Bromley in legal moves against Croydon over road closures

Croydon could be heading for a bitter, cross-boundary dispute with one of its neighbouring boroughs after the leader of Bromley’s Conservative-controlled council told residents that they have begun legal moves to get traffic-calming measures removed from residential streets in Crystal Palace.

Traffic calming measures have divided opinion in Upper Norwood

Colin Smith, the Tory leader in Bromley, has written to residents on his side of the borough border telling them that his council has begun legal work to force Croydon to remove the planters and barriers on Sylvan Hill, Stambourne Way and Fox Hill, all of which are within Croydon’s local authority area.

The Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme is funded by Transport for London and was introduced by Croydon Council at the beginning of the month, with short notice and without public consultation, or without advising council colleagues in Bromley.

Using special powers given to the council during the coronavirus emergency, Croydon has introduced the traffic-calming measures, including a bus gate, to divert motor traffic off the residential streets that link Church Road and Auckland Road in Upper Norwood.

Residents on the Bromley side of the borough boundary have complained that their streets have taken the bulk of the displaced traffic, causing them inconvenience, even though traffic levels remain reduced, and before schools traffic returns next month.

And Smith has support in his legal moves from Angela Wilkins, the leader of the Labour opposition at Bromley Council, who has said, “Living on a borough border shouldn’t mean living in hell.”

Colin Smith: ordering Croydon to remove the barriers

In a neighbourhood newsletter, Smith was quoted as saying, “I would like every affected Bromley council resident to know that you enjoy the council’s 100 per cent undiluted support in your campaign to have Croydon’s recent actions reversed.

“However well-intended their objectives might have been they have neither been thought-through properly or consulted upon and that simply isn’t acceptable.

“I can confirm that Bromley has this week initiated the first tentative legal steps to try and have the barriers removed by order if commonsense isn’t deployed and their street paraphernalia removed swiftly – as we would clearly far prefer.”

Bromley is relying on Section 121(b) of the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act which prohibits London councils from taking actions which impact roads in another local authority.

And Smith is refusing to discuss the issue with officials or councillors from Croydon until the traffic-calming measures are removed, referring to the “the abject misery and inconvenience they are causing to Bromley residents on a daily basis”.

Wilkins, who represents Bromley’s Crystal Palace ward, said, “Whatever your view of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods this scheme has brought nothing but chaos and increased risk to Bromley residents, which was completely predictable.

“Croydon should have properly consulted us and produced proposals that don’t just dump all of their displaced traffic on Bromley doorsteps.

“I don’t care what the party political affiliations of councils are on this issue. Both have a duty of care to their residents.

“Get it sorted guys because we simply can’t tolerate this any longer.”

But a senior Katharine Street source suggests that what Smith has been telling his residents in Bromley has not been matched with any action – at least not yet. “Croydon has received nothing from Bromley formally, other than an email that issued their official objection,” the source said this morning.

“Council officials in Croydon maintain that they have followed the correct procedure,” the source said.

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14 Responses to Bromley in legal moves against Croydon over road closures

  1. Peter Gillman says:

    This move gives hope to those of who like to visit Crystal Palace for whom cycling is not an option, given our ages. And it made no sense for Croydon to institute these latest road closures while the three-way stop at the junction of Church Road and Westow Street is still in place. It has been there since March and is already causing massive tailbacks on Anerley Hill and in Crystal Palace Parade. When schools return, the gridlock could be total.

    • Peter, the roads aren’t really closed. You can still walk, drive or take the bus or a cab, if you don’t want to ride a bike.

      If you insist on driving, the AA route planner shows that a car journey from Norwood Junction to Sainsbury’s in Westow Street only takes 10 minutes.

      The benefit of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods is that motorists who treat other people’s residential streets as rat runs and race tracks are being diverted back to where they belong – main roads.

      That in turn cuts noise and pollution, makes for a safer and more attractive neighbourhood and enables people to choose cycling along quieter streets. With the bus gate, journeys by bus become quicker and more reliable.

      Unless fewer people drive and more take up alternative means of transport, or travel less, the gridlock you fear when the schools go back will become a certainty.

