The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council today announced that the funding package to deliver the innovative Exhibition Road streetscape improvement project is now completely finalised. The scheme is being delivered in two phases and funding for the £18.8m second phase has now been secured.
This follows the Mayor of London’s announcement in January that Transport for London (TfL) will provide total maximum funding of £13.3 million towards the whole project to transform the Exhibition Road area into one of the most important public spaces in London and a major new user-friendly cultural venue for the 2012 Olympics.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council have now jointly agreed to contribute a further £10.1 million and £1 million respectively. Contractor Balfour Beatty has been appointed to carry out the initial ‘pre-construction’ with work due to start in October 2009.
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Director of Transport Policy, said: “The Exhibition Road area is home to some of Britain’s key museums and cultural institutions, which preserve and share the heritage of London and the UK. We hope that this project will result in a world leading example of shared public space, which will make it an area that all Londoners and visitors will be able to safely access and enjoy.
“Parts of the project will involve new approaches to street space being taken, and we are pleased that Kensington & Chelsea is working closely with an access group with the aim of ensuring that the needs of all disability groups, in particular those with limited mobility and the visually impaired, are taken into account in the final design.”
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster Council and TfL have been working jointly on proposals to improve the environment around the world-class museums and institutions in the Exhibition Road area for a number of years.
In line with the original plan by architects Dixon Jones, the repaving of Exhibition Road as a single surface will extend from South Kensington Station up to, but not including the junction of Exhibition Road and Cromwell Road, then continuing north to the junction with Kensington Gore at the entrance to Hyde Park.
Cllr Merrick Cockell, Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said:
“We are very pleased that funding for the Exhibition Road project is now finalised. This is a significant step forward and will allow detailed designs to be completed over the coming months. The intention is for work to start this Autumn with the view that is will completed by the end of 2011 – well ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics Games. The renewal of this iconic cultural area will be a huge boost to residents and visitors alike.”
Cllr Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster City Council, said:
“With the funding finalised we can now press ahead with the improvements. Exhibition Road is home to some of London’s finest and most popular museums and the renewal of this area in time for the 2012 Olympics will be a huge boost to London’s cultural offer for residents and visitors alike. We are fully committed in playing our part in delivering the best possible scheme. We are already investing in major improvements to the West End and Exhibition Road will complement this work perfectly.”
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is working closely with the area’s world-leading museums, local businesses as well as local residents and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and other access and disability groups, to ensure that Exhibition Road’s cultural heritage and unique character is retained, as well as creating a safer and pedestrian friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.