• Following the declaration of climate emergency by H&F council I have been in touch with my Cllr. Wesley Harcourt regarding suggested improvements that aim to:

    1. Reduce rat-running through the estate
    2. Encourage people living on the estate to travel within the estate by foot or cycle
    3. Improve the area around Old Oak Primary school
    4. Create places for residents to gather and hang out
    5. Minimise the fly-tipping, possible muggings and drug dealing at specific locations around the estate.

    Wesely has asked for specific proposals that he can discuss with his officers and perhaps work up to a Liveable Streets funding bid to TfL. I would like to pull ideas together to send him and get some input from the forum hive mind. Hence this thread.

    The Old Oak Estate is a conservation area built in the 20’s, Arts and Craft style garden city. It is a neglected area because, geographically it is cut off from the rest of North Kensington by the Westway to the south and the railway to the north. It borders Wormwood Scrubs to the east and Ealing to the West. It is also predominantly a working-class area with 50% of Estate being council houses.

    I have annotated a google map with some rough ideas that I’d like to flesh out with some help. I have created 4 layers on this map for each idea and extended the reach of my suggestions to include the little shopping Parade on Old Oak Common lane, and a proposal to improve the crossing the Westway.
    Here is the map:

    Proposal 1 (Layer 1): Modal filters to prevent rat running
    Drivers use the estate to cut their journey from Ducane Road to Old Oak Common Lane. I suggest that barriers are installed on the junctions of Ducane roads with Wulfstan Street and with Fitzneal Street. Which leaves only two ways in and out of the estate, North end of Wulfstan St and North end of Fitzneal Street.

    Proposal 2 (Layer 2): Pedestrian/Play street areas
    One area closed to all traffic would be around the School. This could be closed during the school run time or even permanently, though some vehicles would need to access the school.
    Close the section on Erconwold Street between Fitzneal and Henchman Street making the space outside East Acton Station more pleasant especially under the railway bridge where lighting and artwork and Parklets can be installed. (Dealing with drug dealers and fly tippers).
    (The rail bridge crossing Ducane road is also pretty grim and would benefit from improved lighting and artwork)

    Proposal 3 (Layer 3). Old Oak common lane shopping parade
    Currently it is very difficult to cross the road where Ducane road meets Old Oak Common lane, a shopping parade. The lights are very confusing and people on foot can’t cross the road in one go.
    There used to be a zebra crossing just north of that junction which was removed. Reinstating this would help, plus more steps/ramps from the raised pavement on the east side of the street so people have additional crossing points.

    [Propsal 4 (Layer 4) Remove the gyratory and create a public space where Old Oak Common lane meets the Westway
    This idea is beyond this remit though since the removal of Homebase here and the planned building of flats it is worth adding to the mix improving the crossing a removing the Western arm of the gyratory.]

    Thank you if you have read this far!

    I am aiming to write up this for Wesley over the next few weeks and any suggestions will really help. If anyone wishes to visit the area (it is a fascinating part of London) I’m up for giving a tour and buying people a beer in the Castle pub.

    @Oliver Schick @mespilus We could arrange a West beers to discuss ideas.

  • @skydancer @Oliver Schick
    Thanks for thinking of me.
    Your four suggestions seem eminently sensible.
    I've only ('90s) experience of the area, from working for Expandite along Chase Road,
    but do remember once (mistakenly) walking past East Acton station and feeling very alienated
    by the area.
    On a more practical level,
    RWMAG, (Ruislip Woods Management Advisory Group),
    can offer Oak saplings, (which we will be removing from our grassland areas this Autumn),
    for the parklets and possibly the school.
    Name a date/venue for a Wests discussion.

  • Thanks @mespilus

    I can include the idea of using these sapling in the report I write for the Councillor.

    How about Thursday 15th August at the Castle

  • It is interesting developing work what to actually make of 'climate emergency' declarations.

    I won't come to a meeting about it, as it's not my area, and it's something that locals should organise. Very happy to tell you what I think, of course.

    It's a lovely area. I've cycled through it a couple of times, once, incidentally, on my way back from Wests at the Castle, where I did a bit of a dog leg, first north up Victoria Road and back down south along Old Oak Common Lane. I like the simple style of architecture, which I think is far superior to most estates I've seen.

    On filtering:

    Proposal 1 (Layer 1): Modal filters to prevent rat running
    Drivers use the estate to cut their journey from Ducane Road to Old Oak Common Lane. I suggest that barriers are installed on the junctions of Ducane roads with Wulfstan Street and with Fitzneal Street. Which leaves only two ways in and out of the estate, North end of Wulfstan St and North end of Fitzneal Street.

