an unnamed source as saying:

“The two most fundamental planks of the regeneration are removing the pink shopping centre and replacing the southern roundabout with more sustainable transport modes.”

Both of these decisions signal that the era of reconfiguring London to suit pedestrians rather than cars is over.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

The point of roundabouts is that they're a simple, low-tech way of keeping traffic moving. Traffic simply moves out when it can and doesn't when it can't - unlike with traffic light based systems.

Let's keep transport moving, people.

The Cat Man said...

When you mention roundabouts, I think of Basingstoke a.k.a.s Doughnut City.

In Basingstoke there is a roundabout at practically every major junction and it works quite well to be honest. But in a place like Basingstoke, which is built for cars, there isn't alot of pedestrian traffic along the roads and cars/busses are used to connect the various different residential estates to the town centre shopping centres.

I have no idea whether or not they tend to speed up traffic flows, but you could argue that the quicker a car takes to get from A to B, the less time on the road, would reduce congestion and indeed emissions.

Anonymous said...

First anon, it's not about keeping traffic moving, it's about creating places for people to live and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

It's perfectly possible to live and enjoy Elephant and Castle (well...) as it is, whether it had a roundabout or not.

The Cat Man said...

They have a rather trendy roundabout at Canary Wharf even, you know, the one with the tree made of traffic lights?

They could make it a landmark somehow...

max said...

Paris seems to be living happily with lots of roundabouts and a metro that's much better than the tube here in London.
The Bastille is a great area and is on a roundabout.
That said I think that Elephant and Castle deservedly won an award for the ugliest place in Britain. Maybe it's more about ugly places than about roundabouts.
Stations opening on roundabouts are also odd combinations.

Brockley Nick said...

If you move slightly away from Bastille roundabout the area's nice, but right next to the roundabout it's a bit desolate compared with the rest of that little bit of Paris. Of course, Bastille has the benefit of huge great pavements and pavement side cafes. E&C has underpasses, narrow pavements and blank walls.

Congratulations to those who live in E&C and like it. But hopefully the suggestion that there is still room for a little improvement is not too contentious...

Anonymous said...

Oh god no, it's an absolute shithole - but I think attacking the roundabout is missing the point. What about the scummy market, the scummy shopping centre, and the scummy takeaways that line it?

And I resent using the area to provide 'social housing' - some of us pay a fortune to live within distance of central london, others get in for free - why aren't they in the countryside rather than Zone 1?

Brockley Nick said...

Well they're knocking a lot of that stuff down to build a new town centre. But they can't do that if the roundabout doesn't go (this will sound familiar to anyone who's followed the Lewisham Gateway story).

The wider point is that for the last ten years, priority has been given to pedestrians in decisions about transport and planning in London. Boris' advisor has ripped up that principle. You may or may not agree with that, depending on whether you're the sort of person who owns a pair of driving gloves and cheers when they see a vandalised speed camera.

Anonymous said...

That shows a clear misunderstanding of the driving community - yes I do raise a wry smile when I see a burnt out gatso, but the glove wearers are the flat-cap wearers who stick rigidly to 40MPH wherever they go and so are unlikely to be troubled by the cameras - get your stereotypes right?

Could it be fair to say that if we've spent 10 years offering people more subways, more pavements, more crossings etc. that some balance to 'the other side' is fair?

Hugh said...

Be fair. None of us plan being here long enough to see the new Lewisham.

Tressilliana said...

'And I resent using the area to provide 'social housing' - some of us pay a fortune to live within distance of central london, others get in for free - why aren't they in the countryside rather than Zone 1?'

Perhaps this is meant to be a joke. However, assuming it isn't, if you had your way I wonder who would do all the cleaning and other essential but very low-paid jobs that keep the city ticking over? It may have escaped your notice but people on very low incomes need to live very near the places where they work because they can't afford a season ticket in from the suburbs.

Of course, you are probably assuming, like somebody who posted here a week or two ago, that everybody who lives in social housing is unemployed. Not so. Social housing is a lifeline for lots of nurses, recently qualified teachers, junior civil servants and council staff, secretaries, builders, back-office staff in banks - Uncle Tom Cobley and all, basically - who can't afford to buy and can't afford private sector rents.

Lewisham wayward said...

