Some 600 residents attended the public meeting in the Great Hall.

The RBKC council rejects TfL’s cycle lane plan for Notting Hill Gate

Some 600 residents attended the public meeting about TfL’s cycle lane plan for Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue, arranged by the Kensington Society in the Great Hall in Kensington Town Hall on Thursday 13 June, three days before the public consultation ended.
At the meeting, council leader Elizabeth Campbell and her lead member for transport and planning, Johnny Thalassites, announced that the council would say no to the existing plans, because of the loss of existing trees, adverse impacts on congestion and the removal of bus stops. As RBKC is the highway authority for that stretch of road, this rejection means that TfL’s plan must go back to the drawing board.

The objections against TfL’s cycle lane plan have been many, with 6,500 persons signing a petition against the loss of more than 20 trees and some 450 persons writing to Elizabeth Campbell. How many objections the TfL consultation (which ended on 16 June) has received isn’t known. Beside the loss of trees, the objectors have expressed concern about increased air pollution and more traffic on side streets because of slower traffic, increased risk to pedestrians (who must cross the dual cycle lane to reach the bus stops) when cyclists are speeding down Holland Park Avenue, and the introduction of more one-way streets along the route.

At the meeting, objectors also questioned why two percent of the road users should be given 25% of the road space (the plan is to turn one of the four lanes into the dual cycle lane), but the TfL view is that “if you build the lanes, the cyclists will come” and the bicycle enthusiasts hope that London eventually will become another Copenhagen or Amsterdam, two European cities which have always had lots of cyclists.

Originally, the council had stated that it planned to be neutral to the plans until the consultation had finished, so Will Norman, the London mayor’s walking and cycling commissioner, who had just presented the scheme for the audience when Thalassites and Campbell made their statement, expressed surprise and sadness that they had reached their view before the consultation process was complete. After the meeting he issued an angry statement in which he wrote that the council had “shamelessly decided to ditch their support” and claimed that “people will die and suffer serious injuries” as a result of the council’s position.

However, the council’s position shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, as Thalassites had issued a statement in May, saying that he and colleagues had “heard from huge numbers of residents with serious concerns about the current plans” and that they believed that TfL “can and must review the parts of their plan that have caused these concerns”.

As RBKC is the highway authority for Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park Avenue, TfL can’t act without the council’s approval, so the council’s rejection means that TfL’s plan must now go back to the drawing board.

Already an hour before the public meeting, the Great Hall foyer was full of people looking at boards displaying the TfL plan, talking to TfL officers about it, and signing a petition to save the trees that would disappear if the plan was implemented.

Published 04/07/2019