Consultation on making St John's Wood one-way High Street permanent
- Credit: Jon Sebire
The deadline is looming for St John’s Wood residents and business owners to have their say on proposals to make the High Street’s one-way system permanent.
Objections to the plans, which would involve eight months of construction along the high street to widen the pavements and facilitate alfresco dining areas, must be submitted to Westminster Council before May 4.
The council’s consultation letter says the project would create a "destination High Street and local community hub where visitors and residents feel welcome, comfortable and safe" and would lead to "increased footfall and dwell time".
A number of the street’s business owners have spoken out against the plans, including Gary Vanger, whose son, James, now runs the clothing store, Square One, which he owned from 1978 to 2020.
Gary said building works on the high street will drive customers away.
"If they start doing these road closures, with lorries, diggers and a building site, then people don’t need to come here," he said.
"If we can’t stop this we will close our shop."
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The one-way system was trialled for more than a year before a consultation period, between 17 August and 12 September 2021, resulted in 87% of respondents showing their support for making the system permanent, but the questionnaire has been criticised by some.
Some describe the "yes or no" questionnaire as leading and Gary described it as "manipulative".
Under the proposal, the northbound one-way system would become permanent and construction work would take place from September 2022 to May 2023.
The project would narrow the road to four metres to create "wider and less cluttered footways, with space for alfresco dining" and would cost £1.9 million.
March 30 marked the beginning of the project’s public consultation period and Gary has criticised the length of this window
The deadline, originally April 20, has since been extended to May 4.
Mohammed Hamzavi-rad, who is the director of Regal Shoes and has run businesses in the high street since 1985, expressed his frustration with the proposals.
"Buying shoes and clothes has to be enjoyable, and it won’t be if people have to come to a building site," he said.
"I’m thinking of telling my suppliers to stop producing because I won’t be able to sell their goods and pay them."
"We won’t be able to get any deliveries anyway because the road will be closed off."
Gary said: "We’re not against all schemes. We’re against the one-way traffic coming from the wrong way."
"We’re St John’s Wood High Street – why are we being cut off from St John’s Wood?"
Phil Robson, Westminster Council's head of city operations, said: “This project was initiated by the St John’s Wood Neighbourhood Forum and we have been in talks with local residents and all businesses from the very start.
“No decision has yet been made and we have extended the consultation period – until May 4, to give stakeholders longer to have their say.
“We are aware that there is both opposition and support for the scheme and we will continue to work with those businesses to address any concerns.”
Visit www.westminstertransportationservices.co.uk/projects/project_details.php?id=553 for the full consultations details.