'It's horrifying': Stoke Newington responds to LTN plan

Part of Church Street is set to become restricted to traffic.

Part of Church Street is set to become restricted to traffic. - Credit: Clementine Scott

Reactions from Stoke Newington business owners to the proposed daytime closure of Church Street to through traffic have been overwhelmingly negative, citing potential difficulties with deliveries and reduced numbers of customers.

Starting from September 20, a bus gate will be installed outside the Red Lion and the provision will operate from 7am-7pm, with camera enforcement. Only buses, cyclists, emergency vehicles and blue badge holders will be allowed through at the time throughout the trial period.  

Staff at Bridgewood & Neitzert are worried about how deliveries could be affected by the scheme.

Staff at Bridgewood & Neitzert are worried about how deliveries could be affected by the scheme. - Credit: Clementine Scott

Hackney Council has said the measures will help decrease pollution but some local businesses have criticised the move.

Burcin, the manager of Church Street Dry Cleaners who did not wish to give his surname, called the proposed changes “horrifying”. 

“After Covid, we’re just trying to get our customers back and survive,” he said.

“But with the closures, I drive around to deliver clothes locally, especially to the old and disabled, how am I supposed to do that?”

This view was echoed by the assistant manager of the Mind charity shop, Claire Tait, who argued that while the restrictions might increase foot traffic to the shop, “they will impact people giving donations, who all park outside the shop — if they can’t access the road between 7am and 7pm, they can’t access our shop.” 

Andrea Derdak, a shop assistant at Bridgewood & Neitzert, a stringed instrument repair shop, predicted a similar struggle with receiving deliveries.

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“We have families, so we can’t take deliveries before 7am or after 7pm. Some people [collecting instruments] aren’t so mobile and will need taxis, but they’ll now have to park around the corner.”

The news comes after the shop was already affected by the introduction of a double yellow line restricting parking directly outside. 

Local deli manager Leyla felt “reassured” that the closures will affect her shop to a lesser degree than others, but also said that “we should have been informed, I only heard from the councillors an hour ago.”

A map of the plans for Stoke Newington low traffic neighbourhood

A map of the plans for Stoke Newington low traffic neighbourhood - Credit: Hackney Council

The scheme follows engagement with residents in the Stoke Newington area in 2019 and last year, with many identifying traffic and air quality as significant issues in the area.

The restriction has been implemented on a trial basis under an experimental traffic order, with residents able to have their say online or in writing.

Agathe Max, another assistant at Bridgewood & Neitzert, agrees that “it’s odd that this is happening without much information given to or consultation with shops, it’s an experiment lasting eighteen months.”

Some residents are more positive. 

Keave Perera, an assistant at a gift shop and a local resident, is “pretty positive” about the changes. 

She said: “Church Street will be better off, as a cyclist and pedestrian that junction outside the Red Lion is so hazardous with deliveries and taxi drivers.”

Cllr Mete Coban, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm, said: “We have been speaking to residents and businesses for the past two years about reducing traffic and improving air quality in Stoke Newington, and designed the scheme following their feedback. The scheme will stop daytime through-traffic from passing through a single bus gate outside the Red Lion but, crucially, it maintains vehicle access to all businesses at all times.

“We want to support businesses as they recover from the pandemic - with the Stoke Newington LTN aimed squarely at increasing footfall and creating a better environment for people to shop locally.

"By announcing the scheme earlier this month, we have allowed for time to speak to businesses further and clarify that existing loading arrangements are largely unaffected. This builds on surveys that we conducted last year asking businesses about their deliveries. We’ve been out on Church Street talking to residents and businesses about the changes this week and I’d urge anyone who wants to discuss the scheme to get in touch with me.

“We have distributed 13,000 leaflets to residents and businesses across the Stoke Newington area this week and will continue to engage with people in the area in the coming weeks. Online engagement on the scheme will open from 20 September.”

Find out more at hackney.gov.uk/stoke-newington-ltn

- The first line of this story has been changed to read closed to through traffic. The original version implied it was all vehicles. The Gazette is happy to set the record straight.