Cameras to enforce Maze Hill low-traffic neighbourhood

Maze Hill jam
Morning traffic jams have been a regular sight on Maze Hill

Cameras will be used to enforce Greenwich’s next low-traffic neighbourhood, which aims to stop rat-running on streets east of Greenwich Park.

Greenwich Council confirmed in December that it was planning measures to stop traffic attempting to use Maze Hill and Vanbrugh Hill as a shortcut, which has led to persistent queues blighting local streets.

Now the council has said cameras will be used to allow buses and emergency services to travel down Maze Hill, Vanbrugh Hill and Westcombe Hill, with planters blocking the fourth north-south route through the area, Halstow Road. Vanbrugh Hill and Westcombe Hill are bus routes. All the closures will be along the railway line which runs through the area.

A consultation into the scheme opened yesterday, which asks people if they think the restrictions should be for 24 hours a day or whether the scheme should only work part-time.

While Maze Hill in particular had long suffered from jams, and traffic levels in general rose sharply outside central London after the first coronavirus lockdown, many residents had put the extra queuing to a similar low-traffic neighbourhood blocking streets west of Greenwich Park, and the closure of Greenwich Park to through traffic.

The London Ambulance Service had called for cameras to be used to enforce the Hills and Vales scheme around Crooms Hill, fearing emergency services would face problems, but planters were used to block the roads to motor vehicles instead.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods are typically to protect networks of side streets from heavy traffic, and to nudge people away from using cars for short trips and to encourage them to walk and cycle instead – particularly when public transport is restricted because of the pandemic.

The Westcombe Park and Maze Hill low-traffic neighbourhood, which straddles parts of Blackheath and east Greenwich, is unusual in that it seeks to close a street seen by many drivers as part of the main road network, Westcombe Hill – although it has a six-lane motorway-standard road next to it.

There is also the risk that some traffic, for example, heading to Ikea, could switch to side roads in Charlton – and spark demands for the same treatment there.

In the Blackheath Westcombe ward which makes up the south of the area, 36 per cent of residents do not have a car – a figure that rises to 48.8 per cent in Peninsula ward to the north, which suffers the most from congestion.

TfL analysis showed that Charlton and Woolwich would benefit most from low-traffic neighbourhoods (darker scores are higher, see the full details)

Despite the council’s focus on the more affluent streets around Greenwich Park, analysis published by Transport for London in June and given to boroughs indicated that the area with the most potential for a low-traffic neighbourhood was east of Westcombe Hill, between the A102 and Woolwich town centre; taking in much of Charlton and the area around Woolwich Dockyard station.

This was based on factors including traffic and casualty levels, cycling potential, schools, population density, deprivation and low car ownership.

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