Call for Mayor and TfL to give ‘firm and unambiguous’ commitment to no more delays on one way system revamp

Published: Tuesday 20th November 18

The council’s transport spokesman is calling for firm and unambiguous reassurances from the Mayor and TfL that they are serious about carrying out the long-awaited and much-needed redesign of the Wandsworth one-way system.

Cllr Jonathan Cook said that unless there were strong commitments the project would suffer no further delays it could begin to affect private sector investment plans in the town centre.

The current scheme – which would remove all through traffic from Wandsworth High Street, significantly improving the town centre’s main shopping areas for pedestrians and cyclists - was first unveiled about a decade ago.

The scheme would remove vehicle traffic from the high street apart from buses

Removing through traffic from the one-way system has been a long term strategic aim of the council, but the works can only be approved and carried out by TfL. The council has set aside more than £27milllion to help fund the scheme.

Work was originally scheduled to commence in 2017 but TfL recently confirmed that this would not now happen until 2021 at the earliest.

This delay has been outlined at the same time as TfL is reporting severe ongoing budget issues that have already led to transport improvement schemes across London being either scaled back or shelved.

Cllr Cook said: “Everyone knows that TfL is experiencing serious financial pressures for a number of reasons, but this scheme is way too important to be subject to any kind of uncertainty.

“The scheme has been on the drawing board for a decade now and work was due to commence last year. The start date has now been put back another four years and that could easily have a knock-on effect on plans by businesses to invest in the town centre.

How the junction of East Hill and Huguenot Place could look

“What also concerns me is the fact that the £27.5m we have sitting in the bank waiting to be invested in this scheme will inevitably cover less of the cost the longer these delays go on. The old adage about time costing money is not wrong and what worries me is that the passage of time will almost inevitably see the cost of the project rise.

“What we need to see now is a firm and unambiguous commitment from the Mayor that this scheme is actually going to happen in 2021 and that there will be no further delays. Without these assurances it could seriously affect the resilience and vibrancy of the town centre.”

Under the current set of agreed proposals cars and lorries would be diverted away from the main shopping and commercial parts of Wandsworth town centre and the area made much more cycle and pedestrian friendly.

Traffic would be re-routed away from Wandsworth High Street onto Armoury Way, which would become two-way.

Wandsworth High Street without the through traffic

The changes would result in a significant reduction in traffic between Huguenot Place and Putney Bridge Road and provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists, while still allowing buses to service the area. 

The aim is to end the dominance of cars and lorries in the town centre, leaving it free for buses, bicycles and pedestrians. Many footpaths could be widened substantially and be improved through extensive tree planting and landscaping, along with other environmental improvements.

The works would represent a major boost to local businesses and the local economy with the town centre transformed into a much more attractive and vibrant shopping and leisure destination.

Removing so much traffic from the town centre would also dramatically improve local air quality levels.

The £27.5m ring-fenced by the council to help pay for the scheme has been levied from housing developers in the area to fund local infrastructure improvements. The lion’s share of this cash came from the developers of the Ram Brewery site.

Last month council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Redesigning the one way system and removing the traffic that has such a negative effect on the town centre has been a key aim of the council for many years.

“This crucial scheme has the potential to really transform and revitalise the town centre’s fortunes. It really should have got underway in earnest by now, so we do need TfL and the Mayor to roll their sleeves up and get things moving.

“We have £27.5m sitting in our bank account that is earmarked for this scheme so the funding is there from our side. Now we need TfL and Mayor to fulfil their part of the deal.”

Measures to cope with its budget pressures outlined by TfL for this financial year and next include:

  • Repairs to potholes and carriageway defects on major arterial roads (red routes) in Wandsworth not being carried out until they are “safety critical”.
  • Funding this year and next for routine maintenance on the borough’s red routes cut to zero.
  • Funding from TfL to support the council’s routine maintenance of main roads in the borough that are not red routes also cut to zero in 2018/19 and 2019/20.
  • Cuts in funding allocated by TfL for local transport schemes worth around £350,000 a year are expected from 2019/20 and beyond.
  • Plans to provide modernised trains on the Northern Line deferred to an as yet undeclared date.

