What is a Low Traffic Neighbourhood/LTN?
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood (“LTN”) is, as the name suggests, a neighbourhood (usually residential) that has had various measures installed to reduce the amount of traffic that passes through the neighbourhood. The measures can include no entry signs, one-way roads, traffic flow arrows, lockable gates, and wooden planters (these are physical barriers that prevent cars and vans from passing through but permit bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles). A LTN changes how cars are able to access the neighbourhood. There is much more information in the two documents provided here: https://lcc.org.uk/pages/low-traffic-neighbourhoods
What’s good about a LTN?
They reduce car journeys by an estimated 15%, which has many benefits:
- tackles climate change;
- reduces air pollution. This is great for our health generally, particularly the health of young children, but even more so now as there is growing evidence that air pollution exacerbates COVID-19: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/is-air-pollution-making-the-coronavirus-pandemic-even-more-deadly;
- people feel safer cycling and walking, especially to schools. Again, this is great for our health generally, but it is also really important now that people are avoiding public transport due to coronavirus. We need to give people safe, healthy, affordable alternatives to public transport; and
- a calmer, more peaceful environment to live in.
What is the council doing with LTNs?
The council has decided to install nine experimental, trial LTNs in various places around Wandsworth. We stress the words “experimental” and “trial”. All of the LTNs are subject to change based on feedback and evidence. They will be installed in the following areas:
- Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road
- Twilley Street junction with Kimber Road
- Dover House Road and Genoa Avenue
- Westbridge Road / Battersea Church Road / Battersea Square
- Thamesfield (Charlwood Road, Oxford Road)
- Fishponds Road
- Beechcroft Road
- Garratt Lane/Aboyne Road
- Graveney ward – this covers an area from Tooting Bec Road to Longley Road
Where can I find more details on these LTNs?
The designs of the nine LTNs are not yet finalised so they are not yet available for inspection. As soon as the council releases them we will share the details with you on this blog.
The council’s committee paper where these were proposed and agreed is titled “COVID 19 and The Urban Realm (Paper No. 20.169)” and is item 71 here: https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=678&MId=6531&Ver=4
Tell me more about the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN.
The Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN is one of the nine experimental, trial LTNs that the council is planning to install. The full designs of the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN are not yet available, but as soon as the council releases the final designs we will link to them on this blog. The council sent letters to some residents in the Heaver estate on 26 June which contained some initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN, but the council withdrew these initial designs on 29 June. If you still have a copy of that letter it is now out of date!
Why did the council withdraw the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN?
A number of reasons, but as we understand it, the primary reason was because there was a consultation on completely closing Dr Johnson Avenue (“DJA”) four years ago which resulted in a decision by the council not to close DJA, and this had not been fully factored in to the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN.
As with every decision the council makes, it is not necessarily set in stone forever, and could be overturned or distinguished through the appropriate council processes. But unless and until it is overturned or distinguished, it has to be factored in to any new policies involving DJA.
Why has there been no consultation on these nine new LTNs?
One of the many, many changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is the way that people travel around London. Passengers on the tube have declined by 95% and passengers on buses have declined 85%: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2020/april/transport-for-london-to-place-7-000-staff-on-furlough-to-help-safeguard-vital-transport-services.
People are now using their cars to travel much, much more than they did before the pandemic. If the government, Transport for London (“TfL”), and local councils don’t take action in the next week or two as the lockdown eases, then air pollution will skyrocket, and the city will hit gridlock with so many more cars on the road.
As such, TfL has made £55m of funding available to the 33 councils in London as part of its “Streetspace for London” programme to urgently create new segregated cycle lanes, extend pavements and close roads to traffic. This will make it safer for people to walk and cycle. Wandsworth Council has been given £1,923,500 by TfL to spend on various schemes, including LTNs. TfL’s guidance for this funding states:
“Given the urgency of the crisis, TfL are looking to work with Boroughs on implementing measures as quickly as possible, which, in some instances, will mean the use of cheap materials. All projects that form part of this programme must demonstrate an urgent and swift response to the crisis and should be implemented as soon as possible.”https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/boroughs-and-communities/streetspace-funding
This means that Wandsworth Council, and all London councils, need to install these LTNs asap in order to secure the TfL funding. This means there is no time for consultation in advance. The council will still be conducting a consultation, but it will happen at the same time as the trial LTN is in place, rather than before the LTN is installed (which would be the usual order of things).
How long will the trial LTNs last?
We do not know yet, we are waiting for the council to make a final decision on this point.
What happens at the end of the trial?
