Council rebrands low traffic streets scheme in latest U-turn

The disliked bus gate on Auckland Road will continue, but will be repositioned

As traffic U-turns goes, Croydon’s latest has the look of a screeching handbrake turn.

The Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Crystal Palace and South Norwood are no more. In their place is a not-too-subtly rebranded “healthy streets scheme”.

Gone are the wooden planters which caused the gammons of Bromley to go even more red in the face than usual, to be replaced with CCTV cameras to monitor the comings and goings on five residential streets.

After a badly bungled implementation, with poor public outreach last year, the council climbdown has been gradual and painful, and the recriminations often bitter and divisive, but what has been announced today from Fisher’s Folly promises “a balanced approach”, a trial over at least 12 months and, importantly, the prospect of monitoring of traffic volumes and air quality.

Both latter aspects were notably missing from the rushed preparation work before the LTNs were introduced last year, as emergency measures during the first lockdown, leaving Muhammad Ali, the cabinet member for unsustainable Croydon, much undermined when it came to trying to win an argument against car use with those locals who took against the barricades in a south London form  of road rage.

There’s growing evidence that LTNs have worked to reduce traffic and air pollution

The new measures – using ring-fenced money from Transport for London and the Tory government – are due to be introduced from March 4, though Ali’s decision was immediately called in to scrutiny last night by Labour ward councillor Stephen Mann and the opportunistic Tory opposition.

A council statement today described the measures signed off by Ali as, “A new walking and cycling initiative is set to make Crystal Palace streets safer quieter and healthier.”

They will see ANPR – automatic number-plate recognition – cameras  installed at five locations across Crystal Palace and South Norwood:

  • Sylvan Hill at the common boundary of Nos 11 and 13
  • Lancaster Road junction with Goat House Bridge
  • Fox Hill junction with Braybrooke Gardens
  • Stambourne Way junction with Auckland Road
  • Bus gate introduced at the common boundary of Nos 86 and 84a (Auckland Road Surgery) Auckland Road

The council said, “The healthy streets scheme will replace the previous Low Traffic Neighbourhood and addresses concerns raised by residents and businesses who were consulted by the council at the end of last year.”

By using cameras – which can generate 60-quid-a-time fines for anyone without a pass or exemption – the council argues that the measures will give better access to emergency vehicles and local residents. A bus gate on Auckland Road will be re-positioned, to ease access to a surgery on that road.

“Exempt motorists include registered car clubs, taxis, emergency vehicles, local teachers and carers who will be able to drive through the partial closures, as well as residents within the LTN boundary,” the council said.

Road rage: Muhammad Ali has altered council position

The decision “is now subject to further discussions with neighbouring boroughs to make sure it is suitable for residents of both boroughs”, Croydon said – meaning that Tory-controlled Bromley have been a thorough-going pain in the arse over the whole matter, and no one expects them to accept even the revised scheme.

The council said, “Streets will remain open in all directions until an agreement has been reached.” Given Bromley’s implacable opposition to anything which might inconvenience the motoring lobbyists and road hauliers, that could be a very long time.

“In this time, air quality and traffic monitoring are expected to take place.” Note that: “expected to” – which suggests that such monitoring work lies outside the remit of TfL grants for LTNs, and given Croydon is skint, might not take place.

In the council statement today, they said, “The scheme will be implemented under a temporary ‘experimental’ traffic order and a report will come back to the committee after 12 months. During that time there would be an opportunity for local residents to provide their feedback via a survey available for anyone interested.” The council’s previous consultation was criticised for being allowed to be hijacked by vested interests and lobby groups from across the country.

“Traffic studies will take place before the scheme goes in, and while it is running through the experimental period. At the same time, air quality monitoring will be done to continually measure pollution levels.”

Muhammad Ali, who inherited the messy controversy when he took over the cabinet role in October, said today, “This is a balanced approach that allows us to reach our goal of encouraging more walking and cycling, making streets safer and reducing the number of unnecessary car journeys in this neighbourhood. At the same time we are improving access for more local residents, emergency vehicles, and those making essential car trips.

“I look forward to working with Bromley to develop our plans further, and collaborate on our shared goal of safer, healthier streets for all members of our community.”

Read more: Confused councillor in roads row after he ‘likes’ vandalism
Read more: Removal of LTNs was unnecessary says cycling campaign
Read more: The next battle in the culture wars? Traffic bollards
Read more: London’s toxic air is ‘a public health emergency’ says charity

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
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Muhammad Ali, South Norwood, Stephen Mann, Transport and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Council rebrands low traffic streets scheme in latest U-turn

  1. Lewis White says:

    “Traffic studies will take place before the scheme goes in, and while it is running through the experimental period. At the same time, air quality monitoring will be done to continually measure pollution levels.”

