Southwark Council is consulting on the status of Camberwell Grove. The road goes over the railway via a bridge, just south of the junction with McNeil Road. This bridge has been closed to all motor traffic since October 2016, due to structural failure.
The council website says: 'Repairs to the bridge will soon be completed by Network Rail, which will allow it to be reopened for small motor vehicles (under 3 tonne) with traffic lights allowing alternate one-way flows to cater for both north and south-bound traffic'. The council wants to hear your views before taking a final decision on reopening the bridge. The consultation page is here (closing Monday 30 October).
We encourage Southwark residents to respond. Read on for our comments.
Southwark Green Party's response to the consultation on Camberwell Grove
We support all Southwark residents who want fewer cars and trucks passing through their streets. Long-distance motor traffic through Southwark should be confined to main roads, not encouraged to use residential streets. This is essential to make residential streets safe for walking and cycling. And being able to make short journeys by foot and bike instead of car is essential for cutting air pollution - a public health emergency.
We call for a robust plan from Southwark Council to make streets right across Camberwell and Peckham safer and quieter.
One of the most helpful ideas from Transport for London is Quietways – convenient routes off main roads, suitable for people of all ages and abilities to cycle. Southwark has funding from Transport for London to create Quietway 7 from Elephant to Dulwich.
Quietways also improve conditions for pedestrians, with changes like better crossings and wider footpaths. Reducing motor traffic speeds and reducing the number of vehicles passing through makes streets safer to cross. Local air and noise pollution is reduced too.
Quietway 1 from Waterloo to Greenwich has been a huge success with lots of people changing the way they travel to work and school. There has been a 56% increase in the number of people cycling, thanks to some fairly small interventions like signs and safer crossings. More information from TfL here and personal comments from people using the route here.
Camberwell Grove is a key part of Quietway 7. Funding for the Quietway has already paid for improvements like the widening of the pavements on Benhill Road, around Brunswick Park. It will pay for a new crossing from Burgess Park to Edmund Street that will let people cross New Church Street safely on foot and by bike.
But the route will only qualify as a Quietway if motor traffic is controlled on Camberwell Grove.
When motor traffic was permitted to drive straight through Camberwell Grove, the steep hill felt dangerous and intimidating to cycle at busy times: drivers passed dangerously close, tailgated and threatened cyclists.
Keeping Camberwell Grove in two sections for motor traffic will allow more children to walk and cycle to school, whether independently or accompanied, and more local people to cycle to work, as well as making more local shopping and social trips by bike.
For all our health
Expert advice from air pollution researchers at King's College London states that the only way we can reduce our immediate exposure to air pollution is to choose quiet routes. On high pollution days, children and older people, those with heart and lung problems are officially advised to stick to back streets. (Guardian, February 2016)
Southwark Green Party monitoring in spring 2017 showed that nitrogen dioxide levels on Camberwell Grove are close to the legal maximum – even when the bridge was closed. If through traffic is permitted, with cars queuing on the hill and trucks doing U-turns when they realise they can’t get through, there will be no safe, low pollution route to choose.
Don't pit one street against another - design all our streets for living
Our support for Quietways is not about residents of Camberwell Grove. In the first place, it is about the hundreds of children who walk along or across Camberwell Grove to Lyndhurst and Dog Kennel Hill primary schools every day. It's about the older children who will be able to walk or cycle to school independently when the Quietway is finished. And about the many people living in surrounding areas who will be able to cycle safely to and from local shops, Burgess Park, Dulwich Park and central London. This will benefit us all.
Information about the consultation has only been delivered to Camberwell Grove itself and to an area to the east of the road. This leaves out people who live close to Camberwell Grove - to the south, on the East Dulwich and Champion Hill estates, or to the north in the streets around Brunswick Park - who could use the road as a north-south link on foot or bike. But all Southwark residents can respond online, whether or not you received a paper leaflet.
Our comments to Southwark Council Highways officers and local councillors
- We don’t believe the council should spend more than £1million in public funds to strengthen the bridge to allow vehicles of more than 3 tonnes to drive through (something some local car owners have been calling for). This won’t improve safety or air pollution anywhere in the surrounding area. The only answer is to make sure heavy good vehicles and vans crossing London use main roads not residential roads.
- We don’t support the idea of traffic lights allowing cars through in one direction at a time (as proposed in the council consultation). It sounds like a compromise but it wouldn’t reduce motor traffic on neighbouring streets and it would create a big hole in the Quietway 7 route. This section would become too dangerous for children to ride independently, and would very probably have illegal levels of air pollution.
- We call for Quietway 7 to be completed to the highest standards so that it enables people of all ages to choose to make short journeys by bike or on foot in confidence and safety.
- We call for a robust plan from Southwark Council to make all residential streets across Camberwell and Peckham safer and quieter.
Please respond to the consultation yourself here.