Memorandum submitted by the London Borough
The London Borough of Barnet welcomes the opportunity
to give evidence to the Committee. This memorandum highlights
a specific issue the Council wishes to draw the Committee's attention
to and should be read in conjunction with the evidence submitted
by the North London Strategic Alliance of which Barnet is a member.
The Council's primary concern relates to the
A406 North Circular Road which, between Wembley and the A12, is
intended to form part of the Olympic Route Network. The A406 forms
a key strategic orbital route through North London from the A4
in the West to the A13 in the East. The A406 is the only major
orbital route between the inner ring road and the M25.
The A406 has been the subject of numerous studies
and improvement plans from the 1970s which aimed to improve it
to a consistent standard throughout its length. During the 1990s
major schemes were implemented on much of the route to the north
and east to achieve a consistent standard of dual 3-lane carriageway
or dual 2-lane with link roads with full grade separation of all
junctions. From the A13 to just west of the A10, the A406 now
meets this standard. This standard is also maintained from the
A10 to the junction with the M1 Motorway with the exception of
A502 Golders Green Road junction
A406/A1/A598 Regents Park Road junction
Bounds Green to Green Lanes
The first two locations are wholly within the
London Borough of Barnet, with the third partly located in the
borough and the adjoining borough of Enfield.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, schemes
(the major improvements) were developed for these locations by
the Department for Transport and, for the Golders Green Road and
Henlys Corner schemes, the proposals were progressed through public
inquiries and pre-construction works to the point of letting design
and build contracts.
Following the review of the national roads programme,
the A406 improvement schemes were put on hold pending the formation
of the Greater London Authority (GLA) who were set to take over
responsibility for Trunk Roads in London. To assist the GLA in
deciding the future role of the A406 and the improvement schemes,
the Government Office for London commissioned a report, published
in February 2000, investigating the problems and potential solutions
for this key route.
Having taken over responsibility for the A406,
Transport for London gave consideration to the planned major improvements
and decided to abandon them in favour of small scale schemes.
Transport for London also indicated an intention to dispose of
property purchased to allow construction of the major improvements.
The Council is dissatisfied by the way in which this decision
was made and this has been the subject of legal correspondence
between the Council and TfL.
In 2002, Transport for London consulted on their
newly developed revised schemes which were generally described
as environmental and safety improvements. The Council responded
to TfL's consultation indicating that the proposals were inadequate
to deal with the issue of endemic congestion at these sites and
indeed, the proposals were likely to worsen rather than reduce
To date, the implementation of TfL's revised
schemes in Barnet has not taken place, we understand due to difficulties
of achieving a satisfactory scheme without grade-separation of
the junctions. An assessment of the latest version of the revised
schemes showed that they had a very large negative economic benefit
ratio due to large increases in delays to vehicular traffic.
The A406 problem is one of great concern to
the Council and Barnet will be delivering a significant element
of the new homes and jobs proposed for London by 2016 as set out
in the Mayor's London Plan. Barnet has a number of major development
sites and current proposals will see growth far exceeding the
levels set out in the London Plan.
Much of the regeneration in the borough will
be delivered through a scheme providing a new town centre with
10,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs at Cricklewood/Brent Cross/West
Hendon. The regeneration area straddles the A406 between its junctions
with the A5, M1 and A41. The eastern boundary of the regeneration
area is immediately adjacent to the start of the Golders Green
Road major improvement scheme. This regeneration scheme is currently
progressing through the planning process and is anticipated to
deliver 3,000-4,000 new homes by 2012.
In addition to the growth arising from the regeneration
schemes, the Mayor's Transport Strategy recognises that traffic
levels in North London will increase as a result of development
and through background growth in car ownership. The Council is
concerned that the predictions and assessments in the Transport
Strategy, London Plan and Olympic Transport plans, do not take
into account the higher levels of growth in the borough we have
been discussing with TfL.
