Turning the Corner

Has Boris lost the plot? First he backtracks on bendy buses. Now there are fears he’s abandoning plans for better public spaces too.

When campaigning to be Mayor, Boris said “At their best, London’s open spaces are quite simply breathtaking…. Our environment has an enormous impact on our sense of wellbeing, and it is vital that we cherish our city and strive to make it cleaner and greener.” His environment manifesto went further: “Above all I will work to make London a pleasant and safe place to live, by nurturing
and protecting the public spaces that bind us all together.”

Back in 2002, Mayor Ken launched the 100 public spaces programme. Thie idea was to have 100 new or improved people-friendly squares across the capital before the 2012 Olympics – the sort of initiative that will give Londoners a real legacy. Ten pilot projects were announced in July 2002, and 14 more in 2003. By 2005, 34 sites had been identified, including Highbury Corner.

Like so much of Islington, Highbury Corner was, literally, shaped by World War II. In 1944, the traditional street pattern was destroyed by a V1 flying bomb – and the area’s been a bit of a mess ever since. Recently that’s begun to change.

There’s a plaque commemorating the bombing on the wall at the north end of Compton Terrace (championed by the late Michael Marland). Nearby used to be some dusty and neglected concrete tubs, but now there’s fresh planting protected by smart railings.

The entrance to Highbury Place has been widened and repaved. The old CAB building next door got burned down years ago; now the hoarding around its site has been brightened up and is less of a blot on the landscape.

Groundwork improved the forecourt at Highbury & Islington station (still a ‘temporary’ building), and they got local schools to paint the flower tubs outside the Marie Curie Cancer Care shop.

But for bigger changes we need action from TfL and the Mayor.

Islington’s been working with TfL to develop plans to transform the corner, closing one arm to traffic, increasing the public space available, and making it safer, greener and more attractive for all. Local councillors fought to ensure Compton Terrace’s historic trees were not at risk. All policies Boris claims to support.

Late last year it looked like things were moving, with different options out for consultation. Since then we’ve been eagerly awaiting the results from the Mayor. But now it’s all gone horribly quiet.

Highbury Corner matters to Islington. It will be a betrayal if Boris abandons it now.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Consultation on options for Highbury Corner started a year ago. We’ve been kept waiting a long time for the results but now they’re out. They show majority backing for the option of closing off one arm of the roundabout, creating new pedestrian space joining the island up to the Highbury & Islington station side. It will restore a traditional road junction, and create a new public open space in our crowded borough. The next battle is to get funding for the scheme: Mayor Boris says his cupboard is bare. […]

  2. Matty said

    hi, i think has been 10 years that you and the lib dems have been consulting and pushing plans for highbury corner. i belive you had good intentions, but you are now seen as failures and what is worse you wasted so many peoples time, and tax money with those worthless and still born plans. you have list trust and respect. it is sad. i do belive you did try,.just did not have what it takes to het anything done. matt

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