The Movement Plan approved by Southwark Council in 2019 (download here) claims to be a bold vision to change how we get around the borough over the next 20 years. How does it measure up in the light of Southwark Council’s declaration of a climate emergency at the end of March 2019?
Let’s start with the good news. We’re told that 77% of Southwark people who were surveyed support reducing traffic. And there’s an exciting sounding policy to introduce street closures to reallocate space for people. But as we read on, what sounded like a commitment to deliver more healthy streets turns out to be a commitment to ‘explore’ acting – is this code for commissioning more studies from consultants? In fact the whole document falls down on a lack of detailed commitments and deadlines.
Will the Movement Plan really help us to walk and cycle more?
Many more people would like to cycle if only it felt safe, rather than having to jostle with drivers cutting through residential areas.. Similarly, many people hop on the bus for a short journey because the alternative – perhaps a noisy, polluted, grubby street with a pavement that’s a bit too narrow for comfort – just isn’t appealing. Imagine how different it would be if you positively chose to walk those ten minutes because it gave you a chance to go through a small park, pick up groceries or walk side by side, chatting with friends. (This is called, in the jargon, ‘suppressed demand’ for walking and cycling).
It’s cheering to see here a map of the full cycle network proposed in 2015 in the accompanying Local Implementation Plan (under 'Action 4'). But no quality standards, funding or delivery deadlines are proposed - so about as useful as a freshly painted cycle logo on a rat-run. Nor does it show TfL's proposed routes, including the flagship Rotherhithe Bridge. (The Mayor pulled the plug on the Rotherhithe Bridge in June - Caroline Russell has called for a free ferry crossing to be put in place quickly instead).
There’s a new walking network map, but it lacks routes, particularly in the southern half of borough and on the Rotherhithe peninsula. And with funding focused on 'fun' interventions and promotion, maybe this will be a 'virtual' network, something you will only see with an Augmented Reality app?
It’s great to see that the council plans again to allow contraflow cycling on all one-way streets. Initially proposed in 2015, the only thing that has happened since is that the council lost the money it had earmarked for this. But there are no actions related to equality in cycling – making it possible for all ages and abilities to cycle safely. And the text is far too vague when it comes to promises to extend 'the cycle hire schemes' across the borough. Maybe that’s because the clear commitment to do so in Southwark Labour’s 2014 manifesto still hasn’t been met. We all know there is a massive hole in the availability of Santander hire bikes in London – and that hole is in Southwark!
Transport for London map showing hire bike docking stations in red. (Interactive version here)
So tell us, Southwark Council, will you invest in getting TfL hire bikes installed all the way to Rotherhithe and Camberwell? We don’t want another debacle like the Mobo and ofo bike hire schemes, which had to be abandoned after a less than a year. We want to be part of a reliable, London-wide scheme. Tell us where and by when we can expect them!
You’ll never miss a target if you never set one
When it comes to targets, the Movement Plan is seriously disappointing. There is still no target to reduce motor traffic before 2041. With Southwark Council having passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’, and emissions from the transport sector being the biggest single source,we need real leadership on the actions that will make that possible.
The Movement Plan does include a target to reduce 10% morning peak freight traffic by 2026. In other words taking seven years to reduce traffic by 3% for three hours per day! The Belgian city of Ghent reduced all rush hour motor traffic by 12% in just the first year of its 'filtered permeability' plan.
Progress in reducing collisions on Southwark streets has stalled since 2013 and has now gone into reverse. But there are no new actions proposed on road safety other than ‘working with the police’ and installing moped anchors to secure powered two wheelers safely’.
What would we do? Read our proposals for cutting carbon through changing the way we get around.
In March 2019, Southwark Council passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’. Transport is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in our borough, so we need real leadership on transport to change the way we get around and deliver goods.
Here are some proposals from Southwark Green Party for the kind of interventions we will need to meet the target of going climate neutral by 2030.
1. Green our streets
Southwark's own reports show that the borough has lost 1,000 street trees in the last ten years.
We would make sure all these lost trees are replaced, and plant new trees to absorb carbon and clean particulate pollution from the air. By replacing a car parking space with trees, cycle parking and parklets using Sustainable Urban Drainage principles, we would both improve the air locally, offset emissions and adapt to higher rainfall, reducing the risk of flash flooding.
2. Put low and zero carbon travel first
We'd radically improve conditions for walking and cycling for people of all ages and abilities. We would do this by making streets accessible to cars but not convenient as short-cuts. We’ve seen this work in Walthamstow, where traffic levels fell by 56%.
