Harrow council has proposed permanent schemes in the West Harrow (Vaughan Road area), Headstone South and Francis Road low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) areas. The proposed scheme is a compromise which replaces the physical barriers with automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras. Visitors will be able to access all properties by car from a convenient main road but through traffic will not be permitted. Residents and businesses within the LTN will receive free permits for their vehicles to have unrestricted access through the filters.
These schemes will improve road safety by removing dangerous through traffic, and will create safe routes for walking and cycling, providing an alternative to driving for some journeys and reducing traffic volumes over time.
Previous low traffic neighbourhoods have been created with physical restrictions which make it inconvenient for local residents to drive short distances. This encourages people to walk more and has been shown to have health benefits. However, at this time the council is not offering this option. The current choice is between a camera-controlled scheme or nothing (i.e. reinstating through traffic and making these minor roads unsafe for walking and cycling).
Advantages of the new proposals
Saying YES to the new camera controlled scheme means:
- FREE permits giving access to ALL streets for ALL LTN residents and businesses, (and permit-free access for emergency & essential services, & black cabs) by ANY route
- No return of speeding through traffic
- Safer healthier streets for residents, their children and grandchildren to walk, cycle, exercise and to drive
- ALL roads freely accessible to ALL visitors from a convenient main road
- Supporting friends and neighbours, who live in roads that have been blighted by cut through traffic and help lower pollution and create a more desirable community to live in
- Reduce local crime such as drug dealing
Frequently asked questions
Why is this scheme needed? Wasn’t it alright as it was?
Some of the minor roads in this area have too much through traffic. Speeding is common in spite of existing traffic calming measures and there have been a number of accidents. In 2019 residents presented petitions asking for the Council to address these issues. If no action is taken, traffic volumes and danger will continue to increase, and new housing developments in Harrow will only make matters worse.
What are the other benefits?
Where these schemes have been introduced elsewhere in London, in the long term they have delivered a very significant reduction in injuries and traffic on the roads within the scheme without increasing injuries or traffic on surrounding main roads. The scheme will make the roads safer for walking and cycling, encouraging more people who feel able, to choose to walk and cycle shorter journeys. This will free up space on the main roads for those who want or need to drive. They have been shown to reduce pollution and are supported by public health agencies and the NHS.
What about the chaos on the roads people are talking about?
With any change, there is always a short period where through-traffic needs to readjust to the measures. We saw this in October but it reduced quickly as road users familiarised themselves with the measures.
I thought we were going to be charged for permits?
That is not true. Unfortunately lots of people from elsewhere want to drive through our area so there has been a concerted campaign against this scheme which at times has deployed a “Project Fear” approach. As confirmed in the consultation flyer circulated by the Council, residents will not be charged for permits, nor is there an intention to charge them in the future.
So what are the downsides?
These are mostly for non-resident through traffic. Visitors will need to access the roads from the designated main road (see the map on the Council flyer) which might make their journeys slightly longer, but local residents and businesses will now have free use of all the roads by any route.
For more information about low traffic neighbourhoods, visit https://madeby.tfl.gov.uk/ or https://healthystreetsharrow.wordpress.com/vision/low-traffic-neighbourhoods/.
Comprehensive research on LTNs (November 2020): https://www.udg.org.uk/publications/news/2020/low-traffic-neighbourhoods-major-research-report