    I welcome this— it is clearly vitally important to have a proper “before” analysis of traffic and pollution, plus a “during”—- but where is the mention of “after”. Why not? Monitoring needs to go on for at least a year. Ideally 2. Otherwise, a true picture does not emerge.

    Monitoring needs to include not just numbers of vehicles but speeds.

    The study can count vehicles — but can it differentiate between cars, vans and lorries?

    Sadly, It can’t count the increase in bikes or pedestrians that the scheme is aime dto achieve. So a true picture is impossible.

    The other important question is whether improving some people’s environment worsens the lives of the people who live on non-controlled streets nearby, which might be affected by displaced traffic.

    It is like the bucket of water with 50 holes effect— have 50 holes in one water-filled bucket, the water trickles out of all 50. Shut off 45 holes, it has to come out of the remaining 5. And it streams out.

    It is sad if the people who live on the remaining 5 open streets ends up suffering from more traffic.

    I would therefore, if I lived in the area, be worried, and would ask the council to put traffic counter boxes on ALL local streets, main and side, and include them in the study.

    Otherwise, to cast a blind eye on the possibility of negative impacts stemming from a well-motivated project, is not right.

  2. Devon says:

    So if I want to go to South Norwood Lakes, or see friends and family, or even visit the dentist, the council is charging us. Will these people stop with getting us to ride and walk nonsense. All they are doing is making more congestion on the main roads which they will then tell us how much the smog is in the area.

    • It is a simple principle which many refuse to grasp: that is exactly the point of the measures, to discourage the unnecessary use of polluting cars for short journeys. There’s no “displaced traffic” if people don’t use their cars.

    • No. You can still drive to the Lakes (and everything else in the area) by the routes that were open before the planters – Southern Avenue and Woodvale Avenue. You just can’t drive in the Lancaster Road way.

  3. Maurice says:

    This revised scheme does not address much of the critics that had argued against the road closures under the LTN scheme. Opposition to what has been announced will be just the same as the same difference of keeping the roads closed by camera and planters. Giving access to a small number of motorists does not address the unfairness of the scheme to other homeowners/renters who have to cope with displaced traffic. No one that I am aware of has asked for this scheme for this scheme to t has just been made imposed.
    I do not see Bromley council being placated by the h change of name and cameras!!

    • It depends – the scheme needs to enable enough people to switch to walking and/or cycling to compensate for the displaced traffic. Remains to be seen if that’s the case, but it’s a 12 month trial. As someone who lives just outside the LTN scheme area – it was really obvious while the planters were there that there were masses more people walking. Night and day difference. But what was down to planters vs down to lockdown is harder to say.

      Cycling in the area was fairly low to begin with, and with offices shut during the pandemic a lot of people aren’t commuting, certainly seem to be more about during the day but not clear by how much. When the schools were back last term there were a lot more kids cycling to Cypress Primary than before.

  4. Anthony Miller says:

    In Australia they have a National Road Pricing scheme where you just put your credit card and number plate number in a website and it bills you appropriately when you venture into a priced road and charges per mile. Each individual road can be individually priced once cameras are in. Wouldn’t such a system be more logical and easier to implement than LTNs which are dead zones you CANNOT enter even if you want to visit a relative? Road pricing at the correct level would allow local journeys for occasional family visiters but penalise frequent users to the point where it became financially punitive to use such roads as rat runs. These LTNs are like road pricing by the back door and having localised schemes all run by different councils will create cost duplications. If you had cameras on the entry and exit of all main roads you wouldn’t need them on as many small roads because you could work out where a car had been by its entry and exit points…?

    • The idea that LTNs are zones you cannot drive into is false.

      Simply false.

      Repeating a lie does not make it true.

      Not a dig at you personally Anthony, but you’re the third person on this very page that seems to have this misconception. Somebody out there seems to be spreading this lie, and a lot of people are being taken in by it. “A lie gets halfway around the world before Croydon’s PR department go to pull their boots on, only to remember that they ebayed them last night to pay the electricity bill”.

      Which shows the low level of public trust in politicians, and the poor job they’ve done of communicating this scheme, but also that there are certain people who will go to any length – including outright lying to gullible people – to try and discredit it.

      So, for what I hope is the final time.

      You can drive in. And out again. Without paying a fine. Whenever you like. By any of the roads that didn’t have planters on them. These exact same roads won’t have cameras on them. The access is Southern and Woodvale Avenues for the South Norwood Lakes area. Hamlet Road for the Maberley / Mowbray Road area.

      If you’re in one of various classes of exempt vehicles, you can drive in and out through the camera controlled roads.

      • Ian Ross says:

        Angus, you’re right regarding the poor communication and lack of trust in politicians but when Cllr Ali decided to ignore public opinion why would anyone trust him or any of them? The only difference between the planters and APNR is that there won’t be any maintenance issues such as watering and weeding, instead a steady income stream.

Leave a Reply