We’d create bus and cycle ‘gates’ that make taking the bus faster than taking a car or Uber. This would be useful on the Walworth Road, by Blue Anchor Library, and on Thurlow St. The council could ask TfL to do this on streets controlled by TfL, like Borough High St and on Duke St Hill by London Bridge.
We would deliver a cycling network that meets Londonwide quality standards by 2025 and create Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across the borough to prioritise walking.
Van Gogh Walk, a low traffic street in Lambeth.
3. Manage parking better to influence transport choices
We propose a rush hour ban on loading/unloading for combustion engine vehicles to reduce peak hour congestion and encourage use of zero-carbon freight cycles. We’d support freight cycle services by providing micro consolidation hubs. Team London Bridge are helping businesses based in their area to find cargo bike services that suit them. Cargo bikes take up less space than vans and offer more reliable journey times, as well as putting out zero emissions.
Photo from https://www.outspokencycles.co.uk/london-bridge-cargo-bike-expo/
At the moment there’s a confusing range of ‘click and collect’ services. We’d produce an interactive map of the best places to pick up parcels rather than getting them delivered to work or home.
Southwark has fewer Controlled Parking Zones than most other London boroughs. We think CPZs are a good way to reduce the dominance of our streets by parked cars, to help ensure car owners can park nearer home, and to discourage the most polluting vehicles.
A small but emblematic action: while parking places are needed near shops, why does Southwark Council offer private car-owners a Christmas bonus with free parking on shopping parades? Instead, we'd encourage everyone to shop local with incentives for walking and cycling, like free cargo bike deliveries along the lines of the Waltham Forest Christmas Courier.
4 Enable lower & zero emission movement
We need investment to help people choose an alternative to the private car. We would roll out the TfL Cycle Hire scheme to include the whole area within the Overground in Southwark (i.e. including Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill & Rotherhithe) by 2022. We’d work with companies providing e-bikes and e-cars for whole borough.
We support the idea of TfL taking control of south London railway lines to improve reliability and quality of the service. And we need big improvements to key stations like Peckham Rye that still shamefully have no step-free access. Denmark Hill has more passengers per day passing through it than Nottingham – and is dangerously overcrowded at peak times.
Buses, vans and cars travelling at lower speeds takes less energy, and improves safety for pedestrians. We’d make the council fleet of vans and cars, as well as their subcontractors, use Intelligent Speed Adaptation. We’d push for it to be rolled out on local buses by TfL too.
5. Engage people
It’s hard to know how we’re doing as a borough, with figures buried in official reports. So we’d create a live digital dashboard showing annual reductions in emissions and daily progress in getting people travelling actively - like a smart meter for Southwark transport. How many people are cycling down the Walworth Road today? How many delivery companies have changed to electric or pedal power? We'd talk to neighbours and community groups from early on about their ideas for the methods and locations for measures to reduce traffic and air pollution. We'd test out ideas using temporary, colourful materials – try it out with straw bales and paint for a month before installing concrete slabs!
How will we pay for it?
Getting drivers to pay a fairer contribution to the costs they impose on us all will encourage other forms of travel. All the money raised from parking charges has to be spent on transport improvements, so they help improve other forms of travel. Consider how much we are paying now to keep things as they are. Asthma alone costs the UK health service at least £1.1 billion each year, with the health service in Southwark particularly badly affected. And there's a heavy human cost too. We can’t carry on with business as usual. It’s killing us.
Other parts of our plan simply involve a redirection of money that Southwark Council already receives from Transport for London.
Some of these ideas might seem a bit off-the-wall – but measures introduced by the London Assembly like the Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone have been established without any of the chaos predicted by some commentators.
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Southwark Green Party submitted today its objections to the Canada Water Masterplan. Despite further changes made by the developers in response to mounting local opposition, the vast majority of our serious concerns remain unaddressed, and we continue to support the wider community campaign opposing the planning application.
See our detailed feedback, and email response template:Read more
Derwent Grove before and after the commuters go home – photo courtesy of @edstnparking
If you live in Peckham West or East Dulwich, you will have received a consultation survey from Southwark Council, called “Parking zone and healthier streets.” The Peckham West consultation closes today; the East Dulwich one on 28 February.
The council explains the reason for the consultation: they have received many requests for permit parking from residents in East Dulwich since 2015 and they expect parking pressure to increase.
Please respond to the consultation. Here are some points you may wish to consider.Read more
We've just responded to Southwark Council's consultation on proposed changes to streets between Burgess Park and Commercial Way. Some of our members took part in the three public walkabouts and workshops last year to identify problems in the area.
