Maze Hill jam
Morning traffic jams are a regular sight on Maze Hill

Relief could be on the way for frustrated residents who live in streets east of Greenwich Park who have endured traffic jams since the introduction of an anti-ratrunning scheme the other side of the park.

Greenwich Council has indicated it could spend some of £711,000 in funding from Transport for London on modal filters to stop drivers from using streets such as Maze Hill as a cut-through between the A2 and A206. A similar scheme has stopped traffic from using Crooms Hill and Royal Hill, west of the park, since August, but has been blamed for persistent jams in streets further east.

Traffic levels across London have soared since the end of the spring lockdown as people avoid public transport, causing jams across the area, and Maze Hill in particular saw stubborn queues before the pandemic. But residents and local councillors have demanded action to fix the jams which clog up the area during the morning rush hour.

“Low-traffic neighbourhoods” have been introduced across London to stop drivers using residential streets as cut-throughs to encourage residents to walk and cycle while public transport use is discouraged during the pandemic. Many – such as the Hills and Vales scheme in west Greenwich – have been adaptations of schemes that were already planned. Often they simply use planters to block roads, but sometimes cameras are used instead to allow buses and other essential vehicles through.

Crooms Hill
On the west side of the park, Crooms Hill has been closed to motor traffic at Stockwell Street

While many residents will be relieved, some drivers will be frustrated to see more disruption to their routes – including those heading to the car-oriented retail parks off the A206 that the same council has allowed to open over the years.

An announcement from Greenwich Council on Friday afternoon said only that it would be “tackling unacceptable levels of through traffic with modal filters” in “Westcombe Park and Maze Hill area; Horn Park; and Woolwich (are likely areas subject to engagement and feasibility)”.

Council leader Danny Thorpe said: “It’s vital we provide safe, car-free alternatives to public transport to avert ‘carmageddon’ and meet our carbon reduction pledges. We expect TfL to confirm the details of our funding in the coming weeks and will start engagement on these schemes as soon as soon as possible after that.”

While creating a low-traffic neighbourhood in the Westcombe Park area would, at minimum, only need four point closures – Maze Hill, Vanburgh Hill, Halstow Road and Westcombe Hill – the area is twice as large as the Hills and Vales scheme. Vanburgh Hill and Westcombe Hill are also bus routes, with the latter also seeing use by commuter coaches. There is also the risk that some traffic, for example, heading to Ikea, could switch to side roads in Charlton – and spark demands for the same treatment there.

TfL analysis showed that Charlton and Woolwich would benefit most from low-traffic neighbourhoods (darker scores are higher, see the full details)

A similar scheme in Lee Green and Hither Green, which used both planters and cameras to stop through traffic running between the A20 and A205, was partially rolled back by Lewisham Council last month to allow one-way traffic on some roads. It is possible the Horn Park scheme could refer to the area around Upwood Road in Lee, where Lewisham placed planters on the borough boundary in June and where Greenwich drew up plans to do the same on neighbouring roads, but no other details have been released.

Analysis published by Transport for London in June and given to boroughs indicated that the area with the most potential for a low-traffic neighbourhood was between the A102 and Woolwich town centre; taking in much of Charlton and the area around Woolwich Dockyard station. This was based on factors including traffic and casualty levels, cycling potential, schools, population density, deprivation and low car ownership.

Point Hill
Point Hill is one of the Greenwich streets closed to vehicles

There were few specifics in Greenwich Council’s announcement, and 853 has contacted the town hall to ask about the fate of its plans to expand protected cycle routes. Other plans include more “school streets” schemes where roads are closed at pick-up and drop-off time; £75,000 apiece for 20mph zones in St John’s Park, Blackheath and Blanmerle Road, New Eltham; £20,000 on schemes to reduce bus delays; £40,000 on making pavements safer for people with disabilities; and £10,000 each on designs for safer streets around Sandy Hill Road, Woolwich and Dreadnought Street in Greenwich, close to the proposed Silvertown Tunnel.

Last month Greenwich Council’s cabinet approved a draft of a climate emergency plan calling for a 45 per cent cut in car use in the borough by 2030; the public will be asked for their views on it in the coming weeks.