Residents are fuming that they were “not properly consulted” about their roads being blocked in a bid to force people to walk, cycle or take a bus.
Lewisham council was accused of putting some people’s lives over others at a heated assembly meeting on Thursday (January 15).
A number of roads in Lee Green will be blocked off to through traffic in a trial – with a date yet to be set – as part of the Lewisham and Lee Green Healthy Neighbourhood plan.
At the Lewisham central assembly meeting on the topic, which drew a crowd of at least 100 people, the council was criticised for a “lack of consultation” and information received about the scheme.
Many people were from Hither Green, with one person saying the ward 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 yet delivering letters.
The latest version of the scheme involves 11 barriers, called modal filters, which will close off the roads 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 barriers will be placed in Manor Lane by Kellerton Road and past Southbrook Road, one in Dermody Road by the junction of Wisteria and Pascoe Road, another in Ennersdale Road near the junction with Pascoe Road, and another in Leahurst Road past the junction with Ennersdale Road.
Leyland Road will be blocked off near where it meets Leegate, Cambridge Drive near the junction with Eltham Road, Upwood Road between Cambridge Drive and Horn Park Lane, Woodyates Road by the junction with West Horne Avenue, and Holme Lacey Road and Dallinger Road would both have barriers near Burnt Ash Hill.
Citing the millions of journeys taken in London, Nick Harvey, a senior transport planner at Lewisham council, said the borough’s healthier neighbourhoods programme looked to encourage sustainable modes of transport, improve air quality and safety on local roads and reduce rat-running.
He told the assembly: “We believe that healthier neighbourhoods 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 consultation.
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 traveling and around their streets.”
He said one of the main issues raised was concerns about pollution and that stakeholder 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.”
But residents remained unconvinced, with one, who lives in Morley Road, saying the plans would mean to “get anywhere” she would have to “drive the entire circuit of the scheme”.
She added that she “did not trust TfL’s planning because it has essentially made my road a rat-run” after it took away the left turn in to Courthill Road.
Another resident said the plans would just “push traffic to another area in Lewisham”.
Mr Harvey said: “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.