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 original appearance of the Archway Tower divided opinion sharply with a few who liked its brutalism but most hating it - the most mentioned ‘dislike’ in community planning sessions. The insertion of more windows has made the building feel less intimidating but there is debate whether the bronze panelling really does meld into the London sky as claimed by the developers.
The freeholder is Transport for London who have done a deal with a US-funded developer Essential Living to create blocks of private rental to be traded on a similar basis to office blocks.
Unfortunately even Essential Living’s own wind studies showed that their recladding of the Tower leads to an increase in wind blight.
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 (left), 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 (below), that reducing traffic to one lane in each direction improves traffic flow, 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.
Central Archway Road System
The large roundabout created at the top of Holloway Road spread traffic 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 damaged Archway as a centre, the excess traffic eroding the sides of the streets it flowed along. The layout was bad for drivers too, with frequent collisions where St John’s Way and Junction Road met.
The new layout, returning the A1 to two-way traffic, is an improvement, but not one which has been well thought through, causing traffic displacement on to side roads and very slow movement on the A1 itself.
There are changes which would help with this, including better phasing of traffic lights and permitting a right turn from St John's Way on to the A1, if only for buses. However, TfL moves very slowly on this sort of thing unless there is sustained pressure for change.
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 still get a disproportionate 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.
Successful lobbying has led to the removal of redundant recycling bins and phone kiosks near the tube, and excess signage including banners and advertising without planning permission. We have also reported on estate agents who put up signs on buildings which they are not actually marketing.
Research from High Street Kensington indicated that decluttering doesn’t just make the street feel more cared for and therefore better valued, it also improves safety.
For more on the subject see www.blitzandblight.com/street-furniture, www.english-heritage.org.uk/protecting/heritage-at-risk/conservation-areas-at-risk/interactive and www.english-heritage.org.uk/protecting/save-our-streets.
Archway has green areas but they tend to be hidden away. The green wall on St Gabriel’s Church on Holloway Road showed how much planting improves the look of the more central parts of the area. It is a shame that much of that has been removed to facilitate the church name.
We are however 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.