Report of the Director of the Built Environment
The Sub Committee considered a report of the Director of the Built Environment concerning the Bank Junction Improvements Project. The Director of the Built Environment introduced the report, drew Members’ attention to the key points and outlining the options presented.
The Sub Committee then proceeded to discuss the proposals. Members asked for further clarification on the proposals in respect of bus routes, the wider impact of the scheme on Equalities considerations, the implications arising from other schemes, and business consultation. In response the Director of the Built Environment explained the intended rerouting of buses in both directions along Queen Victoria Street, adding that the existing routes would eventually be reinstated, before confirming some assumptions had been made with regards to related schemes such as on Bishopsgate.. Equalities had been considered thoroughly with assessments done at each stage of the project, regular consultation with relevant interest and user groups and ensuring all crossing points were to standard. With regards to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), the Director of the Built Environment advised that the impact of these schemes was assessed with traffic modelling forming part of this assessment.
A Member commented that the measures needed to be flexible and adaptable given the current and future impact of Covid-19 on traffic and pedestrian and cyclist numbers, which would need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Members then asked for further detail on the planned bus shuttle lane on Princes Street, equalities analysis and strategic alignment with TfL, in light of the assumptions regarding related schemes. The Director of the Built Environment advised that the bus shuttle lane proposal was still in development, but would consist of one lane operated with TfL signalling and would involve a small number of buses. The operation of open arms of the junction was still under consideration, with further public consultation to come, and could account for taxi ranks and drop-off points for Equalities and accessibility concerns. Officers had worked with TfL throughout the project and would engage further prior to public consultation. The Director of the Built Environment also gave the Sub Committee some assurance around the impact of Covid-19 and its future implications on the project.
A Member outlined their concern that the proposals were likely to cause more traffic on roads such as Cheapside and Poultry, on which businesses had come used to decreased traffic, and stressed that consultation should be carefully managed with multiple options presented if possible. The Member also sought clarification on cut-throughs under the option recommended. Members then raised further points regarding air quality, a possible exemption for taxis with passengers who were registered disabled, a possible extension of the 7am-7pm Monday-Friday closure to cover weekends, and resilience.
In response, the Director of the Built Environment advised that consultation with businesses could be strengthened, but the decrease in traffic levels prior to Covid-19 had been caused by utilities work and was then maintained by the temporary measures. Whilst the intention had always been for traffic to return to its previous levels in the area, consultation with businesses on this would be beneficial. The Director confirmed that the focus of the air quality aspect of the project centred on reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels.
Arising from the discussion, the Chairman moved that the Sub Committee consider the recommendations of the report. Whilst two Members indicated that they were not in favour, as there was a clear majority of Members in favour, the recommendations were approved.
RESOLVED – That the Streets & Walkways Sub Committee: