Greenwich to block Dabin Crescent cut-through to quell criticism of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood that ‘accelerates health and social disadvantage’
Greenwich is to modify its West Greenwich Traffic Management scheme to introduce a modal filter preventing vehicles from entering Dabin Crescent from Plumbridge Street and Lindsell Street. The filter is due to be installed on 18 November. It will shut down a dangerous cut-through created by the scheme itself.
Greenwichgonetoofar.co.uk highlighted how the scheme accelerates health and social disadvantage by displacing local traffic to congested Blackheath Hill, leaving seven blocks of flats, mainly Greenwich social housing, exposed to higher pollution levels and traffic danger.
The scheme ensured that Dabin Crescent, the narrowest road in the neighbourhood, would remain open to traffic from the A2 as well as LTN residents whose streets are protected from entry from Point Hill and Blissett Street.
All seven blocks, including Dabin Crescent and Cade Tyler House, are sandwiched between Blackheath Hill and Dabin Crescent.
The two-way, three metres-width Dabin Crescent was left open by the Council’s LTN scheme, permitting a direct route to Greenwich South Street from Maidenstone Hill, Winforton Street, Trinity Grove and Dutton Street. Two-way traffic cannot pass without both cars mounting narrow, metre-wide pavements. A small play area with equipment for very young children lies unused across the street from the flats because residents of all ages face a severe danger from traffic.
The area was ignored by Greenwich Council during planning of the scheme when residents should have been given a voice in shaping the proposals. Traffic on Dabin Crescent increased exponentially following introduction of the scheme in August.
A building space extension for work on the corner of Lindsell Street and Greenwich South Street led to partial closure of Lindsell Street in October. Councillors hoped this might provide a temporary 18-month ‘fix’ for the internal rat-run. However, traffic only increased: the Lindsell Street closure forced more local traffic to take the Blackheath Hill route via Dabin Crescent to Lindsell Street and Plumbridge Street.
Read more about how the LTN accelerates health and social disadvantage.
The concentration of social housing on Blackheath Hill and Dabin Crescent is on the narrowest section of the A2, where two lanes of heavy traffic merge to a single lane all day long. Just a few metres separate our neighbourhood’s biggest permanent traffic jam from our largest agglomeration of social housing.
Ealing residents’ associations have launched an application for judicial review in opposition to low traffic neighbourhood schemes. The grounds for the claim, by representatives of the Coldershaw and Midhurst Traffic Action Group (CAMTAG) and Ealing Residents Against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, are that Ealing Council is failing to meet its legal duties to keep road access open to premises, and to uphold the Equality Act 2010, according to Ealingtoday.co.uk.
Local councils are under a legal duty to secure and maintain expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic to provide 'reasonable access to premises' under section 122 of Road Traffic Act 1984. Exceptions to the rule are provided for to prevent excess use of the roads, for instance by heavy commercial vehicles.
The legal duty to uphold the Equality Act 2010 aims to prevent the imposition of disadvantage on people with disabilities and other statutorily controlled forms of discrimination.
In Greenwich, the Council has avoided answering questions as to its engagement with disability groups.
If you have experienced delays in receiving care, medical attention or making hospital appointments, don’t forget to inform the Royal Borough of Greenwich on its streetspace consultation:
Residents on Maze Hill had been completely unaware of the Council's plans before the 20 August implementation of the west Greenwich scheme. A survey of drivers in the daily Maze Hill queue found most were traders, local residents and essential workers - all losing time and earnings. Trafalgar Road congestion prevents progress at the lights, leading to unmanageable delays. We make common cause in demanding an immediate suspension and review, including broader and fairer consultation and steps to put right the damage done.
The ‘Hills and Vales’ is not a real place: it’s a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) or ‘traffic reduction area’ depending on town hall vocabulary. In reality, it is a triangle of affluent streets bounded by Greenwich South Street, Blackheath Hill and Crooms Hill (adjacent to Greenwich Park). In our wider, complex street network, it is part of the interconnected and vital heart of Greenwich. That is why slicing it in two has caused so much disruption.
Separated by a mile of parkland, with the river to the north and Blackheath to the south, a long-established and fragile road system is under intense pressure not only from this scheme, but also from gridlock in the town centre, substantial roadworks, and the last-minute cycle highway project.
