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New ‘Low emission neighbourhood’ ignites strong feelings in Walworth

A new ‘low emission neighbourhood’ in Walworth to help encourage cycling and social distancing during COVID-19 has divided residents.

As the News reported last week, Southwark Council’s consultation into which temporary measures should be put in place across the borough’s streetscape yielded thousands of suggestions.

The first key changes have now been implemented in Walworth, East Dulwich and Bankside for over a week.

Along with segregated cycling routes and widened pavements, a network of streets have been blocked off or designated for no right turns across Walworth.

But not everyone is buoyed by the decisions – expected to be in effect for at least eighteen months.

Family-run businesses Lynnes Electrical, which supplies NHS equipment, and MCQ Entertainments Limited, have come out against the move saying they are losing customers due to parking restrictions and congestion.

Dighton Court resident Chloe Hill told the News she and her neighbours had no idea about the changes before they happened.

On July 2 she contacted the paper, saying drivers including emergency services had been caught out by the new layout with a police car, ambulance and refuse collection truck all finding themselves stuck.

A police vehicle struggling to park up near Walworth Station (credit: Chloe Hill)

“Amelia Street was blocked off yesterday using planters, which block the western access in and out of the police yard.

“There was no road signage in the surrounding area yesterday apart from one sign, ‘Road Ahead Closed’, which was on the corner of Amelia Street and Walworth Road.

“It’s impossible to see if you are driving northbound and difficult to see if you are southbound. It actually beggars belief.”

But others have praised the changes saying Southwark Council has shown bravery with the wholesale changes.

Walworth resident Jeremy Leach backed the changes, saying walking was going to be a lifeline for many shops people would otherwise avoid due to pavement crowding.

“As the lockdown eases we are seeing much more through traffic on streets like Browning Street, Wadding Street, Amelia Street, Penrose Street, Manor Place and Penton Place,” he told the News. 

“The shops on the Walworth Road have been a lifeline throughout the crisis and local people need to be able to walk to them safely.

“I strongly support the council’s plans to make Walworth’s streets as safe and as healthy as possible for us all to walk and cycle around our area.”

Southwark councillor Richard Livingstone has said the consultation included speaking with police and other emergency services.

Last Friday he tweeted that a traffic filter would be moved from Manor Place to Kennington Park Road’s junction after listening to concerns from residents.

This week, Guy’s and St Thomas’ published a letter in support of low traffic neighbourhoods in Lambeth, saying reducing air pollution and keeping staff walking and cycling to work was a key priority.

On Friday, the council announced that Rye Lane would also now be closed to traffic from Monday, July 6, on a temporary basis. Extra loading bays have been added to Bournemouth and Cerise Roads for traders to trolley to and from their shops.

Allan Dunsmore, from Bikes for London, described it as a ‘Great move’.  “Hopefully this will become a permanent closure. Cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians don’t mix well on this street at the best of times,” he said.

Meanwhile, a tweeter writing under the name ‘Mrs G’ said: “This was a pain in the arse today.

“Buses were diverted and the driver didn’t know why neither did they make an announcement. It would’ve been nice to have seen signs.”



  1. I started work in Amelia street in the 70s, shame how the whole of London is alien to me now.
    No more visits to the old manor or to my Dad’s grave. May your future be healthy and virus free when you ride your bikes. We had much more to cope with during the 50s,60s & 70s. Coal fires and power stations not to mention the steam trains. London is much more cleaner, shame it has too many people living there now.

  2. Hello,

    I live on Penton Place and this is outrageous. Properties without outside parking loose 5% of value from sale. Times that by how many properties are effected by the new system and thats the discount figure the council have given to a future property developer. Its quite obvious they want to copy what has happened on the other side of walworth. The hey gate regeneration, and force it upon my area.

    What about food reveries and emergency access for the elderly? Its a very easy way to cut down on services with the refuse trucks unable to get down the street.

    Also the scheme was pushed through due to Covid-19 but its also pushed cause of Pollution. Which one is it? you can’t muddle words when you have cut out access to our streets.

    Its also funded by the TFL, aren’t they running out of money for services to fund this when its not needed? Just another showcase at how bad the mayor has been for London to authorize this and how he doesn’t know how to look after the finances of the capital.

    Its a way to segregate my community and force people out.
    My name is Tomas Flaherty and I am manager of a special effects studio in west London. I cannot believe you are not writing more about this.

  3. ‘Southwark councillor Richard Livingstone has said the consultation included speaking with police and other emergency services’ . But not the people who’s lives this prick is ruining. Livingstone is becoming a bigger dictator than his boss Peter John. None of them give a shit about the impact it has on drivers lives. Total vile parasites.

  4. I am all for improving Heath and air quality but just mean the other roads are more cojested, I try and avoid driving around the elephant but now need to and it’s busier and more dangerous to cyclist – crazy ideas closing the side streets off to access Kennington road, Walworth road and Old Kent Road..

  5. I love the new road closures! It has massively reduced the speeding rat race traffic down our street. Well done Southwark and keep the roads closed after the trial.

  6. I’ve seen emergency service vehicles having to turn around and having spoken to some local police officers, they have said the closures mean they have to take longer routes around.

    The browning street closure causes them to go all the way to Heygate Street or down to Merrow Street. They raised similar concerns for the road closures in Dulwich and Rye Lane.

  7. I live, drive and cycle between Southwark and Lambeth. These Road restrictions have made it very difficult for locals to Travers the traffic prone areas. If the main roads worked well then I would not be complaining but the traffic management through wallwoth to elephant is appalling and one of the reasons I never take public transport through that area.
    Sort your main roads befor you push more traffic on to them…
    Show some common sense..

  8. These people are relentless with their silly ideas. They are doing the same in East Dulwich area. Closing off roads which eased traffic now more congestion and pollution due to slow moving traffic.

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