Getting through Brixton by car has always been a nightmare. In fact, Londonist remembers an apocryphal tale told to us once in the midst of a Brixton Road traffic jam which claimed that the reason there has not been any major developments in decades to deal with the area’s traffic flow was “so police didn’t have to worry about criminals making quick getaways”.
Ok, so we’re 99% sure that’s not true, but if it was then it would possibly be one of the Met’s most successful crime-fighting strategies of the past 25 years. The bottom line is: Brixton needs investment, and for the past six years or so Lambeth Council have been planning just that: the multi-million pound project that is Brixton central square.
The basic idea is to unite the spaces of Tate Gardens, Windrush Square and St Matthews Peace Gardens, but from the very start one thorn has been a constant in the planners’ sides: Effra Road which runs between Coldharbour Lane and Kellett Road.
Originally the idea was to pedestrianise Effra Road and open the bottom of Brixton Hill to allow traffic to travel both ways – speeding up bus journeys in the process.
Last Monday the Lambeth council’s executive committee held a meeting to listen to public concerns that the square may actually lead to an increase in muggings and drug dealing (the now infamous Brixton crack squirrel gang are not thought to have sent a spokesquirrel).
Having heard these arguments the executive gave its approval to the Square Project but rejected the closure of Effra Road, leading Transport for London to say, “Without the reduction in traffic in Effra Road, I don’t think the business case [to create the square] will stack up.” i.e. six years of work could now go down the drain.
TfL will now have to go back to the drawing board and should annunce their plans next year, the big question hanging over them being: can they commit to the estimated £6m now thought needed to fund the project?