Sutton Council is considering putting in a bid to a fund financed by the Mayor of London called “Liveable Neighbourhoods”. As yet, no bid is submitted. If it is submitted it will be in competition with lots of other bids from other boroughs and Sutton has a poor record of getting funds from the Mayor. So it is a bit of a gleam in the eye. If Sutton bids and is successful we will know by about next March.
The scheme would fund consultation and research, and (depending on the outcome) action, into a range of measures that would improve the environment locally. If successful we could get funds to invest in our neighbourhood. This money could be spent on issues like safer crossings, reducing cut-through traffic, better roads so children can walk to school safely, more electric charging points and better cycling infrastructure. This would include measures to encourage walking and cycling, and to improve air quality. There is a website with details and a survey you can complete.
There is also information on the fund on the TfL website. This says:
“Our Liveable Neighbourhoods programme gives boroughs the opportunity to bid for funding for long-term schemes that encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport.
The programme supports the aims of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy by funding local schemes to reduce car trips and improve neighbourhoods for walking, cycling and public transport.
Grants will be provided for a wide range of community-supported projects. These could include creating green spaces and cycling infrastructure and redesigning junctions. The programme can also fund the widening of walking routes to improve access to local shops, businesses and public transport.”
Trish and Richard visited Waltham Forest where they had funding under this scheme, in the time Boris Johnson was Mayor, for a scheme known there as “Mini-Holland” as one of the objectives, but not the only one, is to promote cycling.
One of the ideas, just to give an example, is “cycle hangers” which provide secure outside storage for bikes – very popular in areas where there are blocks of flats and people have little room for bikes in their flat. This is particularly so if they do not live on the ground floor so have to lug a bike upstairs. A majority of residents in our Ward (Sutton South) live in flats, a majority of these people living in upstairs flats, so we think there would be great demand for these spaces. The hangers take up one parking space in the road. See photo above.
Closing roads outside schools for half an hour when the pupils are going in and out is an idea, but this is now a common practice in some parts of London, for example at the school Richard’s grandson goes to in Herne Hill, where there is a rota of parents who erect temporary gates.
Investigating the scope for road closures to reduce rat-running down otherwise quiet residential streets and move the traffic onto main roads is certainly an aspect, but it needs approaching with care. There are undoubted pros and cons that need careful examination, research into the consequences and consultation with residents. There is a good example locally, in Belmont, the gate in Dorset Road close to the junction with Holland Avenue. This is inconvenient to motorists and many residents, and adds to traffic in roads like Holland Avenue. But it massively adds to the quality of life, quiet and clean air of residents of the Homeland Drive area, who otherwise would experience a lot of rat running traffic. It is surely worth at least investigating whether there is scope for similar interventions locally. Traffic is like water so one could not just shut roads without a lot of research and consultation as traffic will move elsewhere, so any proposal would have to be preceded by analysis and consultation. This analysis has to be worth doing – if Sutton got the funding. We were told that the experience in Waltham Forest was that they put in some “modal filters” as they call these closures in some roads for a six month trial. In most but not all cases the residents wanted to keep the controls in place at the end of six months, and in some cases where the residents wanted them removed the residents now want them back. Some residents find them inconvenient as they make their own journeys by car more complicated, but it seems most feel this downside is outweighed by having quiet streets with reduced traffic and less air pollution. There is also the fact that if there are comprehensive parking controls introduced in an area, reducing parking, there will be speeding and probably increased through traffic.
Some concern has been caused by the circulation of a list of possible road closures. The origin of this list is some illustrative examples prepared by consultants working on the bid to demonstrate what might be done. In fact the Dorset Road example is a much better example as it is real and already exists. No road would be shut without a lot of initial analysis and discussion.
So we think it worthwhile bidding for this money – but it would lead on to analysis and consultation next year so nothing immediate. The Council has made no announcement about it as it has not even decided yet whether to put in a bid.