Mixed views over Westminster Low Traffic Neighbourhood

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

The jury is out over a plan to cut rat running and reduce transport on a housing estate near former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s town house.

Westminster City Council consulted residents of the Hyde Park Estate about creating for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood there.

The move would see a pedestrianised piazza in the centre of Connaught Village.

The low traffic neighbourhood will also involve temporary barriers, including signs and planters, put up to stop traffic using the estate as a short cut.

And there will be a new traffic-free space for residents in Connaught Village at the corner of Connaught Street and Kendal Street.

Some residents are in favour of the scheme which they think will “end the rat run” on the estate.

It is estimated that two thirds of residents do not own a car.

However residents were warned it could add to their journey times and could cause some initial confusion for taxis and delivery vehicles.

The Hyde Park Estate Association asked Westminster City Council to amend its plans so residents and businesses could drive through the barriers.

It warned the council that the scheme “would be punitive to people who chose to – or needed to use – private vehicles and taxis”, and it could create a new rat run.

The association did its own tests and said journey times were four to five times as long as the council’s modelling suggested.

Chairman Allen Zimbler said the scheme: “Will ‘kettle’ residents of the Hyde Park Estate into four relatively tiny areas and severely limit their access to and exit from the estate by motor vehicle.

“It will also significantly increase any vehicular travel times, as the roads around the Estate will become jammed with traffic, increasing the pollution on these roads, increasing taxi and Uber fares, slowing down bus journeys, and making it increasingly difficult for delivery and service vehicles to enter the Estate.”

Some residents however have formed the Hyde Park Estate Residents’ group (HyPER) and wrote to Westminster City Council asking it to launch the LTN.

Sarah Chambre from the group said: “These changes will promote a healthy and thriving community for all age groups, countering the tendency to hollow out central London neighbourhoods.”

And Christropher Gunness said he thought the scheme would improve air quality and cut the risk of accidents.

He said a new piazza in Connaught Village “Will engender a vibrant pavement life and a café society that will attract people from all over London and beyond.”

Pictured top: Sarah Chambre (Picture: Christopher Gunness)

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