THE SAD history of Enfield’s neglected stretch of the A406 has been one of hot public debate, abandoned plans and wasted money for nearly a century.

The section between the Pinkham Way junction and the junction with Green Lanes, including Telford Road, has been left substantially untouched since the 1930s when it was built as a single carriageway lined by parades of houses and shops.

Widening and improvement schemes have arrived under various guises, including a five pointed flyover at the Great Cambridge Roundabout, and been back and forth to the drawing board at least seven times since the 1970s.

The amount of money wasted on the plans is inestimable, though lack of money has been a common reason for not progressing with a scheme.

A search in the local studies unit at Enfield Town Library revealed countless emotive headlines from newspaper clippings charting the area’s sorry history.

An article in the Palmers Green and Southgate Gazette from February 1971 even carried an interview with an 83-year-old former member of what was then Southgate Council carrying the strapline: “Whatever you do, don’t talk to James McIntosh about the Bowes Road widening scheme, because he’s heard it all before – about 50 years ago.”

The article then goes on to say that proposals to widen parts of Bowes Road had been on the table since 1918. He said, tellingly: “The scheme was deferred then for the same reason has always been put off since – lack of money.”

Not a lot has changed in the past 30 years, with Transport for London (TfL) deciding in 2006 that there was not enough money for a large widening scheme and the public would have to make do with a smaller one.


1912: Local Government board recommends creation of network of arterial roads around London. North Circular road is one.

1933: final section of the local part of the road, Pinkham Way, opened. The single carriageway cost £169,500 to build by Messrs G Wimpey and Co of Hammersmith.

1965 Railway bridge over Bowes Road widened in readiness for dual carriageway. However despite small-scale widening in places no dual carriageway has ever been constructed.

1971 Five shops demolished on approach to Green Lanes junction as junction widened.

Houses on north circular were compulsorily purchased by the Department for Transport from the 1970s onwards.

1971: Proposal from the Department for Transport for a five-flyover scheme at the Great Cambridge Roundabout involving the demolition of 480 homes, two pubs, shops and a cinema.

A “no to the Cambridge flyover campaign” got up by the Cambridge flyover action committee, while Wolves Lane and Broomfield House-owners Joint Action Committee and the North London Urban Motorway Action group come up with alternative proposals. Objections to flyover raised in parliament by Edmonton Labour MP Austen Albu.

1973: Greater London Council (GLC, precursor to the Greater London Authority) abandons flyover scheme in favour of a triple underpass scheme for the Great Cambridge roundabout, Telford Road junction, and Green Lanes junction.

1974: Plan dropped over concerns about its scale and a joint GLC and DoE working party set up.

1979: A 17m underpass scheme proposed for Great Cambridge Roundabout needing between 8 and 10 acres and demolition of 100 houses and shops.

1980: Department of Transport rejects the scheme in favour of £27m spaghetti junction where a two-lane carriageway takes the North Circular under the A10 with pedestrian subway. Demolition of 100 properties required.

1983: Proposals thrown out due to GLC and Enfield Council opposition on scale and environmental impact 1987: Finally work on Great Cambridge Road underpass begun. The £22.3m scheme is similar to that proposed in 1980.

1990: Underpass complete. But where are the road widening plans?

1998: Friends of the Earth estimate cost of widening north circular has gone up by £50m in six years, while pedestrians petition council for new bus service to reach north Middlesex Hospital because they are frightened to use Great Cambridge Roundabout subway.

1998: A406 road widening scheme, for the problem section between Bounds Green Road and Green lanes, including demolition 300 homes and 650 mature trees, dropped.

2003: Terry Neville, environment cabinet member, says it considers TfL’s latest consultation on A406 a “sham” and is considering legal action. Council wants six-lane motorway to ease congestion but plan expected for four-lane motorway instead. Estimated cost: £266m.

2004 Ken Livingstone announces £20m of small scale plans consisting mainly of new pedestrian crossings, new bus lanes, redesign of junctions and add an extra lane to Telford Road so it becomes two lanes in each direction rather than one and two.

2007: After more wrangling between Enfield Council and Ken Livingstone over the scale of the plans the council agrees to give planning permission for the smaller scheme.

2009: Preliminary work to gas pipes being carried out and the main construction works on the A406 will start in 2010 and will last approximately two years.

2009: The council is given a £54.4m grant to buy the homes from TfL. Notting Hill Housing Trust will invest £30m to refurbish them and build new ones. 400 affordable homes planned in total.