Grove Park residents petition against ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ proposals

Residents of Grove Park have set up a petition against a package of traffic measures being introduced to the area south of the A4. They say the changes are draconian and will inconvenience local residents. They are also annoyed that they’ve been introduced without the usual degree of consultation. For many people living in the affected zone, news of the plans has come out of the blue.

In 48 hours the number of people who’ve signed the petition has reached 660, more than the number who took part in the original consultation by Hounslow Council in the autumn.

The traffic scheme is being introduced to try and stop vehicles using Grove Park and Strand on the Green as a cut through to avoid Hogarth roundabout and the A4. Over 70% of traffic entering Hartington Road from the A316 by Chiswick Bridge is driving straight through the area. The planned restrictions are designed to stop vehicles turning left by Chiswick Bridge onto Hartington Rd from the A316 and just driving along to Kew Bridge. They are also designed to stop vehicles zig-zagging their way through residential streets to come out onto the A4 via Harvard Hill Road.

Image above: A4, photograph by Ian Wylie

By stopping vehicles being able to use Grove Park and Strand on the Green as a rat run, the Council’s traffic officers hope to make it less polluted, and more conducive to walking and cycling, without causing too much inconvenience to local residents. For details of the plans see Michael Robinson’s guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar here. (He’s in favour of the plans).

The Council applied for funding from the Mayor of London’s ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’ programme and a consultation was held between September and November last year, to solicit ideas. People were asked to highlight their concerns and the volume of traffic was high on the list. But, one resident told The Chiswick Calendar, people expected further consultation on the actual proposals, which are now being delivered as a fait accompli.

Zoe Corney, who set up the petition on Change.org says:

‘Hounslow Council are rushing through traffic calming measures in Chiswick without consultation with residents. These measures seriously impact local people as well as those using the area as a rat run. We need to be consulted on the proposed changes and be excluded from the restrictions in order to be able to move around the area in which we live’.

The Council is rushing through the measures because the Government has introduced Statutory Regulations which put pressure on councils to make their areas better for walking and cycling quickly, in response to the Covid-19 emergency. The Coronavirus legislation has given the Council emergency powers, so it is no longer required to go through the full consultation process and in fact has only a short period of time in which to apply for money being made available by central Government.

Residents who’ve signed the petition are either unaware of reason for the Council’s haste, or the believe that is a convenient excuse:

“There is something profoundly undemocratic in the proposals as drafted. Some residents, notably those in Park Road and Strand On The Green, would benefit greatly at the cost of the overwhelming majority of local residents” said one person. “There has got to be a better way of stopping through traffic without creating a “land grab” for the benefit of a few.”

“We have children in the local schools” said another, “and on the face of it our routes there are now to be stopped and we will need to take a particular route home along with a lot of funnelled traffic. Since the closure of Hammersmith bridge the traffic in Chiswick has worsened and this has the strong potential to make it worse still for residents.”

“We all want to reduce the unwanted additional traffic caused by people using the area as a cut through but this should be done with real data” writes Zoe, ignoring the fact that traffic officers put down sensors on the roads and counted the number of cars passing in and out of the area.

Image above: South Chiswick ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ map from Hounslow Council’s website

The scheme is complicated and will take a bit of getting used to, after years of being able to drive anywhere within the zone. It is radical, pioneering number plate recognition by using it in a new way. Cllr Sam Hearn, who speaks for the Conservatives on transport, has called it both “radical” and “innovative”. He wrote in his guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar:

‘The need to introduce traffic management measures to stop Chiswick being in continual gridlock has become more urgent as the lockdown eases … ‘We have an opportunity to improve our communities with these new measures.’

The Council stresses the new measures are temporary and will be properly evaluated after they’ve had a chance to bed down. When I asked Hounslow Council Leader Steve Curran about it, he said:

“These are temporary measures. We’ll try it out and if people don’t like them, we’ll change them. We’re not idiots.

“Look at how long Cycleway 9 took. We don’t have that time. We’ve got to get on and do things. They’ll be saying to us ‘you can’t have any funding because you haven’t done anything’.”

But, says Cllr Hearn, they haven’t been properly explained and people are frustrated at the lack of consultation.

Read the Council’s report on turning south Chiswick into a low traffic neighbourhood here.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cllr Sam Hearn’s guest blog, 12 May

See also: Michael Robinson’s guest blog, 8 June