Public Realm, Strategic Vision Planning Projects

The Northbank is one of the most culturally significant places in London; from Aldwych to the Strand and Trafalgar Square, it is a key priority for the BID to enhance the area to complement the surrounding cultural destinations and world-famous hoteliers and hospitality.

Strand Aldwych

The ambition of the Strand Aldwych project is to transform this location from a polluted, traffic dominated gyratory to a pedestrian-focused destination with strong links to the surrounding districts. The new public realm will balance the needs of the everyday for the local community with a world-class scheme.
The vision is for the area to become a global creative and cultural quarter which will be an international beacon for creativity, enterprise and learning.

The concept designs for Strand Aldwych went to public consultation in January 2019. The Council, working with local organisations, developed proposals to address existing challenges and create a world-class destination; backed by £28m of council investment to deliver this exciting vision.

The project objectives are:

  • Encourage exemplary collaboration within and between a cluster of world-class cultural and educational institutions, SMEs and students enabling high-end research, innovation and a public showcase
  • Nurture and promote skills, entrepreneurship and economic growth in the knowledge and creative sectors
  • Reduce congestion, improve air quality and journey times, with associated positive impacts on health and associated economic benefits
  • Create an inspirational, safe and secure destination that offers a meeting place for workers students, visitors and residents.

Find out more on the Strand Aldwych website here and for a full list of dates, worse is set to commence see here.

Artist Commission

The Northbank BID run and funded the selection of 4 artists. Arts were asked to develop a place-specifc concept around one of the three main themes:

  • Theme 1: Materiality and structures
  • Theme 2: Sound, light and technology
  • Theme 3: Play, engagement and interaction

The artists developed their proposals alongside the project team through RIBA stage 3 integrating their concepts within the emerging landscape design.

Emma Smith was chosen to complete the project. Concept: the people of the Aldwych, past & present.

  • A cross-site piece that marks past and present human activity and stories at Strand-Aldwych, across 40 potential locations.
  • Footprints and body prints will be subtly but playfully embedded into the surfaces of the new public realm which mark key historical stories across the site.
  • The prints will be formed from archaeological material extracted from The Thames, dating to the period of the first homo-sapiens settlement and 12,000 years ago.
  • Stories range from medieval markets, maypole dancing, local characters, riots and processions.

Updates over the Last Fortnight – 15.04.2020

Strand/Lancaster Place (Junction 1) – Fencing has been set up and excavations have begun on the north west corner between Wellington Street and The Lyceum Tavern. Paving outside Pret A Manger and Tesco Express towards Savoy Street is substantially complete.

Aldwych/Kingsway (Junction 3) – The team have completed excavations and paving is ongoing between Bush House West (multi-occupancy building) towards the vehicle gate at Bush House (Kings College). 

Arundel Street/Strand (Junction 5) – Tactile paving outside No.190 (Pret A Manger) was completed, and this area remains fenced off while we await some signal equipment. We have also commenced the required ducting channel that spans across the Strand between No.190 (Pret A Manger) and St Clement Danes Church. 

St Clement Danes Church (Junction 5) – The new seating is being installed outside St Clement Danes Church. The central island has been reduced and traffic lanes moved to create additional space on the St Clement Danes Church forecourt.

Temple Place (Arundel Court Scheme) – Good progress has been made and the Kings College vehicle entrance is now available. Paving is almost complete on the Temple Place side of the junction, and until this is complete, the area remains fenced off. The team have also fully excavated the Surrey Street side of this junction at the entrance of the Kings College MacAdam Building (ramped access) and installed the new kerb line and two new signpost sockets and columns. The area has been prepared and paving has commenced.

How work is progressing

The live camera image below shows how work on the site is progressing. To view older images please pick a date from the calender.

Villiers Street

Villiers Street, bounded to the east by the River Thames, is home to a concentration of prevalent visitor attractions and historic landmarks. Its location between two prominent transport hubs – the Embankment tube station and Charing Cross station, and the main entrance to the historic Victoria Embankment Gardens (Grade II* Park and Gardens) makes it a busy through-route, which is lined with retail and office buildings, restaurants and bars


Provide a street that is both visually inviting and pedestrian-friendly, supported by enhanced security and the temporary timed closures to
improve the look and feel of what is already a heavily used pedestrian space that will only benefit from the investment in the public realm and help to improve the way it is used.

Look and feel

The scheme extends from the Embankment Station side of the railway bridge on Embankment Place, through Villiers Street, and ends at the Strand. The preferred option that has been developed incorporates a timed pedestrian and cycle zone along the length of Villiers Street between
Embankment Place and John Adam Street, and full pedestrianisation on Villiers Street between John Adam street and the Strand.

The footway and carriageway within Villiers Street (between Embankment Place and John Adam Street) are proposed to be laid with granite setts.
The carriageway will be laid with an increased construction depth to allow for vehicle weight/ vehicle loading, as per Westminster Standards.
Embankment Station forecourt and the section of Villiers Street between John Adam Street and the Strand, will be paved with standard WCC specification ‘Scoutmoor’ yorkstone paving, to highlight the
dedicated pedestrian areas within the scheme.

No formal traffic lanes are proposed, and no formal loading bays are proposed on Villiers Street.
Traffic Management Order consultation (TMO consultation) will be completed in future stages. Equally, there will be no kerbs or road markings
within the pedestrianised zone, aside from the area outside Victoria Embankment Gardens, which is currently proposed to be bounded by a flush kerb.

A significant feature of the proposal is the removal of the existing steps outside the Victoria Embankment Gardens to unlock some additional space for pedestrian activity. This lowers the surface level near the road and places new relocated steps at the entrance to the gardens itself. Lowering the levels in this area is subject to further investigation regarding existing tree roots from within the gardens and the impact on the existing wall structure