It is not all lost for Kings Cross. Sadiq Khan has announced that the TFL controlled bits of the gyratory will become a 20 Miles Speed Zone by October 2022, and some of the junctions around Kings Cross will receive further development by 2024.
However, the big plans to change the entirety of the gyratory, which has seen record pollution levels over the years and cycle fatalities, have been axed, apparently due to the lack of finance based on the pandemic (see below).
We think the plans should be brought back as the long term vision instead.
The Kings Cross community first highlighted the need for change in the early 2000s. A first consultation, however, led to nothing. It was and still is one of the most polluted and noisiest areas of London in its entirety. Most maps on pollution had streets like Swinton Street, Acton Street, Grays Inn Road and Kings Cross Road in the darkest, worst affected colours (see below).
In other words, residents who mostly live in housing association flats, with little choice to recourse, suffered illegal pollution levels for decades, even if some positive improvements came through the introduction of stronger emission standards.
After much campaigning in the 2010s, a plan commissioned under Boris Johnson as London mayor that had significant improvements went through the full consultation stage in 2016. Residents expected it to be implemented soon thereafter (see below for the details).
But it was just before election time. Johnson would not stand, and so the author wrote to Sadiq Khan if he would upkeep the promised to the area. He agreed (see below).
But then came HS2, and the community was told that plans were on hold because lorries for the redevelopment of HS2 needed some roads for parking. But in the last five years, Kings Cross has not seen a single HS2 lorry parked. It was a hold up for nothing that now appears to have cost Kings Cross its promised redevelopment.
This is because the mayor has just told Anne Clarke, the GLA representative for Camden Who asked a question on my request), that he and his team had shelved the plans. Earlier it was noticed that suddenly the plans had disappeared from TFL’s website all over sudden, without consultation or announcement.
The 20 Mile speed reduction promise came about because, I had asked Khan, if as a temporary measure up until the plans were implemented, we could also have a 20 miles Zone because of the area that suffered from frequent speeding for years. It was thought of as being in line with some speed reductions implemented during the pandemic elsewhere.
He agreed (see https://www.london.gov.uk/questions/2020/3452) but needed another reminder this year, and now needs until October 2022 to put up a few speed reduction signs, something that happened in lockdown within 12 weeks. It appears that this is all he is prepared to do now, a few road signs on the edge of the road, subject to finance.
By the way, despite the changes we were waiting for, we did not get a single pandemic related change along the gyratory streets. They were implemented by a different team, I was told, that was not the one dealing with the list of priority areas, which was on furlough.
Khan always used careful language in his responses. It was always “subject to funding.” I have therefore asked Anne Clarke to request what the cost analysis was here. 1. How much more would it have cost to implement the full plan? How does it compare with the current plans of just doing the junctions and implementing a lowering of the speed limit? 2. What are the areas now left out for improvements (we think Acton Street, Swinton Street, Kings Cross Road, possibly Caledonian Road and Pentonville Road),.
It appears that Covid-19 is now the best excuse to axe infrastructure plans, regardless of how long they were in the waiting lane. For Kings Cross, this is a bitter pill to swallow after such a long time, and years ago, people even told me that they started campaigning in the 1970s when huge HGV lorries parked here. So it certainly goes back a long time.
The 2016 plans should be seen as the long term vision that TFL works towards. Shelving it is too harsh a decision to make. The vision should remain, even if money is not there at the moment. Camden and TFL have implemented some of the changes that connect to it already, such as a cycle connection from Kings Cross Road / Farringdon Street to Euston Road via Judd Street and cycle lanes on Grays Inn Road.
We are also London, and we are London that had to live with the biggest inner-city pollution. We deserve better. Give us back our hope, Sadiq!
The community at Kings Cross will have to consider its options, as to which mayoral candidate is most suitable for the area. In the past a vote for Labour was a given here. But has the Labour mayor delivered better for Kings Cross than his predecessor, who once sprayed the roads with a sticky liquid to deal with air pollution?
Now, with the motor-vehicle traffic returning following the peaks of the pandemic, speeding cars and polluting vehicles are also back.
For those unaware, the Gyratory continues to be an Air Quality Focus Area. In TFL’s own definition “these are locations that not only exceed the EU annual mean limit value for NO2 but are also locations with high human exposure.”
New cycling infrastructure, part of the cycle highway schema, omitted the gyratory area.
In the latest twist, we saw pandemic related cycle lanes in some areas created by the mayor. Some local authorities independent from that calmed traffic, with Islington even creating a new LTN zone. But Acton Street, Swinton Street,Kings Cross Road, Pentonville Road, Gray’s Inn Road,Pentonville Rise and Caledonian Road as TFL Red Routes remained largely untouched (with the exception of Southern parts of Gray’s Inn Rd, incidentally, just before the Kings Cross gyratory begins). There was no priority list on which areas need to be served first, in one email, I was told this was “due to furloughed staff at TFL”. All this in spite of pollution maps being available now and indicating that in deed Kings Cross is one of the most air-polluted areas of London.
In autumn 2020 Mayor Sadiq Khan was asked on my request in a Greater London Assembly meeting, if he could, at the very least, extend the 20 Miles speed reduction to these streets, given that you need only a few signs to do so. Sadiq Khan’s answer on record was “a yes, but”.