      And while the temporary traffic signals necessitated by someone crashing their car into a shop isn’t helping matters, ultimately the tailbacks you complain of are caused by too many motorists deciding to drive their vehicles into the same place at the same time.

  2. David Squires says:

    Personally I hope Croydon wins here. Cars are an increasing blight on society. I live on a road that has increasingly become a rat run and over the past few months of working at home I’ve found the noise they cause a real issue (summer = house windows open). Add in the pollution and the blatant speeding in a 20mph zone and there is little to like.

    If we can encourage those able to cycle to do so it means the roads will be less congested for those who need to use a car. As for those less able, electric bikes are a great option that make cycling accessible for all ages.

  3. Jake Slaw says:

    As a lifelong resident of Sylvan Hill for over 50 years, the move by Croydon Council has been a very welcome move to provide a temporary closure to the road for this scheme.

    It has been bliss as Sylvan Hill is used as a rat run road off Church Road with cars speeding down the road despite the speed bumps, school traffic caused by the nearby Harris school and I must make mention of the frequent drug deals taking place in cars near the top of the hill due to the temporary residents of a local institute nearby who don’t give a damn about what happens outside their doorstep.

    It certainly has benefits in terms of traffic calming and noise pollution and improves the quality of air.

    However, a better compromise might be to make Sylvan Hill one way coming up and Stambourne Way and Fox Hill one way going down.

    • Louise Machi says:

      Glad it’s been bliss for you. Belvedere Road to milestone road via Cintra Park and Patterson roads has become a living nightmare as a consequence of the LTN plans not being joined up with cross-borough consultation.

      • Can you explain what the cut-through traffic is doing? I’m genuinely struggling to understand a little bit..

        – Fox Hill is closed above Tudor Road so they can’t get to or from Belvedere Road that way.

        – Belvedere Road to Church Road is one-way (entry only) so you can’t jump the Anerley Hill queue by driving out of the end of Belvedere.

        – Cintra Park is one way (exit only) on to Anerley Hill so you can’t get in to Belvedere Road that way.

        So people must be driving in on Hamlet or Waldegrave, up Belvedere, right on to Cintra, then left on to Patterson and Milestone… all to avoid a few minutes’ queueing on Anerley Hill..?

        If that’s right – would it work to make Milestone Road entry-only from Church Road? At least temporarily while they figure out the details.

        FWIW, the cycle route along Auckland is a bit pointless if they don’t sort this out, as you then have to use Belvedere Road & right on to Chipstead Close to get across towards Crystal Palace Park.

      • Bromley Council could always put in their own Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme to complement the Croydon one. That they’d prefer to waste time and money on litigation instead of investing it in a proven road safety and environmental improvement scheme says a lot about the attitude of their so-called leadership.

        This is illustrated neatly by the road signs on Maberley Road. On the border with Croydon it proclaims 20mph. As you enter Bromley it invites you to speed up to 30 – legally.

        Even after a young mother and her baby were killed by a motorist on Croydon Road in January 2019, and a local MP consequently called on the council to introduce 20mph, Bromley’s majority group councillors have consistently dismissed calls for this simple yet effective safety measure to be introduced. They’re still taking that stance now.

        Consultation with a council that says “no” would therefore be a waste of time, and mean Croydon missing out on getting government funding where deadlines have been extremely tight.

  4. The problem with such a one-way is that it does nothing to alleviate the road danger on Auckland and Hamlet Roads which made them non-viable as a universal active travel route prior to Croydon’s interventions. To be considered universal (which means: a 75 year old in good health would be happy cycling it themselves, and parents would let a 12 year old use it themselves or an 8 year old under adult supervision), traffic volume needs to be under 2000 vehicles a day, with a 20mph speed limit and 85% compliance with that limit.

    Prior to these interventions, Auckland was at about 5000 vehicles per day, with only 15% compliance with the 20mph limit.

    I’m personally convinced that an ANPR camera permit system is the way forward, together with some softer traffic calming measures to keep speeds down. Far less inconvenient for residents, but keeping all the benefit of the low traffic cycle route without unfairly displacing Croydon access traffic on to Bromley’s roads. With modern tech it’s quite possible (and not implausibly expensive) to design a system that allows access for visitors, deliveries etc. but prevents any cut-through traffic.