Eleanor said: 'It was the first really integrated transport consultation process I'd taken part in - thinking about walking, cycling and parking together. There was also valuable input from Dutch transport consultants who brought a very positive attitude and some new ideas.'
Problems identified included:
- the dangerous crossing of Peckham Road from Kelly Avenue to Lyndhurst Way, where cyclists get no clue as to when it's safe to cross,
- the hostile atmosphere for cyclists on Commercial Way - especially noticeable when other sections of the route (Kelly Avenue, Chandler Way) are pleasant for walking and cycling because there's access for residents and deliveries in motor vehicles but no through traffic,
- lack of capacity for an increase in the number of people cycling via Burgess Park - and thus the need for safe routes on the parallel roads (East-West on St George's Way and North-South on Wells Way),
- the need for cycle routes that are safe 24 hours a day, i.e. benefitting from the 'eyes on the street', rather than being directed through Burgess Park,
- commuters parking on St George's Way early in the morning before heading into central London, with vehicles blocking parking for local residents,
- vehicles for sale parked up on Wells Way.
It's really good to see how the proposals have taken on board the observations made by people on those walkabouts.
What's more, the council is making use of an 'experimental' approach with its suggestion for changes to St George's Way. The changes will be open for public comments for 18 months before a decision is made whether to make a permanent change. This is a really welcome approach. Local residents can experience the difference, rather than having to make a decision based on drawings.
You've got till Friday 11 January to respond - do send in your comments if you live in this area or walk/cycle through (or would, if only it was safer). It doesn't take long, and you can choose just to answer on sections relevant to you.
Read on for details of our response ...Read more
When Caroline Russell first became a transport campaigner in the early 1990s, she was courted by both Labour and the Lib Dems to stand in local elections. But, she says: “I knew I always trusted what the Greens said on transport.”
Twenty-five years on, Caroline is a councillor in Highbury East ward, Islington – the only Green on a council that is otherwise 100% Labour. With Sian Berry, she is also one of two Green members of the London Assembly and chair of the assembly’s environment committee, holding mayor Sadiq Khan to account to ensure he delivers on promises to reduce air pollution and make travelling around London safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Caroline works tirelessly for environmental and social justice, and we were delighted to welcome her as our guest speaker at Southwark Green Party’s AGM, held on 15 November at the Albrighton Centre, SE22.Read more
Just 8 days after the Council elections, British Land submitted its planning application for the Canada Water Masterplan – handily ensuring there was no opportunity to debate it during the election campaign.
Only three sites are set out in detail. Yet as the developer has submitted a “hybrid” planning application, British Land will not require any further planning applications provided they stay within these (very broad) outline plans.
Southwark Green Party has repeatedly raised serious concerns over the Canada Water Masterplan proposals, which have not been addressed. We are now supporting the wider community campaign opposing the planning application.
See our detailed feedback, and email response template:Read more
What is this Planning Application?
The Canada Water Masterplan covers approx. 53 acres comprising the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, the Printworks and Surrey Quays Leisure Park sites, former Dock Offices Courtyard, the former Rotherhithe Police Station and the site at Roberts Close.
The planning application can be found at this link. It's made up of 212 documents, which makes it very difficult for a non-expert to have the time or specialist knowledge to tackle.
Southwark Green Party has worked with the Southwark Law Centre and Southwark Community Action Network (CAN) to identify the legitimate grounds on which planning applications can be successfully challenged. Fundamentally, there has to be "material considerations" relative to the planning policy framework for the area covered by this application.
We have structured our response as follows:
- Summary Response
- Overall Development Objectives
- Building Height, Density and Usage
- Right to Light Impacts
- Transport Impacts
- Other infrastructure Impacts
- Social and Heritage Impacts
- Environmental Impacts
- Leeway to change plans going forward
- Cumulative impacts
Please see our final response here.
What you can do
It's very important that Southwark Council's Planning Committee receives as many comments on the Canada Water Masterplan planning application as possible so that councillors understand the depth and range of local residents' concerns.
We, therefore, suggest you might want to use the following as the basis for your response - just highlight it, copy it, paste it into the feedback box below, amend it as you see fit, and then submit it. Your contact details will automatically be added and we will send you a copy of your response.
I am writing regarding Planning Application 18/AP/1604. While I support the principle that the area should be redeveloped, I oppose this planning application for the following reasons.
