This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 75.
After receiving more than 300 objections from Cycling Campaign members and members of the public, we are very pleased to report that the company behind the Revolution Bar in Downing Street has withdrawn its planning application to extend delivery times. Had this gone ahead, it would have meant the Bar’s delivery vehicles continuing to block the contraflow cycle lane repeatedly and illegally.
The planning application was submitted just after the previous newsletter went to press, but most of you should have received the information about it in the newsletter announcement email. Thank you to everyone who sent an objection. Though we may have won for the time being, we would be not be suprised to find some other tactic now attempted, so we will keep our eyes and ears open.
Of course, we can expect the current (illegal) deliveries to continue. However, the City Council has a sanction against the bar, if they choose to use it, because of the original planning consent.
In its previous incarnation as the Rat and Parrot, and even more so since it changed hands to become Revolution, this bar on Downing Street between St Andrew’s Street and Downing Place has caused repeated problems for cyclists by persistently allowing parking by large delivery and contractors’ lorries in the contraflow cycle lane outside for prolonged periods. Deliveries here also often cause traffic jams. The construction of the Grand Arcade also has not helped, but this is now nearing completion.
When planning permission for the Rat and Parrot was granted by the City Council, the Council imposed a condition restricting deliveries after 7.30am. The new owners were seeking to relax this condition to allow them to deliver before 8am and between 9.30am and 4.30pm.
Cycles are present in very significant numbers in this location. A recent count showed 223 cycles using the contraflow lane in the half-hour 9.45-10.15am: ten per minute. Cycles in Downing Street comprised 79% of the total traffic flow in that half hour and 70% of those were using the contraflow lane.
Entering the cycle lane is an offence
In fact, deliveries are not permitted at any time by stopping in the cycle lane (we have confirmed this with the County Council). However, it is the driver of the vehicle who is then committing the offence, not the premises. The police have been more than reluctant to enforce the law here: even police on the spot have declined to take any action against an offending vehicle. This is in spite of the fact that a parked vehicle here forces cyclists into a narrow lane of oncoming traffic and puts them in a position where they may be committing an offence to pass it. Rarely is there space to wheel a bicycle on the remaining portion of the pavement left by the delivery vehicle.
Revolution seem not to understand this. Either they are ignorant of the situation, or they expect their delivery drivers to commit an offence. It is astonishing that the applicant’s letter supporting the application to relax the restriction (a copy which can be seen on our web site) makes no reference to the mandatory contraflow cycle lane outside the premises, and does not mention cycles once. They say ‘Downing Street is a one way street with traffic moving in an easterly direction using two lanes’. This is incorrect. It is as if the applicant is unaware of the existence of the cycle lane.
When they say in their letter (first quoting the planning condition) ‘in order to minimise the interruption to free flowing traffic along Downing Street (the inference is that servicing needs to avoid the morning “rush hour” traffic)’, the applicants are incorrect. It is impossible to park across the contraflow cycle lane without interrupting the free flow of (cycle) traffic – the entire lane is always blocked.
Maintaining the planning condition means that there is the possibility of sanctions against the premises themselves. There is no reason why the planning condition should not stand: nothing has changed materially for the new owners. Their justification is simply, in effect, that deliveries are currently inconvenient. Perhaps they are; but their due diligence should have revealed that before they bought the bar. Parking in the contraflow lane is dangerous and illegal, not to mention inconvenient for cyclists.
A copy of our letter of objection is available.