Princes Circus, the final part of Camden Council’s award-winning West End Project with LDA Design, is complete and open to the public.
This once constrained, polluted, and underused space near the Shaftesbury Theatre, at the junction of High Holborn, Shaftesbury Avenue and New Oxford Street, was dominated by an electricity sub-station and hemmed in by heavily trafficked roads. It is situated on a key walking and cycling route between Covent Garden and the British Museum.
Reclaiming a section of Shaftesbury Avenue and Bloomsbury Street has created a new, bowtie-shaped city piazza, richly planted and with generous, comfortable seating. Pedestrian and cycle safety have been improved with wider pavements, new pedestrian crossings, and clearer, easier routes through. A monument originally installed to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 has been restored and will be reinstated later this year.
The transformation of Princes Circus will benefit neighbouring businesses, commuters, locals and workers. It was delivered with support from the Central District Alliance BID who contributed £1.5m towards construction, alongside funding from Camden, Transport for London, and other partners.
Tim South, project lead for Princes Circus and an associate at LDA, said: “Working closely with Camden, Norman Rourke Pryme, Arcadis and Michael Grubb Studios, we have turned this previously hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists into two well-lit, linked public spaces featuring distinctive but complementary and coherent designs.
“The mature trees, dappled shade and understorey planting gives the northern area a woodland feel. To the south, the space is open and generously seated, a great new spot to meet before the theatre or to take in the surrounding architecture. The design is already transforming business for cafés and shops in the area.”
Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a sustainable Camden said: “Princes Circus now sits perfectly as an improved and inviting pedestrian route between Covent Garden and the British Museum. The completed reimagining of this location has now transformed this area. Once again, we have changed road space into usable and enjoyable green space for everyone.”
Princes Circus is the culmination of the award-winning West End Project, the borough’s largest co-ordinated transformation of public realm. The scheme includes the hugely successful road to park conversion, Alfred Place Gardens, and the restoration of local treasure Whitfield Gardens, as well as four new pocket parks.
The West End Project provides a range of tangible benefits and has helped to bring people back to an area that was sluggish to bounce back following the pandemic.
It has improved biodiversity, climate resilience and air quality and reduced congestion along Tottenham Court Road by up to 70 percent during restricted hours and by 44 percent out of restricted hours. Traffic on Gower Street has also been reduced by up to 45 percent. There are now around 2.6km of new cycle lanes supporting a rise in cycle journeys. Emergency response times from Euston fire station have also improved. The area is now much greener, with 59 trees added, safer, and more tranquil, with play areas and many more places to sit.
Top image: Princes Circus, London credit Neil Speakman.