Thanks Tressiliana, I was going to post a very similar comment. Anon 15:52, you seem to be suggesting that we should be grateful for being "given" subways, but they are perceived to contribute to attacks, people don't like using them for fear of crime and so are more likely to take short-cuts which will slow down traffic.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Victorian concept of the deserving poor and everyone else being basically scroungers went out in the 1940's?

Read Down and Out in Paris and London (Orwell)you may learn something.

Being poor is not a crime and claiming what you are entitled to if you need it is nothing to be ashamed off.

Kirsty said...

Lewisham Gateway has officially stalled. The planning was approved a year ago and still the Council and developers haven't signed the crucial agreement in order for things to progress. It's a shambles - and thanks to the credit crunch we're stuck with a god awful, ugly and pedestrian nightmare roundabout. I sometimes avoid Lewisham town centre because it takes so long to actually get in to the place on foot!
Plus I don't really want to go shopping somewhere that makes me want to slash my wrists - it's such a depressing town centre and the Council are useless. They need to get off their arses and be proactive about regeneration.

Anonymous said...

puts the merits of speedicars' sign into perspective, eh?

For what it's worth, lewishams riverdale centre is quite nice - and has a spacious multi-story

Anonymous said...

The loss of Ken Livingstone is really starting to bite.

Cars are the stars.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Headhunter said...

Typical Boris and his car friendly policies. People moaned that the Tube was a disaster under Ken, well wait a few years, anyone taking public transport will soon be a 2nd class citizen as, after a brief interlude, transport policy ones again centres round motor vehicles under BoZo

Nina said...

What a surprise, Boris is hot for motor vehicles and wants to screw up the potential for pedestrians to walk around E&C. Well let's hope he screws up the plans to make things more pleasant in the suburban areas that elected him. Let his electorate reap the benefit of their decision.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of Ken getting back in just in time for the 2012 Olympics, what a craic?!!

We all knew Boris was all talk, love or hate Ken he has some balls, unlike Bozo the puppet.

The Cat Man said...

I really quite like Boris, I doubt Ken Livingstone could of turned the folly of the london-beijing handover segment to the credit of the Uk (I refer of course, to the 'ping pong' speech).

The focus on cars is a bit of a let down, but in other areas I think he has done alot better then Red Ken. Red Ken has managed to stifle debate and let people sponge off the state all in the name of political correctness and equality. Well guess what, theres two sides to every story and now the inefficiency in some public services and lack of core community values are really beginning to bite and hamper community prosperity...

nobbly brick said...

Kirsty, what evidence have you got that "Lewisham Gateway has officially stalled"

I'm sure you're right but I wouldn't mind seeing it in black and white

Anonymous said...

I like the way Boris has the balls to stand up to the greens.

Brockley Nick said...

I don't understand how procrastinating and delaying / ruining a major regeneration project constitutes "having balls" or standing up to anyone. This wasn't a hot potato for the greens, to my knowledge.

Dave Hill said...

Best wishes and a link from me.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2008/sep/30/blogpost

dh

Brockley Nick said...

Anon 15.52:

"Could it be fair to say that if we've spent 10 years offering people more subways, more pavements, more crossings etc. that some balance to 'the other side' is fair?"

There are not two different sides. We are all people who live in London. You are not a "driver", you are someone who happens to own a car. Same as me. Our entire city has been reconfigured over the last century to suit the needs of the car. What we are talking about is trying to strike a slightly better balance, so that some of the worst cases of traffic-blight in our city are removed and we make it a nicer place to live.

By retaining the status quo, Boris is effectively dooming Elephant & Castle to further decline.

In any case, I suspect this is partly about trying to identify areas of cost saving that he thought no one would notice. "Look, I've saved all this money by 'cutting waste' and I haven't had to sacrifice anything."

Brockley Nick said...

@Dave Hill - many thanks for the link.

Kirsty said...

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/localheadlines/display.var.2441640.0.concern_over_250m_lewisham_development.php

and I'd heard it straight from council's mouth too

Mark said...

Only 17% of people travelling through Elephant and Castle are in cars. (This figure is from the former head of the Elephant and Castle regeneration project Chris Horn) The other 83% are on trains, tubes, buses or walking. This is a decision made on behalf of the 17%.

Anonymous said...

