London Fields school streets: Hackney Council tries – again – to cut traffic with road closure plans

Traffic queuing in Westgate Street, near London Fields Primary School

Traffic queuing in Westgate Street, near London Fields Primary School - Credit: Kylie Barlow

Hackney Council is consulting on traffic schemes to tackle filthy air outside three London Fields schools – 18 months after bosses were forced to ditch controversial plans to close off 13 back streets in the area.

In May 2016 the council scrapped a set of ambitious proposals to shut off a string of roads in the area after a report found “a high level of opposition from those who would be affected”. Instead, it went ahead with a significantly watered down version of the scheme that merely put in width restrictions at Middleton Road.

But based on meetings with the community in the months since, the council has concluded that there is still an appetite for improving air quality and reducing the impact of traffic in the area. The people affected just have “different views on how to achieve it”.

So the council is now consulting on whether to introduce a “school street” scheme outside London Fields Primary School, which could see all traffic apart from buses banned from Westgate Street between Broadway Market and Sheep Lane during school run times. It could be implemented by February should people support it.

To stop traffic being pushed into the surrounding streets, the council has proposed a “bus gate” in Lansdowne Drive between Trederwen Road and Croston Street. Timings would be subject to consultation and could be limited to school times or rush hours – or even 24 hours a day.

A ban on vehicles turning left into Richmond Road from Mare Street has also been mooted.

The council has conceded that it would be harder to implement a “school street” on Queensbridge Road outside Queensbridge Primary School – because it is part of the designated road network vehicles are encouraged to use in preference to local residential streets.

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Nonetheless, the council wants to “change the nature and feel” of the road outside the school, to discourage speeding and make it safer to cross, and proposals to widen the footpath and plant trees there have been put forward.

Traffic light signals at the junction of Queensbridge Road and Middleton Road – where 11 collisions have been recorded in five years – will also be installed in March.

Meanwhile, a school streets scheme outside Gayhurst Primary School banning traffic from London Fields West Side and Gayhurst Road during the school run is set to be implemented in February, having been supported by 80 per cent of people in a consultation.

You can respond to the consultation here.