New row over Brixton road closure trials

Artist’s impression of the New Park Road closure trial

Possible trial road closures in and around Brixton have sparked new controversy.

After the Loughborough Junction closures, some commercial online forums have picked up on more schemes promoted by Lambeth Council and “delivered” by the charity Sustrans.

Rosendale Road – which runs between Brockwell Park and West Norwood cemetery via the South Circular in Dulwich – and New Park Road, running nearly parallel to Brixton Hill are the areas concerned.

The New Park Road scheme came about due to complaints from parents, councillors and residents about lack of safe crossing points and the high number of accidents outside Richard Atkins primary school which is on New Park Road.

The road is used by drivers as a cut-through. There have been 12 collisions in the area in the past three years, four of them involving children under ten.

Lambeth council’s transport team commissioned “DIY Schools”, a seven-month project carried out by Sustrans, to design a scheme costing between £10,000 and £20,000 to reduce the speed and volume of traffic along New Park Road without passing on traffic problems to surrounding residential streets.

The trial would involve the creation of a “mini parklet” to prevent cars using New Park Road as a rat run, but allowing vehicle access either side of the closure and a protected crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.

Trial closure of Dumbarton/Chale road junction
Proposed trial closure of Lyham/Dumbarton/Chale road junction

In a bid to prevent blocked traffic using nearby residential streets, a three-way closure for cars, but not cyclists, would be trialled at the junction of Lyham, Dumbarton and Chale roads near the back of Brixton Prison. Left turns from Morrish road on to Brixton Hill to avoid an increase in traffic on that road will also be banned for the trial period.

A plan of the proposed trial is here.

The scheme also has a Facebook page.

Its announcement has sparked a leaflet opposing the trial and intemperate posts on online forums, including one from Debbie B: “Why are we allowing the bullying, lycra-clad psycholists to determine this, whilst the MAJORITY of other road users are just told to ‘get a bike’ … We all need to become more vocal because the psycholist lobby take no prisoners.”

Online posters opposing the scheme claim to have collected more signatures for their petition than parents did when asking for increased safety for their children.

The Rosendale Road scheme, mainly in Southwark, has provoked similar comments and posts on community forums by residents concerned about loss of parking spaces.

Campaigners also claim to have stopped a similar trial in the Norbury/Thornton Heath area of Croydon.

Philippa Banister of Sustrans stressed that the New Park Road scheme was a trial that would be assessed, initially after three months, and that local residents’ views would be sought throughout the trial period.

Initial planning had involved speaking to 200 residents and 500 parents of children at Richard Atkins, many of whom lived in the immediate vicinity of the school.

She said several crossing points along New Park Road and surrounding streets were dangerous for pedestrians because of high levels of speeding traffic and HGVs travelling along New Park Road, seeking to avoid traffic lights on Brixton Hill. Air pollution on New Park Road was also higher than in neighbouring streets.

The aim of the scheme was not to stop drivers or force people onto bikes, but to reduce the number of accidents involving collisions between cars and young children.

Banister pointed out that initial proposals for the trial changes had been “updated a number of times based on resident feedback – and still can be”.

There had been more than a dozen local meetings, as well as sessions with children and parents at Richard Atkins and residents’ groups to consider problems and explore solutions.

“Having just completed an informal consultation phase covering over 3,000 households, Sustrans and Lambeth council are now assessing the results of all the feedback and questions raised with ward members and council officers before making a decision on the scheme to be trialled for three months,” said Banister.

They would soon update residents with the results, she said. The update would summarise feedback on the trial design and would develop three options to take the scheme forward – two of which would not involve a trial closure of New Park Road or other residential streets.

Banister said the update would be “circulated extensively to the local community” – including all people who had already made contact.

Local people in the Brixton Hill ward who wanted to be added to the mailing list should contact their local councillor.

Brixton Hill councillors are Florence Eshalomi (formerly Nosegbe); Adrian Garden; and Martin Tiedemann. The latter two have been involved in the scheme from the outset.

“We will continue to seek feedback and respond to residents throughout the process,” said Banister.

