Posted by on Mar 21, 2018 | 0 comments

We know what the solutions are to Kilburn’s Public Space issues – but there is no progress.

Kilburn Public Spaces – people’s likes and dislikes

Over the past three years, surveys and consultation with residents and businesses in Kilburn have been carried out by the Kilburn Neighbourhood Forum, Transport for London and Brent and Camden Boroughs. What have they found?

What people like about living in Kilburn

  • A vibrant area with a huge variety of shops and stalls – you can buy almost anything!
  • Great bars and pubs and other leisure venues – dance and music schools, theatre and cinema
  • Lots of good places to eat lots of different kinds of food
  • Kilburn Grange is a good open space – but little else
  • An area rich in history, culture and peoples
  • Excellent transport links

But on the other hand, there are some serious concerns:

  • Flytipping and rubbish
  • Traffic congestion along the Kilburn High Road which brings air quality problems
  • High Business Rates – potentially crippling some businesses
  • Parking enforcement and loading bay restrictions
  • Too many betting shops, pay-day lenders and pawn shops along the High Road

Using the High Road can be an intimidating and uninviting experience, particularly for shoppers:

  • The main roads are a road safety hotspot – too many accidents
  • Pavements are narrow and get overcrowded at busy times
  • Shops spill out onto the pavement too much – cluttering the pavement

All this means local residents and visitors, particularly older people or those with a disability, are put off using the high road. That affects local businesses and the economic viability of the high road as a shopping street.

Obvious solutions – but no action

So – although there are no full surveys or detailed research, it feels like we know what the problems are for Kilburn’s Public Spaces – at least for the High Road, Willesden Lane and the other streets leading onto them.
And it also feels like we know what the solutions are even if we don’t have the means to implement them – yet. It is also clear that the public authorities know what they could or should be doing.

In 2017, Camden and Brent made a joint bid to TfL’s Liveable Neighbourhoods Fund. Improvements were to be achieved via:

  • Junction improvements, widened footways and a high quality and quantity of pedestrian space along Kilburn High Road, to reduce traffic dominance, increase the attractiveness of the street and significantly improve safety.
  • Bus reliability and air quality improvements
  • All one-way streets in the surrounding area to be made into cycle contraflows, plus a number of permeability and traffic reduction measures
  • Additional cycle parking and wayfinding to be installed close to stations and other key destinations.
  • Cycle lanes where possible, decluttering, increased tree cover, and improved bus stop, underground and overground station accessibility
  • Provision of electric vehicle charging points across the scheme area.

For an executive summary of the bid go to Liveableneighbourhood2017bid.exec.summ.

Click here for the full bid. Unfortunately it was rejected – perhaps because of lack of public consultation, and perhaps because Tfl now prefers schemes where funding is shared with local authorities. Any major change on the Kilburn High Road has to go via TfL, while Brent and Camden are jointly responsible to submit proposed changes. Camden and Brent have failed to come up with a scheme that is acceptable to Tfl who continue to ask Camden and Brent to improve the bid. The worry is now that Camden and Brent are now shifting their focus towards other priorities.

KNPF were involved in scrutinising the bid and asked MP Tulip Siddiq to investigate as well. This was the scheme the Forum and residents have been tracking since at least 2013, and cost Brent Council alone £250k to prepare. Currently there are no new bids but the Forum is interested in pushing for an improved bid this year.