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Cyclists greet £11m new look for Highbury Corner junction

Campaigners welcome ‘big step forward’ amid fears that traffic will switch to residential roads

16 March, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

An artist’s impression of how the revamped Highbury Corner will look when finished in 2019

AFTER a decade in the making, the huge £11.6m redesign for Highbury Corner was finally un­veiled this week.

Transport for London and the Town Hall released their final plans for a project aimed at making the busy area safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and in the long-term, reducing air pollution.

The western arm of the roundabout will be closed, creating a public space. Segregated cycle lanes will be introduced and traffic become two-way.

TfL says the current junction has one of the poorest safety records in London, with 13 crashes injuring cyclists in the 36 months up to March last year.

Work is due to begin this summer and finish in 2019, fully funded by TfL.

Campaigner John Akers, from Cycle Islington, said: “We are very positive about the whole scheme. We realise that it’s a big change in terms of road space allocation, for which we are very grateful.

“But we hope that, when residents see the protected lanes in operation, they might be tempted to get their bikes out of the garden shed or try out a dockless rental bike. This is a big step forward for Islington.”

Two consultations, in 2008 and 2016, have been held on the future of the junction, with 71 per cent of the 2,823 responses two years ago agreeing a redesign would improve conditions for pedestrians.

Feedback changed the plans to improve access to the arboretum – the green space in the middle of the existing traffic island – while protecting vulnerable trees, and to allow pedestrian access to Highbury and Islington station.

In a report due before Islington Council’s executive on Thursday, officers note there could be some “displacement” of traffic to residential roads, due to increased journey time. They propose that the council monitors traffic levels after the redesign and considers measures to mitigate any increases.

The 277 bus would finish at Dalston Junction, instead of Highbury Corner, cutting off the direct link to Docklands. However, the Town Hall said this would be offset by more services on route 30.

The council report also flagged up how the next design phase will consider ways – such as public benches – to prevent vehicles from driving onto the station forecourt. These would also serve as an anti-terrorism security measure.

Highbury East councillor Caroline Russell said that, as Corsica Street will be closed under the new plans, “no solution” had been provided for drivers heading for Highbury Fields area who miss the Wallace Road turning before the junction.

Cllr Russell, sole opposition Green councillor, said: “There is no right turn travelling west along St Paul’s Road into Highbury Grove and neither off Holloway Road northbound into Fieldway Crescent (off Holloway Road) and no other options.

“I raised this in the TfL Junction Review Group and I’m astonished that it was not picked up by Islington Council. This is the sort of practical detail that residents will now want to iron out and could so easily have been averted if Highbury East ward councillors had been consulted on the latest iteration of the plans.”

The council said the closure of Corsica Street was carefully considered. But said it is unlikely to lead to a significant impact on the wider road network.

Cllr Russell said: “I’m glad the waiting is over and hope that Highbury Corner is going to be made safe and pleasant for walking, cycling and catching buses, trains and the tube.

“For years, children have been wanting to cycle to Highbury Fields or to Canonbury or Laycock schools and these plans should enable them to do that safely.”

Transport chief Councillor Claudia Webbe said: “We want to create a much-improved Highbury Corner for residents, businesses, workers and visitors and to link the station with the trees and green space currently stuck on a traffic island. The public support for this transformation has been overwhelming.

“We will continue to work closely with Transport for London to minimise disruption, and I am recommending the council’s executive app­roves this proposal.”

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