Revealed: Transport chiefs’ confirmed plans to overhaul Highbury Corner
- Credit: Archant
These are the first confirmed pictures of what the radical Highbury Corner overhaul will look like – with work to begin this summer.
After two years of consultation, Transport for London (TfL) this morning released its plans to shift the emphasis away from motorists and towards pedestrians and cyclists.
In one of Islington’s most important ever road revamps, it will see much of the area outside Highbury and Islington station pedestrianised and turned into a public space.
The “intimidating” 1960s roundabout will be removed and replaced with two-way roads, with the installation of segregated cycle lanes on all three remaining sides of the roundabout. Cyclists make up a quarter of the Corner’s traffic during rush hour.
The bottom of Corsica Street will also be closed to traffic and pedestrianised.
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Work on the overhaul is scheduled to finish next year, though TfL didn’t specify when.
Val Shawcross, the deputy mayor of London for transport, said: “These are really exciting plans that will both improve safety and make Highbury Corner a more attractive and enjoyable place to spend time.
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“With more segregated cycle lanes across the junction and wider pedestrian crossings the changes will make cycling and travelling on foot easier and safer for everyone using this busy area every day. With more green space also open to the public, the changes will truly improve quality of life for everyone living and working around Highbury Corner.”
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s transport leader, said: “This is an amazing opportunity to transform a busy, polluted and outdated junction into an attractive place for pedestrians, public transport users and cyclists, with safer, segregated cycle lanes.
“The public support for this transformation has been overwhelming. We will continue to work closely with TfL to minimise disruption.”
Cllr Webbe told the Gazette this morning the delay had been due in part to difficulties around the original plan to cut through the arboretum because the tree roots had proven more delicate than thought.
As a result, a planned crossing on the eastern arm of the roundabout that would originally have extended into the central square has been shelved – something that was also done because the crossing proved too wide for health and safety reasons. Better public access to the arboretum, as voted for in the consultation, has been kept in the plan but scaled back slightly.
“We’ve now got four gyratories going ahead in Islington at a time when TfL are losing revenue,” Cllr Webbe added, “so it was really tight to get this one to progress.”
In the end, though, the battle was won and a timetable was unveiled that should begin more or less seamlessly following the completion of the Highbury Corner bridge work that has been going on since 2015.
Cllr Caroline Russell, the Highbury East ward member and loud campaigner for better cycling and pedestrians facilities in the borough, had previously suspected something “weird” was going on when TfL didn’t announce the plans as scheduled in January.
But she told the Gazette this morning: “I’m glad the waiting is over and hope that Highbury Corner is going to be made safe and pleasant for walking cycling and catching buses, trains and the tube.
“For years, children have been wanting to cycle to Highbury Fields or to Canonbury or Laycock Schools and these plans should enable them to do that safely. Highbury Corner is currently a traffic-dominated hostile place and TfL was right to want to fix that in their review of the most dangerous junctions in London.”
But she added: “I’m looking forward to seeing the details. The closure of Corsica Street to vehicles raises many questions both about access to Highbury Fields by vehicle and about alternative routes that people will use. It will be interesting to see the detailed design solution and to hear residents’ responses.
“I’m also curious to see how they have resolved interchanges between bus routes and between buses and the Tube station.
“If the scheme is going to be effective at reducing car use and cleaning up our air the alternatives of walking, cycling and public transport must be convenient and appealing.”
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