Lewisham Council is set to “open up” its first low traffic neighbourhood after surrounding roads saw a “major” surge in congestion. 

An announcement on the exact changes to the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN is expected any time this week after the borough’s mayor thanked people for their patience on Friday (October 9) “as [the council] works through the next steps”.   

The LTN, a set of road barriers to reduce through-traffic, was brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures and has received mixed feedback.  

The scheme aims to promote active travel such as cycling, walking, and public transport, which many residents support.    

However, traffic has been displaced onto roads outside of the LTN, leaving locals concerned about road safety and air pollution. 

Lee Green Ward councillor James Rathbone said today (October 12) that the LTN would be “opened up” to reduce pressure on the South Circular.

“Traffic congestion outside central London is well above historic levels, and in September was regularly at 150 per cent or more than in 2019.  

“The primary road network is overwhelmed, and Lewisham Council and TfL will be taking urgent action to reduce pressure on the South Circular,” he said.  

Cllr Rathbone said the news is “obviously incredibly disappointing for anyone who supported the trial”.  

“Traffic levels are up huge amounts across south London, with major increases in congestion in areas with LTNs and areas without them,” he said, adding that the LTN is contributing to but not causing the congestion on the South Circular.  

“The only way the council and TfL can ease pressure on the South Circular around Hither Green and Lee Green right now is to open up the LTN. 

“Myself, Jim, Octavia and other backbench councillors found out this decision has been made last Tuesday.

“We’ve been working with the mayor and highways officers since then to try and ensure that as many roads inside the LTN remain filtered to non-residential traffic as possible. 

“My hope is that in the future – after Covid-19 and when traffic levels are back to their pre-2020 levels – we can keep working on traffic reduction measures in Lee Green.

“But right now it is vital that TfL and the council relieve pressure on the South Circular in the short term. 

“I don’t expect anyone is going to pleased with this decision – those who support the LTN trial will be upset we have to open it up, whilst those who oppose it will want to see the entire scheme removed,” Cllr Rathbone said.  

Mayor Damien Egan said on Friday that “perhaps [the council is] trying to do too much too soon” and that “the current measures are not working as expected”.  

“We need to, and we will, respond to the issues that have been raised by residents.  

“I’m sorry to all of those residents who are seeing more traffic on their streets and I know it must be frustrating to be living with this disruption. 

“What we’ve set out to do here is central to our priorities for Lewisham.  

“We want to encourage as many people as possible to walk and cycle, create roads that are pleasant and safe for people to do so, reduce the use of cars overall and importantly, to improve the air quality for everyone. 

“That said, the current measures are not working as expected. Perhaps we are trying to do too much too soon,” he said.  

The mayor is set to chair a public information session at 7pm on October 22 when residents will be able to hear from him and the council’s chief executive Kim Wright. 

“In this meeting there will be an opportunity to ask questions and for residents to share their views as well – we will share information on how to book next week. 

“I am determined that we will do everything we can to make the right changes to the scheme to ensure it works for everyone,” he said.