“More Pembury, Less Circus”: Hackney residents campaign for improved junction

Pembury Circus is a junction on the A107 outside Hackney Downs station that connects Pembury Road, Amhurst Road and Dalston Lane. Pic: Sharon Kam

A group of Hackney Downs residents started a petition on Thursday for a new Pembury Circus layout after the council announced £19m funding earlier this year.

The “More Pembury, Less Circus” petition initiated by Community Action for Pembury Circus calls for a new “Pedestrian-First” road layout that reduces traffic, prioritises buses, adds in cycle lanes and more green.

Georgia Carey, who has been living by the circus for five years and part of the group who drew up the petition told ELL: “We started this as a community group to reach out to people, to find out if anyone would like to try to do something to pressure the council, (to) make sure its funds are spent this time, and improvements that we want to see are made.”

Carey, who “interacts with the junction on a daily basis”, has noticed problems with it: “Pembury Circus is one of the most polluted and dangerous junctions in London (…)

“They don’t allow enough crossing time. You have to wait for a long time and you’re also sat within streams of traffic on these precarious traffic islands.”

Hackney Council was given over £19m Levelling Up fund at the beginning of the year to deliver the Hackney Central town centre strategy, a 10-year vision proposal published in 2021.

Part of the plan is to redesign Pembury Circus, install a bus gate between Amhurst Road and Mare Street that limits traffic to access the circus, and create a greener and more accessible Amhurst Road.

Katie Weekes spoke to ELL at Pembury Circus. Pic: Sharon Kam

Katie Weekes, a local resident who uses the junction by cycling and on foot, told ELL: “I used to cycle through this junction. It’s quite confusing depending on where you’re going off (…) I think they could make the signposts a lot clearer.”

Joseph Garrett works at Delta Security which is just by Pembury Circus. Pic: Sharon Kam

A shopkeeper who works by the junction, Joseph Garrett, told ELL “Every single day without fail there’s always going to be people beeping” at the junction, but he said issues do not really affect business.

According to TfL, a total of 450 road collisions were recorded in Pembury Circus and its arms over the past 10 years. Two of them are fatal, and 16 of them happened in the first three months of 2023.

Breathe London and Air Quality England have also monitored the level of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), which is harmful to health on Amhurst Road next to the junction.

Both recorded annual mean figures within the UK annual objectives but higher than the WHO annual guidelines.

As of 1 November, the petition has received 430 signatures.

Carey told ELL: “We don't really have a target number (of signatures). It's more about engaging as many people as possible so we get a really diverse representation of the voices from the local community.”

“We hope to invite people to put proposals together which we could then take to the councils and sit down to have a conversation on how the junction itself could be improved.”

ELL contacted the council to ask how much funding is to be spent on Pembury Circus as it has yet to publish any proposals that outline the new design.

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