Consultation on plans to replace tarmac with grass at Tooting Common

Published: 26 February 2016

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the area would be carefully monitored to gauge the impact on neighbouring streets and the change then would either be rescinded or made permanent after careful review.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.”