Our response to Southwark Council's Dulwich Streetspace Proposal

EAST DULWICH GROVE RESIDENTS’ RESPONSE  to DULWICH REVIEW by Southwark Council of Streetspace scheme  

September 27.2021

The residents of EAST DULWICH GROVE have uniformly negative views about the current road closures and traffic scheme which continue to degrade our daily lives to an intolerable degree and threaten our health. We do not want them to become permanent.

This is an intervention which offers us no improvements, only dis-benefits. Traffic between September 2019 and June 2021 in appendix B shows a dramatic increase of between 33-50 % at times.


The review recognises that EDG is the biggest single casualty of this project and that there is significant additional pollution at the ”hot spot”  junction with Lordship Lane.Though we deplore the way the true outcome of the public rejection of the scheme is not published in the main 29 page report for ease of access but requires people clicking through to appendices. This is not the way elected councillors should behave in a democracy. It cannot continue this way. We do not trust your statistics and interpretation and note there is no monitoring of air pollution at the EDG crossroads with Village Way, Dulwich Village and Red Post Hill where there are frequent long queues.

We demand kerbside monitors to check whether the reports of “negligible” changes are correct.

The experience of living on East Dulwich Grove makes us very skeptical of these attempts to evade the seriousness of our position. What is clear is that there have been no gains from a scheme supposed to deliver them. We also say that East Dulwich Grove should not be divided up into East, West and South portions of road with different councillors involved. It has to be seen as an important unified road affected by common traffic overloads. Traffic management requires a holistic cross local authority boundary approach too.


We note the alarming rise in the most dangerous pollutant, particulate matter, as measured outside the EDG Nursery and  East Dulwich Charter School. The figures of Pm 2.5 of 12.8 mcg/m3  is now far in excess of the newly released WHO guideline of 5.0 mcg/m3. We therefore demand that Southwark follows the outcome of the public consultation and the 64-69 per cent response supporting a reopening of closed roads, to return our neighbourhood to pre 2020 conditions. This is urgent, the only way for immediate relief. It would also benefit many users -  including vulnerable school children & patients at the Tessa Jowell Hospital -  and improve services of the most used double decker buses, 37 and 42.

It would return the streets to their original state providing instant relief to EDG, paving the way to an eventual new start and data-based rethink across the whole of Dulwich and adjoining Southwark areas which must this time be slowly introduced and tested to win community support.  Our own independent poll conducted in July also found 84 per cent supported the move  to re-open the streets.

The views of residents are hardening with every day that passes. There is no hard evidence of traffic evaporating. One effect of timed closures is to shift the rush hours. Proposing a solution with better public transport does not have the immediate impact we need.

It is entirely unjust and outrageous that extra traffic is being funnelled down this heavily populated road  of 364 homes most directly affected, plus scores of others in surrounding roads and social housing cul -de- sacs -  while 77 homes in closed off Calton Avenue are protected.

We also oppose the fanciful creation of a “Dulwich Square” which is a pet project of a handful of enthusiasts and opposed by the majority of residents, who live here. We prioritise access and preservation of roads for a variety of users. Gilkes Crescent needs to be partly opened for access onto Calton Avenue,  another practical small step to alleviate EDG.

 We do not believe the proposed changes to shorter timed closures will make the material difference required through dispersing traffic as before. It is tinkering not reversal. We are also shocked at the way the emergency services have had to plead for months with councillors for the safety of residents. We also suggest you look at refunding fines already paid given, above all to pensioners, given the agreement signage was deficient and hard to read.

We support cycling and walking but imposing a cycle lane on East Dulwich Grove now, without surrounding  blocked roads being opened will make the stand still traffic even worse, impede buses and send pollution levels rocketing.

EAST DULWICH GROVE - THE UNIQUE SCHOOL ROAD

We note Southwark Council aims to reclaim the Streets for People while “tackling high traffic and pollution levels”.

 In particular Southwark’s Streetspace aims to create “the largest school traffic zone in Europe”.

So, we ask Southwark Council for clarity: why has it subjected East Dulwich Grove to this huge increase in traffic, noise, and pollution?

The Council drew up the 2020 scheme BUT neglected the fact East Dulwich Grove is unique, a dedicated road of schools, where around 4,000 children and nursery infants are educated and cared for on the road and in its vicinity. They don ‘t just walk to school along it. They stay there all day. They have playgrounds alongside it.

The East Dulwich Charter School has new all-weather sports fields running right alongside East Dulwich Grove. The suggestion that EDG can be shielded from this huge traffic rise by “green screens” is risible. The solution is to open Derwent Road, Elsie Road and Melbourne Grove to alleviate the pressure.


SOUTHWARK’S ATTITUDE TO THE CONSULTATION

East Dulwich Grove residents are shocked at the short time they have been given to respond to the consultation and to the way the majority view, the victory of public opinion,  is still being ignored. People have seen through the council’s attempt to play down opposition and minimise failure of the scheme. This is typical of the dismissive manner in which councillors have treated residents. They seem to have forgotten they are elected representatives.


We warn you that we are not going to accept these proposals as offered and will  continue to protest and lobby until our views prevail. We know that we are on the side of social justice and the protection of  the health of children and disadvantaged residents.

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