Hackney Council has opened up further public consultation on plans to close a number of residential streets in Stoke Newington which have provoked heated debate in the borough.
The Town Hall announced in April that it would be throwing the scheme back out to the public after concerns were raised by residents over a consequent rise in air pollution outside neighbouring schools from displaced traffic.
Opinion remains split on how to move forward, with campaign group Kids Sleep Safe backing the closures on the grounds of road safety, with campaign group Clean Air 4 Schools maintaining its position that the plans are a “terrible thing.”
Cllr Jon Burke, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for transport, is now urging everyone to have their say on the proposals, saying: “Back in April, the cabinet approved further consultation on the Walford Road scheme so residents can weigh up the benefits of the proposals alongside traffic and air quality modelling.
“These proposals are aimed at reducing traffic on Walford Road, Nevill Road and Brighton Road, which currently suffer from rat-running and aggressive driving.
“[The proposals] will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in the area, which has seen 51 crashes resulting in personal injury from September 2015 to September 2018, not to mention countless others that haven’t been reported.”
The transport boss also pointed out that the council had recently sucessfully bid for air quality funding from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, which will be used on a “package of measures” aimed at reducing traffic in Stoke Newington Church Street.
The Town Hall accepts that the scheme would improve air quality in some areas while worsening it in others, especially on Church Street, Albion Road and Crossway, making it “not fully compliant with our Air Quality Action Plan.”
It is being argued by the council that other action it is taking on pollution, traffic and road safety, including the introduction of ‘school streets’ outside William Patten and St Mary’s schools, make the scheme positive on balance.
A spokesperson for Clean Air 4 Schools said: “We urge people to have their say and help convince Hackney not to do this terrible thing.
“Hackney Council should be doing everything possible to reduce pollution at schools – instead they’re increasing it at six schools and six nurseries. They’re getting it all wrong.
“The council’s mitigation proposals, such as green screens at schools and making Church Street a low-emission zone, will take years to happen to be effective, if they ever do happen, and in the meantime, the extra traffic will compromise the health of thousands of schoolchildren.”
The group went on to point to research conducted by council-commissioned air quality studies which predict the closures would worsen pollution in a number of areas.
The impacted zones include a ‘substantial adverse’ impact on Church Street and ‘moderate adverse’ impacts outside Princess May, Grasmere and St Mary’s schools, though consultants CERC stress that the figures do not take into account further improvements to the bus fleet or the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
The Town Hall put forward two options for closures in its initial consultation.
Option B, the focus of the latest round of consultation, would see the permanent closure of Nevill Road between Osterley and Walford Roads, as well as Clonbrock and Allen Roads at their junction with Nevill Road.
It was opposed in 2017/18 by 61 per cent of respondents, including those who answered ‘Neither Option’.
The council’s consultation also points to the levels of aggressive driving in the Walford Road area, saying that the section of the cycle superhighway on Nevill Road between Allen Road and Osterley Road is currently used by drivers as a rat-run.
Other residents on the roads slated for closure have described themselves as “desperate” with the impact of ratrunning traffic in their narrow streets, complaining of the air quality impact in their own areas and warning that speeding cars and commercial vehicles are an accident waiting to happen.
A spokesperson for Kids Sleep Safe said: “Local parents and residents will be relieved the consultation is finally out having waited over two years for this to happen.
“Road safety data shows children are most likely to be killed on the residential roads where they live and play and are most likely to be killed traveling to and from their schools. We will not wait for a fatal accident on Stoke Newington’s streets for our voice to be heard.
“I urge all those in the consultation area to thoroughly read the evidence in the consultation document and make up their own mind.”
The problems in the Walford Road area were caused by a series of 2016 closures around Wordsworth Road, resulting in traffic on Walford Road increasing by approximately 70 per cent, traffic on Brighton Road increasing by 25 per cent, and traffic on Nevill Road increasing by 55 per cent.
Residents can have their say on the proposals here.
There is also a drop-in event for residents to ask questions at 3-8pm on 24 September at Stoke Newington Town Hall. The consultation ends on 25 October.