Council delivers proposals to pedestrianise Brick Lane

Future Visualisation of Brick Lane, PIC: Liveable Streets

New proposals to pedestrianise Brick Lane have been developed by Tower Hamlets Council based on feedback from the local community.

The proposals, part of the Liveable Streers progrsamme are currently out for public consultation on the Tower Hamlets Council website. The consultation ends on April 14.

Brick Lane was pedestrianised for part of last year, which went down wll with the local community. For several decades, proposals to pedestrianise Brick Lane have been suggested by local businesses and residents

The main reasons why these proposals are being drawn up now is due to the nature of how busy Brick Lane has become; attracting an estimated 18,500 pedestrians every day in normal times.. 

However many vehicles use the area as a way of cutting through Brick Lane without visiting any of the local businesses and shops and increasing levels of air pollution and congestion in the area.

Abdul Karim, 37, owner of Brick Lane Coffee Shop, told East London Lines: “It’s great to hear this news after so long. I really believe it will help us out here. I’ve been waiting for so long to have space outside my shop for customers to sit and enjoy their food. It’s nice to know we can have that luxury soon to set one or two tables up outside.”

Koysor Ahmed, 40, an imam at Brick Lane Mosque, was delighted to hear the news of the proposals. He said: “It’s some of the best bit of news I have heard in a while to be honest.”

“Especially now with Ramadan approaching when so many cars would be parked outside the mosque which created great difficulty – especially for our elders – in reaching the mosque, it is very much a welcome change to hear that we may no longer have to put up with it for much longer.”

The proposals include pedestrianising sections of Brick Lane in the evenings and the weekends to support businesses to make use of outside dining space. Other proposals include improving the accessibility of Brick Lane with dropped curbs and new disabled parking spots, enhancing the neighbourhood with improved lighting, installation of new cycle hangars, and creating accessible and safer school travel routes.

A visual representation of Brick Lane proposals (click here to enlarge), PIC: Liveable Streets

A volunteer from Better Streets for Tower Hamlets – who are one of over 130 organisations across England which want to see safer routes for walking and cycling – told East London Lines: “The idea is simple – we believe that the street would be nicer without the traffic. People prefer to visit places where it’s safe and comfortable to walk without battling for space with cars which are trying to avoid the traffic lights on Commercial Street.

“People were disappointed when the eleven week trials of these proposals, which happened a few years ago, came to an end. There were lots of social media posts from people saying how these trials should have happened a long time ago,” the volunteer said. “However, after so long, it’s great to finally have the opportunity to make this a permanent change.”

The recent news has also brought joy to local residents living in the area. Jonathan Walker, 46, told East London Lines: “It’s great to finally be able to have this change after so many years. I remember how much I enjoyed it when they made some changes temporarily for a couple of months. 

“I have a few kids who go to school, so I really hope pedestrianising these areas will make it easier for them to walk to school. Before they would need to get past cars here when it had a tendency to get quite busy early in the morning.”

Brick Lane, PIC: Anatoleya

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said on the Tower Hamlets website: “Outdoor seating, greenery, and less traffic can encourage more residents and visitors to support local shops, markets and businesses as we move out of lockdown.

“Brick Lane and Spitalfields has a special place in the hearts of so many, so we want to hear, and listen to, the views of all of you.”

Dan Tomlinson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Realm, added: “There’s a huge potential to walk and cycle more of our journeys but we need to provide low-traffic routes as road safety concerns discourage active travel.”

Tomlinson urged “all residents and traders to have their say on how we can make Brick Lane safer for residents and visitors.”

The council are yet to reveal the costs of these proposals.

The construction timing is subject to change in accordance to the coronavirus restrictions. Updates on this will be available on the Tower Hamlets website

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