Innovative Browning Road Bridge traffic reduction pilot scheme back on track following review of resident concerns

13 August 2019 in Community neighbourhoods
Newham council will reinstate the proposed access restriction experiment at Browning Bridge, East Ham with added exemptions for some residents living in Little Ilford and Manor Park.
​The innovative pilot scheme was due to come into operation on 29 July 2019 but was paused to allow further consideration of the concerns of residents living in the north side of the bridge. The council has also conducted an evaluation of traffic flow across the bridge which revealed most of the traffic using the bridge is from outside of the localised area. 

As a result of the evaluation, residents from a number of local roads to the north and south of the railway line will now be able to continue access the bridge. By adding the extra exemptions the benefits of greatly reduced traffic flows and associated air quality and road safety improvements will still be achieved in line with Transport for London’s Liveable Neighbourhoods programme which the Council has adopted and supports. The scheme will now go live from midnight Sunday 18 August 2019.

The ‘High St North Mitigation Measures’ pilot scheme developed for the Browning Road area in East Ham North and Little Ilford is the Council’s first innovative scheme designed to tackle congestion, air quality issues and road safety concerns on a localised area basis rather than a street by street approach that has been previously applied. 

The pilot scheme will run for a six month consultation period during which time the council will monitor both air quality and traffic flow; as well as collect feedback from residents. Residents in the exempted streets who have a residents, business or disabled permits will not have to do anything – however those who do not, will need to register with the council to avoid fines when the scheme is introduced. There will be a short “grace” period to allow residents to apply to be added to the approved list. Letters are being sent to all residents in the affected streets.

The change in the traffic management around High Street North is in response to complaints from residents about the high number of cars travelling through the area, specifically using residential roads as “rat run” from Romford Road to High Street North, East Ham.

It is also part of a series of projects and measures that are being introduced by the Council to meet the administration’s manifesto commitments to fully support the shift towards sustainable transport and active travel; help improve air quality in the borough which is the worst in England with the highest number of deaths attributable to vehicle emitted pollutants; and responds to the Climate Emergency Declaration adopted by Councillors in April.

In mid-2018 the Council undertook an extensive traffic data collection exercise to expose the exact nature of the traffic problems and this revealed that over 80% of vehicles were travelling from Romford Road and using the area as a cut through to High Street North. This situation has also led to traffic congestion which is causing problems along the bus route, as well as health and safety hazards for school children in the area including poor air quality.

In response the council developed design options to offer solutions to the street environment challenges. These options were sent out to consultation with local residents, followed by further dialogue with residents to the north of the scheme, and the changes to the traffic management are being introduced as a result.
The responses to the original consultation, showed two thirds wanted to completely restrict or reduce cars from using the area as a cut through. The main reasons residents cited as being very important was to improve air quality, and make it safer for children walking to and from Essex Primary and Kensington Primary Schools
There are further changes on the way, all aimed at reducing the amount of traffic using unsuitable residential roads after local consultation.

Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, Cabinet member for Highways and Sustainable Transport, said: “In April this council declared a climate emergency meaning we must take action now if we are to reach our carbon emissions targets in 2030 and 2050 and deliver clean air for this borough. Our residents have the lowest car ownership in London, yet we have the highest loss of life through respiratory diseases. This is a serious issue and we need to take immediate action to save lives. 

“Our residents have told us they want their neighbourhoods to be a cleaner, greener and safer, so they want us to reduce traffic, which imports car exhaust fumes onto their doorsteps, using short cuts through their streets, which is unacceptable.

“Following the concerns raised by the residents in Little Ilford and Manor Park we have looked at the impact of adding some extra streets to the exemption list, and found this will have little detrimental effect on the desired improvements to air quality and road safety.

“Public Health England confirm that Newham has the largest number of deaths attributable to air quality – seven out of every 100 deaths is as a result of poor air quality. The council has a duty to take measure to change this for the benefit of all residents.

“The Browning Bridge pilot scheme starts to address these problems. But it’s not the end, if we are to improve air quality as well as the health, safety and well-being of our residents, more changes to the way we use our roads in future will have to be considered.”