The church of St Mary-le-Strand, which has spent most of its life as a roundabout in the middle of the road is now surrounded by planting and seating, while the once narrow pavement outside Somerset House is now a wide pedestrian plaza.
The road traffic that ran along Strand is now diverted around Aldwych, which has been converted into two-way traffic, so while the pedestrianised space is the most obvious change, a lot of work had to take place around Aldwych as well to prepare for the traffic diversion.
The southern stretch on Strand at the King’s College end remains more road like though, for sharing with cyclists, while the northern side of the church has been filled with planting and more seating.
Unsurprisingly considering it’s right next to King’s College, there’s a lot of seating and tables all around their end of the pedestrianised zone, which is more scarce at the western end closest to Charing Cross.
At the moment, there’s a row of temporary bollards along one side, as a work of art. Called the VoiceLine, by the artist Nick Ryan, it’s umm, well, it seems to be people talking — which a sign says was drawn on the BBC radio archive, as well as “the multi-layered histories of The Strand, to create a unique spatial sound work”, whatever that means.
There’s a morse code message at the bottom of the explanatory board, which offers a greeting to those who speak Morse.
It still feels in places more like a road that’s been closed, than a purpose-built plaza, but that effect may fade over time as the new planting settles in and grows.
There are notices hanging on the low railings that they are not to be used for locking bikes to, and that any bikes found there would be removed on 5th December. Coincidentally, that was the day before the officials from Westminster Council turned up for the official unveiling.