By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A controversial road scheme designed to encourage people to walk and cycle rather than drive during the pandemic has left many residents feeling outraged.
Local WhatsApp groups and the council’s consultation page have been deluged with fervid residents eager to get their thoughts across.
Lambeth council has recently created a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ in the Oval Triangle area.
The scheme covers most of the area between Stockwell, Oval and Vauxhall Tube stations, and there is now no access to it and limited access from it from the A3, Clapham Road.
Cllr Claire Holland, Lambeth council’s deputy leader and councillor for sustainable transport, environment and clean air, said: “The Oval to Stockwell triangle is one of the most deprived parts of the borough. This scheme benefits the whole community.
“It has five large housing estates, with thousands of residents having no access to private outdoor space.
“By removing through traffic from the whole triangle, which this scheme does, you free up the streets to be enjoyed by those that don’t have outdoor space and you prevent motorists from driving through roads on either side of the triangle, too.
“We are ambitious for our borough and want to support all our residents to have access to walking and cycling.”
Cllr Holland said that over half the residents in the Oval Triangle do not own a car, yet cars have overwhelmed the streets there, jeopardising “our children’s health.”
She said: “Around 60 per cent of our residents do not own a car, yet cars have dominated our streets for too long, making it unsafe to walk and cycle and worsening our children’s health.”
But many residents are outraged by the new scheme.
John Ascencao, 49, of Durand Gardens which lies just outside the scheme, slammed Cllr Holland’s claims that it benefits the whole community.
He said: “Not at all, absolute rubbish, she’s wrong.
“I live in the area myself, what was a two to five-minute drive can now take me between 20 minutes and half an hour.
“She’s creating a big problem around the area, and her opinion isn’t shared with anyone I know.
“The congestion around the area is diabolical, down Lansdowne Way it’s gridlocked most of the time, you have to go around if you’re driving down Clapham Road.
“It almost directs you into the congestion charge.”
Loopholes in the scheme have created a dangerous rat run through one of the council estates in the area.
He said: “The residents on the estates are complaining because there are kids playing on the estate, and all the traffic has been diverted through there.”
Felix Allan, 23, of Albert Square, which is in the triangle, echoes Mr Ascencao’s fury.
He said: “I have seen quite a few cars coming out of it [the Mursell Estate] recently – numbers that I’ve never seen before.
“Surely that heightens the chances of kids who play there getting run over?
“The scheme only appears to benefit places like Albert Square, Richborne Terrace and Fentiman Road, which are monied parts of the area.
“I think there’s a strong case to make that this scheme only benefits the rich.
Felix added: “I’ve lived here for over 20 years and this has to be one of the most poorly thought out schemes I’ve ever seen.”
This is one of a series of traffic controlling schemes Lambeth has introduced in the borough.
Details about the scheme can be found here.
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