Consultation on plans to replace tarmac with grass at Tooting Common

Published: Friday 26th February 16

The council has launched a formal statutory consultation on proposals that could see parts of a tarmac road that runs through the middle of Tooting Common being permanently replaced with grass and trees.

The town hall is asking borough residents if they agree or disagree with a pilot proposal to close Dr Johnson Avenue to through traffic and return it the common.

Dr Johnson Avenue is a two way road that runs for a third of a mile between Tooting Bec Road and Hillbury Road. It separates Tooting Graveney Common from Tooting Bec Common – effectively splitting what’s more widely known as Tooting Common into two separate open spaces.

If approved, the change would result in a slightly larger, single green space, providing a safer route for pedestrians, especially young families who use the common, and also cyclists.

Removing vehicles could also reduce carbon emissions on the common and result in a quieter and more tranquil open space, as well as providing new wildlife habitats.

A narrow track could be laid so that horticultural maintenance vehicles could access a works depot situated just off the avenue and this would also provide a cycle path across this part of the common. However other motor vehicles would not be permitted to use it.

If the change is approved following the public consultation, traffic conditions in the area would be carefully monitored to gauge the impact on neighbouring streets and the change then would either be rescinded or made permanent after careful review.

In order to prevent drivers from using Elmbourne Road as an alternative cut through, the proposals would include a ban on vehicles turning right from Tooting Bec Road into Elmbourne Road, ensuring northbound traffic could not access it, while further measures could be put in place to deter southbound traffic from making the corresponding left turn.

To find out more about the proposal and to take part in the consultation people can visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/DrJ

Commenting on the proposal the council’s environment and transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “It’s really important that local people tell us what they think.

“The views of local residents plus those of visitors to the common, cyclists and motorists will be really important in helping us determine if these proposals should move forward.

“Returning the roadspace to common land would obviously be good for the local environment and good for people who love and use Tooting Common.

“However we must also be aware that the potential could exist for some traffic to shift onto other roads in the area, and we have to be alive to this prospect and ensure that if the plans do move forward, we have a proper package of measures in place to limit and minimise this impact.

“And if the proposals do get the public’s backing, a further period of review would be needed, once the changes had been implemented, before we could reach any final decision on whether or not they should be made permanent.”

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Recent comments

I disagree strongly with this proposal. This will not reduce carbon emissions as there will still be the same number of cars on the road. It will merely push all the traffic onto Tooting Bec road which is already too busy. Dr Johnson avenue serves as useful cut through road to Balham & Clapham for those coming from Furzedown & Streatham. This another example of the wealthier members of the community (I.e those on the Heaver Estate) trying to push an agenda that mainly benefits them. It's just like when the proposed closure of through traffic to Ellerton Road was made and thankfully successfully appealed.
Chris Ward

23 April 2016

My sons football team does training at Tooting Common. If Dr Johnson Road is closed and Elmbourne Road is closed to traffic from Tooting Bec Road not sure how we are going to get the the boys to football as there is no parking on Tooting Bec Road. I can understand you do not want these roads used as cuts through but what about those that use the common?
Barbara McPhee

20 April 2016

Further to my last comment I would add the following Interestingly yesterday mid-afternoon (6th) the traffic jam stretched south from Tooting Bec Tube Station to just before Montana Rd! Imagine how bad it will be if Dr Johnson Ave & Elmbourne Rd is closed!!
M Ray

7 March 2016

This is a very ill-conceived proposal! The closure of both Dr Johnson Ave & a no right turn into Elmbourne Road from Tooting Bec Rd means traffic destined for Balham will either have to use the 3 accessible roads to the left of Tooting Bec Road namely Avoca, Montana & Romberg Rds leading to Upper Tooting Rd then a right turn into Balham High Road as the already extremely busy & congested Junction at Tooting Bec Tube turning right if allowed would be prohibitive. Alternatively traffic would have to drive south towards Streatham tuning left into Garrods Rd then onto Bedford Hill & then down to Balham! A great deal of traffic uses the roads around Tooting Bec Rd and by closing both of these roads it will cause chaos in the whole area.
M Ray

4 March 2016

Having been employed in the Public Transport Industry for more than 30 years, probably one of the most crass ideas I've ever seen. With traffic restrictions already in place around the common area this project does nothing to improve life for anyone. Forcing traffic onto already congested roads, increases air pollution whilst circumnavigating what shall effectively become an island. Increased traffic volumes and accompanying delays are inevitable. Cyclists already enjoy the benefits of dedicated routes in around and on the common. As this plan boarders TfL Red Route, what consultation has been made with them. Please spend our Council tax on repairing the dozens of pot holes in the borough. We don't need vanity projects in Wandsworth.
Duncan Knox