Building Heights, Density and Usage
The New London Plan Policy D6 requires development proposals to be developed "at the optimum density". Particular consideration should be given to transport connectivity and the capacity of surrounding infrastructure. The Policy goes on to state that proposed residential development that does not demonstrably optimise the housing density of the site in accordance with this policy should be refused.
It is clear from the developer's own evidence that the developer has sought to maximise (not optimise) density, notably
- In Planning Statement paragraph 7.4.44 where it admits that the Canada Water Area Action Plan (CWAAP) maximum densities are exceeded.
- With regard to retail floorspace, the target of up to 88,568 sq m is excessive given the CWAAP target of 35,000 sq m
- With regard to office floorspace, the target of up to 320,588 sq m is very excessive given the CWAAP target of 12,000 sq m
Together this results in far too densely packed development, especially given the density and character of the immediate area. Even after taking account of the welcome reductions in the maximum heights of some of the zone in the October 2018 update, this also results in building heights that are excessive, and that do not integrate well with the surrounding area.
The escalation from less than 30m to 129m is too extreme.
The other tall buildings in that cluster are a maximum of 87m tall. Given this and the scaling issue, this building should be <=87m in height.
Planning Statement paragraph 7.4.35 states that "To address overlooking issues, the massing of the rear building has evolved to create a series of stepped inaccessible planted terraces to help prevent overlooking of adjacent residences...and the planting will be secured in the form of a Landscaping Management Plan.”
The developer is admitting that they have not fully addressed local community concerns, and that even this solution is not fully “built-in”, but is dependent on ongoing maintenance of the planted terraces. It is not clear that the adjustments made in the October 2018 update are sufficient to alleviate this concern.
The excessive housing density in this plot is achieved by building up to mainly six storeys. This is too high for its location on the edge of Russia Dock Woodland. The height needs to be lowered by at least one storey, both to reduce the density and to respect the Woodland.
Right to Light and Privacy Impacts
The tall buildings will create significant shadowing impacts on multiple residencies, and on the Canada Water basin which will impact wildlife and plant life.
- Plot A1 breaks BRE Guidance on light requirements for residents in Orchard House and Columbia Point, and threatens to put half of Columbia Point into 2.5 hours extra darkness a day. This will impact on local amenities and wildlife. The shadow studies suggest it will impact the Canada Water Basin, encouraging algae growth and kill wildlife in the basin.
- Plot K1 will specifically overshadow and overlook two local schools.
Fundamentally, the developer is claiming that despite there being adverse impacts, that these are somehow not material. For example, their modelling is said to indicate that tube journeys to Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations will increase during the morning peak. It is suggested however that this pressure may be relieved by an interchange at New Cross Gate with the Bakerloo Line extension (not even a committed project!) and (much further away) an interchange at Tottenham Court Road with Crossrail.
Additionally, that as a result of this "increased inbound movement" passengers previously travelling to Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations "will seek alternative routes that avoid the area.", yet tens of thousands of additional passengers will simultaneously need to travel into the area for the up to 30,000 proposed new jobs.
Cycle parking is proposed to be provided in line with the minimum London Plan requirements. This is insufficient - cycle parking should be provided based on the standards in the draft New London Plan. The street network should also meet the "Healthy Streets" standards.
Overall, the feedback from Transport for London that "... there will be implications for the transport network from increased demand, and that mitigation is required to deliver transport improvements and, in particular, more capacity on public transport." needs to be addressed before this planning application can proceed.
Other infrastructure Impacts
The development will put extra pressure on other local infrastructure such as schools and health centres, but without any plans on how to increase them. As with transport, these services are already operating at or near full capacity.
Social and Heritage Impacts
Although the Masterplan is supposed to be an example of regeneration it offers no improvements for local residents and no improvement in quality of life. Any changes proposed that are being marketed as improvements (e.g. new leisure centre) are just re-building of what already exists (e.g. we already have a leisure centre in Rotherhithe which this replaces).
Even given the welcome improvements in ratios in the October 2018 update, the proportions of different types of residence still seem to be too biased towards studio and 1-bed flats, with too few 3-beds or larger. Given the lack of sufficient numbers of larger residences in the immediate area, this will prevent people establishing families and will force them to move out of the area, making the community increasingly transitory.
A specific number of affordable housing units by type should be stated and not dependent on grant funding, or at the very least the dependency etc. must be defined. The approach to determining “affordable” should also be stated.
The developer states that there is insufficient amenity space, and the proposed justifications are not acceptable – e.g. the reliance on existing, over-stretched space such as Southwark Park.