When the scheme was installed in August 2020 no one, not even enclave residents, were consulted about it. For thousands living and working all over the area, who have justifiable expectations of information, consultation and a fair distribution of traffic and access, it came without warning. The council’s lack of transparency goes against democratic principle and breaches official guidance.
From the outset, the scheme suffered from confused objectives.
- Reducing peak-hour traffic inside the enclave.
- Forcing a substitution of walking and cycling for driving inside the area to reduce car traffic.
- Providing pandemic street level support.
None of these objectives is met by erecting a barrier right down the middle of our community.
The traffic scheme means that, added to increased pandemic-related car use and fewer seats on public transport, everyone using the roads faces long diversions, more queuing and stationary traffic. There are delays to emergency vehicles and vital services, deliveries and trades.
Traffic displaced by the scheme means crowding on the periphery and junctions. Stationary queues are more polluting that moving traffic. Life has been made particularly hard and dangerous for pedestrians: those who are older, poorer, disabled or who care for young children. Read more about the social injustice of the scheme.
Many people working in the area are losing earnings. Cyclists and walkers are not made safer just by road closures and when traffic circulates inside the area. Creating a series of long dead-ends means that in narrower streets there are dangerous turning movements and stationary vehicles are damaged.
To see a news clip about the effects of such a scheme in neighbouring Lewisham, try this link: https://www.facebook.com/127439507270196/posts/3943247289022713/?vh=e&extid=0
These effects were foreseeable. But the Council did not measure any of the claimed impacts before the scheme was imposed and is not monitoring them now.
In London, Wandsworth and Redbridge councils have already decided to abandon their schemes. Lewisham council has announced plans to change its Lee Green LTN.
If you agree it is time for Greenwich council to think again, make your voice heard.
You have the right to attend Council meetings, make representations and ask questions (see Royal Borough of Greenwich website to find out how).
Contact your local councillors in Greenwich or Lewisham and tell them how the scheme affects you and your family. (Scroll down the page to see who your councillors are.)
You can make a formal complaint to those in charge of the Council that they did not do their job properly, for instance by failing to ‘engage’ or consult well and in advance, with people who would be affected. The Leader of the Council is Cllr Danny Thorpe and the Chief Executive is Debbie Warren.
You can write as well as use email. This is the address for councillors and the executive:
The Royal Borough of Greenwich,
The Woolwich Centre,
35 Wellington Street,
Woolwich, SE18 6HQ
Add your voice to the Council’s online consultation about the scheme.
It is important to join others, so please sign and publicise these local online petitions. They put our concerns directly to the Council, the London Mayor and Matt Pennycook MP. The more who sign, the more effective we can be. These are our local petitions:
The East Greenwich change.org petition: greenwich-council-stop-east-greenwich-gridlock-end-council-traffic-reduction-trial-impacting-east-greenwich
To petition Matt Pennycook MP and other MPs about the LTNs generally:
Contact us to get updates, to let us know what you think, or to contribute to our blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maureen O’Mara: Maureen.O’Mara@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Mehboob Khan: Mehboob.Khan@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Aidan Smith: Aidan.Smith@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Blackheath Westcombe Ward (east Greenwich)
Geoff Brighty: Geoffrey.Brighty@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Leo Fletcher: Leo.Fletcher@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Mariam Lolavar: Mariam.email@example.com
Peninsula Ward (east Greenwich and Trafalgar Road area)
Chris Lloyd: Chris.Lloyd@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Stephen Brain: Stephen.Brain@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Denise Scott-Mcdonald: Denise.Scott-Mcdonald@royalgreenwich.gov.uk
The full Council meeting of the Royal Borough of Greenwich is due to go ahead this month after the unexplained cancellation of its 28 October meeting. Residents had submitted questions to the Council, including requests to know:
-what monitoring of the scheme is being conducted in East Greenwich;
-why planned local ‘engagement events’ about a potential scheme did not take place in 2019;
-whether any information was supplied, or consultation held, with residents on Blackheath Hill, Dabin Crescent or Greenwich South Street where displacement of local traffic was planned prior to bringing in any scheme at all (not simply the current scheme).
-whether the Council is prepared to listen to the body of evidence of objection, and work urgently to find an immediate solution to gridlock on Maze Hill and surrounding area during peak hours.
At the September Council meeting, East Greenwich residents and councillors had pressed the Council to review the scheme, a request that was refused.
