Sadiq Khan is facing criticism after it was revealed that a multi-million pound programme aimed at boosting walking and cycling across London is largely “stuck on the drawing board”.
The ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’ initiative, first announced by the mayor in 2017, has seen pedestrianisation projects approved at 18 locations across the capital, but more than half have been indefinitely paused since the pandemic.
Siân Berry, a Green London Assembly Member who requested an update on the programme, said it was “an astonishing length of time to work on plans that haven’t got beyond paper”.
The proposals encompass several measures, such as increases to pedestrian space, the introduction of new or better segregated cycle lanes, safer road crossings, the planting of trees or small green spaces, and improvements to bus lanes and stops.
Data released at the end of August by Mr Khan’s team in answer to a written question from Ms Berry reveals however that ten of the schemes remain indefinitely paused due to tight finances at Transport for London (TfL).
Only two – Coppermill Village in Waltham Forest and Brixton town centre in Lambeth – were reported by City Hall as definitely having started construction.
The costs of completing the Brixton scheme have been picked up by the local council.
The same arrangement has been adopted for two further projects – one in the centre of Hackney and one at Romford Ring Road in Havering. Construction dates for the Hackney and Havering schemes were not given in the mayor’s answer.
TfL has meanwhile said it is not inviting any new bids from boroughs to receive funding from the programme – as it is instead focusing on progressing existing schemes.
City Hall was only able to provide estimates for when three of the 18 schemes will be complete.
It said that the Coppermill Village project – which will transform Coppermill Lane into a ‘cycle street’, among other changes – will be finished at some point in the 2024/25 financial year.
Schemes in Enfield Town and West Ealing are meanwhile expected to start construction in that year, and be completed the following year – 2025/26.
The mayor’s office told Ms Berry: “This programme was paused during the pandemic as a result of TfL’s constrained financial position; however, boroughs have self-funded some of these projects – and others have now restarted with TfL funding…
“TfL continues to engage with boroughs that have paused Liveable Neighbourhood projects. If funding becomes available in the future, they can be reviewed and considered for restarting.”
Commenting on the answer given by Mr Khan’s team, Ms Berry said: “The Mayor should be able to find the funds to complete all of these schemes, which he invited the boroughs to apply for. It is no good to anyone if schemes to make London greener get stuck on the drawing board.”
She added: “We urgently need a rapid, well-funded and comprehensive scheme to transform London into a network of green, people-friendly streets.”
The schemes listed as ‘active’ (i.e. currently being worked on by TfL) are located at:
- Coppermill Village, Waltham Forest
- Enfield Town, Enfield
- Holborn, Camden
- Greenwich Town Centre, Greenwich
- West Ealing, Ealing
The schemes now listed as ‘borough-funded’ are:
- Brixton, Lambeth
- Hackney Central, Hackney
- Romford Ring Road, Havering
The schemes which remain ‘paused’ are at:
- Bow, Tower Hamlets
- Bramcote Park, Southwark
- City Cluster, City of London
- Crouch End, Haringey
- Croydon Old Town, Croydon
- Custom House, Newham
- Deptford Parks, Lewisham
- Ilford, Redbridge
- Shortlands, Bromley
- South Chiswick, Hounslow