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Southwark council scraps plans for low-traffic neighbourhood after backlash from residents

Cyclists using Stoke Newington Church Street, where a low traffic neighbourhood has been introduced (Hackney Council)
Cyclists using Stoke Newington Church Street, where a low traffic neighbourhood has been introduced (Hackney Council)

Southwark council has been forced to scrap plans to introduce a new low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) following a backlash from residents.

Council chiefs had planned to add an LTN in Dulwich Village in a bid to close a busy junction near Turney Road.

The Labour authority said the proposal would help make the area the “safest, most accessible space for people walking and using mobility aids, and cyclists” and “create more of a village feel”, The Daily Telegraph reported.

However, the council faced a backlash from local disabled groups as blue badge holders and disabled motorists were not due to be exempted.

The council has been forced to scrap the idea after residents bombarded them with angry responses.

An official survey of 1,242 residents found “limited support for all three objectives” behind the closure, with just 33 per cent showing support.

Richard Aldwinckle, co-founder of One Dulwich which helped lead the campaign to oppose the LTN, told the newspaper: “This is a victory for common sense, although Southwark council continue to ignore the wishes of the majority of people in Dulwich who voted for the other side of this junction to be reopened.

“It’s time the council stopped telling residents it’s for our own good and, instead, come up with a better and fairer scheme that doesn’t displace traffic, doesn’t discriminate against vulnerable, vehicle-dependent road users, and doesn’t damage local shops and businesses.”

Almost 100 LTNS were introduced by borough councils in the year following the start of the pandemic but they have divided communities, with some demanding their removal and others their retention.

Councillor James McAsh, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, Clean Air & Streets, said: “After careful consideration of local traffic data, we have made the decision to retain vehicle access at the Turney Road location for now. To be clear, this is not a new low traffic neighbourhood scheme but a continuation of an existing programme of works at the site.

“We remain steadfast in our borough-wide commitment to improving air quality and lowering emission levels; reducing traffic levels; and promoting alternative travel options such as cycling and walking, but understand the importance of striking the right balance that takes into the views of our diverse community.

“We will now pursue other opportunities to improve the Turney Road environment between Boxall Road and Dulwich Village to support the needs of local pupils, pedestrians, and cyclists. We hope to do this in collaboration with local people to make sure new arrangements work for Dulwich residents”.