• Norwood Forum

Community Conversation no. 2 Monday 6 July 2020: Clean Air and Quiet Neighbourhoods - Issues discussed

Issues discused are set out below.

Lambeth Council
Simon Phillips, Lambeth Transport Manager - Lambeth Transport Strategy including the Low Traffic Neighbourhood and Quietway initiatives
Councillor Jackie Meldrum: Knights Hill Ward, general, air monitoring
Councillor Pete Elliott: Gipsy Hill Ward, general, air monitoring

Trains/Railway Stations
Gipsy Hill: Emlu Schembri, Friends of Gipsy Hill: friends/railway station, community engagement, clean air
Tulse Hill: Steve Fleming, Station Manager, Tulse Hill
West Norwood: Tim Bellenger, friends/clean air

Clean Air/Environment
Tom Venables - Norwood Planning Assembly, Green Town Norwood/clean air/environment
Thomas Denhof - Open Orchard, clean air/environment

Clare Neely, Lambeth Cyclists: Lambeth's branch of the London Cycling Campaign

Business Support
Charlotte Ashworth, Station to Station West Norwood to Tulse Hill

The issue of air pollution had been debated at the Clean Air public meeting on 24 September 2019. As part of the evidence gathering to support the Norwood Planning Assembly (NPA) emerging Green Town Plan policies on air pollution, a “citizens science experiment” to measure levels of Nitrous Oxide around our neighbourhood had been conducted. Potential illegal levels of Nitrous Oxide along main roads within Norwood had been found. See the NPA web page here.

The following issues were discussed by the participants: 

  • Reducing all types of motor vehicle useage was essential; traffic was now getting back towards normal pre-COVID levels. Even electric vehicles were polluting through the emission of brake particles.
  • Measures to reduce the speed of traffic. Fast moving traffic increased air pollution through acceleration and braking. The Council was lobbying to transfer traffic speed enforcement powers from the Police (who did not have the resources) to local government. Other measures such as speed bumps were difficult on main roads due to the needs of emergency services and were of limited success. The criteria for speed cameras prevented wide scale implementation.
  • Increased awareness of the type of road journeys undertaken through publication of journey data (a high percentage of local journeys by car were short journeys).
  • Studies showed air pollution disproportionately affected people on a low income; local car ownership was lower than the norm.
  • Road useage need to be transferred from private motor vehicle useage to cycling and walking, e.g. through cycle lanes and traffic barriers (which stop motor vehicles, not cyclists or pedestrians). The Waltham Forest mini Holland scheme was commended.
  • Provision of secure cycle parking facilities in roads and council estates. The Council cycle hanger scheme had a considerable waiting list (each hanger cost circa £5,000). Limited additional emergency funds had been sought from TfL and more would be rolled out in the summer, but demand exceeded supply and this had increased significantly since the pandemic. Groups of local people making an application together would assist.
  • The TfL Rosendale Road Quietway scheme was currently not funded; the public consultation outcomes report had not yet been published. Funding had been obtained though for temporary implementation (through barriers etc) of the scheme subject to consultation, and the scheme was currently being worked up.  It was suggested that road narrowing should be possible without adversely affecting emergency vehicles.
  • Temporary traffic reduction measures around schools were being considered by the Council (using cones – similar to play streets).
  • Promoting car clubs.
  • The pandemic has led to a great increase in the use of local shops, much of which should be sustained as people were likely to travel less to work in central London for the foreseeable future. Enabling people to shop local by walking or cycling would promote local prosperity and better health.
  • Provision of more cycle racks at all local stations; demand was beginning to exceed supply even though passenger numbers were well below pre-pandemic levels but gradually rising. Abandoned bikes had just been removed from the West Norwood station platform racks.
  • Bringing air pollution issues to the forefront of the consideration of planning applications. The Windsor Grove metal recycling planning application had attracted a huge number of written objections. The date for the Lambeth Planning Applications Committee consideration of the application is awaited.
  • More community initiatives such as Bzz garage and the Poetry Slabs catalytic poetry installation should be supported.
  • Lambeth Council was proposing the installation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in seven areas through temporary restrictions etc where proposals received local support. The Oval Triangle and Railton Road LTNs had been installed. Not all funding was in place, and the Tulse Hill scheme was not yet designed. Signage rather than physical barriers was used (with camera enforcement) where emergency services had yet to give agreement. See also Lambeth Living Streets tweet here for benefits for those both living in and areas bordering LTNs. An earlier proposal for a LTN in the residential area bounded by Leigham Court Road, Norwood Road and Knights Hill had not attracted local support at the time, but this could be revisited.
  • Tulse Hill gyratory: due to the cuts in TfL funding the gyratory removal was currently not funded. Could consideration be given to seeking funding temporary implementation on this major arterial route? London was a unique major city in the world where road improvements were funded through public transport fare income.
  • A focus on cheaper and temporary traffic calming schemes might result in better success in the current environment.

In conclusion the participants were asked to suggest one improvement they would prioritise for the future for Norwood:

Clare Neely: filtering out rat running motorised traffic in residential roads (motor traffic evaporation), in order to encourage cycling and walking facilities and a reprioritising of road use.

Tim Bellenger: close Cotswold Street to motorised traffic to create safe access to West Norwood station.

Councillor Pete Elliott: a network of main roads with all side roads and residential areas designated as LTNs, and an end to the demolition of Central Hill estate.

Thomas Denhof: a focus on bold experimental schemes installed temporarily to give local people experience of the proposal and decision-making powers.

Steve Fleming: more closure of roads to motorised through traffic.

Charlotte Ashworth: a brave national government strategy to prohibit motorised traffic from certain areas to address climate change.

Emlu Schembri: especially supportive of the measures suggested by Charlotte Ashworth and Councillor Pete Elliott; also simplify street party arrangements etc for local communities to be bold and test measures. 

Tom Venables: echo previous comments, if Norwood Road could not be closed to private motorised vehicles, cycle lanes should be installed.

Councillor Jackie Meldrum: measures to persuade people to reduce motorised traffic journeys e.g. through closing streets around local schools and the promotion of car clubs.

Simon Phillips: it was great to hear the great ideas suggested and the appetite for change in Norwood. The Council had limited resources and its role was simplified where local people mobilised together to prove the need and local demand for schemes.

Norwood Forum would like to thank everyone who took part in the meeting for all their contributions, and all those watching on Facebook for their helpful ideas and comments which were fed into the discussion during the meeting as far as possible. We will follow up issues raised with the participants to ensure matters are progressed for the benefit of Norwood.