The Bedford Park Society sent out an email to all its members yesterday, encouraging them to oppose the traffic restrictions proposed for Turnham Green Terrace. The email, from the Society’s committee, laid out a form of words for its members to use to complain to the council and urged them to get their objections in quickly.
Complain they did, but not in the way the committee had hoped. A number of members objected to the email, and the committee was forced to send out a second one hastily backtracking.
Bedford Park Society committee forced to apologise
‘We would like to apologise if we have given the impression that the Society is in any way wishing to promote the use of cars’ it said.
Their initial email suggested Bedford Park residents would have to drive a long way round to get to the High Rd, but they shouldn’t need to use a car, according to Peter Murray, one of the Bedford Park Society members who objected.
“You can walk to the High Rd quite easily from anywhere in Bedford Park” he said.
“By putting in constraints it will actually make Turnham Green Terrace a much nicer place and it will be better for shopkeepers”.
“Traders have this knee-jerk reaction against it because they think their customers need to park outside their shops, but there’s plenty of research from all over the world showing it’s not the case and shops do better when there’s no traffic”.
Peter Murray is Curator-in-Chief of New London Architecture, an independent forum for discussion, debate and information about architecture, planning and development in London.
Image above: Initial email from the Bedford Park Festival
‘Long detours’ to get to the High Rd from Bedford Park
Hounslow Council announced last Friday that, in line with government policy to stop London becoming gridlocked with traffic as people go back to work and choose to avoid public transport, and in order to create more space for shoppers, both Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road would be closed to traffic except for access for deliveries, and to buses on Turnham Green Terrace.
Bedford Park Society’s first email to is members said:
‘The proposals will, most significantly, result in an important means of access to Chiswick High Rd being removed, and force residents living north of South Parade and Bath Rd down Fishers Lane, which is already a source of congestion, or require them to take long detours to the Goldhawk Rd or Acton Lane’.
‘At a time when there will be greater car use, due to reduced availability and concerns about using public transport during the pandemic, any reduction in road access would seem to be inadvisable’.
The Society’s members were given a ‘Suggested Response’, a form of words to copy and paste into their objection.
‘We want to emphasize how important it is that as many residents as possible make their views known before the end of the consultation period on 25 June’.
The email made no attempt to explain why the council has decided to introduce the changes.
One of the Society’s members, Chris Costelloe, who wrote a letter of objection to the committee, described their position as ‘Canute-like’ in the face of global trends.
‘The statement contains unevidenced assertions – like the one that the loss of parking spaces would adversely affect business – not the experience of many pedestrianised areas – and at the heart of it there is an intellectual problem. The Society states that it welcomes ‘moves to encourage walking and cycling’, but in practice such moves, if they are to have any real effect, almost always necessarily involve restricting car use. If, in practice, the Society’s support in principle for moves to encourage walking and cycling is always outweighed by the desire of the Society’s members to park their vehicles directly outside the shops, then I would suggest that it is hollow.
‘The Society is of course free to take whatever stance it sees fit, but I hope you will forgive me gently suggesting that such a Canute-like stance to the global trend to reclaim streetspace from cars is unlikely to attract the new, younger members that the Bedford Park Society needs if it is going to thrive. It is also the antithesis of the founding ethos of Bedford Park, to create ‘the healthiest place in the world’.’
Chris is the Director of the Victorian Society, though he was writing to Carol Woolner, who looks after planning matters for the Society, in a private capacity.
The Bedford Park Society’s later email backtracked further:
‘We would normally have taken soundings from members before suggesting a view and realise it would have been advisable to do this to ensure we reflect your opinions. We are not planning to submit a formal response to Hounslow from the Society at this stage’.
It also offers an explanation of the initiative make by Hounslow council:
‘This initiative is driven by government guidance aimed at increasing travel on foot and by cycle while the use of public transport is likely to be restricted for the foreseeable future. The Government would prefer that people did not use their cars as an alternative, and councils are being encouraged to take steps accordingly and to implement temporary measures, reallocating road space. These are considered emergency measures and so requirements for consultation and notification have been relaxed.
‘At the same time, Hounslow is looking for suggestions on the kind of steps that they should introduce, inviting residents to comment via the link that we provided. It is not, strictly speaking, a consultation on the steps they are proposing to take but rather a request for suggestions about what they might do additionally’.
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See also: Residents and traders react to car ban