Introduction to the “Last Half Mile” – what’s been done and what’s still to do

In previous feedback during our consultations, we understand that there are concerns about how people will make the last part of their journey to the new centre from public transport hubs. In response, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has made a commitment to lead the work to support transport and access. Inspired by a quote from a patient during consultation, we have called this work “The Last Half Mile”.

If you would like more information on how to access the new location via public transport and on foot, including trains and tube, buses, cycle and vehicle access, this can be found further down this page.

We have appointed accessibility and inclusion specialists from Buro Happold’s Inclusive design team, to work with Oriel’s appointed design team, Camden Council, Transport for London (TfL) and others with a key objective to improve accessibility over the last half mile. Much of this work refers specifically to the patient journey and experience from public transport or vehicular drop off up to the entrance of the proposed new centre. 

There is no single solution for the final leg of the journey that will meet a diverse range of needs and preferences, but we are committed to providing a comprehensive and robust strategy which includes the use of traditional wayfinding methods and evolving technology to help with orientation and navigation. Discussions are ongoing with Camden Council, Transport for London and existing and proposed occupants of the Knowledge Quarter.

Comprehensive information will be given on all potential route options to the building so that patients are able to plan a route and method of travel that is most convenient or accessible to them.

In the summer of 2020, Buro Happold undertook audits of pedestrian routes from the six stations in scope (Kings Cross Station, St Pancras Stations, Euston Station, Mornington Crescent Station, Camden Road Station, Camden Town Station). These audits unveiled that routes from some stations were shown to be too complex to navigate easily for people with sight conditions or are too long for some people to walk. 

Following these comprehensive audits, a primary “green line” route will be generally recommended for first visits and proposed as the most suitable route for anyone with concerns about finding their way to the site. User engagement has confirmed that the low-tech solution of a durable, weather-resistant painted green line is robust. The intention would be to begin the external “green line” between King’s Cross station and St Pancras Station onto Midland Road. This line would then continue to the entrance of the proposed new centre. 

Alongside an external green line, the following options are also being taken into consideration to ensure the journey to the new centre is accessible:

  • Audio announcements at stations could be provided alongside the possibility of a meeting point to be identified to assist wayfinding and navigation to the beginning of the green line route.
  • Provision of additional seating along the route, directional signage and warning signs for cyclists.
  • Tactile green line option will require user trials and wider consultation as there is no current format nationally recognised that is suitable for this purpose over such a long route.
  • Recommendation for all four crossing points to become pedestrian controlled crossing.
  • We are discussing bus routes and bus stops with Transport for London to ensure there is a safe, appropriate bus service for our patients and staff.

Oriel are discussing with TfL the option of additional bus stops to existing services.  In addition, preliminary research has been undertaken by Buro Happold into the logistics of a shuttle bus service with a well-established supplier of this type of service in London.  This demonstrated that the stations are viable for a private shuttle service which could be chargeable via credit/debit card to passengers.

As the wayfinding strategy develops for the last half mile, we will review the potential public transport options and what further solutions may be needed to support patients and staff for when the new centre opens in 2026.

Accessibility feedback

Accessibility of the new centre is one of the strongest themes from previous discussions with patients, staff and the public.

Building on our previous surveys and extensive public consultation and engagement, we surveyed patients, visitors, staff and students in February 2021 to find out what their chosen mode of travel is to the existing City Road site and anticipated mode to the new centre. We will be publishing a summary of these results to our documents page.

Over 70% of people who responded to consultation were supportive of the choice of location, mainly for the proximity to the major rail and underground hubs of King’s Cross and St Pancras. Analysis shows a potential improvement in overall travel times and convenience for the majority of people who travel to Moorfields from all over the country. The official Public Transport Accessibility Level of the site has a rating of 6b, the highest level of accessibility, due to its diverse transport options.

However, people have told us that getting to and from the site from transport hubs, the “last half mile”, raises some concerns, particularly for people with sight loss and mobility issues. These concerns include the safety of road crossings, the current lack of nearby bus stops and the walking distance from the main transport hubs.

