No parking, no cars for historic Clerkenwell Green
Fears for business over pedestrianisation proposals unveiled this week
22 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch
An artist’s drawing of the proposal, looking towards Clerkenwell Close from Clerkenwell Road
A HISTORIC space which featured in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist will be pedestrianised with all parking bays removed if Town Hall proposals are approved.
The plans for Clerkenwell Green released on Tuesday show half the square pedestrianised with the road leading to Aylesbury Street and Sekforde Street becoming access only for vehicles, and fewer loading bays.
The proposal, which forms part of a consultation for which the council is seeking feedback, sees all 42 parking spaces removed and more street trees planted.
Business owner Al Scotti, whose family has run Scotti’s snack bar in Clerkenwell Green for 50 years, said the proposals were a “disgrace” and he would lose business without parking spots.
“We service drivers. They need to be fed and drunk,” Mr Scotti said. “My livelihood depends on people parking in the square and you’re telling me it’s going to stop now? Are drivers not good enough for the Green any more? That’s what it seems like. It seems only residents will be pleased with the plans.”
Mr Scotti said he was not invited to submit his ideas prior to the plans being released, unlike other, larger businesses in the Green.
Bill Bleakley from Friends of Clerkenwell Green, who lives off the square, welcomed the proposals.
“It’s excellent,” he said. “It’s much more pedestrian-friendly than what is there today. The proposal eliminates the dangerous rat-run between Clerkenwell Road and Farringdon Lane.”
But he added that he was worried about potential noise and disruption from proposed events in the new pedestrianised space.
Ruth Currie, head of education programmes at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which is based in Clerkenwell Green, said they welcomed the pedestrianisation of the area but were concerned about the planned reduction in loading bays. “We are a fully functioning orchestra and have significant resources and instruments that move in and out of the building,” Ms Currie said. “They [the council] need to think about the businesses here.”
The owners of the 18th-century Old Sessions House, which has received planning permission to be converted into offices or a private members’ club, said they were supportive of the plans but hoped to see more drop-off points for taxis and the use of historical materials in the transformation.
Town Hall transport chief Cllr Claudia Webbe said: “Clerkenwell Green is one of Islington’s most historic spaces. We want to make it a much more attractive and pleasant public space for local people, workers, businesses and visitors.”
• To see the proposals and provide feedback go to: www.islington.gov.uk/consultations/clerkenwell-green