Report of the Director of the Built Environment
The Sub Committee considered a report of the Director of the Built Environment concerning the Beech Street Transportation and Public Realm Project. The Deputy Chairman, in the Chair, introduced the item and advised of a correction, asking Members to disregard a sentence within paragraph 35 of the report.
The Director of the Built Environment then introduced the report and drew Member’ attention to the key points, summarising the understanding of feedback received and the outcomes of the judicial review in respect of the scheme. The Director of the Built Environment then outlined the options presented for consideration, with Option 2 recommended for approval.
The Deputy Chairman, in the Chair, then reminded Members that two briefings on the project had recently been held for local Ward Members not on the Sub Committee, and on both occasions the Members had expressed a preference for Option 2, before inviting Members to discuss the proposals. A Member commented that the scheme had been subject to unfortunate timing, and that due to the circumstances the impact of the scheme had not been fully assessed. The Member added that the case in favour of the scheme should be strengthened, using robust data from Beech Street and the surrounding areas, and referencing the additional points made, before seeking clarification that the funding strategy for the scheme was still in place. The Director of the Built Environment responded that Resource Allocation Sub Committee would be considering funding in March, but there were options for funding the scheme.
Members further raised the possibility of involving the Barbican Centre, as well as consulting residents’ associations other than Barbican and Golden Lane. A Member also inquired as to the enforcement of PCNs, caused by the absence of a right-hand turn through the central reservation, and raised issues reported by residents of Lauderdale Tower such as taxi access and deliveries.
The Director of the Built Environment advised that the scheme was co-ordinated with other schemes as part of a wider project in the area, and would clarify progress made on the Exhibition Halls with the City Surveyor. The inclusion of other residents’ association would be noted for the consultation, which would be rolled out in March. The Director of the Built Environment advised that exemptions for the scheme were complicated and involved a high level of administration, but officers would explore the legal and operational implications.
The Director of the Built Environment then outlined the data regarding PCNs including their frequency and enforcement. Members’ points on the right-hand turn and access to car parks were noted, and the Sub Committee were advised that officers continued to work with companies on sat-nav maps and with interest groups to address some of the challenges faced by users. A Member responded that they felt communication on the scheme needed to be improved, as there seemed to be a lack of progress on several longstanding issues such as mapping and access for taxis, carers and deliveries.
A Member asked what would be required for a ‘white list’ of exempt vehicles, before raising several points regarding monitoring, air quality and PCNs. The Member advised that during the Bank On Safety scheme, PCNs had significantly decreased after the signage had been improved. The Member added that the new reservation openings were crucial, as the delivery issue was usually caused by larger deliveries, and it was hoped the reservation changes would improve this. In addition to Option 2, it was suggested going forward that officers consult on the permanent order and a wider zero-emission zone.
The Director of the Built Environment advised that an exemption scheme would be similar in operation to a Controlled Parking Zone, and that officers were exploring the legal and operational implications. This could be brought back for consideration once these issues had been worked through. Officers were monitoring the extensive network of traffic changes relevant to the scheme, and would aim to carry the lessons on signage from the Bank on Safety scheme, as well as on compliance. The Director of the Built Environment added that changes had been made to the signage following comments from Barbican residents, and it was hoped that the central reservation gaps would assist further. The Comptroller and City Solicitor then advised that the terms of the traffic order, including exemptions, had to be based on traffic management grounds.
A Member commented that the scheme had been planned prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and Members should consider the matter in this context. However, there had been a level of concern from residents and issues identified, but it seemed these had not been resolved. Noting that Members were willing to amend the scheme in order to resolve issues, the Member suggested a timeline for resolving the issues as solutions were needed sooner rather than later.
The Director of the Built Environment reiterated that a decision on whether to make the scheme permanent was not scheduled until July 2021, and it was hoped that officers could gain fuller measurements of the impact of the scheme and resolve outstanding issues by this time. Members urged officers to consider the feedback received and assess whether there were satisfactory resolutions to the outstanding issues raised as a priority, as there was also motivation to move forward on considering a wider Zero Emissions scheme in the area.
The Deputy Chairman, in the Chair, then summarised the discussion and drew Members’ attention to the recommendations set out in the report, proposing that the Sub Committee agree Option 2, and additionally to formally record the Sub Committee’s desire to move forward with the consideration of a wider Zero Emissions scheme, and this was agreed.
RESOLVED – That the Streets & Walkways Sub Committee:
1. Approve the following options to progress the project:
2) Option 2 – Approve the continuation of the Experimental Traffic Order until September 2021 with the changes to the central reservation (set out in Paragraph 69-77) made immediately. Continue to monitor the impacts while working towards consulting on a permanent scheme (based on the experiment as amended);
2. Delegate authority to the Deputy Director (Transportation and Public Realm), in consultation with the Chairman, to approve the (non-statutory) public consultation content and then proceed with the consultation;
3. Agree that the feasibility for an additional gap in the central reservation at Barbican Centre Car Park no.5 be explored in order to inform consideration of whether this should be promoted in the proposed permanent order;
4. If the above is deemed feasible, delegate authority to the Deputy Director (Transportation and Public Realm) to make amendments to the existing traffic order (subject to regular statutory processes);
5. Agree that a provisional Streets and Walkways (virtual) meeting be arranged for early September 2021 (for Members to consider any objections to the statutory consultation on the permanent traffic order, as the next meeting of Streets and Walkways is not until October 2021);
6. Note the experiment findings (as set out in paragraph 37 to 68 of the report);
7. Note the representations of the Barbican Association (Appendix 2);
8. Note and consider the request from a local resident to revoke the Experimental Traffic Order (paragraph 35);
9. Note the intent to comprehensively engage with the public, user groups and local stakeholders on the next phase of the project (paragraph 119 to 124);
10. Note the continued work on delivering the public realm vision for Beech Street; waterproofing of the Barbican podiums and the redevelopment of the Exhibition Halls;
11. Note that a Gateway 1/2 Report will be submitted later this year for the proposed initiation of the Barbican Healthy Streets Plan. If approved this will work towards delivering an area-based approach to delivering healthy streets and addressing air quality in the Barbican/Golden Lane area as per Proposal 29 of the City Transport Strategy.