The protesters have not yet replied to a request for comment.




  1. As a resident of one of the roads directly off New Park Road I think this is a good idea.

    There have been numerous accidents due to poor visibility turning on to New Park Road and speeding vehicles coming down it, coupled with appalling parking (a van this morning was parked along New Park and half across Doverfield (double yellows of course) meaning anyone trying to turn in to the road has to essentially hope that nothing is coming up faster than it should be.

    My car was written off due to an accident on that junction and of course, it was deemed to be my fault to the letter of the highway code because I was pulling into the road.

    Another solution would to actually have someone policing the parking, speed cameras and/or speed bumps. Closure seems harsh but it will solve more problems than it causes I suspect.

  2. I have just heard the news that New Park Rd and the surrounding roads are going to be closed for cars to come down. As a young woman who grew up in this area I feel very upset and worried about these actions as it will inevitably ghettoise the area. I avoid walking down streets without the watchful eye of passing traffic as it is simply not safe. This is not about convenience, it is about safety- how many cycling or pedestrian accidents have happened compared to the amount of violent crimes in the area? I believe in the sentiment of your proposal- let’s bring our community together- but not by shutting off the roads from emergency services and ongoing traffic that prevent accidents and save lives.

    • ‘Watchful eye of passing traffic’? This makes no sense. The drivers blasting down Dumbarton road at 35mph couldn’t care less about pedestrians. Likewise with the idiots having angry confrontations at rush hour because the roads are too narrow for two-way traffic and no one’s prepared to reverse a few metres. Is there any credible research that suggests excessive traffic makes streets safer?

  3. I agree with Charlotte that the original consultation of 300 homes near the school was misguided as closing one road simply reroutes traffic through others which are even narrower. This is why after feedback 6 weeks ago the consultation was extended. As a result it was suggested that more streets were closed as the feedback was that people were feed up with the traffic throughout the area not just in New Park Road.

    What the people opposing the scheme seems to have forgotten in their desire to drive their car wherever they want is that we should be all focussed on how our communities; safety, health and wellbeing can be improved. Lets not forget that children and others are being injured. Maintaining the status quo will improve nothing and should not be an option.

    Sometimes local politicians need some guts to stand up for what is best rather than pander to those that shout loudest. A pedestrian area in New Park Road can only be a community asset that brings us all together.

    It is up to local people not militant car drivers from outside the area to make suggestions to improve the area and this scheme.

  4. I live in one of the roads off New Park Road which will be closed at one end. I’m not sure what I think about the plans – but do take offence at the way they have been pushed through ‘after consultation with local residents’ – on our road my neighbours and I have only received one recent letter – no others before that – which was inviting us to come and look at the proposed plans outside a local pub.
    We have never been invited to any meetings to put our points of view across.
    When I pointed this out to some young men from Sustrans who were showing the plans they admitted there had been some distribution problems with the leaflets. This is not good enough.
    Another public meeting needs to be held before anything is decided, with all the residents affected invited. We all need the chance to make our views heard – this scheme cannot be forced on us before that happens.

  5. New Park Rd scheme seems more sensible than the Loughborough Rd one – it’s a pretty nasty rat run at present, whereas Loughborough Rd is a fairly major B road.

    Not clear from the article what the Rosendale Rd scheme is, but won’t through traffic divert onto Croxted Rd, which is already pretty full?

  6. Please be aware that the commercial forum quoted above does not verify I.D. – at least two of the posters on the New Park Road discussion (“Samuel E” and “Wayne S”) are the same individual, an activist with Croydon UKIP & “motoring rights” organisation the ABD (their site is ) who lives in Coulsdon, South Croydon.

    The same individual has been attempting to disrupt the consultation process on Rosendale Road and for all I know, Loughborough Junction too, and has a long track record of submitting Freedom Of Information requests under false names to waste council officer time and money.

  7. Lisa, I’m glad you’re a real person, but you’re commenting on a totally different scheme to the Loughborough Junction one. The one referred to here deals with an area up the top of Brixton Hill and sounds well planned and sensible. I say that as someone who drives, cycles and walks, as many people do. Do you know the roads affected here and the type of traffic problems we suffer from (a mixture of dangerously speeding cars on narrow residential roads and angry traffic jams at rush hour)?

