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Residents have spoken out about how the new Lee Green low traffic neighbourhood is affecting their lives.  

The scheme, a collection of modal filters cutting off traffic to certain roads, has divided opinion. 

Originally planned as a healthy neighbourhood, it was brought in early under Covid-19 measures, which aim to support social distancing and active travel. 

But traffic has been displaced onto roads outside of the LTN, leaving residents concerned about safety and air pollution. 

See related: Air quality voice Rosamund Kissi-Debrah slams Lee Green LTN

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Hither Green Lane has experienced a surge in traffic

Others are reporting serene roads that make cycling and walking easier and more pleasant, and say patience is required until the scheme is fully rolled out – the camera-enforced filters are not yet up and running.  

See related: Lee Green LTN needed to tackle air pollution, say backers

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Liz Fox, who lives inside the LTN, is worried about increased air pollution and noise coming from the South Circular.  

“It means us residents who live, or have gardens that back onto the road, now have no respite and in essence have lost the use of our gardens.  

“Our road is a very family orientated road, and it seems a little unfair,” she said, adding that she is also worried about the safety of junctions on main roads and ambulance delays.  

“There is not one person who does not agree we need to re-think car usage, but as a suburb of London this is far too extreme and the […] consultation process stopped and it was sneaked in under the guise of Covid measures,” she added.  

Jane Alaszewski, who lives inside the LTN, is worried that her son, who has autism and attends a special school in Kent inaccessible via public transport, will have his three-hour commute made even longer.  

“I raised the issue of SEN transport with various councillors six months ago.  

“Sadly, the council did not engage with SEN transport, blue badge holders, carers or NHS therapists and none of these groups are allowed through the closed roads.  

“They have abnegated their responsibility to assess the scheme’s impact on vulnerable residents like my son.  

“As traffic has increased on the main roads, my son’s journey time has increased further. This is detrimental to his health and wellbeing,” she said.  

The mum said since living near Lee High Road, two family members have developed asthma. 

“They did not need their inhalers during the initial period of lockdown but as the traffic piled up are back to using them every day. We now hear the constant hum of traffic from our garden. 

“We are very aware of the fact that one child has already lost their life to traffic pollution in this area. That is one too many,” she said, adding that the council’s priority should be improving the South Circular.  

Alex Raha, who lives nearby but outside the LTN, “fully supports” it.  

“It has meant a number of people who started to walk and cycle during lockdown are now enabled to continue to do so.  

“Whilst the implementation could certainly have been a lot more efficient, Lewisham Council was recently rated as the worst London borough for Heathy Streets by the Healthy Street Scorecard, highlighting how important implementation of low traffic neighbourhoods are in order to prevent an increase in unsustainable car use whilst public transport capacity is reduced.  

“Whilst there have been some short-term issues with displacement, it’s well known these issues disappear once the scheme is fully implemented. 

“The scheme itself has enabled our young family to walk and cycle into and through the area to make journeys of between two and four miles which were previously made by car,” he said.  

Just imagine what that is doing to the children’s lungs as they play in the playground

Lucy Hayes, a Hither Green resident living outside the LTN, said she welcomed the scheme. 

“My road and the adjoining roads have always been used as rat-runs, with cars either speeding dangerously through or backed up in queues, depending on the time of day.  

“The small residential roads surrounding the local primary school are totally appalling – they see 3.5 million cars passing through per year. 

“Just imagine what that is doing to the children’s lungs as they play in the playground.  

“I commute by cycling to Lewisham station and this has become increasingly terrifying as the traffic in these backstreets is so bad. 

“Car users get impatient due to the tailbacks and so speed when they can and push past bikes – I’ve had a few near misses,” Ms Hayes said.  

She said she is “totally aware of the concerns of other residents”, but that the “scheme takes time to bed-in”. 

Neil Amos, who lives inside the LTN, said: “I am in favour of trialling the scheme as previous attempts to deal with problems haven’t worked and it is too early to write this trial off.” 

I love my job but am thinking about looking for a new one in the other direction. Over the last couple of weeks the traffic has been dreadful, I can’t imagine how bad it will be come September.

Teacher Sarah Tigwell lives inside the LTN and said the Lewisham school she works in is too far to walk to, with cycling “only an occasional option”. 

“I usually have heavy bags to carry and my attempts at cycling to work over the past year have been really unpleasant, more so now that there is more traffic driving dangerously on the unblocked roads.  

“I am very frustrated as I feel it is a done deal and residents’ voices are not really listened to,” she said.  

She suggested that local residents should be allowed access through Manor Lane/Ennersdale road via Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) with the cameras.  

“It could be linked to council tax or parking permit details. If 70 per cent of rat runners are from out of borough, letting residents through will ease traffic on main routes but leave far less traffic within scheme.  

 “If this could be done, I, and many others I know, would support the scheme,” Ms Tigwell said. 

She added that she was “absolutely dreading going back to school in September”. 

“I love my job but am thinking about looking for a new one in the other direction.  

“Over the last couple of weeks the traffic has been dreadful, I can’t imagine how bad it will be come September. I really hope we get listened to with this.  

“I don’t want to live in a middle-class enclave or gated community,” she said. 

Paul Lucas, who lives inside the LTN, supports the trial and would like to see it extended to Hither Green West.  

“The area’s residential back roads have been used as a major cut through for a number of years for commercial and commuter traffic and it is only getting worse.  

“The traffic goes beyond rush hours and also into weekends. The commuter traffic starts pre 6am. Change has to happen,” he said.  

Mr Lucas added that “some of the congestion in other roads is also affected by gasworks in Grove Park and Lee High Road”.

“Once the trial is fully operational and the gasworks are over we will be able to judge it far better and make amendments accordingly,” he said. 

Some said public transport has been left out of the conversation, leaving users with “huge headaches” as buses are delayed and not at full capacity due to Covid-19. 

Residents spoke of being afraid to cycle in now gridlocked roads, while others said they were afraid to speak their mind on social media for fear of being verbally attacked.  

Others said elderly residents are seeing their journey times to Lewisham Hospital increased.  

One resident said councillors are not answering residents’ questions.

“One did send an email that she had received from the Lewisham cabinet minister responsible for the road closure scheme

“Within this message it actually stated that my councillor should tell me that she supported the road closures in Lee.

“I thought we lived in a democracy but this sort of command from Sophie McGeevor suggests to me that Lewisham Council has become a dictatorship,” she said. 

One resident said an extra 2.5 hours on his commute was making his job “virtually impossible”, while he was concerned for businesses already struggling because of lockdown.  

We have full sympathy with those who may be experiencing more traffic noise and exhaust fumes but we are confident that the impact on surrounding roads will ease

Lewisham’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Cllr Sophie McGeevor, said the measures  “are there to support people who want to or have no other option to walk or cycle, and are intended to support traffic reduction on all roads including in Hither Green”.  

“We are monitoring the scheme carefully and taking into account all transport needs, including those of businesses and for people for who walking and cycling are not possible perhaps because of mobility. 

“We know that traffic has moved to busier trunk roads and this was an expected short-term consequence of the introduction of these measures.  

“We have full sympathy with those who may be experiencing more traffic noise and exhaust fumes but we are confident that the impact on surrounding roads will ease. 

“It will take time, but what we’re committed to reducing car journeys that aren’t necessary for everyone’s benefit.  

“We hope that as these measures settle into place, local people who are able to walk or cycle will start to recognise the benefits of the more sustainable ways for local travel,” she said.