Letter: Fortress Downing Street and the need for open spaces in the capital

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Independent's pavement cafes campaign seems to have its merits but your proposal for a 'bridge-style piazza' linking the Albert Hall with Hyde Park, above a vehicle underpass, is both naive and destructive for several reasons (report, 30 May).

Most of us think of a piazza as a public space surrounded on all four sides, or at least three, by buildings; no one in their right mind would want to sit down for a coffee at a table flanked by four lanes of speeding traffic, with noise and air pollution to match. It would be about as much fun as having a picnic on the central reservation of a motorway.

And the underpass, as shown, simply wouldn't work; you would need a ramp either side at least 100m long to achieve the correct gradient which means that the entire Kensington Gore frontage to the RCA would consist of a ramp leading to an underpass. Lovely] This could be reduced slightly, as you suggest, by using a raised piazza, but this would interfere with views of the Albert Hall from Hyde Park.

The central problem, of course, is the dominance of the private car in transport planning matters. Don't waste pounds 35m on an underpass for cars; don't spend anything on cars at all. Bring back a fast and efficient form of public transport which is enjoying a resurgence in many countries: the tram. If the Independent wishes to improve life in the capital, why not take on the promotion of a tram network for London as your next campaign?

Yours faithfully,

STEVEN MARSTRAND

London, N6

1 June

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