3 March 2016

A waste of money. I have lived in the area for 20 years and never felt traffic on Dr Johnson Avenue was an inconvenience or a safety risk. All this will do is force motorists to use other routes and cause inconvenience to many. Please spend the money instead on the many pot holes and loose paving slabs in the local area. Most of the comments here are against it so I cannot understand the claims 58% of residents favour this proposal.
Judy Gilfoy

3 March 2016

Yet again the Council persists with the lie “to close Dr Johnson Avenue to through traffic and return it the common”. You can’t return something that’s always been there. There has always been a roadway here. Just look at any old maps. In the meantime, leave it open and give us two or three pedestrian crossings at the key points where we cross over. Miles cheaper and will satisfy far more local residents giving us all access. If Hyde Park can cope with several roadways through it, the Common can surely cope with one. Spend the money on the poor state of existing pedestrian pathways, especially the one which went under water by the adventure playground and restore the pond at the Bec end.
Paul Wallington

2 March 2016

The original consultation was limmited to a very narrow area arround Dr Johnson Av and did not involve residents close to the Common who would be likely to respond. The web site for further consultation appears not to be working. Is this consultation exercise legal?
Owen Barclay

1 March 2016

As a local resident, parent with a young family, a cyclist and resident of Tooting I do not support this idea. The road functions as a useful cut through and access to the shopping facilities of Balham and beyond. The unification of the green space of the common would be a marginal benefit. There is already an adequate cycle route across the common which as a cyclist I use frequently. Poorly conceived idea. Please do not proceed with this in its current form.
David Blair

1 March 2016

Cook turning tarmac into grass whatever next you have done the complete opposite at Battersea Park for Formula E. Tell us what you think and we will then completely ignore you and do what we decided to do in the first place. Wandsworth pay lip service to what locals want.
Johnf

28 February 2016

An ill conceived scheme and the benefits are far outweighed br the inconvenience it would cause for local residents. The suggested ban on vehicles turning right into Elmbourne Rd, because you can't turn right at the lights at tooting tube Bec, and the traffic up there is often very heavy, would make it really difficult for us to make the now straightforward trip to Balham - which we do almost every day! The only other route would be via broomwood road, where traffic also builds up at the lights and it is a long way round. I also use Dr johnsons avenue a lot. I am very unhappy with this proposal. Please don't go ahead with it.
Susila Baybars

27 February 2016

And stop traffic using Elmbourne Road ?! What fool dreamt up this one ? Shutting roads does not decrease traffic volumes. Unintended - unthought of - congestion elsewhere is the result. Airy-fairy idiotic idea, probably dreamt up by a non-driver.
H.McLellan

27 February 2016

And stop traffic using Elmbourne Road ?! What fool dreamt up this one ? Shutting roads does not decrease traffic volumes. Unintended - unthought of - congestion elsewhere is the result. Airy-fairy idiotic idea, probably dreamt up by a non-driver.
H.McLellan

27 February 2016

Disagree with proposal to close Dr Johnson Avenue to traffic. It is an important road and there will not be sufficient gains to users of the Common in its removal with factoring in the respective costs!
M Palmer

27 February 2016

We fully support the idea to close Dr Johnson Avenue to motor traffic. Although there are currently speed-bumps, many motorists accelerate between each one and closing the road to motor traffic will improve the safety for all users of the Common especially children. Closing the road will benefit all users of the Common and encourage more use of this great public park space.
C Louise

27 February 2016

Disagree with the proposal to close Dr Johnson Ave. This will cause further congestion to the nearby roads which already are overcrowded. Dr Johnson Ave already has speed bumps and is a much needed cut thtough. This area already has ample green belt land and closing this much needed road would be detrimental to all.
Sue Kelly

26 February 2016

Disagree with the proposal to close Dr Johnson Ave. This will cause further congestion to the nearby roads which already are overcrowded. Dr Johnson Ave already has speed bumps and is a much needed cut thtough. This area already has ample green belt land and closing this much needed road would be detrimental to all.
Sue Kelly

26 February 2016

NO. leave as it is... will not stop the journey by car, just move it to somewhere else, increasing time of travel, and congestion elsewhere.
Ross Tulloch

26 February 2016