The Chancery Lane Association (CLA) was set up in 2006 to provide an important voice in the evolution of Chancery Lane and the immediate area.
The CLA comprises local owners, occupiers, institutions and interest groups. Meeting two times per year the CLA is an important conduit for all involved to express their vision for the improvement and the long term promotion of the area.
Chancery Lane has a rich historic character. In the 13th century, the Inns of Chancery became the centre of the legal profession in London.
The continued importance of the area is demonstrated by the presence of listed buildings and institutions such as the Public Records Office, The Law Society, Great Seal Patent Office, Chancery House, The Silver Vaults, Royal Courts of Justice and King’s College.
While such features of the existing streetscape already represent this history, the current walkways and spaces need improvements and enhancements.
Because of its historical importance and location close to a number of prominent destinations in Central London, the Chancery Lane area currently accommodates a large number of workers, visitors, and local residents.
Streets in the area are particularly busy during business hours, especially at the lunch time peak. The area’s popularity generates high footfall. This combined with narrow footpaths forces many pedestrians onto the road which means the area’s vitality and vibrancy is compromised as pedestrians and vehicles compete for limited space.
In 2005 the CLA commissioned Burns + Nice to produce a Strategic Development Plan for the “Chancery Lane Area”. The primary research area was bounded by Lincoln’s Inn to the west, High Holborn to the north, Furnival Street to the east and Fleet Street/Strand to the south. The wider study area encompassed Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the London School of Economics on the western side, New Fetter Lane to the east and to the south St Clement Danes Church on Strand.
The resulting Plan became the basis of a public exhibition in December 2005 where the views of the general public were sought.
Subsequently the City of London made an approach to Transport for London for funding for further evaluation of the proposals. This was approved in November 2007 and since then further detailed analysis has taken place leading to the production of the Chancery Lane Area Enhancement Scheme document in March 2009. There followed a public consultation exercise that ran from 19 March to 17 April 2009.
Since that date there has been the creation of a new public space area along Chancery Lane, the widening and repaving of footpaths, an exercise to declutter the street and the resurfacing of the highway. More exciting works are anticipated in the period ahead.
The main objective of the Chancery Lane Area Enhancement Scheme is to create a high quality street environment that makes the area more pleasant and easy to use for workers, residents and visitors to the area. Cycling and walking will be more convenient as public highways and open spaces are better connected and easier to use through a series of street enhancements. These improvements will build upon the unique character of the Chancery Lane area as the City’s legal quarter, emphasising its rich architectural and cultural heritage and encouraging its growing retail and leisure facilities.
The Area Analysis
Chancery Lane and many of the surrounding buildings have a strong architectural and historic image. A thorough analysis was undertaken of the area in order to further investigate its character and also the feasibility of carrying out all or some of the suggestions put forward by the CLA. The evaluation process included the following:
- Assessing the historical and heritage value of the location.
- Looking at the existing land uses and assessing potential land use conflicts.
- Looking at the traffic flow throughout the primary study area.
- Examining pedestrian movements and connectivity to the wider area.
- Making an assessment of the architectural features.
- Carrying out an analysis of the open spaces, including tree planting, the vistas and the focal points.
Setting the area in its wider context was an important part of this process. The analysis included looking at the existing transport links and future transport proposals; assessing the tourist attractions within the study area and how they related to those further afield and looking at how local businesses or educational establishments affected the street.
Aims and Objectives
The objective of the Plan is to enable the CLA to promote and enhance the unique identity of Chancery Lane by encouraging improvements in the amenity, function, convenience, value and the vitality of the area. This is through working closely with local businesses, residents and visitors.
The Plan is supported by each of the Local Authorities (City of London, London Borough of Camden and the City of Westminster), thereby creating a coordinated way to achieving the long-term aspirations for the area.
As part of the vision for the area a number of key objectives are set out, as follows:
– introduce calming measures;
- Open space
– Improve access to the area.
– Provide, where possible more public open space with seating and planting.
– Introduce street features, eg, public art or trees,
– Look at ways of increasing the pedestrian footfall.
- Build upon the existing high quality retail in the area.
- Introduce new restaurants.
- Improve security;
- Improve street lighting and signage.
- The creation of a pedestrian priority zone along part of Chancery Lane.