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Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood: FAQs

Find out more about next steps for the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN

The revised Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood is recommended to be retained - alongside a package of environmental measures including new trees, more school streets, electric car charging points, improved crossings, bike parking and ongoing traffic and air quality monitoring in around the area – as evidence shows it is meeting its aim of reducing traffic, improving air quality and encouraging more walking and cycling.

The recommendation will be considered by Mayor and Cabinet on 12 January. You can find out more about the recommendation, the LTN and other environmental measures below.

Where can I read the Mayor and Cabinet report?

You can read the Mayor and Cabinet report on our website.

Where can I read the consultation report?

You can read the consultation report on our website.

Where can I find the monitoring data?

You can find the monitoring data on our website.

The original LTN showed a much bigger reduction in traffic in the LTN – why don’t you revert to that version of the LTN?

Our monitoring data shows that under the original LTN, traffic levels dropped by 69% - under the revised LTN they dropped by 20%. However, we know that we didn’t get things right first time, and we acted on residents’ concerns back in November 2020 and made significant changes to the LTN.

This addressed many of the initial concerns and the volume of correspondence we received dropped significantly. The revised LTN has continued to have a positive impact on traffic levels within the LTN, and no significant concerns have been raised with the Council since it was implemented in November 2020.

We will continue to monitor traffic and air quality and continue to listen and take any additional action necessary.

A majority of people told you they did not feel positively about the LTN – so why are you seeking to retain it?

The consultation was not a referendum. It was intended to help us to understand people’s experiences of both versions of the LTN, and to feed into wider considerations. As a Council we have a responsibility to make difficult decisions – we know that not everyone wants to keep the LTN, but after careful consideration, and balancing the benefits and impacts, we believe the revised LTN has an important role to play in tackling the climate emergency, by driving down traffic, improving air quality and encouraging people to use more sustainable and active modes of transport.

Likewise, we know that some people want us to go much further.

What was clear from the responses to the consultation was that people were keen to see more incentives to walk and cycle, as well as green infrastructure.

The Council is committed to supporting wider London action to improving air quality for future generations across our capital. Taking steps to retain the LTN is important in our journey towards a greener Lewisham, and an important part of the bigger picture of change across London, to improve air quality and reduce the number of cars on our roads.

If approved by Mayor and Cabinet, we will publish a permanent traffic order retaining the revised Lewisham and Lee Green LTN and complete the necessary statutory processes.

Why didn’t you ask people via the consultation if they wanted the LTN or not?

The purpose of the consultation was to gain an understanding of people’s views and experiences of both versions of the LTN, to consider alongside the evidence we have gathered on the performance of the LTN – it was not a referendum.

The consultation responses are part of the wider review; the decision will be made on a wide range of evidence and set in the context of the Council’s agreed policies and strategies.

What has the impact on air quality been?

Overall, air quality in the borough has been improving in recent years. This is due to a combination of improvements to new vehicles and emissions, as well as measures introduced by the Mayor of London, such as ULEZ and the Congestion Charge.

However, traffic in Lewisham is continuing to increase. Department for Transport figures show that between 2009-2019, traffic increased by almost 25%. As road traffic is the single largest contributor to nitrogen dioxide emissions in the UK, we have to make fewer car journeys.

Monitoring found that the overall mean NO2 concentration for the LTN monitoring network was 29.0 ug/m3 for the original scheme and 31.4 ug/m3 for the revised scheme.The legal limit is 40 ug/m3

Overall, air quality is improving in our borough, with no single site in 2020 breaching World Health Organization or UK legal limits for nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Where can I view up to date or ‘live’ air quality data?

Data is available on our website.

What are you doing to tackle PM 2.5 pollution?

The world is facing a climate emergency and we urgently need to do more to improve air quality in London. There are certain factors that we can influence by making changes – a key one being nitrogen dioxide (NO and NO2) levels. Department for Transport figures show that between 2009-2019, traffic in Lewisham increased by almost 25%. The introduction of both versions of the LTN did not have a negative impact on nitrogen dioxide levels on the South Circular. As road traffic is the single largest contributor to nitrogen dioxide emissions in the UK, we have to make fewer car journeys.

Particulate matter (PM 2.5) is much harder to influence as it is affected by complex causes, including global weather patterns. No local authority – or country – has found a way to significantly impact its cause or effect, and we continue to lobby the government to pursue this important issue.