The E+C roundabout lies on a major artery through london - the A2. Getting rid of it is fine, but can you please say where you'd send the existing traffic from the A2?

nobbly brick said...

thanks for that Kirsty - I'd seen that Newwshopper article but it doesn't actually say that it has 'officially stalled', (as you would expect), and Mark Morris, bless his soul, has always has his (well-founded) doubts about the project.

And of course, its would be remarkable for anybody to make a commitment to an undertaking of this size for at least a couple of years.

Can you divulge your 'deep throat' on the Council?

Incidentally, I think the Lewisham Gateway is a monstrous folly and Lewisham has been spared from a fate far worse than anything the roundabout has created.

Rather the blight you know that the blight you don't...

patrick1971 said...

"Johnson...'called for more details of the effect the removal would have on car travel before funding could be committed'"

How on earth can BoJo say that more studies are needed? Given all the effort in terms of traffic impact studies that it was claimed would be needed before the removal of the (much smaller) roundabout at Brockley Cross, surely endless traffic impact studies have already been undertaken as part of the redevelopment?

"Getting rid of it is fine, but can you please say where you'd send the existing traffic from the A2?"

You would send it home. Study after study has shown that building roads causes more traffic; ergo, closing roads reduces traffic.

nobbly brick said...

There were endless (although they did 'end') traffic impact studies undertaken as part of the Lewisham Gateway development. They concluded that there would be no improvement in the mobility of traffic around the new system, in fact traffic would take longer to go around the system, amongst many (many) other things.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes nobbly, a tiny increase in journey times (which might encourage fewer people to travel by car) versus a complete transformation of a part of the town centre which is currently in drastic decline.

You haven't outlined your objections to the Gateway. I'd be interested to know what they are.

nobbly brick said...

This has been discussed her quite fully in the past I think, and you have always made clear your predilection for tall buildings, and although I am in no way against tall buildings this scheme will only serve to make Lewisham another clone city centre on the model of, say, Croydon or any other paved city centre. If you like that kind of thing, then fine, but having that example very clearly laid out before us we have to ask why some more imagination might not be used for Lewisham? The answer, dreadfully, is that the Council is in thrall to the developers, the developers have a plan that they drag off the shelf whenever possible, and the developers have the skill and commitment to push through whatever scheme will make them money and offer them a quick getaway when it's finished.

Bit like walking your dog around the park at night.

But this is a trivial forum to air views on such an important matter.

max said...

I won't be mourning the Gateway either.
A monument to lack of taste and sensibility, blocks of flats pretending to be office blocks, smuggled as a "town centre".

The precondition for its erection (word not chosen casually) was a forecast of 60,000 new jobs to be created at Canary Wharf, plus banks falling over themselves to lend money to people that want to invest in buy to let flats.
It may be that a situation that makes it economical will happen again in 10 years time but should we wait that long to have something done there or should we instead think of a plan b?

Brockley Nick said...

If you can muster the energy to recap for us, I'd really like you to spell out what the specific problems with the plan are.

So far, I have gathered that you are concerned about the increase in journey times (fair enough, although I regard this as a small price to pay) and that it looks a bit too much like Croydon (I don't think it looks anything like Croydon, so I guess what you mean is that it is not visually interesting enough for you. I'd sort of agree with that, but then most buildings and developments are quite similar - I'd love it to be more interesting, but I think the design quality looks fine).

I have reservations about the scheme, but my main argument is with protestors who throw around emotive language and accusations of people being in other people's pockets without actually making concrete points which can be examined and debated.

The Cat Man said...

The proposed development was a farce. I'm all in favour of regeneration, but where was the token iconic building? I.e. no lewisham Gerkhin or giant testicle?

If the council is serious about re-generation, then why on earth would they not want to encourage people to live there and form a co-hesive community around a common landmark?

Brockley Nick said...

PS - re: tall buildings. I have no predeliction for them, I like good design and good places for people to live. There are some great new tall buildings planned, like the Shard and 122 Leadenhall which are things of beauty. There are some terrible ones in the pipeline, such as the one at Vauxhall.

My gripe is with people who attack buildings on the basis of their height, as though that was the defining issue. The UK (including Lewisham) suffered from some terrible tall buildings being built from the sixties onwards. But it also suffered from people fixating on height and forgetting to look at the other issues, such as massing and interaction at street level. As a result, the worst damage to our cities has been done by hulking groundscrapers, faceless podiums and traffic systems that make walking around a miserable experience.

