Dulwich Village junction – meeting with Ward Councillors

We met with our Ward Councillors, Margy and Richard (together, ‘Our Councillors’), to discuss the impact of the closure of the Dulwich Village junction and possible further road closures in Phase 2.
 
Summary
 
– Our Councillors explained that the approach is driven by necessity and budgetary pressures at TfL (Transport for London)
 
– a Phase 2 will be implemented in September, subject to similar budgetary constraints; the original decision notice published states that phase 2 will: “consider additional measures on Dulwich Village…”. Margy and Richard made it clear that the toolkit includes planters and cameras, but not a permit system at this stage
 
– Our Councillors are well aware of the issues experienced on Our Streets, and have stated that they are working on coming up with proposals that address them although these proposals are not currently in the public domain
 
– a ‘school street’ on Dulwich Village road is a possible measure; this could mean closing Dulwich Village road to private motor vehicles for weekday periods around school pick-up and drop-off times
 
We have urged our Councillors to take urgent steps – particularly around the junction with East Dulwich Grove, to alleviate traffic build-up in the Village – and not to take actions in Phase 2 which will make matters worse. Our Councillors acknowledged that there is a problem with the phasing of traffic lights at the north end of Dulwich Village which is causing a substantial tailback, particularly in the afternoon peak when southbound traffic coming from Red Post Hill prevents traffic turning from Dulwich Village into East Dulwich Grove. They explained that TfL has been slow to act despite requests. Meanwhile, we have been advised since the meeting that Helen Hayes MP for Dulwich & West Norwood has written to Heidi Alexander (Deputy Mayor of London for Transport) appealing to her to prioritise resolving this problem.
 
Discussions with Our Councillors
 
The junction closure has, in the view of many of our residents, had an immediate and detrimental impact on traffic in Dulwich Village – in particular standing traffic building up behind traffic lights at East Dulwich Grove.Our Councillors explained that TFL was under funding pressure, and was only releasing money for road actions in tranches.  Money is not available for the more sophisticated elements of the ‘Healthy Streets’ plan such as permit-controlled access to roads.  Southwark decided the junction closure was an imperfect but achievable first phase of reducing traffic flows, and issues arising from it could be mitigated as explained in the decision notice using further tranches of TFL spend as it became available.

They felt that it was too early to assess the success or otherwise of the scheme, as there are too many moving parts; the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, the school holidays, roadworks elsewhere in London are all having an effect, and the so-called ‘modal shifts’ – changes in driver behaviour resulting from the junction closure – may take a while to kick in.

They could not give further details of the proposed ‘Phase 2’  measures due in September but did undertake to discuss them with us before implementation.  They made clear this would not be a ‘consultation’ given the nature of the emergency timetable they are acting under, but they did undertake to ensure that the interests of Our Streets (ie Duwich Village road, College Road and Woodyard Lane) would not be disregarded.

We asked about what tools were available to mitigate traffic flows along Our Streets.  Road closures are not on the table at least in the short term, but ’school street’ type timed closures (for instance of Dulwich Village road at school drop off and pick up times) are a possibility. They mentioned that ‘cameras are not ruled out – though permits are, for now’ – it’s not clear to us what this could mean in practice.

We asked about air quality monitoring, as many of our residents are concerned about air quality given the build-up of standing traffic along Our Streets, and indeed a number of residents have purchased their own air quality monitors.  Our Councillors have promised to update us with the sites at which air quality monitoring is in place and confirmed that Dulwich Hamlet Junior school has a monitor inside the gates. They undertook to get back to us on this. On the topic of DIY air quality monitoring, they expressed reservations about the quality of the data they would provide.

We advocated a couple of ideas which have been raised by our residents to mitigate traffic flows and traffic build-up in the Village:

i) to change the phasing of the lights at East Dulwich Grove, in particular putting in a right turn filter to allow more eastbound traffic from Dulwich Village to filter right onto East Dulwich Grove, and adjusting the lights at Townley Road to allow traffic on East Dulwich Grove to flow better

ii) to look at ways of discouraging through traffic from using College Road; pedestrianising, widening pavements, creating a permanent cycle lane

Our Councillors said that the traffic lights at the junction with East Dulwich Grove were being looked at.  They expressed interest in ideas for College Road.

Finally, we asked how residents can best communicate their views on this junction closure.

They advised to e-mail:
highways@southwark.gov.uk
cc:
richard.livingstone@southwark.gov.uk
Andy.Simmons@southwark.gov.uk
Margy.Newens@southwark.gov.uk
richard.leeming@southwark.gov.uk

It would be helpful if you could copy us on any correspondence as well.

We are looking at how we can convene a General Meeting of the Residents Association (or equivalent) so we can adopt a formal position on this issue, but in the meantime please make your views known to us and to Southwark as above.