Beak Street Pedestrianisation Proposals
Updated 10 October 2019
We understand that Westminster City Council is working in partnership with Shaftesbury plc on proposals to extend the Kingly Street / Carnaby Street pedestrianised shopping area further south to encompass Beak Street. The pedestrianisation would extend along Beak Street from Warwick Street to Upper James Street. All westbound traffic on Beak Street would be routed down Upper James into Golden Square and then on to either Brewer Street or Denman and then presumably Shaftesbury Avenue.
Deliveries would take place between 7 am and 11 am in the morning - when traffic would flow, leaving the rest of the day (and night) from 11am to the following morning at 7 am for pedestrians only and commercial activity though increased pedestrian footfall for shopping. This proposal would also facilitate increased use of the carriage way for tables and chairs and overflow from the pub. This may cause greater noise nuisance at night for residents.
Marshall Street junction with Beak Street would also be closed with all Broadwick street west bound traffic routed down Lexington. Traffic will be reversed on Bridle Lane.
These proposals are intended to increase comfort for pedestrians and are based on a traffic survey provided by Shaftesbury and “generally support the modal shift to pedestrians in this area.”
Next steps are an informal consultation with the local community. If there is “broad support” there will be an experimental traffic order and formal consultation.
The Soho Society’s own informal survey is below. Based on an initial analysis of the results the Soho Society is minded to oppose these proposals and seek instead a more thorough review of traffic mitigation in Soho that does not involve the partial closure of an arterial exit route from Soho for most of the day and night.
The Councillor leading this project is Tim Mitchell who can be contacted as follows:-
Westminster City Hall
64 Victoria Street
Bus. phone: 020 7641 5371 (Cabinet Team)
Following a Freedom of Information Act request we have obtained a copy of the “Beak Street Preferred Option Assessment version 1.2” prepared by Norman Rourke Pryme and Produced for Shaftesbury plc. It does not attempt to show the alleged reduction is traffic following the closure which is in an earlier document which we will try to obtain. It shows worst case traffic reassignment and the possible mitigation if traffic is reduced as drivers avoid Beak Street as it no longer gives them access to Regent Street.
The April 2014 Soho Public Realm Study is available here.
Shaftesbury have asked us to include this statement:-
“We encourage and welcome a full consultation on the Beak Street proposals. Naturally, we have been working with the Council on these proposals, but the aspiration to improve Beak Street is not a new one and was in fact first mooted with the Soho Action Plan back in 2007, and again in the council’s Soho Public Realm Study (as a priority project) back in 2014. With our long term commitment to the area, why would we not help the council to deliver improvements?
We have a long standing record of investing in Westminster’s public realm all over the West End, which has helped to improve residential amenity and the way that people can move about the city more easily on foot. We have always discussed projects with the Council in line with their publicly stated policy objectives. We agree with both you and Matthew that this particular project has been in gestation for way too long. Ideally we would have wanted open consultation on it at least a year ago.
We also agree that a look across Soho as a whole is crucial to devise the best way for the area to go forward in the future. For this reason, when we asked a traffic consultant to look at what could be done in Beak Street we made sure that the traffic study they did, surveyed the whole of Soho to ensure that this would not be a project considered in isolation of how all of Soho moves and operates.
With the whole of Soho in mind, we support the Council’s policies on improving air quality and reducing traffic, as opposed to an approach which would re-open streets up.
We would welcome inclusion of wording in the summary at least which highlights that between 30% and 60% of the traffic using Beak Street has no purpose in Soho whatsoever, and is rat running via a route past Soho Parish School. If the majority of that traffic was eliminated from the area the proposals could improve pedestrian safety along the entire length of Beak Street, for the residents who live there and those that work on and visit the street.”