Lewisham council to row back on traffic changes made in wake of Covid-19 pandemic

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Lewisham council is set to make some changes to the Lee Green low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) to address problems that have stemmed from it.

The LTN, a set of road barriers to reduce through-traffic, was brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures and has received mixed feedback.

In the council’s response to concerns raised from action group One Lewisham, a spokesman said it would make changes which the council will “share in the coming weeks”.

The news comes as some residents accused the council of listening to people it “agreed with”, rather than everyone.

Resident-led One Lewisham was set up after the LTN was introduced to “campaign for change to ensure that LTNs in our area benefit the health and well-being of the many, not the few”.

The group said it shared the council’s aims to “reduce traffic, improve air quality and enable safe cycling and walking”.

Paul Lomax, a Hither Green resident and spokesman for One Lewisham, spoke to us about issues and made suggestions he believes could improve the scheme.

He said if he “had a time machine”, he would ask the council to get baseline measurements of traffic and pollution from the roads “they knew would be badly affected”.

For this scheme specifically, the council collected baseline data in March 2019, but it was only inside the LTN, while its next measurements inside and out were in June/July 2020, when the LTN launched.

Mr Lomax said the most visible problem with the scheme was “the clear traffic displacement which is causing chaos from Loampit Vale to Baring Road”.

“They can’t claim Hither Green Lane was always like that, but they are trying to claim we just forgot how bad the other roads are.

“This is causing more pollution, and affecting people’s wellbeing and quality of life,” he said.

Mr Lomax said businesses, “particularly at the industrial park are reporting a dramatic change of income due to the LTN”, while people with disabled or SEN kids have reported much longer journeys in cars.

“Waltham Forest’s main roads and alternative routes are still as much as 40 per cent worse,” he said, questioning the council’s confidence that traffic will disperse.

He asked that the council established “success criteria now, not at the end”.

Mr Lomax said: “It needs to be clearly measurable. If they expect no or low main road increases, above what level is it considered a failure?”

One Lewisham also suggest bringing in timed closures or automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) access for Lewisham residents or employees.

A Lewisham council spokeswoman said the urgency to introduce the measures “was driven by the need to give more space to pedestrians and cyclists to allow them to walk and cycle safely, whilst social distancing”.

She said: “We recognise that some of the measures we have introduced have raised issues which need to be addressed.

“We are listening to feedback and we know that there are some roads where traffic has increased.

“We will be making changes to try and reduce this and we will share more information about these changes in the coming weeks.

“Sixty per cent of all car journeys in London are less than 2.5 miles.

“There is a huge potential for more of these short trips to be walked or cycled which will reduce traffic on all roads.

“There is a growing body of evidence that low traffic neighbourhoods support this shift to sustainable travel.

“Before any decision is made about schemes becoming permanent there will be a full statutory consultation which take the views of all residents into account.

“We have a comprehensive monitoring programme, which seeks to strike a balance between capturing the main impacts of the scheme, whilst being mindful of costs and the urgent need to get schemes delivered as quickly as possible.”




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