The major A406 improvement schemes, which were
approved following the public inquiries, were developed to address
concerns over congestion which was at that time predicted to occur
if nothing was done. The work carried out by the Department for
Transport predicted that congestion would reach unacceptable levels
long before 2012, unless the major schemes were implemented. The
Henlys Corner scheme is located at the intersection of three of
North London's major strategic routes.
No improvements have been made since the public
inquiries and the current situation is widely regarded as unacceptable.
In addition to the congestion, pollution and accidents which occur
on the A406 itself, adjacent borough roads are plagued by rat-running
traffic using parallel routes to avoid the worst sections of the
The Council understands that TfL intend to install
dedicated lanes on the A406 to allow Olympic traffic to bypass
any congestion. We are concerned that this will not only exacerbate
the existing problem, but by 2012, the growth in traffic may make
this option impracticable, especially as in some sections, the
A406 would be reduced to a single lane for general traffic.
We also understand that much of TfL's work is
based on the timing of the Olympics falling in the summer months
when the transport networks are less well used. Although this
may be the case for much of the Olympic Route Network, our initial
assessment of flows on the A406 suggests that summertime traffic
flows are not significantly reduced compared to the radial routes.
We believe that this effect may be caused in part by traffic which
normally diverts onto parallel routes remaining on the A406 instead.
However, this effect requires further investigation and an assessment
of how changes in traffic conditions by 2012 will actually affect
flows on the A406 during the summer months. The Council believes
that TfL's modelling of the A406 as an Olympic Route needs to
be scrutinised to ensure that the predicted levels of traffic
in 2012 take into account all relevant growth.
The Council has grave concerns regarding the
practicability of installing and enforcing the proposed dedicated
lanes on the A406 especially as the improvement schemes have become
a very emotive issue for the local community. Since the lanes
form a key part of the movement strategy for athletes and officials,
we feel further investigation is needed into the consequences
if, for example, there is widespread abuse of the lanes by general
As with many of the Olympic Transport schemes,
the A406 major improvements are needed in their own right, not
just to cater for Olympic traffic. The Council was disappointed
that following lobbying by the North London Strategic Alliance
and the affected boroughs, the outcome of the 2004 Spending Review
did not include funding for the major A406 schemes and instead
schemes more closely linked to the Olympics, such as the East
London Line, were given priority. The Council is concerned that
funding for the A406 major schemes may be made less likely if
priority is given to the Olympic transport plans and if costs
on these schemes start to exceed current estimates.
As stated above, the two major A406 improvement
schemes in Barnet have completed all statutory processes and only
need funding to be made available for them to progress almost
A window of opportunity exists prior to the
Olympics to carry out these schemes, providing benefits to the
Olympics and to North London as a whole. If this opportunity is
not taken, the Council fears that to avoid disruption to the Olympics
it would effectively become impossible for the major schemes to
proceed until after 2012, by which time the situation on the North
Circular Road will have deteriorated further. Of critical importance
is the risk that once traffic flows reach a certain level, constructing
the improvements will become difficult and even impossible without
The Council is also aware that the Department
for Transport are considering widening of the M25 along the Northern
section which runs parallel to the A406. Whilst this may provide
some relief to the A406 in the medium term, it will not resolve
the long-term congestion problem. It also adds the complication
that work on the M25 and A406 needs to be closely co-ordinated
to avoid major disruption, particularly during the Olympic construction
phase. Although TfL's plans envisage spectators using public transport
to travel to the Olympic venues, during the construction phase,
materials, plant and workers are more likely to use the road network
including the A406.
The Council looks forward to London being able
to host a successful and efficiently run Olympic Games, but as
outlined above, we have serious concerns about the ability of
the A406 to operate as a key route without the completion of the
major improvement schemes. By 2012, it will be 20 years since
the Department for Transport successfully demonstrated to an independent
Planning Inspector that these major improvements were vital for
efficient traffic movement and the economic wellbeing of North
London. If the schemes have not been implemented by then, it will
be a case, not of "Going for gold", but instead "disqualified
for false starts".