Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Weston Williamson to rework contentious Old Street Roundabout proposals

Old Street Roundabout
  • Comment

Weston Williamson + Partners has been parachuted in to redraft proposals to transform Old Street Roundabout into a peninsula amid criticism from local councils

Last night (1 May) Hackney Council’s planning subcommittee formally objected to a TfL-led scheme designed by WSP and Morgan Sindall for a new entrance to Old Street underground station and associated works at the busy roundabout, which is due to see its north-western arm pedestrianised by 2020.

Hackney criticised the planning application – submitted by WSP and TfL to neighbouring Islington Council in February –  for featuring a seating terrace above the new entrance which, it said, could potentially cause antisocial behaviour and expose users to air pollution. The interchange spans both boroughs.

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Hackney was also critical of a plan to widen the roundabout’s north-eastern arm and remove an existing subway entrance from the single Hackney-controlled corner of the interchange, although these works are subject to permitted development and not part of the application.

Weston Williamson was brought onboard to revise WSP’s proposals three months ago, following criticism from Islington’s design review panel. The practice – which is on the mayor’s and TfL’s ADUP2 framework – is working on a series of potential revisions to the planning application. These amendments have yet to be submitted.

Weston Williamson founding partner Chris Williamson said: ‘We’ve inherited a design that we are in process of amending. These processes can be long and usually very convoluted, but we are confident the final design will make sense.’

Williamson said the terrace concept potentially required ‘unpicking to work in the way that is intended’. He said the other concerns related to services and other unmoveable structures which can be ‘complicated to re-arrange’.

The latest controversy comes a year after Islington Council revealed the four winning ideas in its competition to find concepts for a £1 million ‘Iconic Gateway’. This would be constructed on existing structures which will remain after the gyratory is removed and the peninsula completed.

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

The winning schemes – drawn up by Dar, Gpad London, Nicholas Hare Architects and EPR Architects – were chosen from a longlist of 39 submissions, including designs by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Zaha Hadid Architects and Hawkins\Brown.

Islington Council confirmed it still plans to appoint a single design team to develop a final design for the ‘Iconic Gateway’ above the subterranean station. However, it has yet to offer any timeframe or procurement route.

In its planning submission, TfL said it had ‘de-scoped’ proposals to upgrade Old Street’s ‘clerestory roof louvres, equipment room and refuse store, and sewer diversion ventilation sail’ from the application to allow Islington to potentially realise its ‘Iconic Gateway’ scheme.

In the report backed by Hackney councillors last night, planning officers raised a series of concerns about the current scheme’s functionality and appearance. It said: ‘The landscaping proposed is considered to be a missed opportunity to achieve much greater improvements in the public realm.

‘Also the provision of seating above the new station entrance raises anti-social behaviour concerns as there is no indication of how it would be managed. This busy junction has poor air quality and so it is questionable whether the provision of a large public seating area is appropriate.’

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

Old Street Roundabout proposals by WSP and Morgan Sindall

The seating aims to provide a meeting place and potential venue for ad-hoc performances, according to TfL’s planning submission, and was inspired by the Downtown Crossing Station subway entrance in Boston, Massachusetts and the TKTS Booth in Times Square, New York City.

Under the proposals, all existing subway entrances to the station will be demolished and replaced with a landmark entrance in the centre of the peninsula. A separate new station entrance on Cowper Street won planning in 2016 and is currently on site.

In response to the criticism, TfL’s head of programme sponsorship Nigel Hardy said: ‘Our work at Old Street will remove the outdated, traffic-dominated roundabout and transform the area to make it safer and much more welcoming to people walking, cycling and using public transport.

‘We’re working closely with Islington Council to secure planning permission for the main station entrance and lift as soon as possible.’

So far no date for a decision by Islington Council’s planning committee has been confirmed.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.