London mayor Boris Johnson formally opened the newly refurbished Exhibition Road in west London yesterday and insisted that the £28M upgrade has been value for money.
Exhibition Road runs between Hyde Park and South Kensington station, by-passing many of London’s busiest museums, and has been upgraded as a shared-space, kerb-free single surface street with no barriers or street clutter.
Johnson said the resurfacing has made the area a much more attractive area to live and will bring in more investment. “An independent report said [the project] will bring in between £50M to £140M new investment per year,” he said at yesterday’s launch.
However, the development has not been universally welcomed with residents group West London Residents Association chairman Gordon Taylor branding it a “scandalous waste of public money”. “They’ve used hand place granite tiles which haven’t been used on roads before,” said Taylor. “They could have used more cost effective material.”
Taylor added that the road could be dangerous particularly for disabled pedestrians because there is no clear division between cars and pedestrian areas. “Shared spaces only tend to work where traffic flow is below 100 vehicles per hour – this road has 700 vehicles per hour.”
However, Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council leader Sir Merrick Cockell insisted it was money well spent.
“The granite will last 50 years and will not need resurfacing,” said Cockell adding that the resurfacing has greatly improved the area on Exhibition Road.
Exhibition Road works
Chequered hand placed Chinese granite design tiles now run along Exibition Road the full width of the road from building to building.
Black cast iron drainage channel covers run along each side of Exhibition Road, about 4m out from the respective building lines.
Beside the drainage channels, strips of corduroy tactile surfacing warn blind and partially sighted people that they are moving into or out of vehicle free areas.
The scheme was devised by architect Dixon Mason and constructed by contractor Balfour Beatty.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea contributed £14.6M to the scheme, Westminster City Council a further £1M and the mayor’s office £14.6M as part of a wider shared space scheme supported by the London mayor Boris Johnson.