Camden secured £1.1m for Queen’s Crescent from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund. The funding was awarded to support a range of high street improvement works to better serve the Gospel Oak community, including locally co-designed public realm improvements and support for the market.
The community co-design stage of the project ran from January to May 2019. More than 160 responses were received, through a process that included public meetings, an on-street exhibition, walk-around events and 1:1 interviews with every day street users.
A wide range of opinions were expressed, and although views have sometimes been contrasting, a number of priorities and values were shared consistently. These results were brought together as a set of design principles:
- making space for the community
- celebrating culture and arrival
- supporting market life and micro business; and
- creating a healthy street
These principles guided the development of a Queen's Crescent Public Realm & Green Infrastructure Strategy, proposing improvements to the Malden Road entrance and Ashdown Crescent sections of the high street area. The strategy includes further details of the agreed interventions, and the wider community co-design process, but a summary is included below:
- awnings for businesses located at the Malden Road entrance
- better signage
- bollards with electricity supply for traders
- build outs in road to slow down traffic and provide space for tree pits
- catenary and tree lighting
- community information board
- consolidated Market (at the Malden Road end, retaining the potential for growth across the entire street)
- crescent-shaped paving at the Malden Road end of Queen’s Crescent
- green wall
- mature trees planting in the tree pits
- repainted Queen's Crescent Arch
- storage for market traders
- temporary tables and chairs to be managed by local businesses / library / others, to test principles of seating for elderly residents
- water fountain
We have since carried out feasibility work on the proposed improvements, including technical surveys, and assessments of materials and ongoing maintenance considerations. Following this work, in summer 2020, a revised proposal was presented to the funder’s (the Greater London Authority (GLA)) Design Review Panel. The panel fed back that the design should be enhanced to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic, and some of the specific priorities raised by the community in terms of addressing vehicle dominance and improving pedestrian experience.
During the community co-design, several proposals were raised by the community to tackle traffic issues on the street:
- Slowing traffic
- Restricting/reducing parking
- Reducing congestion/traffic numbers
- Making Queens Crescent one-way
The Stage 2 report suggested that opportunities to address these should be explored on a wider scale, including partial closures, a one-way system or measures to make the market day arrangements more permanent by creating a pedestrian zone. The pandemic has highlighted the need to make neighbourhood centres work better for their communities, allowing people to shop and access services closer to their homes, with clean air and healthy public spaces that can be enjoyed by all.
In response to this, we are proposing a trial of a motor traffic free environment, to inform an enhanced public realm scheme. The trial would involve closing a smaller section of the street between Bassett Street and Weedington Road, with access for servicing permitted outside of key hours. On Thursdays and Saturdays, the street market would continue to operate as it currently does. The public space created by the trial would allow Camden to test parklets and seating to support cafes and restarants along Queen’s Crescent, and to test holding a street market on additional days within the area created by the trial. Further details of the trial, including arrangements for loading, access and disabled parking, and how to provide comments on the consultation, can be found through the link above,
We hope to use the findings of the trial, together with feedback gathered from the community to date, and during the trial, to inform a proposal for an enhanced scheme which will be consulted on in Autumn 2021. This permanent scheme proposal will potentially contain elements of the trial and the improvements proposed as part of the Stage 2 report.
We would encourage the community to share their views on the trial through the consultation page above. However, at any stage of the project residents can share their thoughts or comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.