The Inquest on the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah advised on further reductions in air pollution and that, “there are no safe levels of pollution.” Many streets at Kings Cross house families with young children. Their choice to move elsewhere is limited, due to the fact that the majority of flats are social housing units.
Kings Cross was also the site of several cycling fatalities in collisions with cars and trucks.
The Kings Cross community asks simple questions:
Where is the overdue action to transform the gyratory streets of Kings Cross into safe streets? How many more years do we have to wait?
London mayoral and London assembly candidates need to be aware that there are three things that need to happen at Kings Cross, regardless of who wins the forthcoming elections:
The case of Ella Kissi-Debrah shows clearly what impact air pollution has. It kills, and by not doing enough to keep us safe, it could be deemed to be manslaughter, corporate manslaughter, an infringement of our human rights!
The Kings Cross community has campaigned for decades on air pollution, noise and road-safety.
We frequently pointed out, that Kings Cross is no longer just a through-fare, if it ever was, but that Kings Cross South and North pof Pentonville and Euston Road, East and West of Gray’s Inn Road and Kings Cross Road, is a place where people live and work, and children grow up.
We demand from TFL, the Mayor of London, Camden Council and Islington Council that this is finally and once and for all recognised and that the issue of air-pollution is finally solved. We had for too long have to witness, how traffic on roads like Euston Road, Swinton Street, Acton Street, Pentonville Road and parts of Kings Cross Road and Gray’s Inn Road and Caledonian Road are exempt from having to adhere to the most stringent of rules on air-pollution.
Kings Cross was and continues to be one of the most polluted places in terms of air in London, and therefore in the UK and in Europe. Stop excluding it from seeing what we know for decades!
It is now for clean air, for yesterday was already too late!
My name is Sofia and I go to a nearby state school in Finchley called St Michael’s. I am conducting my A-Level Geography fieldwork looking at the benefits of the regeneration scheme in Kings Cross.
I would really appreciate it if you could send this out to residents of Kings Cross who could help me by completing my survey.
I have studied the process of regeneration in great depth as part of my A-level syllabus. I have chosen Kings Cross as a case study since this is an area I have grown up around. My uncle and aunty both live in Kings Cross and nearby Kentish Town. I knew I would really enjoy discovering the history of the area and how it is continuing to change as a result of contemporary issues such as the coronavirus pandemic.
I remember going on walks in the past with my uncle where he would explain how the area is being regenerated. Being able to study this process in Kings Cross in depth is something really close to my heart.
Getting this questionnaire out to an audience that could give incredibly useful results would mean the world to me. It will also give me an insight into how Kings Cross has changed and allow me to accurately complete this project to the best of my abilities.
Kings Cross gyratory are about to become slower and safer!
Andrew Dismore, the Labour Assembly Member in London City Hall had asked a question to Mayor Sadiq Khan recently, if streets around the gyratory could be lowered to 20 Miles, given longstanding suggestions by local residents. These argued that the one way streets at Kings Cross, part of what is known as the Kings Cross Gyratory where too frequent providing space for quick thrill racing and speeding with excessive speeds. The area is highly populated with many residential blocks and huge amount of people walking and cycling around the often busy roads. School children, College and university students add to the mix. Soon there is also to be a Dementia Treatment Centre build.
The point rose, after long standing local Kings Cross resident Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowski posed that question, given that TFL and surrounding local councils had implemented many safety improvements in other areas during the lockdown in 2020, but omitted Kings Cross, which had been under discussion for improvements for a very long time. Kings Cross. In particular the area had passed consultation stage for TFL improvements in 2016. Daniel suggested, and local councillors in Islington and Camden agreed, that as a bare minimum, at least speeds should be reduced to 20 Miles on those one way roads, that make up the Kings Cross Gyratory.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan answered the question in City Hall as follows, on 2/11/2020
“Transport for London (TfL) and I are committed to reducing road danger for all residents and visitors to London. TfL has a programme to lower the speed limit by 10mph on over 140km of TLRN over the next four years, subject to funding. This includes the introduction of a 20mph speed limit on A501 Pentonville Road, Penton Rise, Swinton Street and Grays Inn Road, which is consistent with the surrounding local road network in both Camden and Islington and will also support additional safety improvements around the Kings Cross area.”
As you will know, TfL is in discussions with Government over the funding support it needs following the impact of coronavirus on its finances. I hope that agreement can be reached soon so that vital projects such as these can restart.” (bold emphasis added)
Kings Cross residents hope that speeds will also be reduced on Acton Street, which was not specifically mentioned, but is part of the Gyratory and in fact connects Kings Cross Road and Grays Inn Road.
UPDATE 14/11/2020 Clr. Adam Harrison of Camden was assured by TFL that Acton and Swinton Street are in deed going to be slowed down as part if their Vison Zero road safety plan.
This Friday, 22 May, is International Biodiversity Day. An important day for everyone interested in ecology, the environment and a sustainable future.
Highly topical at a time when man made wildlife habitat destruction and the way humans use displaced wildlife are highly likely to have resulted in this zoonotic novel virus pandemic.
We live close to an important green corridor that includes the canal. We are home to a wide variety of urban wildlife from micro-organisms in the soil and the water, to water fowl, birds, bats and other mammals.
If you’d like to know more about how to help support biodiversity, here’s one link you may find of interest 🙂