Several years and £30m later, the conversion of Exhibition Road, Kensington into a shared-space thoroughfare, in which there are no pavements and traffic and pedestrians use the same surface, is complete. Yesterday saw the official launch ceremony.
Reaction to the project has been mixed. Guide Dogs for the Blind have repeatedly criticised the scheme, arguing that removing the kerb will put visually impaired pedestrians at risk. The Observer's architecture critic Rowan Moore welcomed the redesign, while Simon Jenkins was also supportive in his Evening Standard column this week.
We took a walk along Exhibition Road last month, which is when the pictures above were taken. The overall effect is pleasing: the criss-cross grid pattern on the street creates the sense of a pedestrianised zone, and the absence of clutter and street furniture is welcome, as are the benches, though given the frigid air they weren't much in use during our visit. There's a relaxed pace, no doubt aided by the new 20mph speed limit along the road.
There were some awkward moments, particularly at the southern end, near South Kensington station, where vehicles and pedestrians got in the way of one another. At this end there's been something of a compromise involving some raised sections in the middle of the street, which are a little out of place. A minor gripe, but overall the scheme is a promising one, at least when seen on a cold winter's day. We'll have to wait until the summer tourist season to really gauge how effective it is.