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TNRA opposes Council traffic proposals

09 November 2019

To Councillor Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Transport

3rd November 2019

Dear Councillor Livingstone

TNRA OBJECTIONS TO SOUTHWARK COUNCIL’S BOROUGH ROAD HEALTHY STREETS TRAFFIC PROPOSALS

I write to you in my capacity as Chair of the Trinity and Newington Residents’ Association (TNRA – www.tnra.net).  TNRA was formed in 1976 to represent the interests of the residents of Newington Trust Estate in London, SE1 (also known as Trinity Estate).  The Trinity Estate comprises Trinity Church Square, Merrick Square, Trinity Street, Cole Street, Globe Street, Brockham Street, Falmouth Road and Swan Street. 

TNRA’s paid up membership for 2019-20 is currently 192 households whose occupants comprise approximately 400 individual residents.

You will be well aware that at the public meeting held in Henry Wood Hall on Monday 21st October, attended by 56 residents, there was unanimous opposition to the proposal to stop traffic heading south along Borough High Street from turning left into Harper Road.   If carried out this will turn the Trinity Estate into a busy, environmentally-polluting and noisy rat run. 

It should be immediately recognised that the traffic issues being experienced on the Trinity, Rockingham and Lawson Estates and in the Harper Road area result from the removal of the left turn from Newington Causeway into New Kent Road during the extensive changes made to the road systems around the Elephant and Castle two years ago.

It should also be immediately noted that during the 21st October meeting the Project Manager, Joanna Lesak, confirmed that the proposed banned left turn into Harper Road was not an integral part of the scheme.  She also promised that this aspect of the plan would not form any part of future proposals.  On being asked by those attending the meeting to reconfirm this statement she did exactly that.

NB although I am writing on behalf of TNRA it is essential to point out that the strength of feeling expressed at the meeting reflects the voice of the entire community i.e. not only members of TNRA but many other people who live and work on the Trinity Estate.    

The following summarises the key reasons for our opposition to the proposed plan to ban the left turn, all of which were voiced at the meeting:

1     The stated purpose for the closure of the left turn is to improve the speed of buses going towards the Elephant and Castle. 

*     None of those attending the meeting or those who were unable to be there, including many bus users, are aware of any issues concerning delayed transit times for buses heading south down Borough High Street.

*     No data was presented to show that this was an issue and – if so – exactly what time savings would be brought about. 

*     If such data is available we and all the local residents need to see it. 

2     Borough High Street is a major thoroughfare for traffic heading south from London Bridge. 

*     Any proposal that diverts traffic from Borough High Street into an exclusively residential area must be treated with serious circumspection. 

3     Those presenting the scheme had no figures for the level of cycle traffic on Quietway 1, especially at rush hours during which many cyclists head along the existing east-west cycle way between Great Dover Street and Great Suffolk Street.  Current peak traffic levels of 204 motorised vehicles already exceed the recommend safe level of 200 such vehicles.

  •     The inevitable increase in car, van, lorry and other vehicle traffic proceeding through the Trinity Estate will result in the number of motor vehicles exceeding the recommended safe peak traffic levels. As such this will cause significant problems for cyclists and will also present a real risk of cyclists (and others) being involved in traffic accidents and suffering personal injury. 
  •     Figures for Quietway 1 and all cycle routes through the Trinity Estate should be made available to all residents.

4     Trinity Estate is a conservation area.  Nearly all of the buildings in it – and all of those in Trinity Church Square – comprise Listed Grade II Georgian terraced housing.  These all have large single-glazed windows but no cavity walls, i.e. there is no insulation at all against noise, and residents are not permitted to install such insulation.  The appearance, maintenance and care of the fabric of all the buildings is subject to regular, serious oversight by English Heritage, appropriate officers within the Council, and Trinity House. 

*     Any increase in traffic will lead to noise and atmospheric pollution, with a disproportionate impact on the lives and health of all residents, especially those living on the ground floors, plus the potential to cause damage to the foundations and fabric of the buildings.  It may also cause acoustic problems for the many leading symphony orchestras that practice each day in Henry Wood Hall.

  •     It should be noted that the homes along Harper Road are modern, with cavity-walls and double-glazing, many of which are set back from the road.  In addition, Harper Road’s surroundings mainly comprise parkland and commercial property, not residential properties. 

5     It is not clear that the proposed plans take into account the existence of the significant and regular pedestrian use of Trinity Church Square, Trinity Street and Brockham Street occasioned by pedestrians and by worshippers on their way to attend services in the large mosque on the corner of Brockham Street.

*     No significant changes to existing traffic flows should be made without fully considering their impact upon the safety and health of:

-  those who walk through the Trinity Estate to attend the mosque on a daily basis;

- the many parents and children living in the Trinity Estate and surrounding areas who go via Trinity St, Trinity Church Square and Brockham Street to the parks;

- the significant number of tourists and visitors who regularly come to admire the square;

- the many musicians (up to a hundred or more each time) who come to the square on a daily basis to rehearse in Henry Wood Hall.