    • Adrian, I have just been accused of the ““Why are we allowing the bullying, lycra-clad psycholists to determine this, whilst the MAJORITY of other road users are just told to ‘get a bike’ … We all need to become more vocal because the psycholist lobby take no prisoners.” quote which wasn’t me, I have no choice but to drive I physically can’t walk or cycle, I know where this scheme is thank you, the point I’m trying to make is there has to be give and take! Your opinions are your choice as are mine that’s why we have freedom of speech.

      • I’m sorry you were misquoted – Maybe this blog could remove that quote then as it’s rather inflammatory.

        No one’s telling you to get on a bike – I have every sympathy with anyone who has no choice but to use a car and in an ideal world extra provision would be made for the disabled in these schemes.

        I’m not very familiar with the Loughborough Junction scheme, but it sounds like it’s been a bit of a failure as so few residents are in favour of it. However as you’ll see from the other comments here, many locals are in favour of the changes up here.

        Again this is not the Loughborough Junction scheme. If you lived in my road it’s quite likely the reduction in other cars this scheme should lead to would be of benefit to you as you’d not be faced with an angry column of beeping idiots at rush hour, or to dodge drivers doing 40mph down a narrow residential road.

  8. Was that really a quote from you Lisa? That’s a whole lot of prejudice from someone who’s disabled. Do you specifically discriminate against people based on their clothing or their choice of transport (which might not be a choice of course – their use of a bike may be a financial necessity)?

    ““Why are we allowing the bullying, lycra-clad psycholists to determine this, whilst the MAJORITY of other road users are just told to ‘get a bike’ … We all need to become more vocal because the psycholist lobby take no prisoners.”

    The reality is that the majority of households in Lambeth don’t even have access to a car – 60% of lambeth households are car free. Only 13% of commutes in Lambeth are by car or van, so users of private cars are very much in the minority yet cause a huge amount of pollution, danger and noise that has a very negative impact on the rest.

    As of 2013 just under 10% of Lambeth commutes were by bike. Surely any sort of ‘fair’ allocation of the road space would give as much dedicated space for cycles as it does to cars (including all the road space taken up by parking)?

    Proper dedicated cycle facilities are fantastic for disabled and older people (as well as those too young to drive) – in the Netherlands all of these groups have much more independence than they do in London.

    • Simon if you read the ““Why are we allowing the bullying, lycra-clad psycholists to determine this, whilst the MAJORITY of other road users are just told to ‘get a bike’ We all need to become more vocal because the psycholist lobby take no prisoners.” that was not my quote so before you accuse me of discriminating I suggest you contact the writer of said quote it’s on street life. I do not have the choice to cycle even if I wanted to due to my medical condition and wherever it is in London there has to be a way for pedestrians, cyclists and road users to co exist.

  9. I live on one of the roads affected by this new scheme.

    I strongly support the plans.

    Having more relaxing outdoor space to chat to neighbours would be great. It’s also important to think about the pollution currently on New Park Road; it is way above legal limits and is very bad for all our health, especially that of the kids at Richard Atkins.

  10. Ok so it’s alright for people to keep bleating how ‘car drivers’ care more about driving than road safety, we are not all the same, so be quiet, I live near the Loughborough, off chb lane, the road closures have affected not only us ‘car drivers’ yes I am one as I’m disabled and have no choice, it has affected buses, ambulances trying to get access to kings college, vans making deliveries to local homes and businesses as well as cyclists and pedestrians, the pollution has increased massively because everything is being pushed along chb lane now, the majority of residents are against this. But Lambeth just pushed it through anyway. A lot of local businesses have said it has affected their business. Yes we all want lowered pollution and better road safety but there has to be a compromise. Actually Adrian Lisa B is me and I am human!

  11. Wow! I can’t believe people are complaining about these schemes when they are designed to save the lives of children. If it adds 10 minutes to a car journey, then so be it. A child’s life, any life, is priceless.

