Radical plan to pedestrianise Upper Street tabled by Zaha Hadid Architects

An artist's impression of what a pedestrianised Upper Street may look like. Picture: Zaha Hadid Arch

An artist's impression of what a pedestrianised Upper Street may look like. Picture: Zaha Hadid Architects - Credit: Archant

One of the world’s leading architects has tabled a radical plan to pedestrianise Upper Street.

Zaha Hadid Architects said removing traffic from Islington’s signature shopping street would help make it a cleaner and less dangerous place.

It’s part of the Clerkenwell firm’s “Walkable London” project, a more ambitious take on mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s pledge to pedestrianise Oxford Street.

Instead of just one street, Zaha Hadid has called for entire pedestrian networks of major roads in the capital. And that involves a pedestrianised Upper Street, including Islington High Street and Goswell Road towards the City.

Melodie Leung, senior associate at the architects, told the Gazette: “If Upper Street people want to get behind this, we should talk.”


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Speaking of Patrik Schumacher, Zaha Hadid’s director, Ms Leung said: “His proposal is to think grand: really long, continuous avenues that would allow walking to be a viable form of transport across the city. Upper Street means a lot to him, as he used to walk that route a lot.

“It would be fruitful for the shops and restaurants in the area. Pedestrianisation would be a natural opportunity for them.

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“Upper Street is also so congested with vehicles and buses. If pedestrianised, it would be a really efficient link between the north and south of the city.

“Islington is a very residential community. If Upper Street was used for walking to school and walking to work, it would be a safer and healthier place.”

The 182-page Walkable London plan is in its early stages, but Ms Leung added: “It’s a provocative proposal and there would obviously be a lot of community engagement.” She suggested one way forward would be to do temporary closures of Upper Street, in order for the “community to test the outcomes”.

Steph Palmer, from Islington Living Streets, which campaigns for pedestrian safety, said: “It’s a lovely idea. In theory, I’m all for it. But in practice, what would happen to the streets either side that would take all the traffic?

“I’ve been in Upper Street when there’s no traffic and it’s so much nicer for shopping and seeing people. So it’s certainly something to look at.”

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