New traffic system installed on Devonshire Road and Turnham Green Terrace

By Bridget Osborne & Matt Smith

‘Access only’

Planters were installed on Devonshire Road and Turnham Green Terrace, on Friday 19 June, with new signage indicating no entry for motorbikes and cars, except for disabled people and ‘access.’

What exactly ‘access’ means has been a subject of some discussion in social media over the weekend. LB Hounslow has sent out a letter explaining all the traffic changes being introduced in Chiswick, which has gone to some households but not others. You can see a copy of it here.

LB Hounslow is introducing radical traffic measures to prevent through-traffic in both roads, which they say will allow more space for pedestrians and cyclists to shop, while exercising social distancing.

20 minutes’ parking allowed for loading and unloading

The new scheme will allow people to drive in and park for 20 minutes at a time while loading and unloading. Loading bays will now be for anyone, not just for commercial vehicles, as long as they are loading or unloading. There will be some parking bays earmarked for disabled people in both roads and there will still be access to side roads. There will be access from Devonshire Rd to Prince of Wales Terrace and from Turnham Green Terrace to Turnham Green Terrace Mews, for businesses and associated visitors, but drivers will not be allowed to turn into Glebe Street from Devonshire Rd.

Images above: Bystanders watch the installation of the planters, including Cllr Joanna Biddolph (centre)

Mixed reaction from the public

Reaction from the public on Twitter has been split, with one user claiming: “This will strangle already troubled businesses, ill-thought and badly managed” [sic] @andreasveg.

While others had a more celebratory tone: “Hurray! Devonshire Rd really is the lowest of hanging fruit when it comes to roads suitable for pedestrianisation.” @FifteenMPH.

Michael Moran who owns Top Hat Cleaners on Devonshire Rd expressed his scepticism on Twitter:

“Sadly trade started dropping early February and although back to work, best week now puts us at 30% of normal and that’s not enough. The alleged social distancing works will not increase our turn over” @tophatw4

Hazel Gardner, who owns the gallery Frivoli, old The Chiswick Calendar:

“I think this is an ill-conceived, ludicrous way of complying with a government directive to cut down on excess traffic pollution by cars… It’s just absolutely outrageous, the council is supposed to is supposed to work for the local community not against it”.

Chris Couch, who runs Tribe, the rug shop, told us:

“I think there’s massive challenges to be honest, because unless you change the signage unless it’s made a little bit clearer for people then, you know, people are sort of driving up to the sign and then sort of trying to turn back onto Chiswick High Road so it will cause more congestion and probably it will cause an accident so I think until the signage is physically changed it’s going to continue to cause problems, for us as traders but also just generally for people trying to move around Chiswick”.

Another trader, who didn’t want to be identified as they felt their view would be unpopular with other traders told us:

“I’m the only one it seems on the street, well I don’t know, that is for the pedestrianised street so I don’t want to get in trouble with all the people who are outraged about it. I think they hate me enough as it is [laughing] I don’t think they would appreciate me, you know when people are angry about something they’re louder than us who actually don’t mind”.

Penny Ledbury, owner of Chiswick Lighting, said:

“We’ve all kind of accepted that it’s happening but it seems a bit of a rush and a bit of a hash-job to be honest, those planters I don’t understand at all… They’re horrible they look like something from Chernobyl, they’re horrible, and think as well if they’re trying to encourage cycling it would have been far better to plonk on more cycle racks where there already are some so people can park their bike, where are they meant to park their bikes when they’re shopping?”

Leo Murray, Director of Innovation at the climate charity Possible told The Chiswick Calendar that business owners’ worries are misplaced.

“Retail businesses actually do better on pedestrianised high streets. Per person, pedestrians and cyclists both spend more in shops and footfall goes up when you shut off the motor-traffic”

“Intuitively, a lot of shop owners just don’t believe this, but all of the actual evidence and data shows that it will. Obviously there are certain types of shop maybe where you’re selling very bulky goods, where you can see there might be an issue, but that is not most of the shops on Devonshire Road.”

“Businesses like cafes and restaurants? This is going to be a lifeline to them.”

‘Innovative’ planters

Planters, Known as ‘modal filters’, are often used as traffic blocks to prevent through-journeys and are an essential part of the toolbox of low-traffic neighbourhoods & pedestrianised high streets. These photographed at the end of Devonshire Rd are at the side of the road, not physically blocking the road. They are on either side of it, to hold new signs preventing drivers from entering, except for limited access. The traffic measures are being introduced on a temporary basis, so the signs have not been sunk into the ground.

Most of those objecting to the planters were objecting to the traffic scheme rather than the planters themselves, but one of the biggest criticisms with these types of roadblocks, is that they usually require a lot of upkeep. According to the council these planters are self-watering, which drastically reduces levels of maintenance needed. The planters catch rainwater, which is then stored in a reservoir underneath the planter, which then transports water up to the roots of the plants. When the planters are full of water, they will not need to be refilled for six weeks.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow council official braves local traders

See also: Frivoli may be “forced to close”