Dumbo said...

Excuse for me for being dumb but how does having a bunch tall buildings and a shopping centre regenerate Lewisham?

Brockley Nick said...

eg: Citi tower in Lewisham. Yes it's an ugly tower, but the real problem isn't the height it's the poor design and materials used and the fact that it sits on top of a massive multi-storey car park and a shopping centre that you have to walk miles around before you see any sign of life. I'll wager that at the time it was being designed, there were many more hours spent arguing about how many feet to knock of its height than there were considering how best to help it meet street level and what type of cladding it should have. It's the same every time and it's dumb.

dumber said...

Nobbly - what type of forum is big enough for you? You've never had a problem speaking your mind on here before.

Dumbo - err - all the shoppers and people living and working there, doing things, meeting mates, that sort of thing. What's your definition of regeneration?

nobbly brick said...

Its always possible to pluck an iconic building, tall or not, out of the hat, although I doubt you could name one in Croydon (without a quick google!), but putting that to one side for a moment I would like to comment on the very important 'making concrete points which can be examined and debated'.

That time, for the examination and debate for the Gateway, has unfortunately passed.

Did you know it was happening at the time? Did you take part in any of the debates? Were you part of a focus group that benefited from a presentation? Did you see any of the 'exhibitions' that took place in central Lewisham? Did you give your point of view when you were given the opportunity? Did you examine and enter into a debate at any of these functions? If you did then that was the right place for it, not here, not now. If you did do you think that your observations would have been taken into account? I doubt it very much if they were against the plans that the council and developers wanted to push forward. They may have been published in some official documentation however, to show that the Council had entered into public consultation. This is the point, the council simply has to show that it has done the consultation, it is not obliged to do anything beyond that.

Some small percentage of people did try to tackle some of the issues and some of that small percentage took the trouble to examine things in detail, the kind of detail that is in the public domain and needn't be repeated here.

We have the 'artists impression' of what things might look like of course, and we can compare that against an artists impression of what Cornmill gardens was supposed to like. We might find that the similarity is slight.

So, and in answer to dumber, it's not the size of the forum it's whether that the forum is appropriate and able to follow things through.

And far be it from me to say that *this* forum isn't capable of some change - it is and it is being demonstrated regularly, but on the bigger issue of the regeneration of Central Lewisham I'm afraid this forum is relatively meaningless.

Sorry, may not have accounted for all your point BN, but you also know that the arguments are presented elsewhere and don't need to be listed out here. That doesn't stop anybody from extracting one of those arguments and bringing them here for discussion of course (for what its worth) as the roundabout is being discussed now.

Anonymous said...

As any fool knows you have to go on the guardian's GUtalk if you want to discuss these weighty matters. Or if you really want to be taken seriously the BBC's Have Your Say.

Anonymous said...

Everyone slags Bobo the clown off but the majority somehow voted for him! Red Ken is the best so please why do we have to have the Tories again?

If we let this clown stay he is going to ruin our capital. He's a little Royalist puppet dancing for the city boys, he couldn't give a f*ck about the working and middle classes, twat has even taken away our right to have a drink on the tube for God's sake, which I think most normal people liked. I never saw any trouble beofre this crappy law was enforced, now everyone tries to cram the drink down them before closing and everyone's pissed and aggressive on the train - thanks Bobo!

If you want to get London working again you need a real mayor who actually cares about the people who live in it - and not just the rich who just drive in everyday in their gas guzzlers and live safely away from us 'hoi polloi' in their own narrow little worlds. We need Ken back to sort London out.

The Cat Man said...

Sounds like you need to get out of your council flat abit more. If you did, you would realise that actually there are other things people care about other than (in your case) the things effecting poorer people.

Why shouldn't Boris care about the cityboys? You know, the ones in financial services who compete with jobs in india at a fraction of the price, and who, by the way, subsidise YOUR public services by paying more in the pound at a higher tax rate.

you really need to get out abit more, at least, do an evening course at a local polytechnic or something.

Anonymous said...

I'd consider myself to be a normal person. Can't say that I ever felt the need to have a drink on the Tube, though.

Cat - They're all called universities now and you know it. Stop being a snob

Anonymous said...