Locally, we need to make difficult decisions that not everyone will welcome. In 2019 Lewisham Council declared a climate emergency, and committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. To achieve this, we need to make changes to the way we live our lives. Going forward, we will work with residents to implement other schemes and incentives across the borough to promote healthier and more sustainable ways of travelling in and around our borough.

Why don’t you have a full set of monitoring data?

If the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN had been introduced in usual times we would have undertaken full before and after monitoring and had data that was fully comparable. Unfortunately, due to the timescales and expectations set by central government, councils were expected to rapidly introduce measures that would reallocate road space to walking and cycling without the full range of traffic studies and preparatory work that would normally be done for such measures.

We have done as much as we can to provide comparable data, which was available in the consultation leaflet. All other data collected as part of the scheme is available in the monitoring report, which can be accessed on our website.

Has the LTN reduced rat running?

Compliance with traffic restrictions at camera-controlled sites has increased, which indicates the scheme is meeting the requirement to reduce through traffic.

Traffic patterns may not have settled into a ‘new normal’ yet – why do you have to make a decision now?

The LTN was introduced under a temporary traffic order, which is due to expire – without formally retaining the LTN on a permanent basis, it would not be enforceable. At the time of writing, TfL data suggests that traffic is now at 97% of pre-pandemic rates. We will continue to monitor traffic and air quality levels and take any necessary action, by working with residents.

Why didn’t you consult widely residents before introducing the LTN?

If the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN had been introduced in usual times we would have consulted more widely with residents and ensured they were involved in the development of the scheme. Unfortunately, due to the timescales and expectations set by central government, councils were expected to rapidly introduce measures that would reallocate road space to walking and cycling without the preparatory work that would normally be undertaken for such measures. However, we listened to residents and acted on feedback in November 2020, which resulted in substantial changes being made to the scheme. We consulted to find out about people’s experiences of both versions of the LTN in summer 2021.

Why was the Lewisham and Lee Green area prioritised for an LTN?

The Lewisham and Lee Green area was selected as a location for an LTN in part due to ongoing and consistent concerns raised with the Council by residents over a number of years about traffic congestion, traffic speeds, road safety and number of collisions, as well as walking and cycling improvements.

How will the plans affect emergency service vehicles?

If approved, all remaining physical road closures will be changed to camera enforced restrictions, to further improve access for the emergency services, to reduce vandalism and operational costs.

Was there a difference in the experience of people who owned and did not own a car?

49% of households in Lewisham do not have access to a car. There was a difference in the experiences of those who identified as drivers and pedestrians in the consultation. The majority of respondents who identified themselves as solely walking/cycling felt positively about both variants of the LTN. The majority of respondents who identified themselves as drivers felt negatively about both variants of the LTN.

Do LTNs just move traffic from one area to another?

Not necessarily – the intention isn’t to move traffic from one place to another, but to reduce the number of unnecessary car journeys. The Lewisham and Lee Green LTN is not intended to work in isolation, but as part of a pattern of behaviour change across the borough – and across London.

During the settling in phase of a scheme like this, surrounding roads do become more congested while drivers adjust to the new layout – this was experienced in Lewisham. Changes were made to the scheme in November 2020 and issues and complaints dropped significantly.

Schemes elsewhere have demonstrated that if walking and cycling is safer and more convenient for shorter trips, fewer people will use their cars unnecessarily. They may also decide not to make certain trips, to travel at quieter times, switch to public transport or combine trips. However, this takes time to take effect.

We will continue to monitor traffic levels in and around the LTN.

Schemes like this also aim to combat the movement of traffic caused by Sat Navs. In recent years Sat Nav technology has moved through traffic from main roads, which have suitable infrastructure (such as camera-controlled traffic lights, parking controls at peak times etc) onto side roads, which are more hazardous for vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists and create noise and vibrations on narrow, residential roads. While this may shave a minute or so off a car journey, it can lead to blocked roads and longer journey times when an obstruction occurs.

Some people need to drive – how do LTNs impact them?

The LTN has always been accessible by car. It is designed to remove through traffic by making these journeys more inconvenient, and making it easier to walk and cycle.

However, Lewisham Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and the recent COP-26 has reinforced just how serious and urgent the climate crisis is. This is about taking collective responsibility; we all need to change how we live our lives if we are to make a difference. Road traffic is the single largest contributor to nitrogen dioxide emissions in the UK – put simply, we have to make fewer car journeys.

We want to discourage people from using our borough’s roads as “rat runs”, and encourage residents to use sustainable, healthy modes of transport for shorter journeys so that those who need to drive can use our roads, while bringing down overall emissions and improving journeys for those who need to use a vehicle.

