LTN changes ruled out despite local demand

Popular modifications to Fox Lane and Bowes Park low-traffic neighbourhoods rejected by council, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

One of the entrances to the low-traffic neighbourhood in Bowes Park
More ANPR cameras are being installed in the LTNs to replace bollards

Enfield Council has ruled out making key changes that some claimed would improve the borough’s controversial low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) schemes.

The council has decided against reopening Meadway to through traffic in its Fox Lane LTN and also against changing the Bowes Park LTN to allow access from Bounds Green Road to the south.

It comes despite clear majorities of those who responded to surveys expressing support for the measures. The decision has already been ‘called in’ to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee by members of the Conservative opposition group, meaning councillors on the committee could vote for the decision to be reconsidered at a meeting on 24th November.

Several other amendments to the LTNs have been given the go-ahead, however.

The Fox Lane and Bowes Park LTNs were both made permanent earlier this year, despite most people taking part in public consultations submitting negative views on the schemes. The LTNs involve using bollards and cameras to close dozens of streets, including Meadway, to through traffic, while allowing access for residents and businesses.

Those in favour of LTNs say they reduce traffic and boost air quality, while opponents question their benefits and claim they increase congestion and pollution on boundary roads. After the LTNs were made permanent, the council pledged to look at potential changes to the schemes that were identified during the trial periods. It then carried out surveys on the proposals between March and May.

A council report published on 19th October revealed that of 746 survey respondents, 566 said that they wanted the Meadway restrictions removed, 177 wanted them to stay, and 41 were in favour of restrictions operating on a timed basis. A petition signed by 163 residents of Wynchgate and Park View also called for Meadway to be reopened, stating that these roads had experienced a fall in road safety, more congestion and a “substantial increase in noise and air pollution”.

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But the report, authored by healthy streets programme director Richard Eason, warns that removing the filter could have a “significant negative impact on Meadway and immediate roads (Bourne Avenue, Greenway), but also other roads that would enable through traffic such as Amberley Road through to Caversham Avenue”. Although it acknowledges the potential for “short term reduction of traffic on some surrounding roads such as Southgate Circus”, it adds that turning a non-classified road into a boundary road is “inconsistent with wider approaches to neighbourhood interventions”.

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The council also surveyed residents on proposals to allow access to the Bowes Park LTN from Bounds Green Road to the south, rather than via the North Circular. The report reveals that of the 340 survey responses received, 209 would prefer access from the south, 106 preferred access from the north, and 25 did not have a preference.

Despite the clear majority in favour of access from the south, the report states that the number of access points “would be reduced in an alternative design”, while the current layout “enables more space for any motor vehicles who inadvertently arrive at the closure point and need to turn around”. It also states that further changes to the LTN could lead to “confusion and uncertainty”.

Ann Jones, a resident of the Fox Lane LTN, has written an open letter to council leader Nesil Caliskan accusing the local authority of a “shocking” waste of public money on the surveys, which were carried out shortly before the May local elections.

She wrote: “What was the purpose of commissioning surveys, sending 30,000 letters to residents (just before purdah for the local elections) and paying consultants to draft reports in order to ignore the results and do nothing?”

Several changes aimed at improving access to the LTNs for people with disabilities and the emergency services were given the go-ahead in the report. They include replacing bollards with camera-enforced filters in Maidstone Road, Selborne Road, Oakfield Road and The Mall.

Blue Badge holders and Dial-a-Ride vehicles will be given exemptions allowing them to pass through these filters, in addition to existing camera-enforced modal filters in Fox Lane, Meadway and Conway Road.

The latest LTN controversy comes as a residents’ group, One Community, awaits a court ruling on its bid to overturn the council’s decision to make the Fox Lane road closures permanent. The group’s legal challenge to the council was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on 25th October.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “The latest report for the Bowes and Fox Lane quieter neighbourhoods [LTNs] makes a series of recommendations, including the increase in the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), to assist the emergency services and the introduction of permits for Blue Badge holders living in the quieter neighbourhood areas.

“In the spring of this year, the council delivered approximately 30,000 letters to invite residents to answer some additional questions about the layout of both the Bowes and Fox Lane quieter neighbourhood projects. The council received 1,156 survey responses which were received and analysed. These responses were considered alongside a number of other factors as described in the report, such as with final recommendations made to maintain the existing layout in both Bowes and Fox Lane quieter neighbourhoods.

“The council does not believe it is a waste of resources to continue to gather resident views. Future projects will continue to consider residents views alongside a range of other factors that will contribute to decision making. In this case, the council has considered the detail of the roads where respondents live, alongside a range of traffic management aspects and consideration of other projects that are happening in the wider area, such as the low-traffic neighbourhoods currently on trial by Haringey Council.”

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