The Sub Committee heard a presentation on the ‘All Change at Bank’ project covering an outline of the proposals as consulted; the consultation survey data; the overall consultation themes with Officer comments and responses; and the recommendations.
Members noted that the written comments of local businesses and organisations submitted independently of the survey were shown in Appendix 8.
A Member expressed the view that safety had not come through strongly in the presentation and asked for further clarification on the project’s safety implications, particularly in respect of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the road with buses.
Members heard that traffic tended to slow down when travelling along narrower carriageways, and that the widening of pavements and removal of excess carriageway was likely to result in improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists, with cyclist traffic light sequences set to enhance the safety of cyclists.
It was pointed out that some licensed premises in the Bank junction area had been denied an outdoor seating licence for safety reasons.
A Member asked what had happened to previous proposals for a taxi (black cab) rank outside or opposite The Ned (to be funded by The Ned) and whether those plans had been taken forward. The Member expressed support for a taxi rank at The Ned for safety reasons.
Members heard that those proposals were still on the table and had been costed out. Those proposals had been sent to The Ned and no response had yet been received from The Ned on those specific proposals, though the taxi rank issue had been raised via the current proposed project. The pandemic was likely to have affected any response.
A Member sought clarification on whether, given Bank junction’s importance on the Lord Mayor’s Show ceremonial route, the Pageantmaster for the Lord Mayor’s Show had been consulted on the changes - particularly in respect of the narrowing of Princes Street and the impact of that on the spectacle of the Lord Mayor’s Show.
Members heard that the Pageantmaster had been consulted on the changes in respect of the ceremonial route and that some changes had been made in the light of that consultation, including a reduced narrowing of Princes Street. The relevant interested parties were confident that the ceremonial route should work well with the new proposals.
A Member sought clarification on the survey methodology, including whether there were enough survey responses for each mode to result in a statistically significant response.
Members heard that the survey response rate had not been representative of expectations (in terms of modal use), with relatively low response rates from some users including bus passengers and service vehicle drivers. The objective had been to set out views taking into account the large volume of responses from taxi/private hire drivers and passengers. Members heard that consideration had been given to weighting the responses to reflect modal use, but that such weighting had been discarded as it was felt that it would over-complicate the analysis and generate uncertainty.
A Member commented that the general trend was to be supportive of the proposed changes to the road pattern. The Member raised concerns around the credibility of the way taxi/private hire driver and passenger responses had been dealt with, commenting that there were safety implications around taxis (black cabs) being allowed through the changed Bank junction area arrangements. Members heard that allowing taxis (black cabs) through the Bank junction area was a significant decision and that taxis accounted for a large proportion of the traffic in the Bank junction area (with varying levels of occupancy). It was recommended that the issue of taxis (black cabs) being allowed through the Bank junction area be handled as a separate issue.
A Member commented that the views of taxi/private hire drivers and users were important, and queried the blocking out of King William Street. The Member expressed the view that extensions of restrictions into the evening and further extensions were unwelcome given that the economy of the area appeared to be picking up well, and that there appeared to be a demand for taxis (black cabs) in the evening in the area.
In response to a Member’s question on whether taxi volumes had been modelled – and the impact of that on risk mitigation – the Sub Committee heard that taxi (black cab) vehicle volumes had been modelled at Poultry, Cornhill and King William St as part of the proposals within the last 12 months. Traffic modelling was based on 2019 traffic flows, and there had been a significant drop in the number of licensed London taxi vehicles (from 18K in 2019 to 13K in late 2020) so it might not be appropriate to take that modelling forward given the uncertainty around future traffic flows. Implications around access and the sense of place were also being taken into account, and the current data was largely pre-pandemic.
A Member pointed out that the London hackney carriage trade viewed itself as a public transport provider and therefore viewed itself as entitled to be treated as such. Safety was the key reason for the project’s continuing existence, and it was important for planners to build safety into future plans. The Member expressed support for extending the timings to encompass the weekend given the increased visitor figures to the City at the weekends, which would also reduce confusion and therefore accidents. The Member asked about the impact of a trial in which taxis (black cabs) would be allowed to use the Bank junction area as a public transport option, and the impact of that on safety and pollution if there was an extension to cover 7 days a week.
A Member commented that it was defensible to seek clear advice around taxis (black cabs) being given special status in the traffic mix, commenting that black cabs are not necessarily suitable for use by some disabled people.
Members were generally supportive of a review within a fixed period of time of the measures being put in place given the post-pandemic uncertainty, the need for businesses to have some certainty, and the need to ascertain whether there were any safety implications. Members were generally supportive of a thorough review to include the impact of the carriageway reduction and its effect on traffic elsewhere, bus routes, and the introduction or otherwise of black cabs.
A Member also raised the issue of scooters not being allowed to use the Bank junction area and whether restrictions on electric scooters were being clearly articulated.
Members heard that specific Bank junction areas had been geo-fenced by the electric scooter hire companies, and that private electric scooters continue to be illegal.
1. Note the contents of the report and the key themes of the consultation response, Officers’ response to the key findings and the design changes proposed (paragraphs 161-229)
2. Approve the proposed way forward:
a. to continue to Gateway 5 with the proposed changes to motor vehicle movements on Threadneedle Street, Princes Street and Queen Victoria Street (which would be operational at all times) outlined in Paragraph 240
b. to continue to Gateway 5 with the proposed restrictions on Poultry, Cornhill and King William Street remaining as buses and cycles only, Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm.
c. to continue to develop the public realm design to Gateway 5 taking into account consultation comments received.
d. to maintain pace of programme, agree that the traffic orders reflecting a and b can be drafted and issued for statutory consultation ahead of the Gateway 5 report.
3. Approve the proposal to review the timing and traffic mix for the Poultry, Cornhill and King William Street arms 12 months from completion. (see paragraphs 173-175)
4. Note that a Costed Risk Provision of £93,000was approved in July 2021 and is still required.