Interim Review Shows Huge Opposition To Streetspace Schemes
Traffic consultant's reports makes uncomfortable reading for council
The publication of the interim reports by transport consultant Steer has confirmed a very high level of opposition to Hounslow Council’s Streetspace schemes from residents in the Chiswick area.
The independent reports were commissioned by the council with over 10,000 responses provided by residents concerning recently introduced traffic measures across the borough. The level of opposition is likely to put further pressure on the council to unwind more of the schemes implemented last year. The scrapping of some measures has already been announced.
Across the 27 measures that were covered by the survey opposition ranged from 57% to 92% depending on the scheme with the proportion calling for trials to be stopped immediately varying from 50% to 88%. The now scrapped Turnham Green Terrace closure was the least popular scheme according to the analysis.
Steer notes that it takes time for transport scheme to reach a ‘steady state’ as users of the transport system need to explore various options and adjust their habits in response to changed conditions. The consultant is to prepare a full report on the schemes being continued by the council at a later date.
Steer acknowledged that any conclusions about the effect of the council’s measures had to be considered in the context of a significant decline in traffic across the borough for the period during which the analysis was done. Overall, traffic on the borough’s distributor roads was down significantly during the time of the review although local and residential roads have been less affected.
Steer did not attempt to separate the impact of Covid-19 reductions in traffic and Streetpace measures on air quality as any affects were likely to be masked. It states that the suddenness of the Secretary of State’s May 2020 directive under which many of the Streetspace measures were undertaken meant that there was no ability to undertake “before” surveys of air quality on the roads affected to establish baselines against which “after” surveys could be measured.
The South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme including the restrictions on Staveley Road and Hartington Road was not considered by the report and temporary Cycleway 9 was only covered incidentally as their interim review is at a later date.
In ‘Chiswick North’ defined as the area north of the A4 the council has already decided to permanently scrap the restriction on traffic in Turnham Green Terrace. Steer concluded that the north/south restriction on the Terrace was displacing traffic to Goldhawk Road and Acton Lane.
The report states that the number of longer distance trips using Turnham Green Terrace and Fisher’s Lane have been reduced by the measures but goes onto say, “It appears that traffic flows on Bath Road are slightly higher than would be expected relative to borough-wide trends. However, it is difficult to conclusively say whether this is due to the scheme or caused by other factors.”
Steer analysed the responses on Hounslow Council’s Citizenspace platform of there were 2582 concerning the Turnham Green Terrace closure. Of these 89% strongly opposed the measure with another 3% somewhat opposed.
Although the closure of Fisher’s Lane is a London Borough of Ealing measure, Steer analysed the results of feedback on the Citizenspace platform. There were 1,124 responses about Fisher’s Lane, 88% of which strongly opposed it with 3% somewhat opposed. Analysis has showed that the date of response had little influence on feelings about the measure or its future.
The closure of Devonshire Road was opposed by 86% of the 659 respondents with 14% in favour. The primary area of concern was the measure’s impact on the independent shops located on Devonshire Road, largely due to perceptions of decreased footfall, brought about by the removal of vehicle access and parking on the street. Some respondents expressed concern that the removal of vehicle access makes shopping on Devonshire Road unattractive.
88% of the 137 people who responded specifically on the measure to restrict access from Chiswick High Road onto Duke Road were strongly opposed to the measure with just 9% indicating some measure of support. The primary areas of concern were increased congestion on surrounding roads causing longer journey times and the resultant impact on air quality.
246 people responded specifically to the survey on the closure of access to the A4 from Harvard Hill with 62% either strongly or somewhat opposed and 37% strongly or somewhat in favour. Steer’s analysis suggested the measure has significantly reduced traffic around Harvard Hill but may have contributed to an increase in traffic on Thames Road and Strand on the Green.
The positioning of a planter on Dan Mason Drive to stop traffic using the railway underpass was comparatively less unpopular with 57% strongly opposed and 7% somewhat opposed out of 200 respondents. Half said it should be removed immediately with another 10% saying it should be scrapped at the end of the trial period. 30% wanted the measure put in place permanently. Steer’s analysis found no evidence of displaced traffic due to the measure.
The council have decided to make the closure of access to traffic to the South Circular from Wellesley Road permanent. The measure was included in the survey with 62% of 170 respondents opposed to some degree most of them referring to increased congestion on surrounding roads, notably Oxford Road North and Chiswick High Road.
Steer found a consistent increase in bus journey times throughout the day on weekdays on Chiswick High Road and for the afternoon peak on Saturday although while Turnham Green Terrace was closed to general traffic there was an improvement in southbound journey times for buses using this route.
For access to the A4 the report concludes that vehicles travelling south have generally been displaced from alternative routes onto Sutton Court Road. The volume of traffic using these routes overall is down. It thought possible that displaced traffic from restrictions on Duke Road and Devonshire Road has also contributed to the increase in traffic on Sutton Court Road.
Hounslow Council also has given consideration of exemption for Blue Badge holders from some prohibited traffic movements. It was decided not to do this because of difficulties in determining whether or not the Blue Badge holder was in the vehicle to be exempt from any moving traffic offence.
A spokesperson for the Hounslow Cycling Campaign said the group was still reviewing the large amount of information contained in the reports adding, “Certainly at first glance it is good news that the data does not appear to indicate increased pollution and congestion which were two of the main objections to all of the schemes.
“The data confirmed Fisher’s Lane as primarily a through route for traffic from Acton and Shepherd’s Bush to the A4. We fully support keeping it closed to traffic except buses as a north-south cycling and walking link between Ealing and Chiswick High Rd and Cycleway 9. Enforcement needs to be improved, however.
“The junction of Fisher’s Lane and Chiswick High Road had the highest numbers of pedestrian casualties in Chiswick caused by collisions with motor vehicles so keeping it closed represents a major safety benefit.
“Devonshire Road is being transformed into a vibrant street for people rather than parking and cars driving through. We have been asking for two way cycling on Devonshire Rd for some time and this should be put in place permanently as part of the street’s transformation (except when there are events such as markets).”
Councillor Sam Hearn was exasperated by the council's claim that the changes were a result of it listening to residents' concerns. He said, “If Labour are listening to what residents are telling them then I am a banana. Let us be very clear, what Hounslow are engaged in is a classic face-saving exercise as the result of a self-inflicted public relations disaster. Several London Councils have already removed all or most their temporary Covid-related traffic schemes. Why does Hounslow not do the same or at least move rapidly to a full public consultation?”
The Conservative group praised council officers for regularly making site visits to Chiswick and taking on board issues raised by local ward councillors but accused elected cabinet members of consistently refusing invitations to see their traffic measures in action and failing to answer the most basic questions about the schemes.
A statement by the Park Road Neighbours Group said, "As the Park Road Neighbours Group we expected that residents and businesses across Chiswick would vote resoundingly against all the Hounslow Streetspace Schemes. It should be clear to the Council that they have. The Council needs to listen to the many who have voted against these schemes not the few.
"All of these schemes should be stopped and reversed with immediate effect.
We have already called on the Council to remove the Staveley Road/Park Road Barrier by the 21 "June. Once again we call on them to do so and stop wasting Council taxpayers' money."
The final review for the schemes will be published in July 2021, along with decisions about which schemes will be made permanent.
May 22, 2021