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Recent comments

This scheme is worse than the system that existed in the 1960s. The reason the current one way system came into being was that Wandsworth was grid locked for most of the day and the traffic then was a fraction of what it is now. Be prepared for extremely high levels of pollution and frustration for all users. What a waste of resources which could be put to worthier causes - better care for the vulnerable / affordable housing..
L Cross

28 November 2018

This looks like a brilliant scheme, very frustrating that it will take so long to come to fruition. Comments about potential traffic build up below fail to see that cars are traffic. The way to reduce congestion, reduce jams and reduce pollution is to lower the number of motor vehicle journeys. Turning the area into somewhere nice for people to live, walk, cycle and shop with their kids is far more important than anyone's will to drive a car everywhere.

26 November 2018

Agree with sentiments but I also think that Wandsworth Transport need to act more proactively in terms of stopping rat-runs and cut throughs in the borough if they really care as this article hints at! Tooting town centre is littered with rat runs where cars/white vans speed ignoring the 20mph and the councils has ignored repeated warnings and concerns about this - Time for Wandsworth Department to step up and make changes.
Roger Stephenson

25 November 2018

The technicalities of rerouting existing traffic may need more thought but ultimately this project is desperately needed. Wandsworth high Street is not a nice place to walk due to the give traffic loads and wide, high speed (when moving) carriageways. Other comments seems to have missed the bit about "ending the dominance of cars in the area" yes! We are reclaiming our streets back from the car, welcome to the future. No one stands in the way of progress.

25 November 2018

The background research for this proposal was not researched sufficiently with the relevant “local” personnel which has resulted in a proposal which may look good on artistic impressions but will not be beneficial to users who reside in the Burroughs nor ones travelling through it.

25 November 2018

It should be scrapped. The volume of traffic to be displaced onto surrounding roads will be ridiculous and no one will be able to get through Wandsworth at all. Anyone noticed that Armoury Way is already congested one way,nevermind two ways!!! There needs to be a solution but not this. More traffic free spaces but jams everywhere else,particuarly in residential streets, is hardly visionary.
Carol Tibbs

24 November 2018

A disaster for millions of people. Traffic east, west and south of the town will be saturated and concentrate NOx on the route. The plan reduces east west capacity by 50% creating traffic jams back to Clapham Junction, make the A3, Trinity Road, Earlsfield Road and Wandsworth bridge roundabout log jammed. Wandsworth town centre, has been redeveloped, without this traffic reduction. Developers have built and sold units on all town centre sites, so no need for this change. The remaining development sites are north of the town, where Swandon Way + Armoury Way will become a solid traffic jam, with +100% traffic. WBC should spend it's £27m in a less damaging way. It's WBC's / TFL's choice. Hope TFL's massive budget deficit will stop the plan.

24 November 2018

Lived in London most of my life - primary+secondary schools etc. Went to a school in West Hill for a short time in the late 50s - why in all this time have our roads not been widened/improved with such a vast increase in the population. I used to play golf at The Central London Golf Club in Burntwood Lane - easy journey 15 mins driving - at a push could have caught the bus, carrying golf clubs (great, not) - land been claimed back by NHS so closed. Now tell me how I'm to get to the Richmond Public golf course off the A3 - without going through the One Way system - have tried many other ways - due to road closures - impossible. Stopping huge HGVs - the length of 3 London buses from using Central London roads might be a help.

24 November 2018

This is a terrible idea and no one wants it so let’s not kid ourselves or the moronic council isn’t hinking it’s a good idea! Is there any environmental data that backs this? Because if there is I can counter it!

23 November 2018

I don't think this is a good idea. Traffic will be clogged in those turning points. Unrelated to this topic - I live on Dover House Road and over the years the traffic and parking on this road has become unmanageable. This road though namesake 'conservation area' is heavily used as the connecting road between A205 (Upper Richmond Road) to A3, Putney Heath and mostly by vans, traders. The local committee's pleas has been ineffective as the bottle-neck area is small. Every now and then this road blocks traffic all the way to Putney and one day it can gridlock whole of Putney. Find a solution and spend on such old infrastructure than beautifying pavements and bus-stops.
Vijay Vallabhaneni

23 November 2018

This is a totally moronic idea, how about spending a small amount of that money on some intelligence, sound like more money wasted on contracts for friends! 26 million to rip up some slabs and add some more concrete? Never mind the chaos to one of south London's main traffic route, how the hell did you get this job??

23 November 2018

I hope that the £27.5 million earmarked for this scheme isn’t actually “sitting in our bank account” as described by the Council leader. It should be earning interest in the money markets for Council taxpayers benefit, not making profits for banks. Could the Borough Treasurer reply to my query, please. I will be following up in the course of the next 7 days more publicly if I don’t receive a substantive response in the time frame. Thank you.
Peter Barnshaw

23 November 2018