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Greenwich Council announces imminent plans for West and East Greenwich LTN rollout

Crooms Hill in Greenwich, London

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has officially announced its intention to introduce an experimental traffic order (ETO) for a series of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) across West and East Greenwich.

Announcement of the £3.1m scheme, which will see the council contribute £1m and Transport for London £2.1m, comes at the same time the council has announced having to make over £30m in cuts across the borough this year, including a cutback in school crossing patrols and a reduction in opening hours for libraries and leisure centres. A 4.99 per cent rise in council tax will also be announced in April.

A report, published quietly on the council’s website on Friday evening, has revealed that plans will mirror two of five options presented during the scheme's consultation last August, which were overwhelmingly rejected by residents at the time.

West Greenwich will be divided into four separate, coloured zones (blue, light blue, red and pink, below) and vehicles will be prevented from passing from zone to zone during the proposed hours of 7am - 10am and 3pm - 7pm without being fined through the council's use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras that will be installed across each zone.

Restrictions will only be in place on weekdays, Monday to Friday.

West Greenwich Option A

Roads affected include Crooms Hill, Hyde Vale, Point Hill, Maidenstone Hill and Royal Hill. Burney Street will be turned into one way, providing access only from Stockwell Street, while Gloucester Circus will be reopened to through traffic. King George Street, which is currently one way, will be changed to allow traffic to travel in both directions.

Similarly, in East Greenwich, seven coloured zones will be introduced and prevent vehicles from travelling from top to bottom of all hills in the area. Strangely, access from one end of St John’s Park, in Blackheath, will also be prohibited by way of ANPR, with vehicles accessing unadopted road, Langton Way, the council’s preferred option according to plans pictured below.

Bus gates will be implemented on Vanbrugh Hill and towards the bottom of Westcombe Hill, close to where the railway line passes through each area.

Unlike during its last failed scheme, introduced in August 2020 and disbanded in March 2022, the council does actually seem to have learned from some of its mistakes, and exemptions for Blue Badge holders (who complete an application), Special Education Needs (SEN) and disability transport providers, mini cabs, taxis and professional carers will be provided.

Option A for East Greenwich LTN

Applications for exemption will also be considered for people without Blue Badges, but with exceptional circumstances, such as people who suffer from conditions which may cause ‘overwhelming psychological distress’ from sitting in re-routed traffic, or those with chronic health conditions that are exacerbated from sitting in a vehicle for extended periods of time.

Reasons for the council’s decision to consider those with protected characteristics may hark back to one of the reasons why the last scheme was disbanded, due to the way it discriminated against many.

Questions remain how other people with different protected characteristics, including elderly residents, pregnant women and parents with small children will manage to travel without being impacted, as well as small, local businesses that offer delivery services or depend on their vehicles to transport heavy equipment and machinery.

The council also seems to have listened to concerns expressed by emergency services, and has stated hard closures will be replaced with ANPR 'where feasible'. Its willingness to listen to emergency services comes as a surprise, considering officers didn't even consult with them until after the consultation they claimed was 'open to all' had been closed.

Concerns remain, however, over how displaced traffic outside the LTNs on boundary roads will impact emergency services travel times to and from emergencies.

Averil Lekau

The scheme, which will be formally confirmed next week by main decision-maker and Cabinet member for climate change environment and transport, Averil Lekau (above), who doesn't reside anywhere near Greenwich, looks set to divide the community even more than it did last time due to its expansion across both sides of Greenwich Park.

Many continue to question the impact it will have on the only hill to remain open in Greenwich, Blackheath Hill, which already accommodates over 32,000 vehicles each day according to the council’s own figures, while representing one of the highest densities of social housing tenants in the borough.

Concern has also been expressed by residents in neighbouring Charlton, who will potentially bear the brunt of displaced traffic, including along one of the proposed boundary roads, Victoria Way, where Fossdene Primary School - which knew nothing about the scheme until contacted by OneGreenwich - is situated.

Also puzzling is the council’s choice of roads it has decided to make 'safer and greener', while seemingly ignoring some of the most dangerous and polluted roads in the borough, including Trafalgar Road and Woolwich Road - all in close proximity to where LTNs will be implemented on far safer roads, a stone's throw away from Greenwich Park.

The option chosen for East Greenwich was vehemently opposed by the Westcombe Society previously, stating that traffic would likely increase on others roads, in particular at the southern end of the area. The Greenwich Society, meanwhile, remained neutral in its stance.

The ETO across West and East Greenwich will remain in place for a maximum period of 18 months, during which time, the council has said, the effect of the LTNs will be measured.

Whether residents will see an increase of displaced traffic by up to 27 per cent, similar to last time as stated in the council's own decision report, remains to be seen.

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