Overcoming London’s Barriers

A4/M4 flyover

As the capital runs out of easy places to build, remaining sites are often in neighbourhoods divided by roads, railways, and other infrastructure or straddling neglected or contentious borders. Development and estate regeneration can bring their own challenges, marked out by red lines that can inflate land values and/or divide existing and new residents. The impact of these barriers is significant. Lack of easy access to work, shops, schools and services plus the pollution that comes with major roadways all affect physical and mental health. It is often vulnerable people who are most at risk.

We know connectivity is vital to help communities thrive, and are keen to avoid past mistakes. We know coherent cross-sector approaches can unlock economic development and housing opportunities, and can bring about increased mobility, inclusion and community cohesion. What is lacking is a coherent approach to tackling this issue. There are very few tools to measure severance; what does exist is limited to the impact of roads and vehicles.

Future of London’s major 2018 project is addressing two types of severance: physical barriers such as road-, rail- and waterways and artificial barriers such as borough boundaries and the ‘red lines’ that delineate estates or opportunity areas. We’ll explore how impacts are assessed, showcase effective solutions, and create practical recommendations.


Overcoming London’s Barriers

The final report for this project offers case studies showing innovative and effective approaches to overcoming barriers, with recommendations applicable to a range of built environment practitioners. Download the report.

barriers conference summary cover

Overcoming London’s Barriers

Our 2018 conference brought together 50 speakers and 200 delegates. Their contributions to seminars and workshops are summarised here. Download the summary and view presentation slides.

Related blog posts

Report launch: Overcoming London’s Barriers

Launched on 11 December, Overcoming London’s Barriers, shares practical approaches to addressing barriers and their impacts, collected through a year of research and discussion with cross-sector practitioners throughout London.

Overcoming Barriers: redeveloping Euston

Opening in 1837, Euston was the first station to connect London with another city. At the same time, the station and the railway tracks leading to it have created a physical north-south and…

Beyond borders: Overcoming administrative barriers

Future of London’s Overcoming Barriers programme is looking at the impact of both physical barriers, such as roads, rail and rivers and administrative boundaries across London. The geography and impact…

Overcoming Barriers: Finsbury Park

Straddling three local authorities – Islington, Hackney, and Haringey – effective policymaking and regeneration in Finsbury Park depends on cross-borough co-operation. TfL and Network Rail are key players, along with…

field trip group in Catford

Overcoming barriers: Linking up Lewisham

On 1 Aug, we visited Lewisham and Catford to learn how LB Lewisham is leading the way on transformative schemes to overcome major physical barriers, including removing a major roundabout and realigning the South Circular.

physical barriers roundtable discussion

Overcoming physical barriers roundtable

Major roads, railways, waterways and other infrastructure are integral for connectivity within London, but ironically risk causing local severance, dividing and cutting off communities. At our 19 July roundtable, senior cross-sector practitioners shared experiences of tackling physical barriers.

east croydon station and new housing

Overcoming Barriers: Connecting Croydon

Future of London’s July field trip took us to Zone 5 to see how projects today are working to connect Croydon and address the challenging legacy of past development.

Future London Leaders 18: Proposals for London

Future London Leaders Round 18 wrapped up on 13 June with ‘Proposals for London’ based on the programme theme of “Overcoming Barriers.” Read about the winning proposals here.

Langdon Park DLR in Poplar

Overcoming Barriers: in and between Poplar and Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf and Poplar lie less than a mile apart – but while Canary Wharf is an icon of global finance, Poplar communities are amongst the 10% most deprived in the UK (DCLG). FoL’s 6 June field trip found us in the East End exploring the physical barriers that separate the two.

Overcoming barriers: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park field trip

Physical barriers including roads, railways and waterways cut through London’s Olympic Park, which straddles four local authorities. In May, FoL visited the Olympic Park to hear how the London Legacy Development Corporation is working across boundaries to overcome these barriers.

Solving Severance: Start with the people affected

Finding effective ways to address how roads, railways, and other infrastructure slice through communities first requires analysis of where and how those barriers actually affect people’s lives. Integrated Urban Analysis and User-Focused Design are two ways of understanding impacts.