Camden and Westminster Councils agree walking, cycling and public realm improvements for Covent Garden

Following a joint consultation by Camden Council and Westminster City Council, a trial scheme will be made permanent. 

The main aim of the scheme is to improve overall amenity and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Over 640 residents, businesses and visitors responded to the latest consultation in December 2022, with 66% of respondents voting favourably to make the scheme permanent. 

The key reasons for supporting the proposals were:

  • Restricting vehicles to encourage walking and to make the area feel safe (although essential vehicular access is maintained) 
  • The changes are better for the environment and air quality, by reducing pollution and traffic congestion 
  • The benefits for local businesses by creating a more pleasant experience for shops, restaurants and outdoor dining. 

Monmouth Street will perhaps see the most significant change in Camden. Plans for Monmouth Street include widened pavements, a dedicated cycle track, seating, plants, new paving materials and space for deliveries and loading. 

The main changes consulted on will now be made permanent and will include adjustments to the direction of traffic on some streets as well as closing some roads at certain times. This will help reduce traffic through the area and create a safer and more pleasant public space. Essential access for residents, businesses, deliveries and servicing will still be available. 

Following the initial consultation hosted by both councils, a traffic management scheme was introduced in December 2021 under an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) which had been running for over a year when data was collected. 

The results from surveys conducted during this period found: 

  • Cycling in the district has increased by 15-30% (depending on time of day) 
  • The scheme has resulted in a 40-60% reduction in traffic levels across the district (depending on time of day) when measured against traffic levels in 2019 
  • A 10-25% reduction in traffic levels across the district (depending on time of day) when compared to November 2021 
  • 76% of respondents thought the scheme made walking easier and safer 
  • 75% of respondents thought air quality would be improved by the scheme 
  • 75% of respondents thought it will be more pleasant to spend time in the district. 

People in the area won’t see a change to their day-to-day experience of the streets and surrounding spaces as these changes have already been made through the trial period. 

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

I am delighted that Camden and Westminster are making the trial changes permanent, highlighting the benefits of partnership working for all.

“In Seven Dials, and across the iconic Covent Garden, our goal is to reduce the number of motor vehicles that use the area as a ‘rat run’. This will in turn make Covent Garden safer and more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst also improving the local environment for residents, businesses and visitors. This scheme is an important part of this approach.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management and Air Quality said: “Covent Garden has huge footfall numbers every day and we want people to enjoy everything the area has to offer. We are proud to be working with Camden on this scheme which will help reduce traffic, improve air quality, promote cycling and walking, enhance the experience of the public realm and improve safety in the area. 

“We are very pleased the majority of residents were in favour of making the scheme permanent so we can create a more pleasant environment and a fairer Westminster that everyone can enjoy.” 

For information: 

Find out more about the scheme

Key changes: 

  •  No new traffic measures will be introduced over and above what is in place under the trial currently on street. 
  • Motor vehicles are prohibited from Burleigh Street (north of Exeter Street) and Tavistock Street (south of Wellington Street), except for access purposes.
  • Closure of Covent Garden Piazza to all vehicles, except for deliveries and servicing from 5am – 11am on Mondays and 7am – 11am Tuesday to Sunday. 
  • Closure of Dryden Street, Floral Street (south of James Street), Henrietta Street, King Street, Maiden Lane, Rose Street and Southampton Street (north of Tavistock Street) to motor vehicles, except for deliveries and servicing from 7am – 11am. 
  •  Drury Lane is one-way southbound between Parker Street and Long Acre. 
  • Endell Street is one-way southbound between Betterton Street and Shelton Street, and one-way northbound between Long Acre and Shelton Street. 
  • Mercer Street is one-way southbound between Shaftesbury Avenue and Seven Dials, and one-way southbound between Shelton Street and Long Acre. 
  • Monmouth Street is one-way northbound between Tower Street and Seven Dials. 
  • Newton Street is one-way southbound between Parker Street and Great Queen Street. 
  • Short’s Gardens is one-way northbound between Seven Dials and Endell Street. 
  • Tavistock Street is two-way between Wellington Street and Southampton Street. 
  • Cycles are exempt from the banned turns and one-way workings described above as well as in all lengths of Earlham Street, Mercer Street, Monmouth Street and Short’s Gardens. 
  • No right turn from Shaftesbury Avenue into Mercer Street and no left turn from Shaftesbury Avenue into Monmouth Street.