120 residents came to a public meeting in Balham this week to discuss Wandsworth Council’s proposal to close Dr Johnson Avenue, which cuts across Tooting Common, and limit access to nearby Elmbourne Road.
A straw poll at the meeting on March 22 showed almost unanimous opposition to the proposal, which Wandsworth council is currently consulting on.
Residents at the meeting were strongly critical of the council’s consultation which has not involved residents in Lambeth who fear they will be impacted by the proposed road changes.
Modelling provided by Wandsworth council shows that residents in Garrad’s Road, on the Lambeth edge of the Common, will see a 30% increase in rush hour traffic if the proposal goes ahead. Residents also questioned why the consultation offered no options. One resident described it as “fundamentally flawed and inadequate” with another stating it would be “morally questionable to proceed” on the consultation’s findings.
Wandsworth residents also complained that they hadn’t been consulted about the plans that will potentially increase traffic and pollution on their roads, with residents of Heritage Park, Marius Road, Avoca Road, Montana Road and Nightingale ward particularly vocal in their disappointment.
The meeting was organised by local Labour councillors. Fleur Anderson, Labour councillor for Bedford ward said: “Residents clearly felt their voices were not being heard. Many wrote to me to say they hadn’t been consulted while others felt the consultation process was flawed. I have never seen so many residents attend a public meeting which shows the strength of local feeling. We will make sure the Council receives a full report of the evening and we feel it is right that this should be included as part of the consultation”.
She added: “the proposals are just not workable. The displacement of traffic would be too great, the impact on pollution levels too severe. It is a shame that the proposals haven’t been better thought through, as the idea, in principle, of uniting the common is one that I initially supported.
“However, this proposal is a pig’s ear. There are no plans for dealing with the traffic, no investigation of options, no consideration of surrounding roads and residents have not been properly consulted. It’s a missed opportunity and we will be opposing the proposal.”
According to the traffic modelling provided by Wandsworth, the proposal would result in a 40% increase in Northbound traffic on Mantilla Rd in the evening rush hour and a 65% in the evening for Southbound traffic in Elmbourne Road.
One resident said: “I live in Heritage Park. If these proposals were in place already, I would have had to have come to this meeting tonight via Lambeth!”.
Residents also raised concerns about knock-on effects of the displacement of traffic, including on safety and the pollution levels of surrounding residential roads.
There was a general sense that no one understood what the proposal intended to achieve with one resident commenting: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Support for the proposal was expressed by two residents. They said traffic would be reduced as a result of the proposals which, they argued, would encourage walking and cycling and would be beneficial for the climate and for wildlife.
Several local councillors, from both parties, attended the meeting, including Conservatives Antonia Dunn, Richard Field, Ian Hart and Angela Graham and Labour’s Candida Jones, Mark Thomas, Leonie Cooper, Fleur Anderson, Rosena Allin-Khan, Simon Hogg and Andy Gibbons.