Sink the South Circular!

The Evening Standard reports that the Mayor of London's transport advisers are recommending that the South Circular should be driven underground, to free up more space on the surface and make the areas it travels through more pleasant to live and breathe in.

The plan is part of a series of recommendations, budgeted at £30bn, to improve road transport while tackling problems like air pollution and making better use of London's limited space. The Standard says:

The bold proposal is greater in ambition than the current £15 billion Crossrail project under the capital and is the most eye-catching plan from the influential Roads Taskforce.

It is the first strategic review for decades of London’s roads which Boris Johnson believes have been overlooked even though they account for 80 per cent of passenger trips. Sources stress the tunnelling is not designed to make way for more cars but to improve the space at ground level for pedestrians, cyclists and parks while improving the environment by cutting vehicle emissions.

They insist a radical solution is needed. Central London has lost 30 per cent of its capacity for motor vehicles in a decade to schemes such as cycle lanes and pedestrianisation. The task is made urgent because London’s population is forecast to grow by 1.25 million by 2031, adding 14 per cent to road congestion.

Much though the good folk of Forest Hill bridle at any suggestion that the South Circular spoils their home, the leaden scar it carves through this part of London is a big problem and the respiratory problems caused by car pollution alone demand a radical approach. The £30bn cost of the project could be significantly offset by using the reclaimed land for residential and commercial purposes.

TfL is now due to look at the proposals.