Red buses and black cabs have been replaced by pedestrians and skateboarders down one of the capital’s most iconic streets
One of London’s most famous thoroughfares has been reclaimed from the motor vehicle as part of plans to create a “green oasis” in the heart of the city.
A section of the Strand that was often choked with red buses, black cabs and white vans is now home to a temporary skatepark. The facility – located outside Somerset House and King’s College London – will remain throughout September, while plans are finalised to turn the three-lane stretch of road into a place for relaxation and recreation.
Those behind the project, dubbed Strand Aldwych, say they want to create a car-free cultural space where art is “made and displayed”, and pedestrians can amble. The road is a gateway to the West End’s theatres and nearby Covent Garden.
Cannon Ivers, who leads the project, said: “I see a transformed Strand Aldwych as a place where the creative process is made visible – where art is made, not just displayed, where performances are rehearsed not just performed.”
He added: “Reclaiming the Strand from traffic for people will create a greener, healthier and safer piece of city, freeing up the wonderful St Mary Le Strand Church and making the street visually rich and resilient.”
The project is being delivered by Westminster city council, along with partners including King’s College London, Somerset House and the Society of London Theatre. Work is due to be complete by 2022.
Westminster city councillor, Matthew Green, said Strand Aldwych would provide a “green oasis” in the heart of the city at a time when many people were coming back to London as the pandemic recedes.
“More and more people are beginning to return to our city, so there is an urgent need to tackle issues with pedestrian congestion and safety, poor air quality and noise,” he said. “Our new plans for Strand Aldwych give us an opportunity to build back better.”
London isn’t alone in reclaiming road space for pedestrians. Earlier this year, Paris announced plans to reimagine the Champs-Élysées as a pedestrian-friendly street, while Birmingham, Barcelona and Oslo are among the other cities with plans to drive cars out of urban areas.
Main image: A rendering of the plans for Strand Aldwych. Credit: LDA Design