All of these people regularly walk along and cross the currently calm, quiet and peaceful roads as they go to and fro. What are the figures for pedestrians in Trinity Street, through Trinity Church Square, Globe Street and the Trinity Piazza?

6    There is an existing well advanced planning application to develop a high-rise hotel on Harper Road.  In addition we understand that the Falmouth Road Surgery on the corner with Harper Road and its immediate surroundings may be redeveloped in the near future, as a result of which a high rise, high occupancy building will occupy the current site.  Finally, plans are well advanced for a major upgrade of the Dickens Square gardens, with work commencing in September 2020.  

*      Although all of the above will have a very significant impact on traffic volumes and pedestrian movements to, from and through Trinity Street, Swan Street, Trinity Church Square, Brockham Street, Cole Street, Globe Street and Falmouth Road, there is no sign in the statistics provided that any of these factors have been taken into account when formulating the proposed plans. These figures should be made available to all residents.

7     Relevant data to support the assumptions lying behind the proposals - to support cyclists and buses and complement the wider Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme (LTN), which is itself part of the Healthy Streets Scheme - was unavailable or else lacked clarity.  For example:

- the data included in the FAQs did not include any details concerning cyclists’ movements and numbers;

- much emphasis was laid on the unspecified “wider plan” and lead from Transport for London (TFL) as sponsor, but at no stage was any evidence offered to clearly demonstrate the practical workability of the scheme or to suggest that the needs of residents had been properly considered and taken into account;

- no information was provided in response to questions concerning the required Traffic Management plans for the planned new building developments on Falmouth Road; the gathering of data over a significant period of time in order to properly enumerate cycle movements on Quietway 1 and Harper Road; and data concerning the wider impact of the proposed scheme.

8    Many aspects of the consultation appear to have been ill-thought through, as evidenced by the fact that the proposed banned left hand turn was not raised at a previous meeting to discuss the LTN with stakeholders (including members of the TNRA Committee) and only came to light subsequently.  Harper Road residents (some of whom attended the 21st October meeting to add their opposition to the banned left hand turn) also appear to have been consulted separately.  Meantime Trinity House (the ultimate owners of the entire Trinity Estate) and Knight Frank, their managing agents, received no notification at all of the proposed changes. At the same time – bizarrely – the Project Manager told the meeting at once stage that the proposed banned left turn was not an essential part of the overall scheme. 

  •     The nature of the consultation is regarded by TNRA and by the great majority of those who attended the meeting as being designed to minimise the risk of criticism and concern so as to push through a pre-engineered plan that does not take into account the practicalities of the residents who live in Trinity Estate and its surrounding streets.

In view of all of the above we will be grateful if you will:

*     formally acknowledge receipt of this letter;

  •     officially confirm that the Council will not pursue the banned left turn;
  •     take steps to present TFL with a request from the Council for the re-opening of a left turn from Newington Causeway into the New Kent Road;

*     provide us with a copy of the 21st October meeting minutes prepared by the Project Manager’s colleague;

*     give us sight of the Project Manager’s report to the Cabinet;

  •     provide us with further and better data concerning the matters set out 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 above;
  •     let us know the exact ways in which TNRA and Trinity Estate residents can lobby TFL direct.

Yours sincerely,

 

Tim Horsler, TNRA Chair

 

PS I also attach an Appendix concerning three related aspects of the current plans.  Would you also please fully consider these.

cc Joanna Lesak, Project Manager; cc Graham Hockley, Secretary, Trinity House; cc Peter Devere-Catt, Partner, Knight Frank; cc Councillor Helen Dennis; Councillor Humaira Ali; Councillor Sirajul Islam

Appendix

Stones End Street

If this is made one way the c. 30 people who rent garages, from the Council, in the semi-basement under Collision Court on the west side of the street will not be able to get their cars out without driving the wrong way down the street.  The narrow gate, the slanted pavement, on-street parking and the narrow width of the road itself means that the only way to manoeuvre vehicles in and out is from Great Suffolk Street.  NB the Council’s road cleaners also have storage facilities in this semi-basement.

Bus stands on Borough High Street

Buses parked at bus stands often spend significant time at such sites with their engines running, giving rise to pollution.  For health reasons they should therefore not be placed alongside residential properties.

Parking bay alongside planned hotel on the corner of Harper Road/Borough High Street

In the short term many construction lorries and contractors’ vehicles will need to park alongside the building site while delivering materials and removing rubble and refuse.  In the longer term there will be a need for parking space for the use of delivery vans, taxis, Uber drop-offs and the like.

A possible place for a long parking space would be a recessed bay set into the pavement to protect cyclists, on Harper Road, sited an appropriate distance back from the junction.