- Greenwich Council is consulting on effectively bringing back its low traffic neighbourhood in west Greenwich
- the council has also revived plans to do the same between Maze Hill and Westcombe Hill, with new measures to stop rat-running in St John's Park
- taken together, the plan would end all cut-throughs between Greenwich South Street and the A102
- the plans follow antisocial behaviour from drivers and queues on streets such as Crooms Hill and Vanbrugh Hill, but there are worries that sat-navs will take drivers down streets in Charlton instead
- an online consultation is now open
Just 18 months after scrapping the west Greenwich low-traffic neighbourhood, Greenwich Council is proposing bringing it back – but this time as part of measures to cut through traffic on both sides of Greenwich Park.
A consultation opened on Monday evening, but went largely unnoticed on social media with the council preferring to use the term “neighbourhood improvements”.
The announcement is likely to reignite a huge row over how the area’s chronic congestion should be dealt with, particularly after Rishi Sunak’s decision to launch a review of low-traffic neighbourhoods, which have been in place in many areas – including parts of Greenwich – for decades to protect residential streets from excessive through traffic.
But it will also please locals who have long complained about antisocial behaviour from drivers who were using their streets to avoid the A2, including dangerous driving and verbal abuse.
Streets on the west side of the park were blocked to vehicles in the summer of 2020 to curb rat-running in streets such as Crooms Hill and Point Hill. The scheme was also to encourage walking and cycling in the wake of the pandemic, although it had been planned for long before that.
But residents on the east side of Greenwich Park then complained that their streets were being used as rush-hour cut-throughs – with videos circulating on social media of drivers speeding the wrong way down Vanbrugh Hill and abusing residents.
The fiasco almost backfired on the Labour-run council, with the Green party just 68 votes short of getting their first councillor in East Greenwich. Danny Thorpe, the council leader at the time, was ousted shortly after.
Residents on both sides of the park, meanwhile, were still stuck with rat-running traffic.
Now the plans are back under Thorpe’s successor Anthony Okereke, with a pair of options for west Greenwich and a pair for east Greenwich and the Westcombe Park area of Blackheath – both stretching between the A206 and A2.
One option for west Greenwich effectively resurrects the low-traffic neighbourhood scrapped under Thorpe with a mixture of cameras and bollards. The second option is simpler and uses cameras at the junctions with the A2 to stop drivers cutting through.
East of the park, the scheme is largely similar to the one scrapped last year but covers a wider area. The first option includes camera filters on Halstow Road at the railway line and Maze Hill/Westcombe Park Road junction, bus gates on Westcombe Hill and Vanbrugh Hill at the railway line, and bollards on the stretch of Maze Hill that crosses Blackheath and at each end of St John’s Park.
The second option involves making parts of Vanbrugh Hill and Westcombe Hill one-way streets for through traffic, another one-way bus gate on Westcombe Park Road and making St John’s Park westbound only, along with a camera filter on Halstow Road and bollards at the southern end of Mycenae Road.
Where cameras are used to control traffic, the council says that emergency vehicles, refuse vehicles and taxis will have unrestricted access, while Blue Badge holders – including children – who live in those specific areas will be able to apply for exemptions.
The proposals do not cover the Cycleway 4 extension along Trafalgar Road and Woolwich Road, which is subject to a separate, lengthy consultation about its future.
With Greenwich Park already banning through traffic, the proposals will effectively create the biggest low-traffic neighbourhood in SE London since Lewisham Council introduced its “healthy neighbourhood” in Lee and Hither Green in 2020. The scheme was partly rolled back after a few months because of traffic problems on the neighbouring South Circular, but key elements remains in place.
There will also be some nervousness in parts of Charlton about the proposals, with streets such Eastcombe Avenue, Victoria Way and Marlborough Lane already frequently used as cut-throughs. These areas do not feature in the consultation; nor does Banchory Road in Blackheath, used as a shortcut by lorries heading to a nearby police car pound.
Averil Lekau, the council’s deputy leader, said: “We believe that by working closely with the community, we can create an effective, well-balanced design that addresses their concerns about congestion, safety and poor air quality, and builds a sustainable, inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.
“This next stage of consultation marks an important milestone, as the community’s feedback is critical. The health and wellbeing of our residents is at the heart of this project, and their invaluable input will help shape a safer and more vibrant future for west and east Greenwich.
“All addresses would be accessible by vehicle at all times in every option, however drivers may have to take a different route. This includes deliveries, taxis, emergency vehicles and waste collection vehicles.”
The consultation is now open at greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is.