The Hills and Vales Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Greenwicvh looks set to be removed this week when a traffic order expires on 25 February.
A report states the council will not officially adopt buy instead look to draw up another – but this is not imminent and there’s no guarantee.
In terms of wider changes, it states: “…Overall the monitoring exercise shows that since the West Greenwich LTN was implemented in August 2020 cycling has increased in the local area, collisions with pedestrians and cyclists are showing signs of having reduced and buses have seen an improvement in weekend journey times.
These positive effects must be weighed up against increased traffic flows on neighbouring north-south corridors such as Maze Hill and some worsening of bus journey times on weekdays. However these effects are not just down to the LTN itself, but also:
• The more fundamental changes people have made to how they travel following the pandemic and
• Key road schemes like the CS4 extension and
• Developments in the local area.”
Since being adopted the project was revised to open up in the mornings and allow black cabs through – though not disabled drivers with blue badges as Lewisham agreed at the Lee and Lewisham LTN.
The council initially used physical barriers with emergency services complaining of a lack of communication from council officers. This is from the NHS in relation to ambulances:
Despite that, they council state in the report: “We have liaised closely with representatives from all three emergency services and have also participated in pan-London working groups with them, to identify ways to incorporate their access needs into traffic reduction schemes”.
The use of physical obstacles for the LTN in west Greenwich was undertaken as the authority didn’t possess the option to use cameras at that time. Greenwich was one of the very last councils in London to authorise using CCTV for traffic offences despite powers being available since 2005. They still hadn’t adopted it by 2020.
While the Hills and Vales project has been talked about long before COVID measures, they both saw poor communication from the authority and a lack of transparency.
Greenwich were continuously refusing to engage with the public or authorities on various plans in 2020 – and it took Freedom of Information requests to gain information as councillors and council officers kept silent. Many other London boroughs made reports and funding bids public.
The authority have now published a report based on a selection of responses to consultation (though not all) and recommend Option 3 (Option 1 was adopt the scheme, Option 2 was remove) which is to start from scratch:
“Option 3 involves the same as option 2 as set out in paragraphs 6.2 above [remove the scheme] but it is open to the Cabinet Member to authorise Council officers to begin the process of developing an alternative LTN traffic scheme for West Greenwich.
Under this option Council officers would begin the process of preparing the scheme and publishing and consulting on the proposed scheme under the statutory process for making a permanent TRO. Council officers would work up the details of the proposed alternative scheme in consultation with the Cabinet Member, drawing upon responses and the experience of the existing experimental West Greenwich LTN.
If following publication and consultation there are significant and substantial or material objections received, Council officers would report the objections and representations received to the Cabinet Member for consideration and a decision as to whether the TRO for the scheme should be made.”
Cllr Sarah Merrill (Labour – Shooters Hill) is now extremely likely to follow that route.
The removal of the Hills and Vales project also follows officer’s recommending a planned east Greenwich Low Traffic Neighbourhood be abandoned which Greenwich Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport Sarah Merrill agreed to.
East Greenwich has seen a large increase in dangerous driving recently with vehicles heading the wrong way down streets. Greenwich’s response was plastic barriers which blocked pedestrians from crossing the street.
In recent weeks the Cabinet member for transport also intervened to ensure parking enforcement is not undertaken in parts of the borough.
Over the past year the council have also asked Royal Parks to reopen Greenwich Park for traffic, and a cycle lane on Shooters Hill also saw wands removed without communication with the public.
Despite aspirations to reduce car usage by 2030 and many reports advocating active travel there appears no wide ranging plan to achieve that goal. The problem of congestion doesn’t appear to be going anywhere given the number of cars registered in the borough increased by almost 7,000 from 2013 to 2020. That’s one of the highest growth rates in London. Silvertown Tunnel is also expected to lead to a large increase in vehicles entering the borough as two tunnels converge on the existing road network south of the Thames.
Many new builds approved in recent years include sizable amounts of car parking alongside a continuing issue with ignoring investment in improved walking and cycling links.
As we now head towards Silvertown Tunnel opening and more housing with car parking coming alongside distribution hubs being proposed (see a post from just yesterday) Greenwich Council appear to lack any real strategy to reduce car usage.