Work to create the Bowes Primary Area low-traffic neighbourhood has begun amid protests from people demanding prior consultation about the scheme, which is designed to prevent through traffic from using the area while retaining access by car to all addresses. Workers began installing 'modal filters' (planters and bollards) in selected streets on Monday morning, but were initially delayed by a large demonstration. Demonstrations continued on Tuesday and today and police were brought in to control the situation. Despite this filters are now in place at the northern end of Palmerston Road and in York Road.
Public consultation about the scheme will start on 21st September and run for six months, during which time the council will have the option to move the locations of modal filters to find the optimum layout.
A decision as to whether Enfield Council will receive funding to install a bus gate in Brownlow Road is expected next week. If it is made available, residents of the busiest street in the area will be finally rewarded after many years of complaints to the council about the number of cars using the road, which frequently far outstrip its capacity and create tailbacks along its entire length. The bus gate will let through buses and emergency vehicles only.
The scheme has stirred up strong passions, for and against. Healthy Streets Bounds Green and Better Streets for Enfield have been campaigning for a low-traffic neighbourhood and welcome it - though they have expressed reservations about the design. There are other residents, probably a small minority, who are opposed to any measures that would reroute traffic, taking the view that roads are there for people to drive along. In between, and quite possibly in the majority, there are people who might be open to the idea of a low-traffic neighbourhood, but feel that the council's scheme is badly designed and would cause them great inconvenience. But probably the greatest cause of discontent is the failure to consult in advance of simply imposing the scheme, which is what led more than 1600 people to sign a petition asking for all work to be halted until there has been a full consultation with local residents and engagement with Haringey Council and Transport for London (TfL).
The blame for the failure to consult in advance (there will be full consultation during trial operation) can largely be laid at the door of the Department for Transport. It was a condition for receiving funding for Covid Streetspace Phase 1 schemes that work should begin no later than four weeks after allocation of the funds and be completed within eight weeks, leaving no time for any meaningful consultation, since any design changes prompted by residents' feedback would then have to be approved by the DfT, TfL and the emergency services. Enfield Council was in a take it or leave it situation - and if they had not taken the opportunity, there might have been no prospect in view for many years for a solution to the completely intolerable traffic situation in Brownlow Road and Warwick Road and the problems in some other streets.
Defending the plan, deputy council leader Ian Barnes has pointed out there are 7226 residents in the area and 40 per cent of households there do not have access to a car. These people suffer the polluted air, noise, road danger and inconvenience created by people from outside the area using it as a cut-through.
The southern end of the low-traffic neighbourhood is on the boundary between Enfield and Haringey boroughs. Haringey Council recently informed residents of streets directly to the south of Enfield's scheme that it will be bidding for funding to create a Bounds Green low-traffic neighbourhood scheme. If successful, the scheme will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1 will block through traffic from using streets to the west of Brownlow Road and Durnsford Road. Phase 2 will stop cars driving through the triangular area between Bounds Green Road and Wood Green High Road, which extends from Bowes Park in the north to Wood Green Church in the south. The map provided by Haringey only shows the streets affected, not where the filters would be located - the designs for the schemes will be influenced by prior consultation.
Haringey Council expects to hear on 24th August whether or not its bid for funding for phase 1 is successful. If it is, it will first consult councillors and residents' groups before publicising its scheme in November. Formal consultation will take place during the trial implementation period, as is happening in the Enfield scheme.
Corrections to this article
This article was amended on 20th August to correct the impression given that all demonstrators were opposed to having a low-traffic neighbourhood and the incorrect statement that the petition was in opposition to the idea of a low-traffic neighbourhood. I have since seen a copy of the petition, and it is clear that its aim is limited to calling for a halt to the proposed works until the council have engaged with the local community, TfL and Haringey Council and have gained majority support. Two new paragraphs have been added immediately after the first York Road photograph, replacing the original incorrect text, which read:
"The scheme has stirred up strong opposition from people who complain that it will make some of their journeys significantly longer, and a petition signed by 1600 people opposing the scheme has been forwarded to Enfield Council."