The next Full Council is due on 25 November. You can view the meeting online (all Council meetings during the pandemic have been held remotely), or later on youtube. Local residents and taxpayers of the borough have the right to submit up to two questions in writing or by email to a Full Council meeting.
Modal filters were removed from Abery Street and Gallosson Road, Plumstead on Wednesday 4 November following an announcement by the Royal Borough of Greenwich on 2 November. The Plumstead to Abbey Wood cycle route had “proved popular” according to the Council, but that it had responded to feedback from local residents and businesses that they had found the road blocks had made it difficult for residents to use local businesses and as a result, had placed them under pressure.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Danny Thorpe said: “After a visit to Plumstead High Street last week it’s clear to me that it’s in the best interests of the area for us to remove the modal filters on Abery Street and Gallosson Road. We’ve tried something which you’ve told us hasn’t worked for residents and businesses in the area. We’re acting on your feedback, so please keep telling us what you think.”
How to help Cllr Thorpe: contact Greenwich Council’s Streetspace consultation. You can make as many individual ‘specific’ complaints as are necessary, although only one short general complaint is ‘allowed’. Link: https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/westgreenwichtraffic
Alternatively, contact your local councillor, or write to Cllr Danny Thorpe at the address on our Take Action page. Don’t forget to sign the petitions.
The Scheme was introduced under a new temporary traffic order, so that Greenwich qualified for the first tranche of the Emergency Active Travel Fund. The government chose to introduce the scheme, creating an impenetrable concrete barrier along Royal Hill and Blissett Street, pushes Royal Hill and streets to the west of the barrier out of the LTN, increases traffic, and fails to provide protection for primary school children at James Wolf School, or people visiting neighbourhood shops cafes and businesses on foot.
‘Modal filters’ or permanent barriers deny essential access to local traffic and emergency services, exporting more traffic chaos, as the economy struggles with the pandemic. Blackheath Hill, already an accident and congestion blackpsot, has been forced to take on more overcrowding as local vehicles are forced by the barriers to divert.
Cllr Geoffrey Brighty told the November 25 Council meeting that the scheme, which has displaced unacceptable levels of traffic to East Greenwich and Trafalgar Road, should be scrapped for the duration of the pandemic. The London Ambulance Service condemned the scheme in July when Greenwich Chief Traffic Engineer conducted a perfunctory consultation by email. Comments by the Ambulance and Fire service were ignored. South East London LAS said:
"Congestion is already high on main trunk roads on the Blackheath and Shooters Hill area making emergency response challenging. Reducing access to residential streets would significantly impact on our ability to reach patients quickly.
“Paramedics already have a stressful job managing patient care and cannot be further stressed by having to navigate complex road closures when trying to reach calls or rapidly convey very unwell or injured persons to hospital.
“Consideration also needs to be given to the wider health and social care providers who will need access to address and are on tight schedules. Patient transport ambulance picking patients up for chemotherapy or dialysis appointments, district and community healthcare teams and social care carers will all be delayed by having to navigated additional road closures and restrictions leading to delayed care, welfare issues, humanitarian concerns and potential for emergency admission as a result of delays. Additional missed clinical appointments has a detrimental effect on service delivery and patient flow through the NHS system.
"All local authorities and TfL are implementing these schemes and there is no coordinated engagement or process for emergency service to feedback or object resulting in schemes overlapping and impacting on each other.
“The use of ANPR is the best way schemes can be enforced as it allows roads to remain open to emergency services at all times. Although costly, life, as you would agree, is more important.”
LAS has also criticised Greenwich for failing to provide for turning at the scene, which could put critical patients at risk, and has also pointed out that Greenwich town centre has a high call volume due to residential, tourist, commercial and licensed premises in the area. The ambulance service is continuing to press for changes while Greenwich persists with the dangerous scheme.
Only the fire brigade can drive through fixed modal filters like the barriers in Royal Hill. Ambulances and police vehicles do not carry keys and must follow alternative routes just like local residents.
This is Royal Hill, the main through-route, now locked out of the traffic management area by the barrier. Local people are jostling with cars as they shop at the only parade of fresh food shops in west Greenwich. The carriageway is narrowed to protect major building work on the junction with Burney Street, and there’s no social distancing protection.
