Barbican plans for a track run into tough opposition

Residents say area where they live is being used as City ‘play pen’

Friday, 19th June 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Barbican Square Mile running track

Many Barbican residents are already believed to have rejected proposals for a running circuit near their homes

PLANS to build a running track through the Grade II-listed Barbican have been criticised by residents who say they are tired of the area being used as a City “play pen”.

The proposed 4.2-kilometre circuit traversing most of the Culture Mile and linking open spaces along the Thames with the Barbican Podium and St Paul’s Cathedral has been dubbed the “Square Mile Track”.

The plan, championed by City of London Farringdon councillor John Edwards, has been introduced as part of the council’s draft sports and physical activity strategy, and a public consultation is under way.

Jane Smith, chairwoman of the Barbican Association, told the Tribune most of the feedback she had received from residents could be described as “weary opposition”.

“Residents feel people around the City can treat the Barbican as a play pen,” she said.

“With the Culture Mile and the artwork and now the council thinks it will be a good idea to build a running track around the Podium. The Podium is quite narrow, and it’s part of the Grade II listing.”

A map showing the 4.2km route

Ms Smith said some residents living below the Podium – who already hear people above them – are worried about the noise of runners.

She added: “We also have old people who live here who are worried about getting knocked over. In other places, too, the route is on quite narrow pavements. I’m not sure it’s very practical.”

Cllr Edwards told the Tribune planners were years away from submitting a formal planning application, and said the residents who have responded so far are “nearly all in favour”.

But, he added, of the 200 responses from Barbican residents, around 80 per cent were against the plans.

“So far the survey entries have been dominated by residents,” he said. “Office workers are not expected to resume their commute into the City until next year, and they are anticipated to be the larger interest group for this concept.

“This means the survey will continue until at least March 2021 to give these people an opportunity to respond.

“The proximity of a running track to large offices is intended to benefit the physical and mental health of office workers who are not keen on either exposing themselves to the scrutiny of their colleagues in a gym, nor run outside on York stone, so I expect they will be enthusiastic.”

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