Yet another snide, nasty little remark from Andy.

Kirsty said...

nobbly brick - i heard it straight from one of the Council's planning officers. The section 108 agreements usually only take a few weeks to sign and here we are, one year on. Nothing.

neanderthal d said...

@ the cat man

Where is this "local polytechnic" that you speak of?

nobbly brick said...

thanks kirsty

The Cat Man said...

@nea, I was being sarcastic!

I also went to a polytechnic to study A-levels, so I wouldn't exactly call me a snob either.

Its funny how people reach conclusions based on a lack of information.

patrick1971 said...

Surely Croydon's iconic building has to be Lunar House? I always think it's a trick of the government to site an immigration office in one of the ugliest parts of the country; are they trying to make people up sticks and go back?

Re Lewisham Gateway: I did indeed take part in some of the consultations for it. I'm not mourning its passing, though. The effort would be better spent, IMHO, in making the space around the Citibank tower more people-friendly, and possibly opening up shopfronts on Molesworth Street and making it less like a baby motorway. Then you could open up the riverfront a bit more and make quite a nice park.

Again, just MHO, but Lewisham would benefit from a lot of little incremental improvements like this rather than the one big bang of the proposed Lewisham Gateway.

Anonymous said...

These city boys pay taxes etc, but what is their impact on the city really. Do they add beauty, culture, are they kind, generous people do they enhance life of others?

Look at the mess they've got themselves into. Without them, the UK might have decided to pay more mind to the manufacturing sector. Yes China etc are cheaper but this country is more innovative. A lot of manufacturing has gone flabby.

I think this crisis may prove to be a blessing in disguise. It will force this country to reevaluate how we do things.

Anonymous said...

"Its funny how people reach conclusions based on a lack of information."

Pot, kettle......

Catman you are so ridiculous, it's hilarious - bring on the armchair enconomics again haha...

lb said...

Wasn't South Bank University, at E&C, a poly until a few years back?

Terrible decision by Johnson, but then I expect you knew I'd say that.

neanderthal d said...

@ the cat man


I asked a question.

Nowhere in that question did i draw a conclusion or imply any conclusion therein - though your response is leading me to start inferring.

Brockley Nick said...

@lb - yes it was, South Bank Poly.

nobbly brick said...

Nick

I know you're keen to examine and debate things, well now you have the perfect opportunity with something that *may* have a little more relevance to Brockleyites than, for instance, the immpressive erection at London bridge.

The consultation into the South Side of Loampit Vale has entered the planning application stage (DC/08/69895).

People may or may not have an official bit of paper stuffed through their letterbox, but in a nutshell it says all the usual thing about applications be inspected etc etc and an exhibition in the Lewisham Centre on 31 oct 1 Sept.

This is important (I think, anyway) and does include the carrot of a new swimming pool but the price to be paid is 'eight buildings ranging in height from 5 to 22 storeys' (their words).

If this goes ahead (and Barratt Homes remain solvent to start/complete the job) this will have a major effect on the good burghers of Lewisham.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks Nobbly, I will look in to it.

I take it you mean the exhibition will be Oct 31 / Nov 1?

PS - the piece about London Bridge was supposed to be about the station many of us use, rather than the tower, but you know how threads can wander on to different topics...

nobbly brick said...

yes, sorry, my mistake

London Bridge is of course important to many in the SE - it may be more difficult to get to by train from Lewisham in the future though...

Anonymous said...

Where is the best burger in lewisham? The Burger King has closed and the McDonalds doesn't have a drive-through.

Anonymous said...

Getting rid of the southern roundabout will probably not hurt car users as much as you think.

If you look at a map, most people are going north/south at the southern roundabout along the major road either side (A3), and not going down Walworth Road (A215).

Walworth Road is destined to be taxi/bus only under the scheme, so traffic flow would be greatly reduced on that section.

Anonymous said...

At 9:55 30 Sept 2008 nobbly brick said...

Kirsty, what evidence have you got that "Lewisham Gateway has officially stalled"

I'm sure you're right but I wouldn't mind seeing it in black and white.


Two years later Febuary 2010 at the Lewisham Local Assembly meeting John Miller, Head of Lewisham Planning said....

The aim was to start work "sometime next year".

He also said, "Legal negotiations have been continuing between the council and the developer".

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