Dr Johnson Avenue will remain open

Published: Monday 9th May 16

The council has decided not to proceed with plans to close Dr Johnson Avenue to vehicle traffic.

The proposals were subject to a wide ranging and detailed public consultation between January and April of this year.  

There will be no change to traffic arrangements here

There was an unprecedented response to the consultation, which asked local people if they supported the idea of closing Dr Johnson Avenue to traffic, removing its asphalt and making it an integral part of Tooting Common.

The proposal also included an additional safeguard to protect residents living in Elmbourne Road who might have borne the brunt of any displaced traffic. This would have meant vehicles being banned from turning right into Elmbourne from Tooting Bec Road to prevent it becoming a “rat run”.

In total more than 3,200 individual responses were received to the consultation. The vast majority were submitted online but there were also nearly 450 completed paper questionnaires.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents voiced opposition to the scheme.  

Around a third of the responses came from the SW16 postal area while more than half were from people living in SW17 with five per cent from SW12 residents.

Wandsworth Council's director of housing and community services, Brian Reilly, said: “This issue certainly generated a huge amount of interest in Tooting and Furzedown and I’m very pleased that so many local people took the time to register their views.

“This was the biggest response we have had to a public consultation for many years and it proves that our communication work was very successful and local people certainly did answer our invitation to take part.

“Obviously this was a consultation, not a referendum, but given the overwhelming response from local people, it is abundantly clear that this is not a scheme supported by local people.”

Dr Johnson Avenue 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.

Last summer an informal consultation asking people if they supported the idea of closing Dr Johnson Avenue to through traffic met with a 58 per cent approval rate.

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Recent comments

Never mind clean air or our children's lungs. The motoring lobby win again. This result does NOT represent local opinion. It is the result of concerted leafleting as well as an online "38 Degrees” campaign created by one Matthew Cleary which together account for most of the objections. Needless to say there was no campaign in the other direction. Of course it doesn't make sense to have traffic taking a short cut across the Common (which is all that Dr Johnson Avenue serves for) and it endangers the lives of youngsters playing there.
Hugh Rawson

15 June 2016

I am a resident of 30+ years in Hillbury Road and have seen several attempts to stop through traffic using our street as a rat-run. None has succeeded totally, with only short-term easing of the problem. The consultation about closing Dr Johnson Ave, did not sufficiently emphasise the benefit to residents in Hillbury and Elmbourne by stopping through traffic. The survey was widened too far with the inevitable result that drivers who live outwith the immediate area and regularly use Dr Johnson Ave as a short-cut voted against for selfish reasons. Heritage Park has the advantage of no through traffic because it was subject to modern planning regulations. If our street had been laid out in recent times there would be no through traffic.
Ian Irons

27 May 2016

Ultimately the issue is about breathing and our expectation Tooting air pollution levels are not damaging our health. Just down the road in Battersea, WBC ignored an overwhelming majority against Formula E in the park so I am bewildered by the logic used in WBC on when to accept or reject its consultation results.
Paul C

25 May 2016

Proper development of the plans would have avoided this unfortunate and divisive situation. Too often, at national and local level officials and politicians put forward unrealistic ill thought through schemes. By genuinely involving people at an early stage and making use of evidence and testing we could reach democratic compromises that at least partly satisfy all. A poor show from our council who must learn to do things better.

15 May 2016

Our Wandsworth Councillors caved into the polluting car culture and didn't have the strength and conviction to carry this through. What a shame. How beautiful would it have been to see an unhindered and continuous open green space on Tooting Common. The removal of Dr Johnson Avenue would have potentially created a beautiful green space with a boulevard of trees & planting, pathway, seating and attractive lighting for walkers, joggers and cyclists and other park uses. But oh no, we must cater for people to sit in their polluting metal boxes with wheels rather than concentrating on general well being, health and happiness generated by people who use and pass through parks.
Gill Allen

11 May 2016

Unfortunately your failure to provide adequate safeguards to protect the rest of the Heaver Estate from even worse aggressive and illegal use of our roads has killed this scheme as possibly the heritage project. Many of us remain open to road closures, but only if it requires those that abuse our roads and risk the lives of children using the common every day to drive elsewhere. You have still failed to provide us any reassurance or comfort that you are able to do this-borne out by the continued flaunting of speeding regulations every minute that are not enforced by you. It remains unfair that those that abuse our roads every day by using them as rat-runs are able to get away with this and we will not stop out fight for better road safety.
Nick Hodsman

11 May 2016

What crucified me was if this scheme had been put in operation was that one couldn't even turn right towards Balham at Tooting Bec , for most of the day ! Thank god that common sense has won through !
Allen Hartland

10 May 2016

This is a great example of local democracy and a victory for common sense.
David Mellard

10 May 2016

This should have been done as a trial. People are often opposed to change and when it comes to traffic changes, few can base their judgements on theoretical evidence - most need some personal experience to persuade them. An experimental order would have been more sensible - allowing for the changes to be modified or swiftly abandoned in the highly-unlikely event that the predicted doom occurred, Air pollution is a real threat, killing many of us each year and poisoning us all. Getting worked up about a bit of pedestrianisation but doing nothing about our filthy air is absurd. Time for Wandsworth Council to learn from Camden who do these projects properly and get public support for them.

10 May 2016

What a pity that Tooting Bec Common is to remain cut up by roads clogged with vehicles unfit for urban driving and parking. A common is for people to enjoy the freedoms of the open air and to play in, as well as walking dogs and children playing, without the fear of being driven into by an SUV if any dog or child has to cross Dr Johnson Ave to retrieve their dog or football. Tooting Bec Common is already bisected by two busy roads coming from Tooting Bec (Tooting Bec Rd, A241) and Balham with the Bedford Hill Rd, B-242). I use Dr Johnson Avenue on a regular basis and the number of motorists who insist on texting whilst they are driving is asking for trouble. Are we to wait for a fatality on Dr Johnson Ave before this is reviewed again?
Martin Ireland

10 May 2016

As with all consultations, the phrasing is key. For those who didn't object then there was no need to voice an opinion. The reality is that if you did object you would respond and make your view known. Is this not a classic case of the "silent majority" and the figures above do not actually reflect reality, merely that 70% of those that responded objected and that perhaps these objectors only represent a tiny percentage of the whole?

10 May 2016

Adam Tate

9 May 2016