Our Work

Our Work

The initial strategy

In 2005/2006, a strategy was prepared identifying the potential for cosmetic improvements in Chancery Lane and its immediate vicinity. The plan was driven by landowners along the street who were investing in new office schemes along the lane but understood that the sense of place came from how the street in its entirety was presented.

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Context

Chancery Lane has a rich, historic character not least known for its association with the Warrior Knights whose land Chancery Lane was built on the 12th century. In the 13th century, the Inns of Chancery became the centre of the legal profession in London, with Lincoln’s Inn on the lane itself and the Royal Courts of Justice fronting Fleet Street with its rear to Carey Street. Over the centuries the area’s significance was cemented and the lane later became home to a number of banks (The Knights Templar pub was originally The Union Bank), the Public Records Office (now the Maughan Library, King’s College London), The Law Society, the New Patent Office (now serviced offices), and the London Silver Vaults which originally opened as The Chancery Lane Safe Deposit in 1885.

The area was bombed in both World Wars.

Whilst features of the existing streetscape nodded to its history, with iron railings and street lanterns making it evocative of Dickensian London, the current walkways and spaces were felt to need improvements and enhancements. Because of its historical importance and location close to a number of prominent destinations in Central London, the bustling area accommodated a large number of workers, visitors and local residents with streets particularly busy during business hours, especially at the lunch time peak. Due to the narrow footpaths pedestrians were often forced onto the road, compromising the area's vitality and vibrancy 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.

There was, as a result of that work, 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.

The Area Analysis

Chancery Lane had then, as it does now, a strong architectural and historic image. A thorough analysis was undertaken 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 to enhance that character.

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 wass 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 was to be through working closely with local businesses, residents and visitors.

At the time, the Plan was supported by each of the Local Authorities (City of London Corporation, London Borough of Camden and the City of Westminster), thereby creating a co-ordinated path to achieving the long-term aspirations for the area.

As part of the vision for the area a number of key objectives were set out::

  • Traffic calming measures
  • The creation of a pedestrian priority zone along part of Chancery Lane
  • Improved access to the area
  • Provision of more public open space with seating and planting
  • The introduction of street features eg public art
  • Encouragement of increased pedestrian footfall
  • More high quality retail and restaurants
  • Improved security, street lighting and signage

These aspirations have to some extent been realised through the City of London Corporation’s timed closure of the lane which was enacted in 2020 in response to the need for new street layouts to cope with the social distancing required to help manage the pandemic.

Download the Chancery Lane Area Enhancement Strategy as .zip files
(7.00MB) or individual files:

Introduction and Context (1Mb)
The Evolution of Chancery Lane (1Mb)
Chancery Lane Today (1Mb)
Chancery Lane - The Vision (1Mb)
Proposals Part 1 (2Mb)
Proposals Part 2 (1Mb)

2016 Placemaking Vision

The placemaking vision was renewed in 2016 in the hands of NFPR and Burns + Nice, to identify some simple quick wins. The presentation, which was presented to the City of London Corporation in May 2016, speaks for itself.

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Not all opportunities have as yet been realised but the exercise captured the CLA’s ambition for the street, from smaller interventions such as proposing a cleaning charter, and greater greening – which Colville Estate’s 46 Chancery Lane took on with gusto, winning awards for its planters on outside railings – to grander ideas to publicise the street’s amazing architecture and honour the architects.

One of the CLA’s greatest achievements was its Christmas lights which ran for a total of four years from 2016 to 2019 installed by event experts, Field and Lawn. Careful financial management by the association over the course of a decade, led to a significant war chest which made the £100k investment possible.

2020 AGM

In 2020 the CLA – as necessitated by events – held its first ever online AGM and, to some amusement, it was the best ever attended (by quite some way!) showing how well people had adapted to working from home. One member even joined the meeting mid-hike from the Lake District. The wonder of Zoom.

