St John's Wood retailers fear one-way road scheme will be made permanent

Retailers fear lights will go out in their businesses for good if one way street scheme made permanent

Retailers fear lights will go out in their businesses for good if one way street scheme made permanent - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Retailers in St John's Wood fear their businesses will go bust if a one-way street scheme is made permanent. 

St John's Wood Traders hosted a packed meeting at Feast, in St John's Wood High Street on Tuesday ahead of a consultation deadline on May 4.

Under Westminster City Council (WCC) proposals, the northbound one-way system would become permanent and construction work would take place from September 2022 to May 2023.

Plans include narrowing the road and expanding the pavements with bike racks and pockets for greenery to "beautify" the street.

However, traders said the scheme "has been a disaster" and called for the two-way street to be reinstated rather than dug up. 

Simon Morgan and Gary Vangar at a St John's Wood Traders meeting

Simon Morgan and Gary Vangar at a St John's Wood Traders meeting over a one way street scheme made permanent in the High Street - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Gary Vanger, owner of Square One, said: "It's clear to see businesses on the high street are dying and it's very sad."

He said adjoining Circus Road which is two-way was "thriving" and the High Street had become "a game of two halves" with one end busier than the other."

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He accused the council of "not listening" to businesses.

Clive Beecham said the permanent scheme would see alfresco dining "diminished by two thirds". "It's not what we believed as residents, what we were told."

Simon Morgan, project manager of highways and public realm at WCC said: "We never promised to keep the same scheme". 

Others felt the plans were "very rushed" and asked for a delay. 

St John's Wood High Street

St John's Wood High Street - Credit: Jon Sebire

The one-way system was trialled in 2020 and extended to allow a consultation to take place between August 17 and September 12 2021.

The two point questionnaire saw 87 per cent of respondents showing their support for alfresco dining and 84pc to making the system permanent.

Virginia Newman, vice chairman of the St John's Wood Society, told the crowd that £2million of a community infrastructure levy had been given.

"It's not our money to spend. We are the ones who are supposed to be advising the council how its spent.

"We asked people and they said they wanted it spent on the high street." 

St John's Wood High Street

St John's Wood High Street - Credit: Jon Sebire

Jean-Pierre Bruno, of menswear outlet Bruno, suggested shops could share terraces with restaurants, "a common practice in France". 

Maggie Bolger, who opened Feast and B_together nursery during lockdown, asked to delay for a year to give businesses a chance to rebuild traffic which saw raised hands of approval.

However, Cllr Robert Rigby, (Conservatie, Regents Park) said it would have to go back to how it was in 2019.

To comment on the consultation email tmo.westminster@wsp.com