According to a survey published recently, Wellesley Road in central Croydon is the eighth most congested road in the capital.
Not satisfied with that, Croydon Council’s cabinet of senior councillors, together with Transport for London, seem intent on getting Wellesley Road to the No1 spot.
Their vision of a “greener” road involves the following :
- Several extra pedestrian crossings, which will inevitably stop trams, buses and other vehicles, causing tailbacks at every junction.
- Removing of one lane of traffic to create a central reservation
- Lansdowne Road to be closed to exiting traffic. All vehicles from the area east of Wellesley Road wanting to go south, including from the new 50-storey high-rise buildings, will be forced to come out of Sydenham Road instead, resulting in considerably more traffic on Wellesley Road having to stop for two new pedestrian crossings at the junction with Lansdowne Road.
- The possibility of north-bound buses from East Croydon Station being re-routed into Dingwall Road, crossing two tram lanes, a bus and vehicle lane, and the heavily used pedestrian crossing on Dingwall Road from George Street to the station.
- Worst of all is the proposed new car entrance and exit to the Whitgift Centre just north of the underpass exit, south of Lansdowne Road. Cars from the underpass going into the car park would stop buses and other vehicles coming from the George Street junction, causing a serious queues to, and possibly over, the nearby junction.
From the people who brought us the recipe for traffic congestion that is the tram and bus stop log-jam outside East Croydon Station, they have truly surpassed themselves this time.
On Wellesley Road, buses and other vehicles going north from this junction would stop the traffic from underpass wanting to go into the car park. In the weeks before Christmas, this area has always been subject to congestion, but these proposals seem certain to make a bad situation far worse.
All traffic on the surface and from the underpass on the west side, and all vehicles going south on the east side to the underpass would have to stop to enable cars coming out of the car park to cross to the east side of the road to go south.
As if that was not enough, the geniuses at the council and TfL want to amalgamate the two lanes of traffic from the underpass as they re-emerge at street level to enable the central reservation to be constructed.
All of this, of course, will cost millions of pound of public money, while creating considerable disruption for commuters, shoppers and residents months on end. To what end? The planners claim that they want to “simplify” and “improve” vehicle movement. In all likelihood, as buses and cars sit in traffic jams and tail-backs caused by the revised junctions and new crossings, all that will appear will be the smog of pollution caused by idling engines – right in the centre of an area where Croydon Council aspires to home thousands of new residents.
A reputation for bad traffic congestion is hardly likely to attract out-of-area shoppers to Croydon’s hoped-for £1 billion shopping centre; how the Wellesley Road traffic pipe dreams will fit with the finalised plans for the “Hammersfield” mega-mall from Hammersons and Westfield on the site of the Whitgift Centre remains to be seen.
Another contender for London’s Top 10 most congested roads will be the Cherry Orchard junction with Addiscombe Road.
According to the East Croydon Masterplan, a dedicated drop-off point on Cherry Orchard Road in a lay-by just north of the junction with Addiscombe Road is to be used for taxi drop-offs – sited there instead of on Billington Hill – which “will improve the effectiveness” of the present facility.
As only about four spaces seem to be provided, the rush hour queue for dropping off/picking up from all these vehicles will cause congestion tailing back to the junction and tram track, and in the nearby junctions.
As for “increasing accessibility” for pedestrians… a long walk for those with heavy luggage, with limited mobility or in the pouring rain, from Cherry Orchard Road, or half way up Billinton Hill to get a taxi is what awaits pedestrians under these plans. Of course, they might always use the new £22 million bridge. Except, of course, the developers on that side of the railways tracks have refused to honour their development benefit agreement and allow an entrance to the bridge to be built.
With another 50-storey block for 240 flats (and providing just 40 parking spaces – where will the other 200 car-owning flat-dwellers park their vehicles?) planned for the Royal Mail building on the corner of Cherry Orchard Road and Addiscombe Road, and the Menta Tower a short distance away including with “substantial retail” in its scheme, the various vehicles for these inevitably will add to an already congested area.
The East Croydon Masterplan also offers another new pedestrian crossing, from No1 Croydon to the south side of George Street, with the subway removed to put in more bus stands. Pedestrians crossing from No1 will hold up the buses from those very bus stands.
Does any of this truly “green” Croydon? Who are the real beneficiaries of all this public expenditure? Might these traffic schemes have more to do with fulfilling the desires of developers, who seek some cosmetic improvements to the public realm to assist with the sale of their “luxury apartments”?
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