Low Traffic Neighbourhoods FAQ

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:

  1. tackles climate change;
  2. 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;
  3. 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
  4. 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:

  1. the council will be holding an official consultation and as soon as the council launches this we will let you know;
  2. you can email any of us at: cllr.h.denfield@wandsworth.gov.uk, cllr.c.fraser@wandsworth.gov.uk, cllr.f.anderson@wandsworth.gov.uk
  3. 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.

27 thoughts on “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods FAQ

  1. sue aoeat

    I live on Manila and am outraged by this Before making assumptions why don’t you monitor traffic and pollution levels obviously Elmbourne has nothing like the pollution of narrower, if effect one way. already over used streets like Manila and Topsham. Elmbourne is tree lined, wider. We are already used as a run run. Please realise what you are doing by just pushing this problem to the other side of the common. we will not take this harm to our health lying down.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Rather than blocking this LTN due to rat-running in Manila/Topsham – put efforts into requesting an LTN in this neighbourhood. Blocking Heaver LTN will not stop rat-running on the Tooting side but putting in filters/LTN on the Tooting side will make a difference. So how about requesting an LTN for streets on the other side of Tooting Bec Road – stop the rat-running that already occurs – and improve a much wider area and neighbourhoods for everyone. I would be very happy with that and also live close to Topsham and would love to see traffic reduced.

      Reply
    2. Billy

      Only half of Elmbourne Road is wider and tree lined, the Bedford Hill end is narrow and congested by rat running every day. I think only Ritherdon Road is wide enough to be two way, the other roads should all be converted to one way.

      Reply
  2. Steve White

    So a “Heaver LTN applies to 2 roads only?
    With the closure of Oakmead and Elmfield already closed, plus the amended access to the end of Bedford Hill, this can only lead to traffic being directed down one particular Road!

    Reply
    1. Billy

      If the council installed a comprehensive one way system on all of the roads between Bedford Hill and Tooting Bec Road, and someone bothered to enforce speed limits, a lot of problems would be solved.

      Reply
  3. Clare Godding

    I do not live in these roads but my son is starting at Tooting Primary in September and I am very concerned about the knock on effect this will have on Franciscan Road which is already a rat run. The council should be more concerned with making school roads low traffic rather than the Heaver estate.

    Reply
  4. Mary

    Closing Elmbourne road is going to make it difficult for people to get from Furzedown to Balham. I don’t see how this is going to help with pollution and climate change if people are having to make circuitous journeys to get to Balham, and new rat runs are created. Closing one Elmbourne (and effectively Dr Johnson avenue) is just helping with pollution in the Heaver Estate and does not help us folks who live elsewhere.

    We are yet to emerge from the covid crisis. According to government provided figures, automobile use is still not back to normal. Schools are closed, majority of people are still working from home (they are not driving to work!). What is the point of conducting a trial now ? Wait till things are back to normal and you can realise the true impact of this road closure!

    Reply
      1. Gareth James

        …..and those who aren’t young, able or fit enough……and those too afraid to cross the common at night?

        Reply
          1. Gareth James

            You can’t turn right at Tooting Bec. Your only options are Garrads Road / Bedford Hill and Tooting Crescent, also residential streets, and significantly longer journeys leading to an increased carbon footprint

  5. Sheila Morley

    I have already noticed increased traffic and hold-ups on both Bedford Hill and Station Rd. and am very concerned that the road closures will intensify the existing noise and air polution.

    Reply
  6. Sheila Morley

    As a Bedford Hill resident I have already noticed increased traffic and hold-ups on both Bedford Hill and Station Rd. and am very concerned that the road closures will intensify the existing noise and air polution.

    Reply
  7. John

    There is a huge amount of objection to this especially as it will flow traffic into many other roads in the neighbourhoods surrounding. Even people living on the Heaver Estate are objecting. I live on Mantilla Road and which is already used as a cut through and this will only become far worse. This matter should be properly researched and the impact should be thought through properly. Our MP Rosena and councillors should be objecting rather than seeming smug! I believe at least one Councillor lives on the Heaver Estate. They should be considerate to all local people.

    Reply
  8. Jo

    To my knowledge there has ben no consultation and this is a terrible idea for people inside and outside the Heaver Estate. Many already very busy surrounding residential roads will be adversely affected. The MP for Tooting and the councillors should realise this is not on and that they should not be doing this for their own benefits – I how at least one on the councillors lives on the Heaver Estate so that speaks volumes. Very unhappy this has been dealt with so underhandedly and with little thought to others.

    Reply
  9. Susanna Speat

    This is an old scheme which will push traffic and pollution onto roads the other side of the Common. Feeling’s here are running very high. Elbourne is a relatively wide street next to the Common and must.therefore have lower pollution levels than
    toads such as Mantilla, Franciscan Topsham etc who will have increased traffic flow. Many of the two way streets this side of the Common are two narrow, so idling occurs all the time as drivers wait to pass each other. I am outraged that our health should be threatened in this way NIMBYS. So much for Labour standing up for less prosperous areas of the Borough.

