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Chapel Market is no longer the destination it was…

16 August, 2019

There’s a ‘continuing abuse of the taxi rank’ in Liverpool Road

• AS a resident of Barnsbury I welcome the suggestion that the “foot end” of Liverpool Road should be considered for pedestrianisation, (Leave us alone! Chapel Market traders oppose Angel pedestrianisation, July 19, and The traders should be concerned about the impact of a road closure, August 2).

The only thing to be concerned about is the fear of change. Chapel Market is no longer the destination it once was. Unlike when it appears in the Only Fools and Horses opening titles, the bustling crowds have slowed to a trickle.

The market is in decline. There is no question about this. Traders should therefore be looking to innovate, to challenge their long-held perceptions of what they believe shoppers want. Given maybe, just maybe… tastes, habits and demographics have changed over the past 30 years.

Islington now has the second lowest car ownership levels in the UK after “the City”. It therefore surprises me that Craig Pearson is more concerned about enabling transiting motorists, most of whom who do not contribute to the local economy, unobstructed right of way over the local pedestrians who spend significantly more in the area.

I am in complete agreement that the carriageway in this location is “wasted space” and should be given back to the people who live and shop here. A bigger zebra crossing is like sticking a plaster on a catastrophic bleed.

The section of Liverpool Road in question is notoriously awful for pedestrians. Given the presence of the Angel Centre on one side of the road (undergoing a huge upgrade) and Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S and Chapel Market on the other, there is a very high flow of pedestrians.

At present, they are served by a single zebra crossing in completely the wrong location. The result is that you’re likely to see more people playing chicken here than are on the shelves of the supermarkets they’re aiming for.

This is made worse by the continuing abuse of the taxi rank (capacity of four) by cab drivers who queue far beyond the designated rank (often 10 to 12), over the double yellows and at times on to the zebra crossing and junction with Chapel Market itself (see picture above).

I’ve flagged this with Cllr Claudia Webbe, who is equally concerned and is looking at enforcement options.

If you want any chance of improving the fortunes of Chapel Market and surrounding retail then you should not only be supporting traffic-calming, you should be supporting wholesale pedestrianisation.

The street environment here is threatening, polluted and dangerous. My routine is to nip in the supermarkets, jump on my bike and head home rather than hang around and spend more.

Why? Because the alternative is to stand on a narrow pavement with a row of idling taxis, while rat-running cars fight with pedestrians and obstruct passing busses. Add in a couple of dilapidated phone boxes and street drinkers and you have a very uninviting location.

Private motor vehicles are no longer the dominant form of transport and cities need to adapt. We need to rebalance our public spaces in favour of local people, the majority of whom do not own cars but walk, cycle, or use public transport.

This will also be reflected in the future redevelopment of the Sainsbury’s site, which will undoubtedly see the 1970s-era car park replaced with much-needed housing and green space.

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