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Old Street Roundabout seating area replaced by piece of ‘landscape art’

Roof meeting spot axed after crime warning

06 September, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Artist’s impression of the ‘green roof’ planned for the roundabout

TRANSPORT for London (TfL) has U-turned on plans to build a public meeting space at the redeveloped Old Street Roundabout because of fears of “low-level crime.”

Originally TfL had planned to build a large sloping seating area like a giant staircase on the roof of the new main pedestrian entrance to the underground station.

It has now dumped the scheme in favour of a “green roof” after police and Islington Council raised concerns that the staircase would “encourage people to congregate late at night” and commit crime.

Concerns were also expressed that people might climb up the roof and either throw objects off “or jump from it”, according to council documents.

The Met and the council accused TfL of a “lack of clarity” on how it would manage the area and keep it safe.

The council will give a decision on the new scheme at a planning meeting on Tuesday.

The sloping seating area that sparked fears of late-night crime

“The proposed green roof has been designed to maximise the range of plant species, allowing for variation and for it to be established as a piece of ‘landscape art’,” a TfL design document says.

TfL will be tasked with maintaining the roof, which will mostly comprise of plants commonly found in London.

Construction work on the roundabout started last year after a series of cycling deaths and injuries.

As the Tribune previously reported, four step-free entrances to the underground shopping concourse will be shut off and replaced by a lift.

This sparked outrage from businesses which said vital footfall was going to be lost.

The long-standing Camden Lock books store closed earlier this year.

But John Tharby, who has run a fruit stall in the concourse for more than 40 years calling himself “Mr Old Street”, has welcomed the new green roof scheme and the plans as a whole.

He said: “You’ve got to move with the times. It’s going to look fantastic. This was built in the 60s and it can look a bit dreary up there. We need to transform the area.”

Old Street is one of London’s busiest stations with around 18 million passengers passing through annually.

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