IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Traffic chiefs must get a grip on Highbury Corner project

29 June, 2018

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

• THE meeting at Islington Town Hall on Tuesday evening to discuss the latest episode in the Highbury Corner soap opera was, predictably, well attended and lively.

The views of extremely well-informed and often frustrated residents focused on key issues that unsurprisingly included concerns about the quality of the proposed design, the consultation process, safety, environmental assessments and communication with members of the community.

It was an uncomfortable experience for the team leaders representing Transport for London and council officers, who seemed ill-equipped but did their best to respond to a barrage of clearly-framed questions and comments supported by evidence and local knowledge to underpin convincing arguments for this major project to be delayed in order to “get it right”.

Against the backdrop of silence for long periods of time it was indeed bizarre to be suddenly informed that work is due to start on0 Monday (a decision driven mainly it would seem by the schedule of essential works to replace gas pipes).

In addition to specific issues raised about the redevelopment of Highbury Corner roundabout, points were voiced about the relationship between this project and the design of the large, paved forecourt to the station to achieve visual unity.

This area is devoid of any design awareness. It remains an unimaginative, dreary, unlit, unfinished space after repeated, failed attempts to resolve straightforward design problems, including the return of the pedestrian crossing to its original site in front of Barclays Bank.

My confidence in TfL’s project management skills hit rock bottom with the absence of any visual images at the meeting because the PowerPoint presentation failed to work and there wasn’t a contingency plan of photocopies to distribute.

There is now an urgent need  for TfL and Islington Council to engage the community in a far more meaningful way with a genuine decision-making process at each stage of this complex project’s development from now on.

We need to get beyond the current unsatisfactory, superficial level of exchanges with TfL team members and council officers. In my view it is essential that senior personnel from both organisations step in, engage directly and at a deeper level with the raft of issues raised by residents, get up to speed and get a grip on this project now, before it goes even more horribly wrong.

ROY PRENTICE
Highbury Crescent, N5 

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