Lewisham Council has set out changes to its first low traffic neighbourhood, in Lee Green and Hither Green, to help relieve traffic congestion in neighbouring areas.
The changes include allowing vehicles, except HGVs, through the camera-enforced barrier in Manor Lane and adjusting the existing cameras on Ennersdale Road and Dermody Road to allow vehicles to travel one-way west to east.
It’s also likely that Blue Badge holders will be able to register with the council and drive past cameras without being fined.
The Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood, a set of road barriers which aim to reduce through-traffic, was brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures and has received mixed feedback.
The scheme aims to promote active travel such as cycling, walking, and public transport, while reducing air pollution. However, congestion has built up on roads outside the area amid a general increase in traffic – particularly on Hither Green Lane and the South Circular Road. It emerged recently that traffic congestion outside central London last month was regularly 50 per cent higher than it was the previous September.
Lewisham Council said the congestion on the South Circular was not caused by the low-traffic neighbourhood, but had been added to by the scheme. Either way, it said, the situation needed to be “urgently” addressed.
“Coronavirus has not only led to a reduction in capacity on public transport, but many people are still wary of using buses and trains which has meant there are more vehicles than expected on the main roads around the low traffic neighbourhood,” it said.
“Having observed the increasing traffic levels and increased bus journey times, short-term changes are needed to ease traffic congestion on key junctions such as Hither Green Lane and the South Circular.”
The changes, to come into effect from November 9, include:
Lewisham is also considering longer-term changes for the Hither Green and Catford area in January 2021, including a camera on Hither Green Lane to stop HGVs using it “and further cameras and width restrictions on other key routes, again excluding HGVs”.
The council intends to share ideas with residents on these measures in an online information session on October 22.
Lewisham’s elected mayor, Damien Egan, who met community groups this week to discuss the scheme, said he hoped the changes will “help to relieve some pressure on Hither Green Lane and key junctions with the South Circular”.
“The changes introduce more cameras, rather than relying solely on physical barriers and a benefit of this approach is that it will be easier to make changes if they’re needed in the future, as well as allowing us to better manage exemptions so that Lewisham Blue Badge holders who register their vehicles can travel freely,” he said.
He said the council “remains absolutely committed” to the low traffic neighbourhood “and the principles it set out to achieve”.
“We have been listening to the concerns and issues raised – the positives and the negatives – and it has become clear that it is time to make changes to the current scheme so we can address what the local community has told us,” he said.
“I hope that these changes will help to relieve some pressure on Hither Green Lane and key junctions with the South Circular.”
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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