Camden Council, Transport for London and Camden Town Unlimited (the Business Improvement District) have developed the Camden Town Project to make the key streets in the area safer and more attractive to use.
Camden Town is one of London’s most well-known areas. It is home to a vibrant and diverse local community, as well as a thriving economy with a focus on arts, music and design. Cobden junction is one of the areas identified for improvement in the Camden Town Project.
The project is part of a wider regeneration initiative which aims to generate new business and employment opportunities in Camden Town. The first phase of improvements in the northern part of Camden High Street and the main junction by Camden Town Station have now been completed.
The project is funded by the Mayor for London through the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund which aims to support long term economic growth. Contributions to the project have also been provided by Camden Town Unlimited, Transport for London and Camden Council.
Key objectives of the project are to improve the existing public space (currently in the middle of the street) and pavements, to provide better crossings for pedestrians and to make the area better for cyclists. The existing public space includes the Cobden statue and the Prisoner of War memorial and is surrounded by busy traffic lanes.
As part of the project development, creating a new space on the western side of Camden High Street was considered.
The traffic impact of this option was assessed and would have led to a significant increase in congestion and unacceptable delays to buses and general traffic. Therefore creating a public space on the east side was looked at and found to have a more acceptable impact on traffic with only slightly longer queues than now.
The design concept provided direct and simple pedestrian crossings as well as a safer junction layout for cyclists. These improvements could not be fully achieved with the new public space on the west side. The east side of the road also gets more sunlight than the west, meaning 53 trees will grow better and making it more pleasant for people on foot.
• The public space and footways lack many places to sit, trees and cycle parking even though there is a lot space available. In the middle of the junction is a large public space with the Cobden Statue and Prisoners of War memorial but it is not well used as it is difficult to get to. This space is unpleasant as it is surrounded by traffic and can attract antisocial behaviour.
• The junction is in the Camden Town Conservation area and currently does not provide a pleasant setting for several heritage assets such as the Cobden Statue, Koko’s and Mornington Crescent station.
• The pedestrian crossings across the junction are not direct and can be confusing. It can take pedestrians several minutes to get where they want across the junction even though distances are short.
• On the west side of Camden High Street the pavement is narrow.
• The junction can be intimidating for pedestrians and cyclists. Although accidents at and around the junction are relatively low there have been several collisions involving pedestrians or cyclists in the last three years. The simplification of the junction should help to reduce accidents.
• Create a large, attractive and easily accessible public space on the east side of Camden High Street.
• The new public space would include improved lighting, carefully designed seating and improved settings for the Richard Cobden statue and Prisoners of War memorial (both will be carefully moved from their current locations). A series of rounded spaces containing trees and benches is proposed for the new space on the east side.
• Remove northbound traffic from the east side of Camden High Street (traffic would be diverted around the new public space).
• The footway on the west side of Camden High Street would increase from approximately 3 metres to over 6 metres wide and be populated with new trees.
• The footway outside Mornington Crescent underground station would increase from 6 m to 10 m wide.
• Safer, quicker and simpler pedestrian crossings.
• Improved cycle lanes and facilities through the junction.
• Dual use loading and taxi rank facility, providing kerbside loading during the day and a taxi rank at night.
• Cycle parking provided at convenient locations.
Camden Council and Transport for London are committed to providing high quality cycling facilities in Camden Town. As part of the design work a west to east cycle route from Mornington Crescent/Hampstead Road to Crowndale Road was explored. It was found this would require additional traffic signals and for all traffic to be stopped for a short period to allow cyclists to progress safely through the junction.
The traffic impact of these changes was assessed and led to unacceptable delays to buses and general traffic. The proposed layout has been designed to allow a west to east cycle lane in the future if conditions change.
In addition, alternative options for providing a west to east link are being explored at both Delancey Street / Pratt Street and Oakley Square.
Artist impression of proposals