I'm hoping that this thread will be an ongoing thread and serve as a conduit for those people who were at the Bermondsey Street
Working Group meetings to give their impressions to interested parties and also for those who can't make these meetings to make comments which will get back to the Southwark Council
Here's my summary and I hope that others at the meeting will jump in and offer additional comments and corrections if necessary.
The event was organised by Sally Crew, Principal Transport Planner in Transport Planning, Southwark Council
along with 2 people from Mouchel Parkman
a consultancy firm.
We met at the intersection of Bermondsey Street
and Tower Bridge Road
. Perhaps 15 local people were there, as far as I could tell, all of them from north of Long Lane
. We broke into 2 groups and did our walking tour as basically 2 distinct groups. Seven key areas were targeted on a map as focal points for discussion:
1) The little square of shops which forms the extreme southern tip of Bermondsey Street
2) The intersecection of Long Lane
, Abbey Street
and Bermondsey Street
3) The area around Newham's Row
4) Tanner St. Park
5) Tyer's Gate and White's Ground
6) The intersection at Crucifix Lane
/St Thomas St and the rail tunnel
7) The intersection of Bermondsey Street
with Tooley Street
but we never made it there and didn't really discuss it (at least in my group).
Sally had us focus our discussions on several main issues:
1) Pedestrian use of the street currently and how we might wish it to be
2) The role of vehicular traffic, parking and the options
3) Problems relating to bicycles, wheel chairs and prams
4) The streetscape, how it's unique and how to preserve that uniqueness
5) Shops and how to encourage small shops with unique character
6) Redesigning the street pavement and footpaths to increase pedestrian use and “calm” traffic.
The groups spent approximately 2 hours walking up Bermondsey Street
discussing all of the above issues. Of course there were divergences of opinions, for example on car and lorrie usage (nobody was in favour of the heavy use we currently have, the diverginces were around what is an appropriate amount, eg, residence parking, business loading and unloading needs, the craziness around the Tanner Street
intersection and the speed permitted on the street, traffic calming, etc).
After 2 hours we returned to the hall at the lower end of Bermondsey Street
and again broke into groups. Ludvik from Marchal Parkman made a presentation. The team had already made quite a detailed study of Bermondsey Street
for the past several months and had quite an array of statistics and annotated photos at hand. They had wall charts showing problems they knew about, potential solutions based on other towns and cities in the UK and abroad.. They had stats on vehicle trips per day on Bermondsey Street
t (3000 plus) and pedestrian trips per day (range around 2000), growth maps of the street from 1790 and so forth.
Then we did some group discussions on topics like “What are the 3 most important areas of concern related to Bermondsey Street
” “What would improve the Bermondsey Street
experience for pedestrians” and “What should be the role of vehicular traffic on Bermondsey Street
At that point a chap from the transport section of the council talked about the project to cleanup and modernise the rail tunnels on the old Greenwich to London Bridge viaduct (for example the very interesting techniques used on Ropers Lane or the viaduct by Druid Street
). Anyway the hangup with the Bermondsey Street
Tunnel is its controlled by Transport for London and not the Council and TFL use it as a strategic road so closing it for 3 months to clean it has been an inter-beaurocratic arm-wrestle which may now be resolved.
The discussions went on to 17:30 when Sally closed the meeting. There will be follow up meetings in the autumn. Sally is aware that work prohibits people from attending and she will at some point try to address that issue. I've told her that I'll be starting this tread and while the rules of her job don't permit her to freely discuss council thinking on a forum, she will be aware of this thread and posting your thoughts and comments here will likely be read by her.
I think there were several people who might have approached the meeting with some scepticism but my impression was that everybody was impressed by the team's organisation, understanding of the street and its history and grasp of the problems. I wish I could remember the priorities the team has but the ones I do remember are:
To increase the enjoyment of the street to pedestrians and cyclists and limit traffic
To increase the safety for anyone on the streets and rationalise traffic flow
To encourage small unique shops which add a unique character to Bermondsey Street
To encourage human centred development and spaces
I could go on and on. Very well done IMO. I I hope some others will chip in with more points and if I erred or misstated, etc, please correct me. Hope this was cogent!