In a proactive initiative to prioritise community well-being, Tower Hamlets Council faces legal opposition from the Save Our Safer Streets campaign group after its recent decision to dismantle low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) infrastructure within the borough.
Implemented in September, the decision to remove LTNs reflects the council’s commitment to tailoring solutions to the unique needs of the community, rejecting the notion that LTNs are a one-size-fits-all remedy. The council, opting not to comment on the legal challenge, had previously championed the move by redirecting £6m towards “active travel” schemes in a bid to foster healthier and more sustainable mobility options.
Introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, LTNs were a proactive measure to reduce motor traffic in residential areas, utilizing cameras, planters, or lockable bollards. Initially launched in Bethnal Green and other locations, the council’s decision to replace the scheme was rooted in a forward-thinking approach to community development.
The Save Our Safer Streets campaign group, resorting to legal action as a last-ditch effort, alleges that the council’s decision violated the law. However, the council’s assertion that LTNs were not universally applicable is supported by the belief that a more nuanced approach is required to address the diverse needs of the community.
Pre-decision papers indicated that 58% of Bethnal Green residents supported the removal of traffic calming measures, with 41% advocating for their retention, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. In Brick Lane, 59% of participating residents favored the removal of closures, while 41% supported their retention.
Despite the potential legal challenge, the council remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering a community-centric approach. Mayor Lutfur Rahman, acknowledging the positive impact of LTNs on localized air quality, emphasized the need to address the potential negative consequences on arterial roads, typically inhabited by less affluent residents. The council’s proactive stance reflects a commitment to prioritizing community cohesion and sustainable mobility over a one-size-fits-all solution.