The LTN will either be made permanent, amended, or removed entirely. It all depends on how the trial goes.
What if the LTN doesn’t work – do we have to wait until the trial is over?
The trial LTNs will be installed pursuant to an “Experimental Traffic Order” (“ETO”). An ETO can be modified at any time, hence the word Experimental in the title. If a LTN is installed and it quickly becomes clear that something has gone badly wrong, then the council can modify the designs and change the layout of the LTN to respond to this.
What about access for police cars and ambulances?
The emergency services are exempt from things like no entry signs and traffic flow arrows, and they have a key to open any lockable gates.
What about access for delivery drivers?
Delivery cars and vans must obey all of the rules of the LTN. Delivery mopeds and motorcycles must obey things like no entry signs and traffic flow arrows, but they may be able to pass by any wooden planters, depending on the rules of that particular LTN.
Who can I write to about this?
There are many ways to make your voice heard:
- the council will be holding an official consultation and as soon as the council launches this we will let you know;
- you can email any of us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- you can join one of your local neighbourhood groups – several have sprung up in the last week. Ask your neighbour to be added to the WhatsApp group/email list.
What’s the difference between “the council” and “the councillors”?
Wandsworth Council is currently controlled by the Conservative party.
The Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transportation (who is the lead person at the council for transport) is a Conservative councillor.
The Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee (which is the committee at the council which makes transport decisions) is also controlled by the Conservative party.
The Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN is situated in “Bedford ward”, which is one of 20 wards in Wandsworth. There are three councillors elected in Bedford ward – Clare, Fleur and Hector. This is our blog. We are all members of the Labour party. When it says “we” in this post, it means Clare, Fleur and Hector. When it says “the council” it means the Conservative-controlled Wandsworth Council.
So, even though Bedford ward is a “Labour ward”, the council is a “Conservative council” (although we’re working on that…), and so all decisions regarding transport, including the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN, are made by the Conservative cabinet member and the Conservative-controlled transport committee.
On the initial Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN designs (which the council quickly withdrew), we were not invited to be involved and we were caught by surprise along with everyone else. Following that, we asked to be consulted on any subsequent designs. On Monday 6 July we had a meeting with the council about their revised Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN designs, during which we passed on all of the feedback we have received from residents over the last 10 days about the Heaver LTN. The council took this feedback away and is making further amendments to the designs.
Ultimately, the designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN are controlled by the Conservatives and not us, but we have been consulted this time round.
Did the Bedford ward councillors lobby for or against the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN?
Neither. The council announced the initial designs for the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN without consulting us on them, and we were caught by surprise along with the whole Heaver estate. Before we had a chance to decide if they were a good or a bad thing, the council withdrew them. We spent every evening since they were announced meeting (digitally) with residents to find out what they thought, so we could understand the views of the people living in and around the area, so we could ultimately feed this back to the council.
Are the Bedford ward councillors in favour of the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN generally?
Today, the council shared with us a new version of the designs for the Heaver LTN, and on the basis of those new designs we support the council and are in favour of the trial LTN going ahead, but we emphasise that it is a trial. We are keen to see how it plays out, and we want to see if it brings the benefits that it should do. We will also be looking to see what disbenefits it brings. If it does not work overall, we won’t be afraid to say so. We are not pre-judging the final outcome – we can only do that once we have seen the LTN in action and we have pored over the real-life data collected from the trial.
What data will be collected during the trial?
The council is planning to lay several traffic counting strips at various places around the Heaver estate to collect data on traffic patterns and behaviour. We have asked the council to publish these data publicly for all to see and we hope that will happen.
I heard one of the councillors lives on Elmbourne Road and that’s why the Heaver LTN has been proposed.
None of us three live on Elmbourne Road. We are not aware that any of the other 57 councillors on Wandsworth Council live on Elmbourne Road either. Don’t believe everything you read on Nextdoor!
14 July update:
This post used to refer to a “Heaver LTN” and now it refers to a “Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN”, what happened there?
We were using “Heaver LTN” as a shorthand name for the scheme, but it seems to have caused some confusion, so we have reverted to the previous name: the “Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN”. This is more of a mouthful but hopefully more specific and less confusing!
Is the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN definitely going ahead now?
It’s not definitely going ahead but it’s not definitely cancelled either. The council have been working on the designs but have not made a final decision one way or the other. We’ll let you know as soon as we know anything definite.
Any news on the Graveney ward LTN?
Like the Elmbourne/Hillbury LTN, the council is still working on the designs and nothing is finalised yet. As soon as we have anything to share we’ll post it here.