Making Plot K1 wholly "social and intermediate affordable housing" is not acceptable in terms of community cohesion and is incompatible with Planning Statement paragraph 7.3.90. This segregation is made worse by the physical distance of the site from the main nodes of the development.
The main energy objective of the draft New London Plan is for London to become a zero-carbon city by 2050. For this reason, the zero-carbon target that the 2016 version set for major residential developments is extended to include major non-residential development upon publication of the document which is expected in 2019. The developer does not even claim to meet the New London Plan requirements, nor is it clear that it meets the existing London Plan Policies. This is further evidenced by the failure to commit to achieving specific targets, and for the lack of ambition in the aspirational goals.
The development will reduce the per capita open space in the area, and put more pressure on other open space in the area, notably Southwark Park, Russia Dock Woodland and Stave Hill Ecology Park.
The Southwark Biodiversity Action Plan 2013 - 2019 states: "All major and minor developments should incorporate nesting or roosting sites for relevant species of birds and bats. Preference should always be given to 'built-in' features such as roosting bricks, bat tubes and bat bricks". The current design does not accommodate these features.
A minimum of 20% of parking spaces is proposed to be equipped with electric vehicle charging facilities with a further 20% with passive provision. This is insufficient - good practice would be for more parking spaces to be equipped initially, and all parking spaces to at least have passive provision.
Leeway to change plans going forward
The application seeks to reserve all matters for the Outline Proposals. It then states that "the Development comprises a true mix of uses which will be built out over a prolonged period of time and will encounter market fluctuations, full economic cycles and demand pressures. The need for flexibility is therefore paramount to allow the Development to respond to changing needs and patterns as future phases come forward for development.”
The degree of flexibility requested is far too great to allow any reasonable judgement on the merits of anything except the detailed proposals for plots A1, A2 and K1. The application should therefore not be allowed to reserve all matters for the Outline Proposals. Due consideration, in consultation with the community, the council and other relevant parties (such as TfL), of these “…market fluctuations, full economic cycles and demand pressures” should take place through submission of future detailed planning applications for specific sites.
The developer undertakes little consideration of the numerous other recent or planned developments that will have a cumulative impact on the viability of their proposal. The Convoys Wharf, New Bermondsey, Timberyard, and Biscuity Factory Bermondsey all have the potential to significantly impact the viability of this development - especially with regard to transportation, but also with regard to the balance of usage types (office vs. leisure vs. residential). This further undermines confidence in the sustainability of this development.
Left to right: Barbara Pattinson (SE5 Forum), Eleanor Margolies (Southwark Green Party), Magda Devas (Women's Equality Party, Lambeth), Becca Thackray (Green councillor, Herne Hill ward, Lambeth), Jemima Hartshorn (Mums for Lungs)
Eleanor Margolies and Phil Vabulas from Southwark Green Party were delighted to join a study trip to Walthamstow - to walk around the streets that have been transformed by reducing through motor traffic. The walking tour was led by Paul Gasson of Walthamstow Village Residents' Association, and Dan Kelly, a parent and school governor.
The walk took in streets alongside a primary school where children are now able to walk, scoot and play without fear of constant passing traffic, the largest street market in Europe, new squares for community use and thriving parades of small shops.
One of five newly elected Green councillors in Lambeth, Becca Thackray said the visit was: 'A breath of fresh air to see just what can be achieved, in terms of traffic calming, pollution-lowering, urban greening and improving physical, mental and community health'.
We support the Liveable London campaign and are pleased to see the London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets working together, showing that we have common interests as people who want safer, more pleasant streets, whether on foot or on cycle.
If elected as councillors, we will do everything we can to implement policies to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle.
Southwark Greens have been working for more action on air pollution in Southwark since 2011. Our actions include:
• triggering the first full council debate on air pollution
• putting up nitrogen dioxide pollution monitors near schools in Peckham, Camberwell and Dulwich
• taking a 500+ signature petition to the Mayor for cleaner buses through our area
• running a free Travel Clinic at Brunswick Park summer fete to help people work out how much they could save by giving up a private car
• planting a pollution screen round Goose Green Primary school playground
More details here.
Southwark Greens have opposed Southwark Council’s plans to demolish Peckham Arch and asked the Mayor to look at how these plans fail to take into account TfL’s identification of a high potential for walking and cycling in Peckham.
We support CS4 - a cycle route going between Tower Bridge and Greenwich - and would like Southwark Council and TfL to work together to fill in the missing pieces. We support the idea of a new bridge across the river for pedestrians and cyclists - the Brunel Bridge.Read more