Controversial plans to block off roads in Lee, Hither Green and Lewisham – including several on or close to the Lewisham/Greenwich borough border – as part of a “healthy neighbourhoods” scheme have been criticised at a public meeting, with Lewisham Council accused of prioritising some people’s lives over others.
The council was criticised at the Lewisham Central ward assembly at St Swithun’s church hall in Hither Green for the “lack of consultation” and information received about Lewisham and Lee Green Healthy Neighbourhood plan. Lewisham plans to roll out similar schemes across the borough.
Many people were from Hither Green, with one person saying the area would be “cut in half” by the plans. But a council officer said the trial “was the consultation” and appeared to blame Royal Mail for not delivering letters about the plans.
Lewisham aims to stop rat-running from the A20 and A205 with the scheme. It also wants to cut air pollution and make the area safer for walking and cycling. The latest version of the proposals involves closing roads to motor vehicles in 11 locations so that only cyclists and pedestrians can get through.
The plan no longer involves blocking five streets along Manor Lane after concerns were raised about increased traffic along the road and Manor Park; these include Taunton Road, Effingham Road, Handen Road, Micheldever Road and Southbrook Road.
According to the latest draft, two blocks would be placed on Manor Lane by Kellerton Road and past Southbrook Road, one on Dermody Road by the junction of Wisteria and Pascoe Road, another on Ennersdale Road near the junction with Pascoe Road, and another on Leahurst Road past the junction with Ennersdale Road.
Leyland Road would be blocked off near where it meets Leegate and Cambridge Drive would be closed near the junction with Eltham Road – both stopping access for cars from Greenwich borough. Upwood Road will be blocked on the borough boundary itself, between Cambridge Drive and Horn Park Lane, as will Woodyates Road, which will be closed by the junction with Westhorne Avenue. Holme Lacey Road and Dallinger Road would both be closed near Burnt Ash Hill.
Nick Harvey, a senior transport planner for Lewisham Council, told the assembly: “We believe that Healthier Heighbourhoods is a radical solution but is also one that can work and has worked in other parts of London.”
People voiced their frustration about not being involved in the initial consultation, but Mr Harvey said when the council first liaised with residents it was “community engagement” rather than a consulation.
He said: “I completely accept that there’s not been a clear message on what’s community engagement and what’s consultation. What we have done is engaged some of the community. We have some raw data, we wanted to understand what local people felt in the area and so we ran some community engagement based around getting people’s feeling for the area and their issues around travelling and around their streets.”
Harvey said one of the main issues raised was concerns about pollution and that workshops were held to look at solutions to that and rat-running.
“That is where our concept design with the modal filters came from. Rest assured we won’t be passing any scheme that can’t pass the resilience test of TfL,” he added.
But residents remained unconvinced with one, who lives in Morley Road in Lewisham, saying she would have to “drive the entire circuit of the scheme” to get anywhere. The current plans would prevent access to Burnt Ash Hill and Lee Green except via Lewisham High Street or the South Circular Road. She added that she “did not trust TfL’s planning because it has essentially made my road a rat run” after left turns from Lewisham High Street into Courthill Road were banned.
Another resident said the plans would just “push traffic to another area in Lewisham”. Mr Harvey replied: “This is a borough-wide proposal so it’s not like we’re just coming in, doing whatever, and then leaving. Ideally, we will keep rolling the scheme.”
He added that during the trial the council will be monitoring the impact on surrounding roads.
One resident asked if there would be extra buses put on as she said that increased traffic on some roads, such as Burnt Ash Road, would affect their speed. But Mr Harvey said that part of TfL’s test was that bus times cannot be affected.
Another resident said something needed to be done about keeping children safe on the roads. She said: “Every single day I’m in fear of one of my children getting run over. My road has been really affected. We have to do something. We can’t continue doing short journeys.”
But one man said: “My son walks up the A205 to get to his school. This is going to affect certain people more than other people. The question is: who’s more important. The truth is you’re going to choose this based upon who you feel has less importance in the borough. Because one end will have lovely air quality and the other end will have far worse air quality – our end, which we will have to deal with.”
Lewisham Council will be doing traffic counts before the trial starts, which will be made publicly available for comparison.
Greenwich Council will be holding a meeting for its residents affected by the scheme at the Old Colfeans club off Eltham Road on Wednesday 22 January at 6pm.
Grainne Cuffe is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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