Croydon and Sutton residents whose Croydon Road and Duppas Hill homes, businesses and public park could be under threat from Boris Johnson’s multi-million-pound proposal to build a flyover to the Croydon Flyover may struggle to get any support from their local politicians.
And a former local authority official with years of experience of major transport engineering schemes in and around Croydon has warned that efforts to ease traffic flow into the new Hammersfield development are doomed to fail.
The “flyover to the flyover” scheme is part of £100 million-worth of public money on road schemes expected to be proposed by Boris’s Transport for London at the behest of Tory Party donors Westfield, all to make it “easier” for shoppers to drive their cars into central Croydon.
The Green Party has already described the scheme as something designed “to send Croydon hurtling back to a 1970s vision of a car-dominated future”. But from Croydon’s Labour-run council or the local Waddon ward’s councillors, we have so far heard nothing.
Croydon Labour’s Tony Newman and his front-bench team at the Town Hall has already shown itself in thrall to the £1 billion Hammersfield redevelopment of central Croydon, where much of the Whitgift Centre shopping mall is owned by the Whitgift Foundation. Two of Croydon Labour’s cabinet members, plus the deputy leader of Croydon Tories and his councillor wife, a local MP and the mothers of another Labour councillor and a prospective Labour MP, all sit on the board of the Whitgift Foundation.
The blurring of red and blue party lines on private developments, and on public road-building policy, was also in evidence at Westminster this week, when the Conservative-led government’s Chancellor, Gideon Osborne, announced £30 billion-worth of new roads as some kind of panacea to his failure to control the deficit. Labour’s only criticism of the roads announcement was that Osborne should be tarmac-ing over even more of the country.
“If ministers were as good at upgrading roads as they are at making announcements about upgrading roads, life would be considerably easier for Britain’s hard-pressed motorists,” was the reaction of MP Michael Dugher.
“Hard-pressed motorists”? Dugher is a Labour MP, allegedly.
As Adam Bienkov highlighted in an excellent article on politics.co.uk, building more roads rarely, if ever, reduced congestion. Indeed, government studies over several decades have consistently shown that the more roads are built, the more traffic is created. Anyone who has sat in a traffic jam on the Purley Way or on one of the six-lane urban motorways which blight central Croydon will realise that they are statistics which support this.
And yet, Osborne, together with his Tory party leadership rival Boris Johnson and, probably – since we haven’t heard a peep from them about the £100 million for local road schemes – Croydon Labour are happy to spend money that otherwise they tell us we haven’t got.
“In these times of austerity, we’re constantly told that there isn’t enough money to pay hospital staff a decent wage or to build enough schools to educate our kids,” Bienkov points out, “but when it comes to laying hundreds of miles of new tarmac, money appears to be no object.”
The road-building lobby has cast its greedy eyes before on Duppas Hill Road, the A232 that links Sutton through to the centre of Croydon.
Then, concerted opposition from local Labour politicians blocked a scheme which wanted to make the a dual carriageway by building over a strip of the local park. But at that time, Croydon Labour had not become devoted worshippers at the £1 billion altar of Hammersfield.
Yet elsewhere on the left, serious questions about this mis-use of vast amounts of public money on ill-considered road schemes have been raised. The Left Foot Forward website this week described the Osborne road initiatives nationally as, “one of the most counterproductive policy decisions for a generation… Badly flawed feasibility studies have been used to justify damaging road building schemes right across the country”.
Andrew Allen’s article continues: “The government claims the investment will be transformational, creating jobs and reducing journey times. But this is wishful thinking, ignoring the inconvenient truth that new roads create new traffic while dogmatically clinging to the assertion that road building is good for the economy.
“We have known for more than 60 years that predict-and-provide road building is little more than short-term tail-chasing.”
Closer to home, the extent of the impact of any flyover on the A232, to take east-bound traffic across the A23 and Waddon railway station, could be vast, warns Inside Croydon reader David Wickens.
The former local authority official points out that, “To give adequate clearance over the A23 and railway, ramps will needs to be more than 100 metres long.
“They will have a massive visual impact, be challenging to construct and I anticipate that many properties (especially to the west of the A23) will be at risk,” Wickens said in a comment to this site.
And Wickens offered a dire warning about the multi-million-pound road-building scheme and proposals to build a new Tramlink loop in the town centre: “If the scheme(s) are to improve access to Westfield, then they will fail.”
The plans for the road schemes along the A23, including the troublesome Fiveways junction, are expected to be included in a public consultation to be revealed by TfL and Croydon Council this month. Wickens is keen to see whether any lessons from previous, failed efforts to disentangled Croydon’s urban motorways.
“The Park Lane gyratory and Wellesley Road will remain ‘pinch points’,” he said. “Croydon Council has repeatedly promoted schemes on them that reduce capacity for vehicles, even to the extent of proposing closure of the underpass.
“Option 1 for the Tramlink loop will compromise the underpass so there needs to be some joined-up thinking. Also, if Westfield does plan for an opening in 2019, time is very short as such a major grade separated junction, involving railway possessions, utility diversions, compulsory land purchase will take all of that time to deliver.”
- £85m TfL road schemes include flyover to Croydon Flyover
- Tram loop to cost £25m as Boris ‘panders to developers’
- Read London Assembly Member Darren Johnson’s transport report here
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema, ’71, Dec 11
- Mayor of Croydon’s charity Christmas dinner, Dec 12
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- Concert of Christmas music, St Luke’s, Woodside, Dec 13
- Opera Soiree at Whitgift School, Dec 14
- Friends of the Earth Green Beanfeast, Dec 15 (book by Dec 1)
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Spread Eagle’s Christmas Improv show, Dec 17
- David Lean Cinema, Northern Soul, Dec 18
- David Lean Cinema, Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, Dec 29
- David Lean Cinema, The Beat Beneath My Feet, Dec 30
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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