Transport for London’s plans for more and wider roads around the Fiveways junction on the Purley Way may be delayed so long that the £85 million Boris Flyover to the Croydon Flyover might yet fail to be built, with any final decision not likely now for 12 months.
TfL today published its report on the consultation it held earlier this year. That was entitled Have Your Say on Transforming Fiveways Croydon, although someone at City Hall appears to have missed out the vital caveat in a sub-heading: “Provided it complies with the road scheme we wish to inflict upon you”.
But there is a chance that the decision on a new urban motorway along the A232 into central Croydon might end up being kicked into the long grass of Duppas Hill Park, the public open space which was under threat from the Boris Johnson bulldozers.
The road builders at City Hall, determined to speed traffic from Sutton and the A23 Purley Way towards the much-delayed new Westfield supermall, only ever offered two options in their consultation – the frying pan or the fire.
TfL’s preferred option, an engineer’s wet-dream of a flyover across the railway tracks at Waddon Station, would threaten hundreds of homes and required the bulldozing of parts of the park. The slightly-less-good-option, of widening the A23’s bridge at Waddon and turning Epsom Road by the station into two-way traffic to ease congestion at Fiveways, would do nothing to reduce traffic nor the scandalously high levels of air pollution in the area.
If this consultation had been put forward by a barrister in a court of law, a judge might have over-ruled it as a “leading question”: TfL never offered better public transport options from Sutton into Croydon via Waddon in an effort to reduce traffic volumes, nor did they consider any park-and-ride schemes. It was TfL’s way, or the urban motorway.
The leading question consultation thus got the answer they always wanted. And TfL continues to try to justify their £85-million foregone conclusion on the basis of the views of fewer than 800 people.
“We received 799 direct responses to the consultation,” the report states. “Of all respondents, 81 per cent of respondents supported or partially supported the principle of a road modernisation scheme at Fiveways…” because Fiveways is currently such a polluted, traffic-snarled mess, most reasonable folk would seek some form of improvement, “… 67 per cent agreed or partially agreed with Proposal 1,” which is the Boris Flyover, “…and 43 per cent agreed or partially agreed with Proposal 2.”
But on the same page, outlining the next steps in the process, TfL unwittingly reveals that the scheme may yet end up being shelved. With a final preferred proposal to be published in early 2016, followed by further discussions before “a wider public consultation, planned for autumn 2016”, it is entirely possible that the flyover scheme will be overtaken by events.
By this time next year, with the latest round of Tory Government cuts to public spending and a new Mayor of London elected in May, there may not be the money nor the political will to go ahead with what is increasingly looking like another misconceived Boris vanity scheme. Another TfL survey, which is supposed to examine traffic levels along a whole stretch of the A23, from the Lombard roundabout to Purley, is also due to be published soon, and its recommendations may also render the Fiveways exercise redundant.
Andrew Pelling is one of the Croydon councillors in the affected Waddon ward who were critical of the no-option format of the TfL consultation. Today, he said: “Waddon’s Labour councillors will be campaigning hard in the coming months for TfL to bring forward a proposal that does not involve a flyover, the loss of part of Duppas Hill Park or the demolition of the historic Waddon Hotel.
“We will also continue to lobby TfL to bring forward improvements to the actual Fiveways junction to make this junction safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
“This was overlooked in TfL’s consultation.”
The Waddon councillors, who also include Joy Prince and Robert Canning, the council’s deputy cabinet member for transport, have already had several meetings with TfL on transforming Fiveways, and they say that they will be contacting households in their ward to invite them to support their campaign ahead of the final proposals.
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