Anyone enduring the traffic jams along Wellesley Road since the weekend, you’ll be delighted to know there could be more on the way.
Croydon Council quietly dropped its “Connected Croydon” tag for its street improvement works, because eventually even the brains trust at Fisher’s Folly, the council head offices, realised that such a title was beyond parody.
So no one should be surprised that while Croydon Council is spending £2million on a road scheme on the town centre’s six-lane urban motorway, Transport for London could be coming back soon to dig up much of it to re-configure the tram route along much of the same stretch of road. Another triumph of local authority planning and co-ordination.
Wellesley Road has been a slow-moving car park since the weekend, when resurfacing works – being conducted overnight, apparently to reduce traffic congestion – left lane closures and diversions around the underpass from the junction with George Street through to Lansdowne Road.
This was all originally proposed in 2014, and due to be completed that year. Oh well. You can see the scant detail provided to the public at the time by clicking here to see their pdf leaflet.
The scheme includes significant changes in the road layout, with pedestrian underpasses removed and including removal of the U-turn at West Croydon for traffic exiting the Whitgift Centre and wishing to travel south. Under Croydon Council’s new road layout, those vehicles will now have to drive further out of their way, to the IYLO roundabout, to be able to head in their desired direction, adding extra exhaust pollution to the already noxious air quality in the area.
And Inside Croydon has learned that TfL, which has responsibility for the trams but not for this road, wants to dig up a large part of this stretch to install its new loop of tram track.
Both the council’s road works on Wellesley Road and TfL’s tram loop are being done largely at the behest of Westfield, for the benefit of those driving to its £1.4billion supermall, for which the developers’ revised planning application has yet to be submitted, and for which there is no guarantee that the shopping centre will ever be built.
TfL wants to build a new loop of the tram lines around Dingwall Road, the first significant addition to the network since it opened 17 years ago. Rather than run longer trams to cope with anticipated extra passenger numbers, the loop will lengthen tram journeys but reduce the need for road traffic to be stopped at lights waiting for passing trams.
A public consultation on the scheme closed in December 2014, with TfL conducting a further round of consulting done in 2015. Since when, silence.
Until last week, that is, when TfL slipped out its first comment on the project in nearly two years with this one-line statement: “We are continuing to develop this project and anticipate submitting a TWAO application in late 2017” (where TWAO means Transport and Works Act order).
So any suspicions that the bad idea had been dropped altogether might not be well founded. But it hardly appears as if TfL is mustard keen to pursue the project now.
In any case, what’s the rush? The Westfield and Hammerson supermall won’t be opening now until 2022 at the earliest…
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