Watch the below video to find out more about the importance of wayfinding and accessibility in our design.

Getting to the new centre

The proposed new location on two-acres of the St Pancras hospital site is in a central London location with improved connectivity to public transport from all parts of the UK, as well as offering safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists and vehicular drop off by private car or taxi.

Trains

The new location at St Pancras Hospital is close to three main railway stations (King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston), making it well connected  to large parts of the UK as well as to six London underground lines and the Overground.

Mornington Crescent Station, Camden Road Station and Camden Town Station are also in close proximity to the proposed new centre.

Some of these stations have accessibility challenges for some people, from no step free provision, to long subway walks and multiple station exits. Our aim is a tailored approach to wayfinding will be adopted across all stations, alongside consistent messaging and the provision of ‘turn-up-and-go’ service from station staff to help users get to/from the platform and board/disembark the train.

See below for a map of the new site and its proximity to various nearby public transport options.

  • King’s Cross St Pancras station to St Pancras Hospital is 800m (an average walking time of 13 minutes).
  • Euston station to St Pancras Hospital is 2kms (an average walking time of 17 minutes).
  • Euston Square station to St Pancras Hospital is 2.4kms (an average walking time of 23 minutes).
  • Mornington Crescent station to St Pancras Hospital is 550m (an average walking time of 9 minutes).
  • Camden Town station to St Pancras Hospital is 1.1km (an average walking time of 15 minutes).
  • Camden Road station to St Pancras Hospital is 850m (an average walking time of 12 minutes).
Map of new location in proximity to nearby train stations.

Buses

The site is currently served by two bus routes: 214 – Finsbury to Highgate and 46 – Bayswater to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Farringdon. Below is an image of the location of the bus stops and their proximity to the proposed new location, although discussions are underway to see if additional stops nearer to the site are possible.

    • 214 – Finsbury to Highgate (bus stops are approximately 250m from the new location): This route runs close to Kings Cross / St Pancras Station and enables passengers to alight in Crowndale Road, very close to the St Pancras hospital site
    • 46 – Bayswater to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Farringdon (bus stops are 350-450m from the new location): Northbound access to the route is not as convenient adjoining St Pancras Hospital. Southbound, the location of stops unfortunately does not assist potential passengers alighting from either of the Camden Stations.
Map of bus stops near the new centre. 

Car and Taxi

We anticipate that most patients will use public transport for the main part of their journey, often making the final part of their journey on foot and improved wayfinding and street enhancements are proposed.  There are vehicular drop off points close to the building for people travelling by car:

    • St Pancras Way: An extended layby for NHS Patient Transport Services, taxi and private transport drop off in close proximity to the A&E services on the lower ground floor.
    • Granary Street: A further drop off point is being proposed here, for convenient access to the North entrance where patients will enter at upper ground (reception) level.

Like many central London sites, and consistent with Policy T6 of the London Plan, Oriel will not provide public parking on site. Oriel will be providing detailed information on public and on street parking opportunities in the vicinity.

Cycling

There is a cycle highway serving central London and it is also understood that London Borough of Camden has an aspiration to complete the cycle lane on St Pancras Way, potentially by reducing the carriageway to a single lane.

The new site will have public spaces for people to lock their bikes and dedicated secure bike storage for staff. In addition to cycle parking, there are two cycle docking stations within a short walk of the site, one of Royal College Street outside the Royal Veterinary College and one on Pancras Road outside St Pancras international station. 

More on pedestrian access and recommended primary route

The new centre will have a comprehensive wayfinding strategy which includes the use of technology alongside traditional methods such as signage. Consideration will also be given to whether tactile surfaces could be used beyond the traditional manner at crossing points. Exploring technology and innovation is a key component to our future solution.

All potential routes have been reviewed and will have some enhancements where practicable.  It was also felt important to identify a primary route where a green line indicator could be introduced. After looking into multiple options, a primary route from King’s Cross/St Pancras station has been proposed which would provide a clear and safe route recommended for anyone on their first visit journey. This may mean a little longer walking distance but will be simpler and safer to navigate.

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