Pedestrianisation is in vogue, and the Strand could be next.
Although London is roughly 47% green space, we’re never going to say no to a little more. Especially when it involves turning one of Central London’s busiest roads into a cute little park. Westminster Council’s Strand Aldwych project would see a 200-metre stretch of the Strand – including the section outside of Somerset House – transformed into a fully pedestrianised area, complete with trees, lawns, and cycle lanes.
That is, of course, if the plans are approved. Given the whole Oxford Street pedestrianisation saga – from the “this is definitely happening” to the “erm, maybe not” to the “wait, what actually IS happening?” – we won’t be holding our breath for this one. Should it go ahead, traffic will be rerouted slightly to the north, along an improved (and impressively tree-lined, according to the sketches) Aldwych. The roadway running in front of Somerset House would then be blocked to traffic, with access available only on bike or foot.
The plans – backed by a cool £28 million of council investment – call for a raised lawn, an activity zone, and vaguer proposals such as a “flexible open space”. It should bring some peace and quiet to St Mary Le Strand Church, currently marooned in the middle of the road, and will also provide a calmer foreground to Somerset House. Other benefits, including improved air quality, reduced traffic congestion, and a better visitor experience, are all part of the rationale behind this redevelopment.
The public consultation process has only just begun, and updated proposals are mooted for later in 2019 – so if the pedestrianisation is to happen, we’re unlikely to see work begin until deep into 2020. Of course, if objections from local residents sink this plan, the whole project could end Stranded.
You can take a look at the full proposals and submit your comments here.