South Chiswick Being Made Unliveable Say Councillors

Letter written to council leader asking that traffic measures be reconsidered

Traffic on Hartington Road


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The three ward councillors representing Chiswick Riverside ward have written to Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran to express their concerns about the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood plan.

Cllrs Mike Denniss, Gabriella Giles and Sam Hearn say in their letter, “We fully support measures designed to reduce the scourge of commuter rat-running and speeding, and which will encourage those residents (who are able), to make short journeys on foot or by bike rather than by car.

“The imposition of far reaching and complex measures that have not been the subject of a full public consultation goes against all this Council’s public declarations that it listens to and gives due attention to residents’ views. It is deeply cynical to hide behind Covid-19 legislation to impose wide-ranging and arbitrary measures that do not have wide public support and which largely predate the pandemic. “

The councillors say that the measures threaten to “transform South Chiswick into an unliveable neighbourhood for many residents.”

They say they are raising concerns on behalf of the many residents that had contacted them and that it is ‘illogical’ to implement measures that will force residents leaving or returning to the area by car to make unnecessary detours along quiet residential streets or indeed along already congested major roads. They add that residents have told them that they have been infuriated by a lack of a convincing explanation from council officers why specific measures are necessary and that the officers simply claim that the detours are not long in terms of distance or journey time.

Speaking for all the councillors, Sam Hearn, who is also the Conservative Group Spokesperson on Transport, said, “Despite extensive discussions with the Council, we have been unable to achieve meaningful amendments to these far-reaching and complex changes to the road network except those for Edensor Road. That is why we have written today to Cllr Steve Curran asking him to intervene. There is no shame in admitting that you have got something wrong and need to pause while reconsidering. We stand ready to help him and his colleagues get the measures right first-time”.

As well as the lack of full public consultation, an alleged failure to deal with excessive vehicle speeds is raised and it is contended that no attempt has been made to counter the south-north movements in the area during the evening rush hour with only north-south traffic being addressed.

It is further claimed that the ‘complex package of measures’ have been drawn up without and detailed traffic modelling and therefore they have failed to recognise that 40% of traffic on some of the busiest roads occurs during the evening rush hour. It is therefore questioned whether 24/7 traffic restrictions are necessary.

The councillors say, “It is unacceptable, even in such unusual times, that such far-reaching measures should be introduced without detailed modelling of their likely impact.”

They also query how the success or failures of the schemes will be measured when they come to be reviewed in three and six months and how a reversal of failed schemes might be funded.

The letter states, “The base line vehicle metrics used to inform the design of the proposed measures were collected in November 2019 i.e. pre-Covid 19 and before people had adopted new attitudes to commuting, working from home, cycling and walking. As a bare minimum, new data is needed before the measures are implemented. How else can their success be measured? Would it not be sensible to introduce most of these measures when we have a better idea of how driving behaviour has adapted to the ‘new normal’ and pupils have returned to school?”

The Council is accused of ‘collective amensia’ for disregarding key improvements needed in the area and it is questioned why substantial sums can be found for the pedestrian walkway under Barnes Bridge but not for the Grove Park Piazza or the redesign of the Grove Park Gardens/Grove Park Bridge/Grove Park Road junction.

It is accepted that the proposed school street measures be adopted and that rush hour controls are needed for northbound traffic on Hartington Road but not 24/7 restrictions. The issue of improving the cycleway on Hartington Road was raised previously but council officers said that, although this is much needed, the upgrade is on the back burner.

The councillors say that the access restriction on Strand on the Green will become unnecessary once Hartington Road is blocked. Further they claim that the most common reason for Thames Road becoming blocked is large vehicles meeting head to head where the road is narrow. They propose banning access to Thames Road at Kew Bridge for commercial vehicles travelling east as alternative routes are available.

It is claimed that the School Street planned for the eastern section of Staveley Road will greatly reduce the volume of traffic travelling west along the rest of Staveley Road during the morning rush hour and that this will make the barrier on the Staveley Road/Park Road junction unnecessary. Furthermore the barrier would require the removal of pedestrian refuges which they say will go against the objectives of increasing safety for those walking.

They also argue that the closure of Harvard Hill’s northbound access to the A4 is rendered unnecessary by the restrictions on Hartington Road particularly on a 24/7 basis. It is also queried why resident access has been given to residents needing to use Hartington Road but not to those who use Harvard Hill.

The councillors said they welcomed dialogue on these matters and invited Steve Curran on a private visit to the area.

We asked Hounslow Council for comment. They said the cabinet member for transport, Hanif Khan, would be providing a response in due course.

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August 16, 2020

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