London Fields on lockdown: 16 road closures on the cards
London Fields is set for lockdown, as Hackney Council is trialling closing off 16 roads to through traffic without holding a consultation beforehand.
Residents are divided on the plans, with supporters signing a petition calling for “greener streets”, while others who are up in arms about displaced traffic causing more pollution have set up a counter-petition.
The council has dubbed the project, which is set to go live in January for three months, “one of the largest and most progressive of its kind in London”.
It says it will deal with rat-running and “high volumes of non-local motor traffic using the residential streets”, thus reducing pollution.
Planters filled with winter flowers, shrubs, and trees will block off traffic and be located in streets between Richmond Road in the north and Scriven Road in the south, and Lansdowne Drive in the east and Haggerston Road in the west, affecting an area of roughly one square kilometre.
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The move follows plans to block traffic in seven streets in neighbouring De Beauvoir.
Some residents claim the council is trying to solve a non-existent problem and have called on it to release the results of a traffic survey completed in April.
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The Gazette asked to see the survey but was told it was in a format “only meaningful to transport bods”, and that the general public’s version was not yet ready for release.
Mike Hood, who lives in Malvern Road, started up the petition against the plans, and is angry the council did not consult before introducing the trial.
“The neighbourhoods cabinet member Feryal Dermici seems to be on a grinding mission to bring Hackney to a halt,” he said.
“They say there is rat running going on and it’s necessary to close all the streets off. I don’t believe it’s true. At the moment, with all the streets open, you get a fair spread of traffic going right across.
“This scheme will force traffic on to Lansdowne Drive and Richmond Road, They are all bus routes, the impact will be longer journeys, people will drive around the blockade to get where they want to go. I don’t buy into the fact it will reduce pollution.”
Mr Hood is also concerned about the impact on emergency services.
“It will be difficult for a fire engine to get down some of the roads they are blocking off, there is no turning space for a fire engine, it will be the same for the refuse truck,” he said.
“I take issue with the council and they way they have mishandled this. They have said all along they would consult with residents and businesses and then go forward with a trial period.”
Meanwhile Ben Alden-Falconer, 26, from Middleton Road, supports the project. He said: “It is brilliant that the council is taking action to try and reduce pollution in one of London’s most polluted boroughs.
“Running a three-month trial of the scheme is a brilliant way of allowing residents to experience the scheme in practice, then give informed feedback during the consultation.
“My neighbours and I want streets where children can play out without fear of danger and pollution, where there are more flowers and trees, and where everyone – from school children to pensioners – can walk, scoot, and cycle in comfort and safety.”
A spokesman for the council said: “While some motor journeys might become slightly longer, we believe the net effect of the scheme will be to encourage more walking and cycling, providing a long-term reduction in air pollution.
“There is a potential for traffic to displace into nearby streets. However, many journeys originate outside the immediate area and we predict a lot of people will avoid the neighbourhood completely.”
The plans will be discussed at the next ward forum meeting on November 12, at the Queensbridge Community Hall in Holly Street.