Plans to permanently widen pavements along parts of the West End to make more space for pedestrians have been shown off by the local business group.

Subject to planning approvals, the scheme could see both Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane pavements widened and new planting added, cleaner wider pedestrian spaces between Green Park and Piccadilly. The scheme could also see a new arts quarter created in the back streets to the south of Leicester Square.

The proposals are being put forward by Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA), a trade body that raises money from local businesses to improve the area. They’ve now outlined 40 potential projects to be delivered by 2027, with five immediate priorities aimed at improving pedestrian spaces in the West End.

St Martin’s Lane, which runs between Trafalgar Square and the main junction close to Leicester Square is a fairly busy street but struggles with narrow pavements. The scheme would see the pandemic induced widening of the streets made permanent with wider paving spaces and more trees and planting. It would then become a pedestrian priority road from noon to midnight, allowing time for deliveries in the mornings, and creating space for permanent alfresco dining.

St Martin’s Lane proposal (c) Heart of London Business Alliance

The plans for Charing Cross Road are substantial, creating wider pavements, more pedestrian crossings and a new public plaza outside the National Portrait Gallery, along with a lot more trees to create a “tree-lined boulevard”. Some of the images show the pavements being up to three times wider in some of the places where it’s currently very narrow.

Wider pavements – the space between street and trees would be new (c) Heart of London Business Alliance

Sackville and Vigo Streets, two nice, but candidly overlooked side streets could be spruced up with wider pavements, with the intent to make it a more obvious link between Piccadilly and Regent Street.

The proposed Green Park and Piccadilly public realm scheme will create a gateway to the West End, transforming the current confusing, cluttered, and crowded environment. The project will widen and declutter footways and improve the public realm on Arlington Street, Berkeley Street, Mayfair Place and Stratton Street. The tour bus kiosk outside Green Park station would also move, clearing up the pavement space directly next to the tube station.

Wider pavements by Green Park station (c) Heart of London Business Alliance

The proposals are being put to the members of the local business group, and the results of their consultation will be announced next March. All the proposals will be subject to planning permission, and potentially a public consultation.

Away from the urgent proposals, other ideas include potentially closing one of the four roads that lead into Piccadilly Circus, improving cycling routes around the area, reducing street clutter, reconfiguring traffic routes to make the area more welcoming to pedestrians, and a lot more greenery to be planted.

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7 comments
  1. Jordan D says:

    “other ideas include potentially closing one of the four roads that lead into Piccadilly Circus”

    It feels as if not a year goes by without someone wanting to tinker with the Piccadilly Circus/Haymarket/Lower Regent St road layout.

  2. Greenman says:

    If they could create a cycle lane from the junction outside Buckingham Palace, up the side of Green Park, to the top of the hill at Green Park station, that would be a major benefit.

    How to manage the cyclists coming out of the park and crossing the pavement outside Green Park station though?

  3. Robert Harris says:

    I think this is interesting, and a sensible approach to recalibrating the interests of motorists and non-motorists. The next issue will be recalibrating that between pedestrians and cyclists, for a minority of the latter are a bloomin’ hazard to many of the former. No doubt cycle lanes will help.

    Personally I’d be pedestrianising St Martin’s Lane completely and tidying up links to Long Acre/Covent Garden at the north side, and to Strand at the south side.

    The Charing Cross Road/NPG proposals sound rather good., and it would be nice if they were in place for the eventual and long-awaited reopening of the Gallery.

  4. Chris Rogers says:

    Not sure I’ve seen St Martins Lane ‘struggling’ with pedestrians. Am unsure about some of these schemes

  5. David Thomas says:

    “Permanent al-fresco dining” will then narrow the widened pavements ……..

  6. Lizebeth says:

    I live right in the heart of these proposed changes. They all sound good in theory, but the amount of delivery traffic and taxis in particular, is not going to get any less, while its access will be much reduced. Who is going to ensure that there are actually fewer vehicles needed around these destinations? Of course, theatres and museums may never be really crowded again, but St. Martin’s Lane was a solid stream of taxis pre-Covid when the theatres let out. And deliveries to the restaurants and pubs in the area is already pretty much 24-7.

    I must say, I do love the idea of more trees being planted, though!

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