The presentation speaks for itself and includes mentions for some of our better known achievements such as Lunchtime Streets, the three-day lunchtime closure of the lane we organised with the City of London Corpration in September 2019, and the Cursitor Street Food Market than ran 2018-2019.

The timed road closure and greening

The timed closure was first introduced in 2020 as part of the City of London Corporation’s Strategy for creating more space on pavements in the advent of Covid.

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Last month the City of London Corporation’s Streets and Walkways Sub Committee voted that the current on-street measure on Chancery Lane should be kept in place an Experimental Traffic Order. After speaking with local businesses it was decided to also allow access for taxi and private hire drop off and pick on Chancery Lane. This Experimental Traffic Order will allow the City to further test the effectiveness of the measures in creating more space for people walking and cycling as well as provide for more greenery and places to sit.

For Chancery Lane the formal traffic experiment includes adjusting the current restriction "No motor vehicles" (Monday to Friday between 7am-7pm) to also allow access for taxis and private hire drop off/pick up on Chancery Lane and the plan to extend and enhance the current parklets, the one there already having proved a welcome addition to the street.

The public consultation on the experiments will open in December 2021 via the City Corporation’s website, www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/streets/pedestrian-priority-programme.

Cursitor Street also received some much welcome seating and greening.

Events, lights, ads and PR

We’ve done a poster at Chancery Lane tube station, printed flyers and created vinyls in vacant shop windows. We’ve tried stepping up our profile on social media (a bit hit and miss), ran a forum for the shops and restaurants to discuss ideas, and floated the idea of a Loyalty Card.

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We had a three-day street closure in September 2019 called Lunchtime Streets (see the AGM presentation), organised guided walks, bike maintenance sessions, had carol evenings to mark the turning on of Christmas Lights, held social drinks – sometimes hosted by our members – and staged full blown parties. We had a very memorable gathering and hugely well-attended at what was then the brand new HQ for Framestore in the summer of 2019 and we’ve had many enjoyable Christmas shindigs at Brasserie Blanc, the venue space Army Reserve centre and Gaucho, as we attempted to spread the love.

Over the years the CLA’s relationship with the MBC has proved to be most profitable with the MBC providing their platform and expertise to run events with the CLA as sponsor. In the summer of 2021 we collaborated on the third walking tour of the area with socially distanced drinks at The Pregnant Man before and after the walk, and in November, we held Health Wealthy 3, a breakfast seminar at The Law Society, where a panel of wellbeing experts from Chancery Lane’s businesses advised assembled guests how to take care of themselves, with tips on how to cope with the physical and mental fallout from Covid.

Membership of the MBC is just £300 for about 12 events a year; to find out more about how to join visit the website.

Eyes and ears

The CLA initiated a What’s App Retail Group on the back of the CLA’s Business Watch run by Ed Musoke, Colville’s Estate Manage (based at 46 Chancery Lane). This proved useful, with shop assistants, receptionists and security guards sharing info on imminent threats from bike thieves, intruders attempting to gain access to offices, and fraudsters operating in the street attempting to pass counterfeit notes.

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From drama to every day mundanity, we try to be the eyes and ears for the street. When we see litter/refuse bags left uncollected we report it to the relevant landlord or council, or call it in to the private firm implicated. We know our street cleaners by name, as well as both sets of police at the Met and the City Police.

The lane presents pretty well on any given day though the CLA has lobbied for a unified approach to street cleaning across the three councils who share responsibility for the street. We have also called for the creation of more safe places to park bicycles, as part of the push to encourage more people to cycle to work. We have also:

  • Asked for the removal of remaining street clutter
  • Raised the issue of dockless bikes left randomly on the street
  • Made our hopes known for the much needed (in parts) resurfacing of the highway.

We are very grateful to all of the people who help keep the street ticking over on a day-to-day basis. Please help us keep it clean by reporting fly-tipping and always taking your rubbish home with you.