£2m town centre roads scheme causes weekend traffic chaos

Traffic on Wellesley Road was nose-to-tail for much of the weekend - even when no work was being undertaken on the road

Traffic on Wellesley Road was nose-to-tail for much of the weekend – even when no work was being undertaken on the road

It was 4.58pm on a February Friday evening when Croydon Council got round to issuing its public warning of a planned closure of part of one of the town’s six-lane urban motorways which was to happen later that night.

So just before everyone shutdown in the office for the weekend, the council press team (annual budget: somewhere north of £500,000) managed to get around to advising that from 10pm that night, the Croydon underpass would be closed and that there would be no access to Wellesley Road from Lansdowne and Sydenham Roads.

The resulting traffic jams and delays over Saturday and Sunday will have caused Croydon residents and visitors considerable inconvenience, with reports of buses stuck in stationary traffic for 30 minutes or more heading into West Croydon. And this was when there were no works being conducted, because that is being done over night – doubtless at premium rates of pay – to minimise disruption. The roadworks are due to continue throughout this week.


The Wellesley Road roadworks are due to continue throughout this week, with work conducted at night time to ‘minimise disruption’

Not everyone in Croydon awaits with bated breath for words from Fisher’s Folly’s council HQ. Press releases issued at two minutes to five on a Friday appear to be deliberately designed to avoid any awkward questions from the local media.

Croydon Council has failed to answer questions from Inside Croydon about when they first decided that the Wellesley Road works would take place, or why they waited until 4.58pm on the day the works began to advise anyone of the intentions.

According to the council’s press release, Councillor Alison Butler, the cabinet member for  planning, was supposed to have said: “The planned improvements to Wellesley Road are progressing well and will provide excellent connections between the office, retail and residential areas of the town centre.”

Planned improvements.

Progressing well.

Compare reality to the council's idealised vision of how Wellesley Road is supposed to look. And all the traffic has vansihed, too

Compare reality to the council’s idealised vision of how Wellesley Road is supposed to look. And all the traffic has vanished, too

If the works are so well planned, it seems odd that it was only at 4.58pm on the day that they started that the council chose to publicise them.

Not that the year-long works, which are costing £2million funded by the council and City Hall, and which started in March last year, have been “progressing well”, either.

Residents have complained to Inside Croydon about the long delays to traffic trying to reach the Whitgift Centre since the works began.

Wellesley Road has been exempted from the council’s 20mph speed controls, probably out of realisation that traffic on this stretch of major road these days rarely crawls along faster than 3mph…

After a year's worth of roadworks, Wellesley Road's 'improvements' do not appear any closer to being finished

After year-long roadworks, Wellesley Road’s ‘improvements’ do not appear any closer to being finished

A new pedestrian crossing from Poplar Walk to Bedford Park that the council said would open last month remains hidden behind grill fences and plastic shrouds.

Council pictures of the plans for the Wellesley Road transformed with trees to soften Croydon’s harsh 1960s edges has noticeably less traffic than anyone remembers seeing in the area, and certainly far less than our borough planners and the Whitgift Foundation desire should the Westfield supermall development ever go ahead.

The council feels that the £2million spend will make Wellesley Road “more pedestrian and cycle-friendly”. Yes, we find that hard to believe, too.

There will still be no street-level pedestrian route from East Croydon’s Bridge to Nowhere and the Whitgift Centre, while the town centre remains split down the middle by the six lane of traffic and the tram tracks.

It remains hard to see how the “excellent connections” that Butler described in Friday night’s late-notice press release are being delivered by this £2million of spending.

  • Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to £2m town centre roads scheme causes weekend traffic chaos

  1. As I have said before, you couldn’t make it up, but then you don’t have to because this is CROYDON COUNCIL!

  2. And as I have said before, the Council’s motto should be amended to Instituere possumus bracino celebrationem. For those deprived of a classical education it reads, roughly, We Are Incapable of Organising a Celebration in a Brewery.

  3. joeycan says:

    On Friday, I walked from the 466 bus stop outside the listed SEGAS House, to the HSBC Bank and thence to East Croydon station to catch a snail-train to London.

    Not once on the Croydon part of my journey did I see a single Policeman, one of whose duties I thought was to remind the drivers of vehicles that they should turn off their engines when waiting for more than a few moments in traffic snarl-ups. In the five minutes it took before the image of Wellesley Road was lost in the distance behind me, the traffic did not move.

    It is not surprising that pollution levels in the area are so high.

  4. veeanne2015 says:

    What EXACTLY was done in Wellesley Road to justify closing the underpass and BOTH Lansdowne and Sydenham Road exits into Wellesley Road?

    The fantasy illustration above shows pavements as wide as the road, and apparently no tram lane, bus stops, or additional traffic lights and central reservation gap for the new proposed Westfield entrance from the north.

    Why not instead have a diagram showing the planned permanently altered and closed traffic lanes, and the position of the necessary new traffic lights, the bus stops, the pedestrian crossings on both sides of the road, and central reservation space for pedestrians stuck half-way when the lights change ?
    Why not show reserved lanes for buses and car park entrances, and what re-profiling is being done to the underpass to avoid conflicting traffic movement at its exit ?
    And the estimated order in which all these road works will be done ?

    Finally, how about a detailed diagram of Wellesley Road with all these alterations finished, for the public to have some idea of the consequences of these ‘improvements’ – including the tram loop – and whether they are likely to create ‘excellent connections’ or gridlocked traffic of buses, cars and delivery vehicles whose unfriendly exhaust fume pollution will be so damaging to the health of pedestrians, cyclists and trees ?

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