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Mayor Biggs announces way forward with Liveable Streets

Liveable Streets -24 for web

The pavements in Wapping Lane have been widened as part of Liveable Streets

Liveable Streets – Tower Hamlets Council’s programme to create safer, calmer and cleaner streets – is being reviewed in light of issues and concerns raised by some residents.

Seven schemes currently underway will be reviewed, and possible changes made, before they are completed.

There will not be any further projects starting under the Liveable Streets banner. Future traffic schemes will be redesigned taking in the lessons learnt.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“We continue to support the principles behind Liveable Streets of better, safer, calmer streets, with a reduction of rat-run traffic in residential areas, fewer unnecessary journeys made by car and a focus to improve the local environment and people’s health with better air quality.

“But we need to take some time to reflect on the impact the schemes have had on some local residents making essential car journeys, which is why we’ve paused the programme to see what changes are needed.”

The seven projects currently underway are in Bow, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Old Ford West, Shadwell, Brick Lane and Barkantine. Liveable Streets were introduced in these areas to help tackle traffic coming through the borough from other areas and to address high levels of air pollution, traffic and congestion, and resulting health issues.

Tower Hamlets has the most traffic in the country and transport is the main source of air pollution, responsible for nearly 40 per cent of carbon dioxide emitted. As a result of poor air quality, the lung function of children in Tower Hamlets is 5 to 10 per cent less than the national average.

The Bethnal Green review will look at road closures to the west of and including Warner Place and Squirries Street.

In Bow, further impact studies are needed following comments from Transport for London about the impact on local bus services, meaning elements of the scheme will need to be delayed and possibly redesigned.

The Mayor has also announced that the Brick Lane road closures will stop completely in October.

Cllr Kahar Chowdhury, Cabinet Member for Highways and Public Realm, said:

“We’re hearing from residents that in some cases, the Liveable Streets programme is not solving problems of congestion as people are still making local journeys by car, traffic is just being pushed onto other roads and journey times are increasing.

“We need to quickly review this and get it right and while we don’t think it will need a largescale reversal or abandonment of existing schemes, it does mean we will not be developing the future phases of Liveable Streets as we had planned.”

Liveable Streets are similar but offer more improvements to neighbourhoods than LTNs, which usually prioritise the use of road closures to address high traffic levels. Liveable Streets have a more rounded approach and road closures (when used) are only part of a wider package of measures that improve conditions for walking, cycling and access to public transport.

What really sets Liveable Streets apart from most LTNs is the extent to which the Council has consulted with the community before designing the best scheme for that area. All schemes have been created after widespread engagement, collaboration, consultation, and co-design and with local communities.

Posted on Friday 10th September 2021