Extend the bans on through traffic in Richmond Park, council says

By The Editor

20th Jan 2021 | Local News

A 12-month extension to the trial traffic reduction measures in Richmond Park has been requested by Richmond Council.

In August, the Royal Parks charity launched its Movement Strategy to reduce the volume of through-traffic in Richmond and Bushy parks and create new car-free spaces.

The measures restrict all through motor traffic between Broomfield Hill Car Park and Robin Hood Car Park on weekdays. On weekends, traffic between Roehampton, Sheen and Richmond Gates is banned, creating a "quiet zone" on the north side of the park.

A consultation period ended on January 10 and the trial itself is due to finish in mid-February.

The council said: "While Richmond Council is generally supportive of the wider ambition of protecting the environmental and scientific status of the parks, concerns have been raised locally about the impact of the changes on the wider local areas – impact that is potentially being masked by the change in people's movement due to the pandemic.

"The council have requested an extension of the trial period for a further 12 months. This is to enable a robust assessment of the measures, post the Covid-19 pandemic."

Cllr Alexander Ehmann, chair of the Transport and Air Quality Committee on Richmond Council, detailed the reasons for requesting the extension in a seven-page letter to the Royal Parks' head of transport and access Matt Bonomi.

Mr Ehmann said: "The pandemic has dramatically altered how we currently travel, when we travel and importantly where. All of our parks and open spaces, particularly those owned by Royal Parks, are seeing a huge surge in visitors. This brings many new pressures.

"For this trial to fully understand the impacts, it needs to be extended. Plus, we need a commitment from Royal Parks that they will consider the impact of their measures on the roads surrounding the parks.

"We are seeing a lot of overspill, cars parking in residential roads, bottlenecks on often narrow junctions, cars preventing access for those with mobility issues. We are monitoring this impact, but we would like them to commit to further research to truly gauge the impact of their changes.

"In the short term, as coronavirus is likely to be in our lives for the foreseeable future, I urge Royal Parks to look to better manage the surge in demand for parking. For example, a pre-booking system for parking, or additional signage and stewards.

"I understand the motives of Royal Parks with this Movement Strategy and applaud their ambition to promote walking and cycling. However, we need to be clear that any changes do not simply push the problem to outside the park gates."

Mr Bonomi said: "We have recently completed the 6-month trial and will begin analysis of the results which will inform the next steps of the trial project.

"We look forward to sharing the outcomes of this decision as soon as we are able."

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