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.
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.
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.
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.