    One thing that's good about your proposal, David, is the low number of filters you need. I consider this a good aim, and it is a challenge to do something like this with the smallest possible number of filters. However, overall I don't think your proposal is a good filtering strategy. I always advise against filtering an area (often called a traffic cell) at the edges. It's the simplest method, but it only causes drivers to have to travel unnecessarily long distances through the area if they want to access somewhere inside it. Also, filtering at the main street (in this case Du Cane Road, which is, strictly speaking, quite a minor street, but is very busy by virtue of its length and straight alignment) is not a good idea, because it means that there are fewer junctions that drivers along the main alignment have to look out for. This invariably leads to worse driver behaviour, e.g. higher speeds. You can also see some legacy filtering of this kind at the major junction of Old Oak Common Lane and Du Cane Road (and formerly Erconwald Road; there used to be a large open space where it joined the junction diagonally to the two other streets). The existence of this filtering points to a problem in the past that people thought was so serious that it warranted the intervention. Traffic engineers like this sort of filtering, because it simplifies the main junction, makes their job easier, and causes much higher vehicle throughput on the other streets that still form part of the junction.

    There are many examples of such bad filtering all over London. I always mention the area bounded by the A107 Lower Clapton Road, the A104 Lea Bridge Road, Chatsworth Road, and Powerscroft Road. This is filtered fully (which is good, as too many areas are only partially filtered), meaning that there are no routes through the cell, but the filters are located at the junctions on Lea Bridge Road, Chatsworth Road, and Powerscroft Road, and all driving into the area needs to happen from the Lower Clapton Road end. This causes longer car journeys for people who want to get to the filtered ends, which, surprise, surprise, causes drivers to drive faster.

    A much better way of filtering is inside a cell, well away from all the edge junctions. This is more difficult to do but has much better end results. It essentially does the same job as edge filtering, but much better. It means that drivers may have to use the same way in and the same way out and may have to turn, so it requires some arrangements for turning (which would be easy here because the streets are wide).

    Another thing you always have to consider is the path that emergency vehicles and dustcarts take through an area. Obviously, access for fire engines is crucial. Also, dustcart drivers hate having to reverse long distances or having to open gates all the time (and this sometimes causes problems when workers leave gates open after they've passed, although it's a problem I've mainly heard about on estates of other styles, i.e. postwar estates with narrow, circuitous streets that in their basic layout didn't deter rat-running as was hoped and later had to be filtered using gates; I think it would be less of a problem here).

    Anyway, there are lots of challenges in filtering, but they can all be overcome. I always say that I think these things should come up from the streets, and that locals should be involved in workshops in which together they work out the best solution. It shouldn't be done 'top-down'. It's very easy to 'design' something by looking at a map, but to do it well you always need local knowledge that can put principles into practice. Brainstorming about filtering is actually good fun as you try to 'solve' the issue by means of as few filters as possible that street users like the Waste Service can agree with.

    You have an advantage here to start with because the traffic cell to be filtered is well-defined and has only two cell boundary streets (Old Oak Common Lane and Du Cane Road), with Wormwood Scrubs covering two sides of it, and Braybrook Street being no good as a cell boundary street.

    One of the most obvious things is that the original design clearly had the intention of an attractive central square at the junction of Wulfstan Street and Erconwald Street. You can see from the 'choke points' that at some point were installed on the approaches that there has long been a speeding problem, and quite possibly a collision problem, because constant through motor traffic has obviously perverted the planners' idea. One of the key interventions, I think, would be to revive this as a square. This should not only happen by design, because a beautifully-designed square could still be completely dead, but by good management, i.e. events being put on there, and people feeling a sense of ownership and togetherness through the activities in the square. The square could be permanently filtered (on all four sides, which I call a 'Culford filter' after the one at the junction of Northchurch Road, Culford Road, Northchurch Terrace, and Lawford Road, N1 (well, one has to pick one of the streets :) ) or just be filterable (with filters elsewhere) in case there was an event on.

    Things like the ugly mini-roundabouts on Wulfstan Street with their speed deflection build-outs, or the width restriction on Fitzneal Street could be removed with a good filtering strategy that would make their purpose obsolete.

    As hinted at above, and relating to your Proposal 3, I would re-open Erconwald Street at the Old Oak Common/Du Cane Road junction (obviously, ideally, redesigning the junction completely) and filter it further inside the cell, perhaps with a 'Culford filter' at Fitzneal Street/Erconwald Road--that's really the only filter that would be needed in the area southwest of the railway line, although it may not be practical, or your suggestion of a cycling-and-walking zone around the station (although the requirements of people with mobility difficulties need to be considered in case they need to be dropped off there by car). Needless to say, such a move would be controversial, and while Old Oak Common Lane is not on the TLRN, it's probably on the SRN, so TfL would have a veto on a scheme to re-open Erconwald Street. It's not an urgent priority, but an idea that could be fed into discussions.