    First, though, they need to get Church Road & South Norwood Hill functioning properly again. It’s impossible to assess the pros/cons of such a scheme properly while the main roads are subject to unusual disruption.

    • Mary says:

      You can cycle through the park from Maberley road to south Norwoid Lakes. London is not a suitable place for cycling to school.

    • Peter Mack says:

      As a local resident on the other side of South Norwood Hill, we are now experiencing a huge increase in trafiic as a result of this badly thought out scheme. Trying to cross the road to get to Grangewood Park is now a problem. I’ve seen two crashes on Wharncliffe Road just this week.

      One could argue that my Immediate area should also become a LTA but this will add even more pressure to South Norwood Hill, and other residential areas.

      Advocates of using ANPR to allow residents of a LTA to drive without restriction are completely missing the point of the LTA. You the residents are exactly the people the Croydon and the LTA are trying to restrict. The whole point is to stop you using your car. They don’t want you to drive up to Sainsburys or quickly run the kids to school or after school activities as it’s pouring down with rain. You are expected to walk or cycle under the LTN.

      The solution is to scrap the road closures and actually enforce the 20 mph speed limit. Put in real separate cycling lanes, not just paint a line. Clear main roads of parking especially Church Road past the triangle, and South Norwood Hill south bound. The real danger to any cyclist is not so much speed of cars it’s having to keep weaving out to avoid parked cars.

      • I think I may have replied to you on another web site so apologies if I’m duplicating info here…

        For the record I absolutely share your pain re Wharncliffe Road. My children have to cross that road to get to the park and it’s been a **** show the last few days. It’s also made our journey to get to the Holmesdale Road cycle route (Canham Road in particular) somewhat busier.

        However, I suspect a lot of that traffic is down to the gas works which have been bunging up South Norwood Hill on the Whitehorse Lane corner. I think those have now finished, so hopefully we’ll get some relief. The next road on from Canham (Whitworth Road, the other side of Whitehorse, heading down to Holmesdale) doesn’t seem unusually busy, so I think most of the extra cars are turning on/off at Whitehorse to avoid the gas works.

        As to your proposed solutions. I’m not trying to be unduly negative, but have been researching this stuff a while. So let’s see:

        – Enforcing 20mph. Would be lovely, but the political framework and consensus to do so doesn’t exist on several levels. The best we can hope for here is a gradual replacement of the fleet with vehicles that have GPS-automated speed compliance (mandated on new cars in the EU from 2022, oh wait we’ll have left by then).

        – Real separate cycle lanes. Would also be lovely. Church Road you just might get them in, but it’d be tight. Check this picture and imagine two 249 buses passing one another instead of the van…,-0.0840361,3a,75y,205.99h,87.45t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sKPQEAcAxos5gOdD2BHBAYA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

        – Church Road parking. Again this would be a fine thing, and a little easier than the other two (merging out of the cycle lane in to 35mph traffic on a dark winter evening is “not good”, to put it mildly). But the Triangle traders are, to put it mildly, quite defensive about losing any visitor parking at all if it’s within a short walk of the Triangle.

        Weaving vs speed. If we’re talking experienced cyclists yes. But human beings make mistakes, and a system that runs at 20 is much more forgiving of human error – especially when you’ve got a mix of heavy vehicles, bikes and the other lightweight contraptions (segways, scooters etc.) which have recently exploded in popularity. And in some cases actually exploded, if you buy one of the no-name dodgy imports off eBay.

        • Peter Mack says:

          Without a doubt some of the increased traffic the other side of SNH was due to the gas works. But the LTA contributes hugely as well.

          This is August, with massively lower number of people on the roads due to holidays. How do you explain the queues along Croydon Road coming from Penge towards South Norwood. They were stretching back to the little Tesco’s yesterday. This is only going to get worse come September when people get back to school \ work.

          Now South Norwood High Street is even more of a virtual car park than it was before. Crystal Palace Triangle is already at a standstill on Church Road and the rest will follows come September. These are places where local people congregate and are outside and we should be looking to reduce traffic not force all local traffic through them. The LTA has some huge negative effects on the area.

  5. Clive Simmonds says:

    Bromley worships the car. Always has and always will.

  6. Mary says:

    Most people Ioathe cyclists

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