Haven’t got a date for this one. Anybody?
Transport for London is to look at rejoining two severed parts of traffic-blighted Stoke Newington Common by grassing over Rectory Road.
Dale McKenzie, the authority’s street management officer for Hackney, revealed the idea at a public meeting on removing Stoke Newington’s one-way system attended by 40 Stoke Newington residents [on Wednesday March 22] at St Paul’s Church Hall.
The move would restore an area of common bigger than a football pitch to the community and would form part of a feasibility study he is about to commission into turning Stoke Newington High Street, Evering, Northwold and Rectory Roads from one-way back to two-way – ending an out-of-date remnant of 1970s planning known as a gyratory.
Mr McKenzie told the residents that he saw closing Rectory Road over the common as a key part of the plan: “I want to give something back to the community,” he said. “I’m quite passionate about that.”
The one-way system currently sends cars and buses accelerating across the medieval Common – yards from one of Hackney’s few surviving rows of Georgian terraces – on a wide two to three-lane road with no pedestrian crossings.
The overwhelming majority of attending residents expressed their support for the removal of the one-way system. “I’ve been waiting four years for this meeting,” said one man, a resident of Sanford Terrace on the Common. Another, who lives on Evering Road, said the one-way system on that road prevented children from playing in the park – a former churchyard – on the opposite side from the houses.
Trevor Parsons of the London Cycle Campaign, who steered a successful campaign three years ago to make Shoreditch gyratory two-way, told the meeting that businesses had moved into Shoreditch afterwards on a big scale.
He said: “There is even more reason to see this one removed because there is already a thriving High Street here. The end of the one-way system would make it a better place to be rather than a place to get through as fast as possible.”
Mr McKenzie did highlight some difficulties. Part of the High Street is only three lanes wide, leaving no room for two bus lanes. But he said buses could be given priority on the narrow stretch by using traffic lights to hold the cars back. He added that traffic calming measures might be needed on the roads around the edge of the common to prevent any through-drivers who might be tempted to avoid traffic lights on the High Street.
Councillor Vincent Stops commented: “The prize for making a better environment is tremendous. We should be looking at ways to achieve it rather than reasons for not doing it.”
Bayston Road resident Nancy Bornat said: “I’ve been moaning about the one-way system for years. It makes it difficult to cross the High Street. When I shop on the High Street, I stick to one side.”
Bridget Pedgrift, of the Stoke Newington Business Association who co-owns the Bored on Board shop on Church Street said: “The Business Association is generally very positive about this plan. But we do have some concerns about parking.”
Bayston Road resident Robert Lindsay, who organised the meeting and is co-ordinating the campaign Scrap Stoke Newington One Way System (SNOWS) said after the meeting: “The fact that 40 people turned up on a cold February night after very little publicity shows the strength of support for this initiative.”
He aims to ask Transport for London to close down the road on the common for one day in the summer so that a fair and other events can be held there, and as a trial of permanent closure.
Residents and organisations that would like to help or lend support with the campaign should contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three residents groups – Cazenove Area Action Group, Northwold Road Area Group and Listria Park and Martaban Road Residents are all involved and supportive.
I thought it was a very well run and helpful event. I had the impression that most of the people attending were from the immediate area (rather than Clapton, say) but that is quite understandable – TfL have promised to make efforts to reach other communities e.g. Orthodox Jewish, Turkish,
There was quite a bit of support for exploring the possibility of making the main road 2 way – but also recognition of the serious difficulties, especially at the narrowest section, between Brooke Road and Church Street.
There was, I think, also recognition that any change would involve losers as well as gainers (and the position of businesses along the main road needed careful consideration – and hence thorough consultation! – nobody wanted to see them forced out of business).
We touched on the longer term idea of actually closing the length of Rectory alongside the Common and hence integrating that space – and possibly “green bridging” the railway, too – as a major community green space gain – but there was also acceptance that this would pose great difficulties – and the situation of those living on roads bounding the new area (such as Stoke Newington Common road) would need very careful consideration.
There was also recognition that the existing system does have its benefits too: e.g. easy morning bus journey to work- and that there could be scope for minor improvements: e.g. to the Church Street junction, to improve the evening rush hour flow northbound – and possibly more police enforcement on the Rectory southbound where, conversely, the problem often seemed to be pulses of traffic, travelling at high speed.
The next step will be for TfL, in conjunction with LBH and community reps, to draw up the brief for the consultants, who will then carry a detailed study of options/impacts on wider area etc, drawing on various traffic models. All those who attended were invited to give names/E Mails etc, so that they can be kept involved as the process progresses.
But, as TfL repeatedly stressed – rightly in my view – though this study will be carried out with an open mind, no one should assume that anything dramatic will necessarily result. It may be that, at the end of the day, all that can sensibly be done is some minor improvements – but it is right to carry out the studies and see what they can offer us.
We in NARG will continue to be closely involved and I am sure the same is true for all the other community groups with an interest.
(GERALD L LAUFER, Northwold Area Residents’ Group – NARG) – 28-Feb-2006
Jenny Jones, Green Party councillor for the Greater London Authority, and the Mayor’s green transport advisor, is backing the campaign. She is going to ask Ken Livingstone at Mayor’s Question Time, (it’s the London equivalent of Primeministers’ questions) whether he will provide funding for a feasibility study and a consultation on the options on removing Stoke Newington’s one way system so that the consultation at least begins during the next financial year (April 2006 to April 2007).
For those who back this, please write to Ken at email@example.com to urge him to push ahead with the plan as quickly as possible. At the moment Dale McKenzie at Transport for London does not have enough resources to do it all quickly. There’ll have to be a feasibility study, then a consultation on probably three options. We need the consultation at least started by April 2007. The GLA councillors come up for re-election then and a different administration may well be less sympathetic.
If you do email the Mayor, please also CC Jenny.firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com . Jennette is the (Labour) GLA councillor for our area. I have asked but she has not yet said whether she backs the removal of the one-way system.
Please write to Ken well before March 22 – it’s only a week next Wednesday – 12 days away. That way his office will be aware there is strong public feeling for this and is more likely to respond positively to Jenny’s question.
I will be attending the Stoke Newington Neighbourhood Forum on Tuesday March 28 and will be asking Hackney mayor Jules Pipe whether he will push TfL to remove the gyratory within three years. Hackney council backs removal of gyratories “in principle” but is reluctant to commit to anything in practice. If anyone wants to attend, it’s at the St Mary’s Community Centre, Defoe Rd 7.30pm. The North East Neighbourhood Forum, which covers North East Hackney, east of Rectory Road, is on the same day and same time at BSix Sixth Form College, Kenninghall Road. Can anyone go to this one and ask the same question there?