The London Borough of Croydon has launched a public consultation on their “Streetspace” proposals. Namely the road closures that have hit residents in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood areas under the guise of a “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” when it has been anything but that. Traffic congestion has been horrendous and has even impacted roads in the adjacent borough of Bromley.
They are also consulting on Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in Broad Green and Albert Road with the former including a permit scheme for residents. There are also proposals for the Town Centre.
These measures are claimed to be temporary but if the Council gets enough support they will undoubtedly make them permanent in due course. There is an active campaign against the closures under the name “Open Our Roads” who have already filed for a judicial review of the Council’s actions.
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Transport for London (TfL) have launched an initiative called “Streetspace” – see Reference 1 below. To quote they are: “creating more space for people to safely walk or cycle as our city emerges from the coronavirus lockdown. Temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements are among the changes we’re making as part of Streetspace for London”. In reality this means less space for road traffic and in addition it includes creating car-free zones and low traffic neighbourhoods by introducing road closures as we have seen in many London boroughs recently. This is a natural consequence of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm ) which we have consistently opposed since it was adopted. But the Covid-19 epidemic has been used as an excuse to sneak these damaging changes in without any public consultation.
TfL and the London Borough of Lewisham have just announced a scheme as part of the Streetspace progamme that covers the A21 between Catford and Lewisham. It includes:
See map above for the details. For example a right turn from Courthill Road onto the A21 is banned. These changes could make life very awkward for some people. It is suggested that they are only temporary but you can expect them to made permanent unless enough people object.
Note that although this is a TfL Programme (and financed by them even though they are supposed to be short of money), it has clearly been supported by Lewisham Council.
Similar changes are happening all over London under the Streetspace programme and are likely to increase traffic congestion as we are already seeing from such schemes in Lewisham (see Ref. 3) and other boroughs. Make sure you tell your local councillors and MP what you think about them.
But the lack of any proper public consultations on these schemes is totally undemocratic and is undermining public respect for politicians (including the Mayor of London) who are pushing these schemes through.
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As in many other London boroughs, Lewisham Council have developed a Covid-19 Transport Plan which is in response to the epidemic where social distancing is required. This involves widening pavements, providing more cycle lanes and possibly road closures, much to the anger of local residents. More details are now available in a report to Councillors (see Reference 1 below). I’ll summarise some of the key points:
It includes proposals to create more pedestrian space, quieter residential streets (I think they mean without traffic), safer space for pedestrians/cyclists (i.e. more and wider cycle lanes and wider pavements) and creating safer space outside schools (i.e. road closures called “School Streets”).
Council officers will be given “delegated powers” to create the necessary traffic orders, parking suspensions, temporary barriers and other infrastructure with enforcement via camera technology.
In other words, council officers will be able to implement the kinds of proposals previously put forward in the “Safer Neighbourhoods” proposals without further public consultation or even input from Councillors. The Council has gained additional powers to do these things under new Statutory Guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps) – see Reference 2. Effectively the new Guidance drives a coach and horses through local democracy and enables Councils to do what they want without any restraint or input from local residents.
The Council’s initial proposals include restricting parking on such roads as Deptford High Street, Luxmore Gardens, Coulgate Street and Hither Green Lane (see report for full list). These proposals are not unreasonable in some of these roads.
They also propose as a second project to introduce “modal filters” to create quieter and safer roads. This is just a euphemism for closing roads to all traffic except cyclists which has been so vigorously opposed by many residents. There are also proposals for School Streets. They propose to use Temporary Traffic Regulation Notices followed by Temporary Traffic Orders. We believe this is a misuse of the regulations as we have said before and made plain in a letter to the Council.
The closure of roads using the epidemic as an excuse makes no sense. Closing roads does not help social distancing. It just favours one category of road users over another. And it is clear that there is the intention to make these closures permanent in due course. The proposals also ignore the requirement to take into account the needs of the elderly and disabled under the Equalities Act.
In regards to “public engagement” the Council has set up a web site called Commonplace – see https://lewishamcovidtransport.commonplace.is/ where more details will be provided. Some is already there, although it seems to be a work in progress at the time of writing. You can potentially add your comments, or suggest additional locations.
Will the Council have the money to implement these proposals? This is doubtful. This is what Councillor Sophie McGeevor said in a recent tweet (@SophieMcGeevor): “You know that £250 million investment in walking and cycling that the government have been going on about? Well London boroughs will each only get £100k of that. That would only cover about 20% of our initial COVID-19 transport proposals in Lewisham”.
Let us hope that this will stop them from doing the road closures and just stick to the sensible parking restrictions.
Note that a number of London boroughs have already drawn up plans and submitted proposals for funding under the Covid-19 banner, and some money has already been granted. Bromley’s proposals were covered in a previous blog post.
Streetspace and School Streets Guidance
TfL has also published guidance on how boroughs should implement their “Streetspace” proposals – see Reference 3 below. And they have also published guidance for “School Streets” which are being implemented by many boroughs – see Reference 4 below.
See photo above of a sign that can be used to enforce School Streets.