The CGCA works to promote and protect a safe and attractive local environment for residents, businesses and visitors. We work in collaboration with our two local authorities and with major landowners to develop strategy and monitor implementation. Aspects covered include improvement and maintenance of carriage ways, footways and street furniture, traffic management and parking, rubbish collection and street cleaning, considerate management of large building sites, tables and chairs on the footway, business delivery times and much else.
Much of the CGCA’s work on the public realm is carried out through its membership of Westminster City Council’s Area 1 and Area 3 Steering Groups. These groups meet every few months and bring together local stakeholders, including (unusually) officers and members from the two local authorities, freeholders and local amenity groups to discuss and refine public realm schemes and strategies.
On the Camden side of Covent Garden, we work closely with the Seven Dials Trust to implement the vision for Seven Dials laid out in the Seven Dials Renaissance Study. In October 2015 Camden also issued some draft proposals for a street strategy for Seven Dials, and a more detailed draft of proposed improvements to the public realm in Earlham Street. These drafts are still under discussion with us and others, but a version will go to public consultation in April 2016. The latest version of the street plan is here. Contentious ideas like pedestrianisation and shared surfaces have been shelved, and specifics like hours of loading are yet to be agreed. If you have comments that you would like CGCA to put forward prior to the consultation, please email us at PublicRealm@Coventgarden.org.uk.
We press the authorities to take enforcement action against dangerous street clutter such as ‘A boards’ and piles of refuse being left out. We take ‘walkabouts’ with council officers and liaise with responsible landlords to exert pressure on their tenants.
The major Crossrail project also affects our area. We attend meetings that discuss its progress and monitor proposals.
We consider greenery, particularly trees, in urban spaces to be not only attractive but essential in contributing to the improvement of air quality and providing habitat for birds and pollinating insects. Our policy is to promote greening and to protect the trees and planting we already have. In particular, we encourage developers to incorporate greening into their schemes.
Public Open Spaces
Because Covent Garden is a very busy inner-city area, our open spaces are particularly precious as a respite from the hustle and bustle and as a resource for the many children living in and visiting the area. Historically the CGCA built a number of temporary gardens on sites awaiting development. Those opportunities no longer exist but we are blessed with a surprising range of gardens, parks and playgrounds which are open to both locals and visitors.
The award-winning Phoenix Garden is the last remaining community garden, created in 1984. It is managed by volunteers and provides a green retreat, a vital habitat for urban wildlife and a study resource for local schools. It is situated in Stacey Street, behind the junction of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields is the largest public square in London and is owned and managed by Camden Council. It lies to the east of Kingsway. In addition to lawns, trees and shrubberies, there are three tennis courts and two netball courts which can be booked via the park attendant on site. On the borders of the Fields can be found The Soane Museum, dedicated to the life and work of the great architect Sir John Soane, and the Royal Society of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum, which houses one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens. Both of these museums offer free entry and guided tours.
Drury Lane Garden is a small park on Drury Lane between Russell Street and Martlett Court. It is owned and managed by Westminster City Council. It has a quiet seating area, a raised play area with equipment and a multi-sport court for ball games.