There are various challenges in Archway which have been running for years. As things change we will keep members updated.
The Archway Tower
Built in 1963 by Oscar Garry and Partners, the Archway Tower divides opinion as much as Marmite - people either love or hate it.
In the past it has housed employment, those employees becoming customers for local shops and cafes. However, since spring 2012 it has been empty. The freeholder is Transport for London but the tower is currently leased for 120 years to an Australian company called Valad who are considering options for its future. This might be as private accommodation - though Islington would only permit this if social housing was also provided as part of the development.
The design of the tower causes enormous wind blight around its base. That is because it faces the prevailing wind, has fins down it, and a space underneath. Any wind which hits the side can’t go round so is funnelled down, creating on-going turbulence.
If it were stripped back to its basic structural skeleton and re-clad with a smoother, rounded surface that would direct the wind round, not up and down. Filling in the space at the bottom would prevent that drawing through more wind, promoting the wind tunnel effect.
Knocking it down is not an option as the rough cost would be £20m and would mean closing the tube station during the work.
The Archway Road
Many of Archway’s current problems stem from road building schemes of the ‘60s. First came the gyratory, built to serve a giant one-way system up Highgate Hill and down Archway Road - never implemented. That meant the demolition of businesses, houses and more. Then came the dual carriageway on the Archway Road for which more housing, including old almshouses, went under the wrecker’s ball.
Extension of the road widening was prevented by a big public campaign which also saved what is now Jackson’s Lane Community Centre, but it was too late for the the southern end.
Today we know, for example from the Walworth Road, that reducing traffic to one lane in each direction speeds traffic, reduces congestion, and improves air quality. Doing that to the Archway Road would also free up land to recreate buildings on that site and repair the urban fabric.
This is the technical name for the large roundabout at the top of Holloway Road. The Archway gyratory has been causing problems for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians ever since it was built.
Traffic spreads across the centre of Archway like water across a river delta, leaving pedestrians to pick their way across first one flow, then another, then another.
This means that although Archway is regenerating, it can’t yet function at its best as a centre. Cut off on two sides, it is left on the edge of traffic which, like a powerful river, has caused serious erosion.
The layout is bad for drivers too. The multiple traffic lights interrupt the flow but in spite of these controls, there are frequent collisions where St John’s Way and Junction Road meet, as well as rush hour gridlock on St John’s Way southbound.
Life is even worse for cyclists - so bad that the team visiting to assess the cycle superhighway route all dismounted rather than cycle through. The new scheme is being assessed by cycling experts to ensure that it is safe.
Better Archway Forum believes the layout needs to return to traditional two-way flow. This is now supported by Islington Council, our MP Jeremy Corbyn, and our Greater London Assembly member Jennette Arnold.
The plan to return to two-way flow is waiting approval from TfL after which there will be a big public consultation probably in 2013, which we will of course publicise.
The excellent public transport in Archway means very high pedestrian numbers. Archway station is particularly well used with passenger numbers growing by 5% ever year between 2005 and 2010 - and more since then.
Upper Holloway Rail station offers further transport connections right down to places like Kew to the west and east to the Lee Valley.
Our research has demonstrated that Archway is used by more pedestrians than vehicles, yet the vehicles get the lion’s share of the space.
Prioritising pedestrians around the centre of Archway would make it much safer and more attractive for the majority of users. That in turn would attract more pedestrians, who would make greater use of the local businesses, which would improve the local community and safety network. Pedestrian shoppers spend more than car borne shoppers so it would also boost the economy.
Decluttering Streets and Pavements
Getting rid of unnecessary signs, bins, advertising hoardings and poles makes streets more attractive and easier to navigate. This is a really cheap and easy way of improving the environment.
Better Archway Forum has successfully lobbied for the removal of redundant recycling bins and phone kiosks near the tube, and excess signage including banners and advertising without planning permission. We also report on estate agents who put up signs on buildings which they are not actually marketing.
Research from High Street Kensington indicates that decluttering doesn’t just make the street feel more cared for and therefore better valued, it also improves safety.
Archway has green areas but they tend to be hidden away. The green wall on St Gabriel’s Church on Holloway Road shows how much planting improves the look of the more central parts of the area. We are therefore lobbying for the planing of more trees by both Islington Council and Transport for London to improve both the feel of the area and its air quality.