Consultation on plans to replace tarmac with grass at Tooting Common

Published: 29 July 2015

The council has unveiled proposals that could see parts of a tarmac road through the middle of Tooting Common being replaced with grass, trees and plants.

The town hall is to consult people living near Tooting Common over plans to close Dr Johnson Avenue to through traffic and turn much of it into grassy open space. 

If local people back the plans, the council will submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help pay for this transformation. The HLF is already heavily involved in a far reaching restoration project worth £325,000 to improve and enhance many of the common’s historical features.

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.

Returning Dr Johnson Avenue back to common land would effectively make the common bigger by creating a single green space and would provide a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists and provide new wildlife habitats.

The removal of vehicle traffic would also reduce carbon emissions on the common and result in a quieter and more tranquil open space.

A narrower section of highway would need to remain to permit access to the horticultural maintenance depot and to also provide a cycle path across this section of common. However other motor vehicles would not be permitted to use it.

While this current informal consultation is being conducted highway engineers will be carrying out a traffic study to evaluate the potential impact on other local roads if through traffic is banned from Dr Johnson Avenue.

If local residents and businesses back the plans at this stage, detailed traffic modelling results will be assessed before funding will be sought to implement the proposals. If Heritage Lottery funding is agreed, a formal public consultation will then be carried out to give local people the chance to comment on more detailed proposals.

To take part in the current informal consultation people are being urged to visit and answer a short series of questions and submit any other comments they may have.

Commenting on the plans the council’s environment and transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “It is important that local people tell us what they think of this idea.

“I personally favour replacing this tarmac with grass and trees and restoring the common as one open space without this unnecessary divide. I think it would be good for the local environment and good for people who love and use Tooting Common.

“However we do need to be mindful that these proposals could shift some additional traffic onto other roads in the area. That is why it is not only important to hear what local people think but that we also do some traffic modelling at this stage so that we have a better idea of the potential effects this change could have on the surrounding area.

“If we do get the public’s backing though and are satisfied that neighbouring roads do not suffer from an unreasonable impact then we will seek Heritage Lottery Fund approval and support to bring a little more green space to this part of Tooting.”