    People would ask what the benefits would be; it would reduce the distances people would have to drive inside the cell (as above), it would actually improve the fenced-off car park/planter space at the main junction (it's very impermeable visually), it would make the junction less shut off, it would reduce motor traffic capacity there (obviously a disadvantage from TfL's point of view but not from the perspective of a climate emergency), it would help the local shops because they wouldn't appear so sidelined, and it would undoubtedly increase activity from people walking and cycling into the area. Drivers could drive in, too, no problem; what they couldn't do would be to rat-run. Also, if there remains a filter at the edge, as here, that influences what filtering can be done inside the area, and I think filtering is best done with all the edge junctions open. I think without it any filtering inside the area would not be as good as it could be.

    Anyway, hope you have fun banging the drum locally, and that people come on board! People will have long experience of traffic problems in the area, and opinions on how to solve them, but many will have felt powerless in the past after unsuccessful attempts. Inevitably, there will be people very dependent on their cars, whether for work or because of mobility difficulties, and it's important that they can see that it would have advantages for them, too.

  • Language:

    One area closed to all traffic would be around the School.

    Well, that would mean that no children could go to school, which would probably be just as well, as no teachers could reach it, either. :)

    Well, you know about this one.

    This could be closed during the school run time or even permanently, though some vehicles would need to access the school.
    Close the section on Erconwold Street between Fitzneal and Henchman Street

    Using 'closed/closing/closure' all the time sends the wrong, negative message. As you know well, the area would be 'opened' for much more than currently takes place.

  • [Propsal 4 (Layer 4) Remove the gyratory and create a public space where Old Oak Common lane meets the Westway
    This idea is beyond this remit though since the removal of Homebase here and the planned building of flats it is worth adding to the mix improving the crossing a removing the Western arm of the gyratory.]

    This is obviously an idea I would strongly support, but you should not combine this with the proposals for the estate at all. It's a completely different kind of project. I wouldn't consider it very difficult, but it would need funding in the region of tens of millions. (I'm not really up to speed with major scheme costs as TfL have been keeping rather shtum about this given the financial problems, but costs are rising all the time.) One main street scheme component in the shape of the Old Oak Common Lane/Du Cane Road/Erconwald Street junction would be more than enough.

    Anyway, the Westway/Old Oak Common Lane/Old Oak Road junction would obviously swallow most of the funding, and it would be quite the fight to define a suitable scope for the work (so you don't end up with a typical rearranging-the-deckchairs type scheme, which you often get, i.e. the assets are all upgraded and little of significance actually happens).

  • Thanks for taking the time for this Oliver.

    I will re-read your posts to better digest them when I get a chance. And fire back anything that occurs to me.

  • @skydancer
    Proposal 2 aligns almost perfectly with my line of work in my day job at London Sport. I am broadly responsible for our work in LBHF, RBKC, Westminster and Ealing. I'd be really keen to see how your proposals progress and am open to discussing approaches, if I can be of any help. Just PM me if you fancy a chat. 👍

  • I would love to chat with you. Thanks for the offer. Will pm my email and mob.
    Perhaps we could meet in a pub. I can buy you a beer :)

  • This is brilliant Oliver. Opening up the Erconwald/Wulfstan street junction to restore the Square makes so much sense.

    How would you manage rat running along Henchman Street and Braybrook Street? That is what would happen ...

  • The idea of filtering is to filter *all* possible through motor traffic routes in an area, including Henchman Street and Braybrook Street. You first define the traffic cell (easy in this case). Then you take a diagram of the streets inside it and sit down with local people who know the area, the waste service, the emergency services, etc. and try to make everybody's interests converge. This will inevitably involve some compromise, but it's perfectly possible to overcome the difficulties inherent in it.

    I could obviously give you a number of different options for filtering schemes right away, but (a) I don't have the local knowledge that might make one or several of them impossible¸ and (b) it's none of my business, as I live far away and have no involvement with the area. Very happy to give general advice, but it's your job to make it happen. :)

    It's very important not to do a partial filtering scheme. That often gets done because it's a lot easier, but it would, as you say, leave open routes like the ones you mention, and if that's what's going to happen it's best not to do anything until such time as there is a way of doing it properly.

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Help with suggestions for improving the Old Oak Estate W12

Posted by Avatar for skydancer @skydancer

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