Opinion Sharply Divided on South Chiswick Traffic Measures
Council defends radical scheme but some residents angry about lack of consultation
Plans for radical changes to the way traffic is managed in the south of Chiswick have met with an angry response from some residents who claim they were not properly consulted.
Hounslow Council is proposing a raft of measures with the intent of reducing traffic in Strand on the Green, Grove Park and Dukes Meadows. The aim is to transform the area into a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’, preventing motorists from using residential streets as a cut through between major roads. They are trying to achieve this by introducing a range of closures and access restrictions, to reduce traffic speeds and volumes in the area. These restrict access at a number of junctions and would introduce number plate recognition technology to limit the use of certain roads to residents only. They are the result of the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood project in which residents were asked to contribute their ideas about improving the neighbourhood by changes in the way traffic is managed.
However, opponents have called the measures ‘chaotic at best’ and claim the council has not listened to the opinions of people who live in the area. A petition has been set up which, at the time of writing, had over 700 signatures, more than the number of people who gave feedback to the council’s project web site.
Zoe Corney, who started the petition says, “We all want to reduce the unwanted additional traffic caused by people using the area as a cut through but this should be done with real data, consideration for locals, understanding the overall impact of the project, cooperation from impacted businesses and with agreement from residents. The current plans are chaotic at best - they divert traffic to otherwise quiet roads or areas where children use and are not well thought through. Speak with the people who live here and know the roads”.
She is calling for full consultation and the exemption of South Chiswick residents from any restrictions in movement.
The council says that further delays to the implementation of the scheme could compromise the chances of it being funded with the government wanting measures to be introduced as quickly as possible.
Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council, said in response to the petition, “We would like to clarify that the measures recently proposed will be brought in on a trial basis and are in response to Central Government’s new statutory guidance issued under the 2004 Traffic Management Act, in response to Covid-19, requiring councils to act as ‘swiftly as possible’ given the urgent need to change travel habits before restrictions are eased, so that people can walk or cycle safely while observing social distancing. The new guidance lists a range of possible measures to achieve this; such as school streets, temporary cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic
“During the lockdown period, residential streets across the borough have seen a significant reduction in traffic levels and increases in the number of people walking and cycling, both for exercise and everyday local journeys. Weekly transport data released by the government demonstrates the level of change across various transport modes throughout the lockdown period. While ‘all motor’ vehicle trips declined significantly, the data shows that as of early June, this is already back to nearly 70% of pre-lockdown traffic levels. With public transport capacity significantly reduced for the foreseeable future, and a greater number of people returning to work, the concern is that the south Chiswick area will begin to see a significant rise in traffic volumes and as a result the benefits residents have experienced through quieter and safer streets risk being lost, while greatly discouraging active modes of travel.”
He defended the council’s original consultation although admitted that a proportion of the community had not yet had any input into the project and said that the engagement process would continue with ongoing communication and consultation still planned during the trial period. The council plan to write to everyone in the affected area about the plans.
The measures that are to be introduced include making Thames Road access only controlled by automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR), restricting access to the A4 from Havard Hill, introducing a range of school streets which will restrict vehicle access to local schools during drop off and pick up times, a ‘diagonal road closure’ at the Staveley Road/Park Road junction. Northbound traffic on Hartington Road is to be restricted to residents only.
The details of the measures are as follows:
• Strand on The Green / Thames Road: An access only zone to prevent through traffic. The zone is proposed to stretch from the Kew Bridge / Strand on The Green junction, to the junction of Grove Park Terrace / Grove Park Road. Vehicles would be allowed to enter the zone to access residential properties and businesses in the area unchanged, but not to pass through both points as part of a longer journey. This would be monitored by automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) at both entry and exit points to the zone, to enforce against any traffic trying to make a through movement. The feasibility and design work for this scheme is ongoing, details of which will be provided to residents prior to the trial commencing.
Dan Mason Drive has already been closed to traffic underneath railway line, and access to the South Circular (A205) had been restricted from Stile Hall Gardens and Wellesley Road.
The proposals have received support from some residents and Sam Hearn, Conservatives spokesperson on transport described them as radical and innovative. He said, “The need to introduce traffic management measures to stop Chiswick being in continual gridlock has become more urgent as the lockdown eases.”
A spokesperson for the Strand on the Green Association (SoGA) responding specifically to the Thames Road access only proposal said, “Hounslow Council has produced a balanced Chiswick Riverside Liveable Neighbourhood Report based on a community survey taken in September 2019 and the UK Government Covid-19 guidance for local authorities. A section of the Report recommends ‘An Access only arrangement’ in Thames Road to deter rat running traffic. SoGA endorses this recommendation based on positive comments made by residents. It is intended to implement the scheme between now and September under a TPO (Temporary Traffic Order) for a trial period of 6 months with the use of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Registration) cameras at access and exit points to Thames Road one at the junction of Kew Bridge/Strand on the Green at the west end and one at the junction of Grove Park Terrace/Grove Park Road at the east end. Residents and their visitors tradespeople and deliveries into Thames Road and the side roads running off it will notice no difference to their access and will not have to register their licence plates.
“All vehicles will be deterred from using Thames Road as a rat run. Additionally Hartington Road will be northbound ‘Access only’ from the A316 controlled by ANPRs. Riverside residents coming off the A316 will not be able to pass through to Thames Road and will have to use Staveley Road or Burlington Lane for access. They will still be able to exit onto the A316 via Hartington Road. These are two of ten priority traffic schemes for the area with a number of other longer term priorities listed in the report. The 6 month TPO will allow residents and those businesses schools and local groups not included in the current scheme to submit feedback in the light of practical experience. The changes will mean all residents having to reroute some of their journeys.”
The Council ran a public consultation in late 2019 and collected data on traffic volumes, speeds and movements across the area. They say the feedback from residents, schools, businesses and local community groups has been reviewed along with the traffic data and a series of trial measures has now been brought forward as part of the Council’s Streetspace project.
It is intended that the first of these proposals are introduced from the end of June, with all measures being in place by September. This is subject to funding being secured from Transport for London. All measures are proposed to be trialled for a minimum of 6 months. The project website also contains more information on the consultation results, the traffic data collected and the explains the proposed measures in more detail.
June 14, 2020