Are there any exemptions?

Yes, Lewisham Blue Badge holders are able to apply for an exemption. Emergency Service vehicles have full access to the LTN.

Will the Council be rolling out more LTNs?

We remain committed to the outcomes that LTNs aim to achieve and we will continue to explore how best to achieve them and will ensure that residents are involved in shaping future plans.

What other measures to tackle the climate emergency is Lewisham Council taking?

Since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, we’ve taken significant steps towards our goal to make Lewisham carbon neutral by 2030. This includes:

Introduced school streets outside over 33 local primary schools to help children walk and cycle to school safely and to help protect young lungs from harmful emissions – with a further seven to be introduced next term.

Launching a Community Energy Fund which offered up to £15,000 one-off grants to local community initiatives to support energy efficiency and carbon reduction projects, such as solar panels on community buildings.

Upgrading our fleet of waste and recycling vehicles to comply with the highest standard of emissions.

Launching a new Climate Conversation campaign to support residents to take action to address the climate emergency.

Successfully bidding for £3.7 million in central government funding to make local homes, community centres and adult learning centres more sustainable and energy efficient through a series of low carbon improvements.

Developing planning guidance in consultation with local residents which aims to make Catford the greenest town centre in London.

Find out more about how we’re addressing the climate crisis.

Has the Council carried out an equalities impact assessment of the impact of the LTN?

Yes. The Equality Impact Analysis shows that the current LTN measures impact all groups positively overall and in particular the ones that may traditionally suffer from inequalities such as children, young adults, disabled people, pregnant women and young mothers, members of the LGBT community and BAME groups. This is because the scheme has shown being successful at generally decreasing traffic levels and speeds.

Quieter streets mean less noise and vibrations, increased road safety and natural surveillance, due to more people able to walk and cycle safely, increased opportunities for all to be active on the streets, more space on the carriageway for people using various wheeled transport equipment such, tricycle, adapted cycles, cargo-bikes, more and quieter space to play, stop and chat with neighbours, increased footfall and cycle flows supporting a vibrant local economy, more space and time to enjoy streets architectural and natural features, more opportunities to access facilities for people that found that using public transport or a car was too expensive and a lower carbon footprint overall.

The Equality Impact Analysis did highlight some potential negative impacts on the protected groups. The negative impacts are related to the requirement for those using a motor vehicle to use alternative routes to reach their destination in the area, which may be longer. The negative impact is associated with the increased time, distance and cost for those using a motor vehicle to reach their destination. It should be noted that all properties remain accessible by motor vehicle and there are other ways to travel which will be improved by the proposals including for those who walk and cycle. The main negative impact therefore is on those people where the use of a motor vehicle to travel across the area to reach their destination is essential.

As part of this assessment, it is recognised this could be those people that are disabled, elderly, mobility impaired, or care for a relative or friend that need to use a motor vehicle to travel across the area. In order to reduce and limit the negative impacts that have been identified a number of key suggestions have been made details of which can be found in appendix J of the report to Mayor and Cabinet.

It is recognised that for some protected groups that have to take journeys by motor vehicle, may be disproportionately negatively impacted, however, the impact of longer journey times for some people is deemed to have been reduced by the improvements for the opportunity for independent travel provided by the proposals and the expected improvements to air quality, safety, noise and wellbeing benefits to these groups.

Will the Lee Gate CPZ still be reviewed?

Yes – following requests from local residents and ward councillors, we had planned to review the hours of operation of the Lee Gate controlled parking zone – this was postponed by the pandemic but we will revisit this early next year.

Residents have been asking for new Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) to be considered in certain parts of Lee and Hither Green. Can these be introduced?

We are considering new locations for new CPZs, which residents and local councillors have brought to the attention to the Council. These will require assessments of parking pressures and an assessment of solutions if they are required. The process is complex and if the evidence shows an area will benefit from controlled parking a proposal will be consulted upon with residents and businesses before any decision is made to proceed. You can find out more about how CPZs are developed and implemented on our website.

When will the new environmental measures be introduced?

If Mayor and Cabinet approve the recommendations, the Council will introduce these in the new financial year, subject to funding.

Will you be rolling out some of these green measures in other areas of the borough?

Yes – subject to available funding.

Why can’t you directly compare air quality in the LTN area before the scheme was introduced?

As explained, we do not have a perfect set of data. We do not have equivalent monitoring data for this area before the LTN was introduced.