Residents in HGV plea to council

Inside the giant tunnel

Loughborough Junction residents concerned about the prospect of five years of intense HGV activity in the area are asking Lambeth council to review the effect if will have on homes and roads.

The HGVs will be part of the construction of a massive and deep tunnel by National Grid (NG) to upgrade and safeguard London’s electricity supply.

Bengeworth Road in Loughborough Junction has been chosen as the site for a one of eight “head stations” for the tunnel which, when completed, will run from Crayford in the east to Wimbledon in the west.

The residents want the enormous amounts of tunnelling waste that will pass through Bengeworth Road site to be moved by rail and not by lorries. The site is next to rail lines that pass through Loughborough Junction station.

Work on another head station site in Brixton, at the junction of Acre Lane and King’s Avenue, is also under way.

In a letter to Cllr Claire Holland, Lambeth council’s deputy leader (sustainable transport, environment and clean air), members of the Bengeworth Road Action Group, which is made up of local residents, call on her to conduct an independent review of the impact the development.

Details of the Bengeworth Road site

The group also criticises poor consultation about the plans by NG.

“As residents we feel we have not been given due advance warning, especially considering that they are proposing to move to phase 2 of the scheme on 15 February when NG will be initiating HGV movements, and that the first proper public consultation/meeting was held on 20 January 2021,” the group’s letter says.

A consultation event in December 2020 was attended by only five people due to lack of proper communication, it adds.

NG, which says that it is “working closely with the London borough of Lambeth to understand local traffic,” has a section of its tunnel website with information about the Bengeworth Road site, between Loughborough Junction station and Ruskin Park.

The resident’s letter asks Holland, who is also chair of the transport and environment committee at London Councils, which represents 33 local authorities, for reassurance that Lambeth council have scrutinised NG’s construction transport assessment.

Two of the eight ‘head houses’ on the giant tunnel will be in Lambeth – Bengeworth Road and Acre Lane/King’s Avenue in Brixton

The residents say NG has estimated that there will be:

  • Up to 110 HGV movements a day during a tunnel shaft construction phase
  • Up to 120 HGV movements a day during construction of entrances to the tunnel
  • Up to 50 HGV movements a day during construction of the head station

More details of the work are available on a dedicated National Grid website.

“Considering Lambeth’s Better Air Pledge, as well as its commitment to low traffic neighbourhoods and Liveable neighbourhood schemes we urge the council to press National Grid for the use of the adjacent railway to remove excavated material as this would reduce air and noise pollution,” the residents’ letter says.

“During their public consultation on 20 January 2021, National Grid admitted they had not spoken to Network Rail,” it points out.

NG has identified Padfield Road, Cambria Road, Southwell Road and Harbour Road as entry and exit routes to the site.

“This is especially disappointing,” say the residents considering that NG’s own logistics plan for the site recognises that:

Southwell Road, Harbour Road and Cambria Road are considered “sensitive” as they are quiet residential streets with no through traffic.

Southwell Road, Harbour Road and Cambria Road are relatively narrow residential streets with residents’ parking bays on both sides of the carriageway (only on the western side of Cambria Road).

“Junctions on these roads along the construction route have tight corner radii and to allow construction HGVs to manoeuvre there may need to be suspension of some parking bays,” the residents say.

underground machinery
Huge boring machines will produce large amounts of waste

They are particularly concerned about:

  • Noise from construction vehicles along the predominantly residential roads between the site entrance at Bengeworth Road and Coldharbour Lane
  • The Transport for London (TfL) “significant threshold” of the number HGVs compared to other traffic will be exceeded for roads that are not part of TfL’s major route network [TLRN] and is expected to be exceeded on all minor roads,
  • The 10% threshold will be exceeded for HGV traffic as a percentage of total traffic for Coldharbour Road and Denmark Hill
  • Within 350 metres of the site lie four primary schools or nurseries: St Saviour’s C of E primary; 2nd Step Nursery and Pre-School; Armadillos Nursery; and King’s College Hospital’s Healthcare day nursery.

“Considering the timescale of the operations, five years or more, it is a matter of concern that NG have not looked at long-term, lower impact and greener solutions,” say the residents.

This contravenes NG’s claimed support for the Mayor of London’s Vision Zero and Healthy Streets commitment, they add.

“Moreover,” the letter continues,” the construction traffic option identified by National Grid does not meet the requirements set out by the National Planning Policy Framework.” 

This says that when considering development proposals, it should be ensured that:

Appropriate opportunities to promote sustainable transport modes can be – or have been taken up, given the type of development and its location;

Safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all users; and

Any significant impacts from the development on the transport network (in terms of capacity and congestion), or on highway safety, can be cost effectively mitigated to an acceptable degree.

“We also question NG’s claim that local transport will not be affected,” say the residents.

“HGV construction traffic will be going through Orpheus Street, Camberwell Green, before reaching the site.

“Considering bus stands are located on Orpheus Street, an otherwise already narrow street, this raises real issues of safety and delays.

“Indeed bus crashes have already been previously recorded at the junction between Orpheus Street with Daneville Road (notably on 28/02/2017).”

The group, has asked Lambeth council to clarify whether the proposed construction traffic would meet permitted routes requirements under the London Councils Lorry Control Scheme.

It has also asked Lambeth council to clarify whether the proposed construction traffic of lorries weighing up to 20 tonnes would adhere to weight restrictions on local residential roads.

It is worth noting, they tell Cllr Holland, that NG’s demolition and construction logistics plan was produced in October 2020, but the technical note in response to the road safety audit for the site was produced in January 2021 – “during a lockdown when the actual traffic and road situation is markedly different”.

A National Grid spokesperson told the Blog: “The works at Bengeworth Road are vital to provide a new connection to UK Power Networks which will help meet future demand and ensure a safe and secure electricity supply to South London.

“We are very mindful of the concerns raised by local residents at our recent engagement events and we are committed to working with them to minimise disruption where we can.

“This includes looking at the possibility of alternative access routes to site, and other engineering solutions, to help manage traffic movements.

“We have also set up a community liaison group (CLG). The CLG is made up of residents and key people from the project who will meet regularly. This forum will give the community opportunity to work with our project team, share information and feedback on parts of the project.”


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