    Reply
  10. Susanna Speat

    This is an old scheme which will push traffic and pollution onto roads the other side of the Common. Feeling’s here are running very high. Elbourne is a relatively wide street next to the Common and must.therefore have lower pollution levels than
    toads such as Mantilla, Franciscan Topsham etc who will have increased traffic flow. Many of the two way streets this side of the Common are two narrow, so idling occurs all the time as drivers wait to pass each other. I am outraged that our health should be threatened in this way NIMBYS. So much for Labour standing up for less prosperous areas of the Borough.

    Reply
  11. Toby Hopkins

    It’s great to see such a reasonable and considered discussion of a complex situation. Thank you for taking the time to explain the background. So pleased that you are supportive of the six month trial so that we can see what the impact will be. For me, I’m no more local than Furzedown but really excited to see what the plans will be, as I think they will make the area nicer to visit and travel through. For those who are concerned about knock-on effects elsewhere, I’d encourage you to talk to your local councillors to see if similar schemes can be developed for your area.

    Reply
  12. Gareth James

    The proposal INCREASES the carbon footprint by significantly increasing the length of journeys between Tooting and Balham. The one remailing route from the A214 to Balham between Streatham and Tooting Bec will be Garrads Road / Bedford Hill, which just transfers the problem, not solves it. Because you can’t turn right from the A214 to Balham at Tooting Bec, it will also divert traffic onto another residential street – Trinity Crescent.

    Reply
  13. Rab

    Very concerning. This seems like a solution for few neighbourhoods and a disaster for many many more neighbourhoods. LTNs do not reduce vehicle usage in the broader community. They only displace the problem. Any solution should be comprehensive and equitable.

    Reply
  14. Kirsty Hall

    What a disgrace that labour councillors are now supporting this nonsense too! Those of us living on surrounding roads namely Topsham and mantilla cannot fail to be impacted by this and further traffic will be pushed onto Tooting Bec Road past St Anselms school outdoor play areas causing increased idle traffic and so forcing up already dangerously high pollution levels at that school. How can you possibly support that? Very disappointed to see that the majority are totally ignored in this case. This cannot work. We all want less traffic but also live in a busy city. How about traffic calming measures for all rather than just pushing the problem from elmbourne road onto narrower already busy streets. The council clearly prioritise the Heaver estate and i am so annoyed to see labour now supporting this continuing.

    Reply
  15. Carol Pike

    It does not make sense to throw all this money at a temporary problem and cause all this disruption and annoyance.
    Why not use the money to put more tubes/buses/trains on so everyone can be socialised distanced when they return to work?
    Why do a trial now when schools are off? why take 6 months? why ignore a comprehensive study done a few years ago? Something is not correct about this at all.
    Pushing traffic around does not solve anything. Seems the council are trying to keep busy when none of the measures are necessary or asked for.
    Disgraceful.

    Reply
  16. Maria Gomez

    Thank you Councillors for supporting this proposal. Complainers seem worried they will lose a few minutes instead of safer / healthier living around tooting common (why not ‘try the trial’ walking or on a bicycle..)
    Elmbourne road is totally unsuitable for the amount of traffic passing through. Literally racing for each passing place / honking horns (just no need) think of the small Children!
    Listen to Councillors, they will consider all they points (plus and minus) and make a decision about facts from the trial.

    Reply
  17. Matt Morris

    Shutting off Elmbourne was discussed, and dismissed, in 2016 and 2019. You did one of the surveys that mustered opinion against it in 2019! Why are you supporting it now? None of the reasons against it have changed.

    The areas shafted by this will include:
    * Ritherdon Road (already complaining loudly about the impact of Oakmead Road closing)
    * Trinity Crescent (everyone approaching from Tooting Bec Road and wanting to go up Balham Road will now cut through there since the main junction doesn’t allow a RH turn)
    * Garrad’s Road end of Bedford Hill (this road has 2 schools emptying directly onto it and just had yet another road accident 2 days ago)

    These problems got thrown up by traffic modelling years ago. Why are the people living in these areas not taken into account? It’s not even a Heaver-vs-the-rest thing, more a Heaver-South-of-Ritherdon-thing. Everyone is scratching their heads over why this is being given the green light this time around.

    So my question is simple in the end: why is this time different?

    Reply
  18. Matt Morris

    I just noticed the following question and answer, which took me aback somewhat:

    “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.”

    This is a really odd response. The main source of controversy about proposals to close Elmbourne Road hasn’t been their effect on roads *inside* the Heaver estate – it’s been on the roads *just outside* the Heaver estate! So how can traffic counting “at various places around the Heaver estate” determine whether people’s fears about the proposals are justified?

    Hopefully it’s just that the wording here is just a little misleading, and whatever monitoring is planned is indeed going to include the impact on the expected areas just outside Heaver that will most likely bear the brunt: e.g. Trinity Crescent, Garrad’s Road, and so on. Not to monitor the impact on the pinch-points that everyone is expecting to be hit by the proposal would be completely missing the point.

    Would it be possible to get some clarification on this point?

    Reply
  19. Natalie

    I just wanted to say thank you for this article. I support the attempts to make areas surrounding the common safer for the users, but not at the expense of other residential roads, so am looking forward to seeing the bigger picture. I know a lot is about to be done along the A24 side roads to prevent rat running, hopefully similar grace will be granted to the Heaver Estate. The only way to know is to trial, test, tweek and retrial until an optimum solution is found. Thank you

    Reply

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