October 22, 2021
  • 9:40 pm Code Red. Choose Cycling
  • 9:06 pm FREE Cycling Activities in Brent
  • 9:34 pm North End Road Junction in Wembley fails people walking and cycling
  • 6:54 pm Wembley Hill Drive Junction Improvement Scheme
  • 6:17 pm “The political will is there and we have a thick skin,” says Leader of the Council.

Brent Council has created a new dangerous junction in Wembley Park. The new junction, joining Bridge Road with North End Road aims to provide “better links and traffic flow” according to Cllr Krupa Sheth, Brent Council’s cabinet member for the environment. Instead, the new junction, planned since 2009, shows Brent Council’s complete disregard for pedestrian and cyclist safety. The saga of this junction is indicative of a Council which ignores the Climate Emergency and has a history of failing to act following warnings about dangerous junctions.

The North End Road (above right) - Bridge Road (diagonal from left) junction, courtesy Wembley Matters.
The North End Road (above right) – Bridge Road (diagonal from left) junction, courtesy Wembley Matters.

North End Road before – poor yet safe

The present road layout in Wembley Park is a legacy of the Metroland developments of the 1910’s and 1920’s, and the Empire Exhibition of 1924. North End Road formed a junction with Bridge Road and Olympic road immediately north of Wembley Park Metropolitan Line Station.

North End Road (left), joins Bridge Road (diagonal lower left to upper right), at a junction with Olympic Way (above). Wembley Stadium in the background and Wembley Park Station just visible at bottom. 1948, Britain from Above, EAW018314.

North End Road (left), joins Bridge Road (diagonal lower left to upper right), at a junction with Olympic Way (above). Wembley Stadium in the background and Wembley Park Station just visible at bottom. 1948, Britain from Above, EAW018314.

The junction was closed when Olympic Way was completely pedestrianised in 1993. Steps and slopes were provided from North End Road up to Bridge Road, and down to the Olympic Way pedestrian underpass. This created a small pedestrian square. The area had poor accessibility and poor subjective safety due to the steps and sightlines; however we do not feel this sufficient reason to open this route to motor vehicles, instead, a pleasant public realm could be provided without through motor traffic.

The Wembley Masterplan – Not a good start

The Wembley Masterplan, adopted by Brent Council in June 2009, proposed:

“The reconnection of North End Road to Bridge Road / Wembley Park Drive and through to Fulton Road and First Way to allow improved circulation in and out of the area for existing and future residents and businesses, and to provide an operational east-west route on event days.”

Brent Council, Wembley Masterplan, 2009, p. 85.

This was intended to create a new through route for motor vehicles in Wembley Park, reducing conflicts with pedestrians on Olympic Way, the main pedestrian route to Wembley Stadium. In the Masterplan Brent Council stated that: “The council will either, at time of construction of the new road connection, or shortly thereafter, following assessment of its use, undertake any necessary traffic calming measures or road junction improvements to limit its use to local traffic and to reduce any severe traffic impacts.” The council claimed that the new junction would improve bus connections, improve the public realm, and create “much improved pedestrian and cycle access”.

Despite objections to the removal of this low traffic neighbourhood the council pressed ahead, approving the plan.

Ways to Wembley – The future that never happened

In 2013 Brent Council submitted an application for mini-Holland funding from TfL with their “Ways to Wembley” proposal. This identified a “Kingsbury to Willesden via Wembley” including a link along North End Road. This exceptional opportunity to improve this junction for walking and cycling, unfortunately, went unfunded with TfL choosing councils with even more ambition.

The Kingsbury to Willesden via Wembley cycle route (blue) joins Bridge Road at the junction with North End Road.
The Kingsbury to Willesden via Wembley cycle route (blue) joins Bridge Road at the junction with North End Road.

The Wembley Area Action Plan – Same failings, same objections

The Wembley Area Action Plan, consulted on in 2013, again identified Brent Council’s plan for a “new junction between North End Road {and Bridge Road].” The reports following this consultation showed the councils flawed logic and pro-motor planning.

Although Brent Council proposed this new junction in order to mitigate the effects of a new development, Quintain (the developer) stated that “[Quintain] do not consider this connection to be justified to mitigate the impacts of development.Brent Council flatly disagreed with the developer.

“… [the] scheme will be required to ensure safe movement for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Brent Council Consultation Report, 2013.

Concerns were raised by us (under our former name Brent Cyclists) and others that this new junction and connection would create new danger for cyclists and pedestrians. In response the council repeatedly refuted any concerns:

“… [the] scheme will be required to ensure safe movement for pedestrians and cyclists.”

