The Mayor of London has helped mark the completion of a £14million overhaul of Piccadilly and its surrounding streets. A range of improvements have been made with the aim of easing congestion through one of London’s most iconic areas and making it more accessible for the thousands of pedestrians and road users who use the area every day. The project has helped restore one of the capital’s greatest boulevards and created a much improved public space.
On Piccadilly an extra 480 square metres of usable footway have been provided and new central pedestrian strips have been constructed that will make it easier for pedestrians to cross. New street lighting on the central strips has been combined with traffic signals and road signs. By doing so engineers have been able to cut down on street clutter by removing 51 lighting columns, 34 unnecessary signs and 825 metres of pedestrian guard rail.
Today (3 November) the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, led a convoy of vintage cars and a classic Routemaster along Piccadilly, which has also returned to two-way traffic for the first time since the early 60s. The return to two-way traffic on Piccadilly, Pall Mall and St James’s Street, combined with improved traffic signalling, should reduce queues of traffic in the area. It will reverse the trend of ‘rat running’ through narrow streets nearby and offer a more direct route through the City.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “These substantial works have breathed new life into one of the capital’s greatest boulevards. By providing more paving, ripping out superfluous signs and restoring two-way traffic for the first time in almost 50 years we are rejuvenating a jewel in London’s crown. This will ease the flow of traffic and is a terrific example of the work we are doing to provide better and more attractive streets in the capital that will inspire and delight everyone that uses them.”
The £14million improvement plan was led by Westminster City Council, Transport for London and The Crown Estate. Improving journey times should mean quicker deliveries and savings for businesses in the area, and the scheme has been heralded as a “stroke of genius” by one of the businesses that is already benefiting. As well as improvements to Piccadilly; Pall Mall and St James’s Street have also been ‘de cluttered’ to improve the pedestrian landscape.
The works were completed on schedule and ahead of the 2012 Games. Restoring two-way traffic has opened up a key gateway to St James’s Park, the Mall and Horse Guards Parade, which will be the venue for beach volleyball.
Westminster City Council Leader Cllr Colin Barrow said: “This is a scheme that will enhance the whole Piccadilly area – creating space on the pavements and less congestion on the roads. We have been very pleased to be involved in a project that will clearly make a difference to so many people’s lives. Westminster City Council is committed to keeping the capital moving and this is an example of how we are doing just that.”
Westminster City Commissioner for Transport Martin Low added: “We are delighted that this scheme has finished on time and on budget – Piccadilly is now one of the most efficient routes through the city centre.”
Roger Bright, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate said: “Our extensive Regent Street and St James’s ownerships are currently the focus of £1.5 billion of regeneration investment. Here we are committed to working in partnership with Transport for London and Westminster City Council to improve the public realm and are delighted to have been able to help fund the Piccadilly Two Way. Schemes like this and the Oxford Circus diagonal crossing help protect the long-term competitiveness of the West End as a international visitor destination, which is particularly important in this challenging economic climate.
An array of local business leaders have already praised the improvement works. Anthony Lorenz, a commercial property consultant who has worked in the city for four decades and travels through the area four times per week, is delighted that journey times will be reduced to and from his office at from The Lorenz Consultancy. Congratulating the efforts of Westminster City Council he said: “Three minutes from the Ritz in Piccadilly to The Strand – a stroke of genius.”
Sarah Porter, chief executive of the heart of London business alliance, praised the scheme’s immediate impact. She said: “We are delighted in the completion of the Piccadilly Two Way scheme which will have a direct and meaningful impact on the West End and in particular the Heart of London area. The improved pedestrian crossings and reduction in street clutter will all benefit the trading environment for our businesses.”
Annie Walker, director of the Regent Street Association Ltd, added: “It has made it a lot better. Coming to work at 8.30am was very smooth – I come along Piccadilly from Hyde Park and then left into Albemarle Street, it still seemed much smoother, not necessarily less traffic but just moved quicker. And I just love the cartoon signs directing you to Trafalgar Square – a great idea.”
Note to editors:
- Westminster City Council contributed £3.5 million to the overall total cost of scheme, TfL £7million and Crown Estate a further £3.5million.
- Traffic began flowing in both directions on Piccadilly on October 24. It is the first time since 1963 that it has been a two-way road.
- Works on the scheme began in August 2010 and have been completed and delivered ahead of time and on budget.
- Piccadilly Two Way is one of Westminster City Council’s “Living City” pledges and is one of many key improvements the council is making to improve the city. See http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/livingcity/ for details.
- An extra 480 square metres of usable footway have been provided on Piccadilly and better ‘straight across’ pedestrian crossings have been installed that reflect the desire lines for those travelling on foot – for example for the first time pedestrians will be able to cross from Eros to the north side of Piccadilly.
- New central pedestrian strips in Piccadilly and Pall Mall provide greater opportunity for pedestrians to cross along the whole length of these roads.
- New street lighting has been provided on the central strips along the length of Pall Mall and Piccadilly, which has been combined with traffic signals and road signs to enable the removal of 51 existing lighting columns, 34 redundant signs and 825m of pedestrian guardrail on the pavements in order to create additional useable pedestrian space.
- High quality materials have been used throughout to enhance the streetscape and public realm. 5,200 square metres of York stone have been in the repaved areas along Piccadilly. 1580 square meters of granite sets have been used along the central islands of Piccadilly and Pall Mall.
- The amount of public space on the corner of Regent Street and Piccadilly has been increased by 25%.
- Two-way traffic operation and improved signalling arrangements at Piccadilly Circus and the St James’s Street junctions will smooth traffic and reduce delays for cars, buses, taxis and deliveries.
About Mayor of London’s Great Outdoors
- ‘London's Great Outdoors - A Manifesto for Public Space’ is supported by two practical guides, ‘Better Streets’ and ‘Better Green and Water Spaces’. Together they set out the Mayor of London’s vision for improving public spaces in London. This will ensure that our streets, squares, parks and green and water spaces are fit for a great world city, are enjoyed by everyone who visits them and most importantly, help improve the quality of life in the capital.
- They are accompanied by an implementation plan that will see £355 million invested in over 80 public realm improvement projects between 2009 and 2012 Games, funding for which comes from Transport for London, The London Development Agency and London’s boroughs as well as other sources.
- The measures include redesigned streets, which can be shared by both the pedestrians and vehicles and reclaimed derelict green spaces and underused waterways. The manifesto and guides have been written and produced by the Greater London Authority, London Development Agency, Design for London and Transport for London. For further information please go to www.london.gov.uk/greatoutdoors