Greenwich justified the traffic reduction scheme as part of a package of pandemic safety measures, but did nothing to protect pupils at James Wolfe Primary School, support pedestrians and cyclists or to enable social distancing.
The government says local councils must consult local residents about road schemes that risk abusing pandemic safety cash. But Greenwich imposed a scheme without consultation.
Patience with bad schemes is running out. On 16 October, Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, wrote to local authorities saying: “We are not prepared to tolerate hastily introduced schemes which will create sweeping changes to communities, without consultation, and ones where the benefits to cycling and walking do not outweigh the dis-benefits for other road users”.
During the pandemic, use of public transport declined in the face of homeworking, unemployment and the relative safety of car use. As part of the response, the government and the Mayor of London reacted with short-term measures to support walking and cycling and – according to the London Mayor – “to prevent a car led recovery”.
In May the government announced a £250 million “emergency active travel fund” to support pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and safer junctions. The Mayor of London announced the London Streetspace Programme would be funded by the Department for Transport fund as well as Transport for London (TfL). The plan is “to accommodate a possible ten-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased”, promising safe, protected cycle routes and “school streets to create a safe environment around the school gate”. The Streetspace programme aims to block some streets to vehicles (“filtering”) to allow bike, walking and wheelchair journeys only.
So LTNs all over London morphed into Covid-19 safety measures. By August this year, when the scheme was imposed in west Greenwich, pandemic conditions were then judged to be likely to increase car travel by 40-60 per cent.
The Greenwich scheme does not support the Streetspace goals, but undermines walking and cycling by increasing vehicle movement and congestion in all the wrong places.
The London Mayor and Royal Borough of Greenwich have confused pandemic safety with the conflicting goal of reducing traffic in residential “neighbourhoods”. Instead of diffusing pandemic traffic to help the economy and spread out essential car journeys, the scheme funnels traffic into already crowded roads that were part of our “neighbourhood” in the first place.
Inside the area, a balance has been destroyed, putting unnecessary strain on Royal Hill where residents, shoppers and school pupils face heightened risks from traffic turning movements, additional through traffic, and large scale building work (see below) in addition to the failure to provide pavement width. The Gloucester Circus entrance on Royal Hill is now a danger zone of turning traffic, school arrivals and departures, delivery vans and service vehicles.
Greenwich knew that work would start on the demolition and rebuilding of the old Police Station on Royal Hill. The contractors have set up a single carriageway traffic control between Gloucester Circus and Burney Street, causing traffic queues and obstructing attempts by shoppers to stay socially distanced and away from moving traffic. Nothing has been done to mitigate this.
In so many ways, the scheme works to destabilise our community by creating difference and division.
- New support for walkers inside the protected area was unnecessary. Before the scheme, its streets were quiet for the great majority of the time. There are wide pavements, often bounded by open heath or within a short distance of, or directly fronting, Greenwich Park.
- Provision for cycling in Greenwich Park already exists and is safer than routes down Crooms Hill, Hyde Vale and Point Hill.
Outside, it has simply magnified existing problems.
- Pedestrian safety on and around the Blackheath Hill and Greenwich South Street junction has been neglected for years, and the scheme simply makes a bad situation worse, doing less than nothing to protect or support shopping or crossing the roads.
- There is no new support for cycling on the most dangerous section on Blackheath Hill. The result is more pavement cycling. Cycling endangerment is now common throughout the ‘Hills and Vales’ because the area has steep gradients.
- Lindsell Street, Plumbridge Street and Dabin Crescent have been left open to two-way through traffic without Covid-19 protection for walking, cycling or shopping. Pedestrians on Dabin Crescent are not protected from two-way traffic that frequently mounts both kerbs to pass on a three metres wide roadway.
- Displaced traffic on Maze Hill and Westcombe Park Road has turned into a traffic nightmare of which there was no forewarning or explanation. It puts The John Roan School pupils at risk, and is causing huge delays and pollution.
Sign the petitions, write to your local councillors, and let the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the Government know how Covid cash is being misused in Greenwich. To give feedback on Streetspace, click the ‘feedback’ button at https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200259/transport_and_travel/2234/streetspace_programme
The Minister, Grant Shapps MP, writing in the national press in September told councils abusing the cash to ‘speak to local residents, get it fixed or no more cash’.
Write to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by post at House of Commons, Westminster, London W1A 0AA.