“If North End Road was cycle only it would not facilitate our strategy to remove traffic from the main development area. The North End Road connection will improve cycle access by removing the current ramps.”

“The link will help to reduce traffic along Neasden Lane and Forty Lane allowing prioritisation for non-car modes.”

“Pedestrian movements will be considered in the design with footways designed accordingly. New crossing facilities will be provided across the new North End Road and also across Bridge Road which will improve conditions for pedestrians.”

“[A] proposed bridge to St David’s Close will likely reduce cycle movements along North End Road by offering an alternative North-South connection. Advanced Stop Lines will be incorporated into the junction to provide facilities for cyclists.”

Brent Council responding to consultations in 2013.

Again, despite clear objections to a new dangerous junction, Brent Council pressed ahead, promising improvements for walking and cycling, improvements which have not appeared, and for which Brent Council has not allocated funding.

A Missing Consultation?

Brent Council have appeared to have failed to properly consult on these changes. Although included in the Wembley Masterplan and the later Wembley Area Action Plan, detailed plans of the junction, and of any walking and cycling infrastructure, have not been made available in any consultation Brent Cycling Campaign is aware of.

The confidential Wembley Western Corridor Study by Quintain from 2018 states that “schemes [including the North End Road junction] will be subject to further consultation, technical approval and detailed design.” This document predicts 480 vehicles per hour in the morning and 550 vehicles per hour in the evening (1 vehicle every 10 seconds) along North End Road. With queuing traffic sitting outside the Michaela School on North End Road.

The most recent report to Brent Council Cabinet in 2018 stated that:

“Further consultation will take place with Members and the public at the detailed design phase for each of the schemes. This will also seek to improve or reduce any negative impacts when constructing the schemes as identified as part of the Equality Analysis and any mitigation required will be built into the design and/or temporary works to construct them.”

Brent Council, Report from the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment, July 2018.

After the apparent start of carriageway works on North End Road in June 2019 one of our members raised concerns with the council and received the following response:

“The detailed design for this scheme are not yet complete. The scheme is being designed to improve highway safety concerns near to Bridge Road as well as compliant under the Disability Discrimination Act. We are also designing to enable buses to use the route and therefore reduce the impact to bus users on event days as currently these services are diverted or curtailed due to Wembley events. It is not yet known if Transport for London buses will reroute services along it. Consultation will be completed to enable residents and businesses to ask questions regarding the scheme. Information will be made available through letter drops, as per the letter issued at the beginning of June as well as information on site hoardings and our website.”

Correspondence from Brent Council Transportation Planning Manager, July 2019.

This response shows that, although Brent Council had proposed this route since at least 2009, no detailed plans had been developed by 2019, and although Brent Council’s rationale for this route included bus access, no agreement had been reached with TfL to route busses through the new junction.

We also note that The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was repealed and replaced by The Equality Act 2010, therefore if the scheme was assessed with respect to the DDA it may not meet the requirements of The Equality Act. We do note that an Equality Analysis from 2018 does consider reconnecting North End Road and Bridge Road. This analysis identifies “enhanced walking environment” and new “cycle/pedestrian [infrastructure]” which will mitigate impacts on some equality groups; Brent Cycling Campaign is not aware of any significant infrastructure or improvements at the North End Road junction.

“Further consultation will take place […] at the detailed design phase for each of the schemes.”

As far as Brent Cycling Campaign is aware, no such consultation took place before construction began.

A Dangerous Junction

Despite the apparent failure to consult, a contractor was appointed in early 2019, with the road partially closed for construction in June that year, works were then delayed until late 2020, with the new junction opening in July 2021.

The new junction is dangerous. Guardrails and concrete blocks force pedestrians to cross at the widest point, with no streetlights, at the top of a blind rise. Guardrails prevent people cycling from escaping left-hooks as drivers sweep into the wide junction. Visibility is poor and the junction is uncontrolled. The right turn out from North End Road is very hazardous, with drivers behaving erratically. People cycling uphill along Bridge Road are faced with dangerous squeezing by drivers. The junction has no controls, leaving people walking and cycling to dodge vehicles turning into and out of North End Road.

Make North End Road safe

North End Road was to be closed from 16 September for 3 days to remove the concrete blocks, in order to replace with security bollards. But only some were replaced. 3 days later, the road was reopened with concrete blocks precisely at the pedestrian crossing continuing to dangerously obstruct people.

We argue that Brent Council must take the necessary actions required to remove and reduce danger, and must close the junction immediately before someone is seriously injured or killed.

Brent Cycling Campaign

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