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The Royal Parks creates car-free spaces to preserve parkland

The Royal Parks charity (TRP) has begun five important trials to reduce cut-through motor traffic on park roads. This includes making The Mall car-free on weekends during daylight hours, and opening up new car-free spaces for visitors to enjoy the natural environment.

The trials across six of the Royal Parks to close sections of roads will begin on 15th August and will last six months, concluding in February 2021. Drivers will be able to park in car parks as usual although access routes to certain car parks will be restricted.

Reducing cut-through traffic has long been an aspiration. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the parks have been closed or partially closed to motor vehicles since the end of March and many of the proposed trial measures are already in place.

These trials  follow the launch of TRP’s Movement Strategy in July, which set a coherent framework to help shape and inform the policies relating to how park visitors can access, experience and move within the parks and incorporated wide-ranging consultation across thousands of members of the public, transport partners and local Boroughs.

The trial details are as follows:

Greenwich Park: A full-time closure of the Avenue to vehicle traffic.

Bushy Park: A full-time closure of part of Chestnut Avenue between Teddington and Hampton Court Gates to motor vehicles.

Hyde Park: A full-time closure of North Carriage Drive. An additional trial of an extended closure on South Carriage Drive (between Prince of Wales Gate and Queen Elizabeth Gate) on Saturdays, in addition to the current Sunday closures.

St James’s Park and The Green Park:Closing The Mall and Constitution Hill to traffic on Saturdays until dusk, in addition to the regular Sunday and Bank Holiday closures. There is no public parking at these parks.

Richmond Park: On weekdays, restricting all through-traffic between Broomfield Hill Car Park and Robin Hood Car Park and a full-time closure of the vehicle link between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross. Additionally, on weekends the trial will restrict all cut-through traffic between Roehampton, Sheen and Richmond Gates to create a quiet zone on the north side of the park.

Mat Bonomi, Head of Transport for The Royal Parks, said: “People come to the parks to escape the busy city.  These trials will help us create new, car free spaces for Londoners to soak up the natural environment on their doorstep.

“The health and happiness of Londoners has never been more important. Parks play a crucial role in boosting the physical and mental wellbeing of city dwellers who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a breath of fresh air, and to enjoy the wonderful wildlife and landscapes.

“Our role, as the charity that cares for the 5000 acres of historic parkland, is to protect and preserve these parks. And we hope that these important first steps will go a long way to enable increasing numbers of visitors to walk and cycle in the parks safely and peacefully, now and into the future.”

The trials will be measured and monitored through visitor satisfaction surveys in the parks (where possible due to Covid-19 restrictions), feedback from stakeholders –  local organisations and residents, and evaluating external implications in partnership with relevant transport authorities, including TfL and local boroughs. A formal consultation with all park visitors, residents and stakeholders will take place from November to December 2020.

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