  12. Road closures aren’t necessary but extreme traffic calming measures are. New Park Road is a rat run and they need to probably make it one way and with lots of bumps and chicanes.

  13. The result of this idiotic plan is that the number of cars on the road will not be reduced, but the space they can occupy will.

    This will create more traffic jams on Brixton Hill and elsewhere. Traffic jams are immensely polluting. They make transport more inefficient. They make people angry. They are dangerous, as cyclists and pedestrians weave around large vehicles.

    These changes are part of Boris Johnson’s legacy programme and being foisted on the majority who simply do not want them.

    • Fortunately there’s an awful lot of evidence that the number of cars on the road does reduce so congestion doesn’t get worse.

      In fact the best way to reduce congestion in London, given we can’t give up any more space to roads without a major programme of demolition, is to enable people to travel by less space intensive transport such as bikes, buses or walking.

      With 60% of Lambeth households car free and only 13% of Lambeth commutes by car I think we can safely assume the majority will benefit.

      • Thank you for that evidence. I would counter by saying that between 1976 and the current year, during which time I have lived in S London, the traffic has become so much worse and so much denser that I can barely find the words to express it. You also overlook the very particular nature of the area that is planned for closures, its proximity to the South Circular (defining characteristic—cars!) the number of schools in the area (school run!) the arterial nature of Brixton Hill (an A Road—more cars!) and so on, which means that the level of traffic is vast, with private and commercial vehicles. The assumption that all of these people are going to start cycling is the stuff of the Politburo.

  14. There has been so much mindless tinkering with the traffic flow around Brixton by Lambeth that it appears to have created more polluting congestion, road rage and rat runs than it has alleviated. It can sometime take 20 minutes to drive round the block to the end of our half one way half 2 way street (and I mean as part of a longer journey, not to go to the shops. I have a trolley). Neighbours in the adjacent road repeated smashed the bollards closing the entrance to their ‘rat run road because it was equally infuriating to get out of.
    Perhaps we return 2 way access to all roads and go Dutch. Turn off all the traffic lights. When they break down outside the Town Hall drivers slowed down and were cautious, as were pedestrians. No traffic jam. I look forward to the resulting comment tirade

  15. I have lived off New Park Road for 30 years and have watched with dismay how the vast majority of the traffic on it is now using it as a short cut between Brixton Hill and the South Circular.
    The area of New Park Road containing the shops is essential a single track road due to parking and as such is not suitable for this volume of traffic.
    This is supposed to be a residential area not an extension of the A23.

  16. I live off one of the streets off New Park Road. Over the years nearly all of the through-traffic from Brixton Hill to Kings Avenue has been closed off. This results in continual rat run traffic with constant face offs and blaring horns of drivers that block each other.

    Speak to the shop keepers and they will tell you of numerous ‘accidents’ along the rest of New Park Road, several of which have involved cyclists

    I drive a car and can accept a five minute diversion to make this a place that’s safe and worth living in, why cant others.

    What is most annoying about the ‘campaign’ to halt the scheme is the man leading it, who is opposed to any restrictions on cars doesn’t even live here! Maybe he has a vendetta, having had his own rat run that he speeds through at 40mph turned into a quiet road that pedestrians and cyclists can be safe on.

  17. There’s actually plenty of enthusiasm for the road closures around New Park Road – traffic around here is a mess with people speeding up and down narrow residential roads just to cut through to the South Circular . The ‘leaflet sparked opposing the trial’ was created by this man who isn’t a local resident and seems to have a long history of using multiple online identities to oppose any such schemes. I suspect ‘Lisa B’ may be another of his creations.

  18. Yes, why are the MAJORITY of road users (who drive cars) being FORCED to drive down other, more major roads?

    Is it maybe because cars that are driven too fast down residential roads can kill or seriously injure people that that aren’t expecting cars to be driving at high speeds down roads like that?

    Just because people drive cars in large numbers doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to do whatever they want, wherever they want.

    Quite apart from the environmental impact of motor vehicles, they’re just more dangerous than other types of transport on smaller roads like that.

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