Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Royal Parks (RTS 156)

  I apologise for not replying earlier to the Committee's inquiry into Road Traffic Speed and problems of speeding on the roads in the Royal Parks.


  The Royal Parks are owned by the Monarch in right of the Crown. Under the 1851 Crown Lands Act the responsibility for managing the Royal Parks was transferred to the Commissioners for Works (now the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport). The Secretary of State has delegated the day management of the Royal Parks to the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency.


  The roads in the Royal Parks are not public highways and are not maintained by local highway authorities as part of the local road network. They are maintained by the Royal Parks Agency and policed by the Royal Parks Constabulary. The speed limit on park roads is 30 miles per hour.

  The park roads were created for a variety of purposes. Some, like The Mall, Constitution Hill in St James's Park and South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park are ceremonial routes; others such as Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park and the Outer Circle and Inner Circle in Regent's Park are landscape features. Most of the rest were built to service people living, working in and visiting the Royal Parks.

  To emphasise the distinction between the park and the public highway, we avoid where possible installing urban signage and street furniture. We also avoid painting white lines on the ceremonial routes and the traffic islands and traffic lights on these routes are portable so that they can be removed for state ceremonials.


  The principal legislation governing activities in the Royal Parks is the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997. These are made under powers conferred on the Secretary of State by the Parks Regulations (Amendment) Act 1926.

  Some aspects of the Road Traffic Act 1972, the Transport Act 1982 and the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 were applied to park roads by the Crown Roads (Royal Parks) (Application of Road Traffic Enactments) Order 1997.


  Vehicles constructed, adapted or in use for the purpose of a trade or business are not allowed in the Royal Parks without prior permission and this is restricted to those vehicles carrying out business with residents or businesses in the parks. There are two exceptions: taxis, which may provide a service for park visitors, and coaches which are allowed to travel down The Mall and Constitution Hill to bring tourists to see Buckingham Palace.


  The problem of speeding is not necessarily more acute in the Royal Parks than elsewhere on the capital's roads; we prosecute approximately 3,000 motorists each year for speeding in the Royal Parks and issue warnings to a further 1,500. It is arguably more important, though, because the parks exist principally for the enjoyment of people seeking to escape the pressures of their urban surroundings, not least the traffic.

  The increasing number of vehicles adversely affect the visitors' enjoyment of the parks by creating a physical and visual intrusion in the historic landscapes and hampering the movement of pedestrians. The speed at which they travel constitutes a danger to other park users.

  Speeding is a problem chiefly on the ceremonial roads, ie South Carriage Drive and North Carriage Drive (Hyde Park), The Mall (St James's Park), Constitution Hill (Green Park). These are long straight roads, wide enough in places to take three cars in each direction, and they seem to invite drivers to speed. The Outer Circle (Regent's Park) is another road which, though not so wide, seems to encourage drivers to speed.

  Speeding is difficult to control on these routes because, as ceremonial routes, the usual armoury of speed restrains—speed humps, road narrowing schemes—are not appropriate. There are traffic lights at junctions on South Carriage Drive and The Mall, but they do nothing to reduce the speed of traffic between the lights.

  The challenge for the Agency is to find, over time and as funds become available, effective ways to design out the problem while maintainting the special character of the park roads. Where that is not a viable option, less subtle but more traditional measures may be necessary.

George Hipwell

Head of Strategy

28 May 2002

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