CROYDON COMMENTARY: London’s Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, with Labour-run Croydon Council and through Transport for London, has earmarked more than £100 million for road schemes and to re-configure the tram system in the town centre, all for the sake of the Westfield and Hammerson redevelopment. VALERIE HUNTER has scoured the published planning documents and predicts traffic misery ahead
The council, the developers and speculators, the Mayor of London and Transport for London, the local MPs and various vested interests all speak warmly of “regeneration”. But what do the various schemes being proposed for Croydon actually mean for our future?
Reviewing the various proposals being put forward, the consequences could include:
- 9,000 new homes in the centre of Croydon, most with private parking, and mostly in the side roads to Wellesley Road, with minimal other access from the south for the cars, service and delivery vehicles for large and heavy items, which together with deliveries for present and future hotels, offices, restaurants and shops, will ensure lots more traffic on Wellesley Road.
Wellesley Road – west side
Amalgamate lanes to provide a central reservation, a so-called “greening”, which will delay buses. Any additional “greening” will probably be killed by the traffic exhaust pollution.
- Placing the entrance to the Westfield complex so close to the underpass north-bound exit will cause buses to stop to let the cars and all delivery vehicles go into the complex from the underpass. This will either cause a long queue of buses and other traffic on the surface, possibly even back to the George Street junction, or possibly even queues of vehicles in the underpass on those occasions when the surface traffic is given the right-of-way.
- Any queue past the George Street junction could affect buses from the south turning into George Street (east) to go to East Croydon Station.
- Placing the southern exit from the shopping centre in the same place will stop all buses and other surface traffic for longer and all vehicles heading northwards (towards the 9,000 flats, hotels, restaurants etc) in the underpass.
- This stopped traffic will block all vehicles behind it in the underpass that want to go into the shopping centre. So far no solution from TfL or the council has been suggested to resolve this blockage in the underpass.
- This could result in queuing traffic all the way back to the gyratory and more queuing on the flyover.
- Remove the Lansdowne Road-to-Whitgift Centre subway which takes pedestrians safely non-stop from one side of a six-lane urban motorway to the other.
- Replace the subway with a pedestrian crossing there for the crowds of passengers disembarking from 20 bus routes on both sides of the road, a tram stop, (and the new tram “loop” stop), the East Croydon Station bridge, the new homes (No1 Lansdowne alone proposes 900 flats), the hotels and restaurants, and the new shopping complex, which will cause long delays for traffic while these pedestrians cross.
- Queuing also anticipated at Wellesley Road junctions and Wellesley Road itself.
- Buses stopped at Poplar Walk, not just briefly to let out six bus routes and some cars, but additionally to let cars from the north cross their path to go into the shopping complex.
Roads to Wellesley Road – west side
- The queuing on Park Lane, sometimes nearly back to the gyratory, will affect buses as well as other vehicles.
- Queuing on the Flyover will delay the buses there, too. All the prospective traffic queuing discussed here is mentioned in Croydon’s report on Westfield planning.
- Four traffic lanes proposed in Boris’ new bridge on the A232 at the Purley Way, which will require substantial building on Duppas Hill Park, but which will create another bottleneck, where Duppas Hill Road meets with Stafford Road and Epsom Road, causing congestion for buses and other traffic here.
- There’s an expected increase in traffic at the A232/A23 junction, with no solution suggested to this in the Boris flyover plans. It must be assumed that additional traffic near Fiveways will cause further delays for all traffic, including buses, both on the Croydon Road, and Purley Way.
- Proposed replacement of a bus lane by a cycle lane on Stafford Road will delay buses that use that road, as they will have to share the single lane remaining with cars.
- Both Stafford Road and Purley Way will also have a considerable amount of additional traffic from the south, going to the new shopping centre. This is likely to create more delays for bus routes on these two roads.
Boris, TfL and Croydon Council are continually advocating that people should use public transport to come into Croydon, but the new flyover proposed only increases roads for cars.
Nowhere in all the plans is there any mention of additional bus routes or services to bring people from south-west London, in an effort to persuade people to reduce their car use.
Roads to Wellesley Road – east side
- “Loop” trams from East Croydon Station turning into Dingwall Road will stop vehicles at that George Street junction for longer.
- Vehicles for this large eastern area, whose only other entrance is via Bedford Park, unable to turn into Dingwall Road at the same time as the “loop” trams, will also hold up buses going to East Croydon Station, trapped behind them in the single lane. Some, but not all trams, as well as cars crossing one of the most used pedestrian crossings in Croydon on the corner of Dingwall Road are a hazard to the pedestrians.
- As these trams will need the whole of Lansdowne Road to make the turn into Wellesley Road, buses will need to be re-routed down to George Street junction instead. This results in passengers unable to get on or off buses in Dingwall Road, and having to do this at the congested bus stand by the railway station instead. This very busy area, noted for its long delays caused by congestion and phasing of traffic lights, is likely to become busier and yet more congested.
Wellesley Road – east side
- Buses delayed at Bedford Park junction due to traffic congestion with queue of cars waiting to turn into Poplar Walk.
- Buses stopped by pedestrian crossing in lieu of subway just south of Bedford Park.
- Buses stopped by trams (on the new loop) making wide turn out of Lansdowne Road, and then crossing back to the pavement side of Wellesley Road.
- Buses stopped by thousands of people on the pedestrian crossing – details as for Wellesley Road west side – also including the passengers from the “Loop” trams.
All of the consultation documents are very insular, considering just the scheme which they propose, but not the knock-on effects elsewhere – particularly the bus services, which bring people into Croydon from so many directions. One thing is consistent in all the plans, from Croydon Council (Tory and Labour), TfL and Boris: the car is given priority.
When Connected Croydon conducted its over-priced paving works in South End, there was a year’s worth of disruption for relatively small-scale roadworks. Now, central Croydon faces years of traffic disruption by roadworks, not just to altering a few paving slabs, but to instal new and altered traffic lights, roads, new pedestrian crossings, new flyovers, and closure of subways, all after lip-service consultations.
All this will come at enormous expense to residents, public transport users and Council Tax-payers.
For what? Traffic gridlock and exhaust pollution.
- £85m TfL road schemes include flyover to Croydon Flyover
- TfL’s £48m loop schemes could break the link in Tramlink
- Boris Flyover to cost more than Mayor’s annual bike spend
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