Hated Streatham LTN that led to three-mile bus journeys taking two hours suspended with immediate effect

7 March 2024, 14:18 | Updated: 7 March 2024, 16:04

The LTN has been suspended following 'concerns about public transport'.
The LTN has been suspended following 'concerns about public transport'. Picture: Alamy/X

By Jenny Medlicott

A low-traffic neighbourhood scheme in south London has been suspended after sparking fury among locals for causing huge delays to public transport and a build-up of congestion on roads.

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Lambeth Council confirmed on Thursday that the low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme in Streatham Wells had been suspended with immediate effect.

The trial scheme was cut short following "concerns about public transport delays", the council said in a statement.

Announcing the change, the council said: “Lambeth Council will suspend the Streatham Wells Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trial in response to concerns about public transport delays and anticipated disruption from planned Transport for London (TfL) construction works on the A23 starting later this spring.”

Recent data from TfL revealed a 2.9 mile bus journey along the A23 in the area, which should take an average of 29 minutes to complete, was taking over two hours (121 minutes).

There has been a surge in the number of LTNs since 2020, but the schemes have proved controversial among locals due to their impact on traffic and public transport.

Lambeth council reportedly issued around £320,000 in fines to drivers caught driving through the Streatham LTN.

While the scheme's suspension will be welcomed by many, those who were issued fines while it was in effect will still have to pay the penalty.

The LTN had been causing major delays to public transport.
The LTN had been causing major delays to public transport. Picture: X

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But following Thursday afternoon no more fines will be issued, a spokesman for the council said, with the LTN signs expected to be removed over next fortnight.

Reacting to the news, a local told LBC: “Being a disabled resident of Lambeth and Streatham Wells has been so stressful and I am so so happy that this Streatham Wells LTN has been cancelled. It has been an absolute nightmare for all of us living here.”

Alex Watt, a director for Streatham Common Co-operative added: “Whilst I completely agree that LTNs have to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, it became very quickly evident after the implementation of the Streatham Wells LTN that it wasn’t going to help anybody because it actually disrupted the public transport system.

“What works in one area isn’t always going to work in another area and it can’t be forgotten that Streatham doesn’t have a tube in the same way as most areas do.

“It’s one of the few areas in London, you only need to look at the tube map to see there is no underground. So there is less means by which can evaporate, I’m very pleased to see that in the end the council has given way.”

Rezina Chowdhury, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, said: “We’ve listened to the concerns raised by local people and recognise the major disruption coming as part of transport improvements on the main road running through Streatham.

“The combination of factors together would cause too much disruption for Lambeth residents.

“We always said that this was a trial, and we would be led by the data – and the monitoring report makes it clear that the scheme met our objectives to reduce traffic and road danger.

LTNs have been controversial among some locals.
LTNs have been controversial among some locals. Picture: Alamy

“But equally, there have been delays in bus journeys on the A23 which has had an impact on many residents.

“Suspension will stop more significant delays occurring when the investment in the A23, including new segregated cycle lanes, starts later this spring and allows time for bus priority measures to be implemented all along the A23.”

It comes after London Mayor Sadiq Khan admitted last week that the LTN was “not working” and that his team had been in touch with Lambeth council to “see what we can do with the area”.

He told LBC: "It's not working and we've asked the council to look at it urgently to look at, in relation to the consequences of a very well-intentioned LTN, but people like you are reporting back to us that people are leaving your buses because it's taking so long."

The Streatham Wells LTN was launched on a trial basis last October and was scheduled to remain in place for 12-18 months.