Exclusive: ‘Big Society Sundays’ will deliver pedestrian paradise


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Exclusive: 'Big Society Sundays' will deliver pedestrian paradise

Posted 1 April 2011 00:00 by martin

Sultan's elephant

Walkit.com can exclusively reveal plans being promoted by No.10 to trial new monthly on-street festivals involving the pedestrianisation of large parts of England's city centres, starting with London.

To celebrate the arrival of British Summer Time in 2012, the first Sunday of each month from April to October will see much of London's congestion charging zone cleared of all motorised vehicles.  Street entertainment, food stalls and art installations will help create a celebratory atmosphere, free from traffic-related noise, pollution and danger.


A provisional zone based on a 30 minute walk from Embankment tube station is under consideration (right).

Successful road closure schemes for events like the Notting Hill Carnival, the Oxford Street 'Very Important Pedestrian' days, 'The Sultan's Elephant' (top) and the long-established Sunday closure of The Mall, have all convinced city planners that a more extensive and regular pedestrianisation programme is warranted.

In a rare meeting of minds between Boris Johnson and David Cameron, the idea is being developed under the working title of 'Big Society Sundays'.  And in an alliterative coup, it is thought that Mr Johnson has secured corporate sponsorship for the events, and thus Barclays Bikes are likely to be joined by 'Santander Sundays'.

The rationale for the new festivals is apparently underpinned by three key factors:
  • Economic – London's need to compete with other 'world cities' for the tourist dollar by providing the highest quality urban experience
  • Environmental – to help tackle London's continuing failure to comply with EU air quality standards
  • Social – a chance to showcase the Big Society in action, empowering citizens 'to determine the shape of the places in which they live'
David Cameron is thought to be keen to extend the concept to other English city centres should the London trials prove popular.

When walkit.com contacted the Scottish Government to see if such schemes might be considered north of the border, a spokesperson said that anything labelled a Big Society Sunday would happen “over my dead body”.  But when questioned whether a trial event such as a 'Dundee Daunder' might have legs, he said the idea was “potentially not without merit”.


Sultan's Elephant photo credit: dr1066 on Flickr

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  1. Roundup: London April Fools Jokes | Londonist says:

    April 1st, 2011 at 9:37 am (#)

    […] win the award for April Fool that would actually be pretty damn brilliant. They suggest a monthly vehicle exclusion zone for Zone 1, turning the whole city centre into a […]

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