Reducing heavy goods vehicles next step to tackle air pollution
Reducing heavy goods vehicles and narrowing the high street were ideas put forward during a public meeting on air pollution.
More than 60 people turned up to the meeting organised by the Putney Society to discuss the shocking levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) recorded in Putney High Street.
A panel including Jonathan Callaway, deputy chairman of the Putney Society, deputy council leader Councillor Jonathan Cook and Councillor Russell King, cabinet member for transport, discussed what needs to be done to reduce traffic.
David Irwin, an urban planner, shared his vision for a pedestrian friendly high street, while Jon Irwin of the Wandsworth Environment Forum (WEF) also gave his views.
Results of a survey conducted in Putney High Street earlier this year revealed 69 per cent of people were not satisfied with the street.
It also showed there are more pedestrians using the high street than people travelling in cars, while 39 per cent of people said they were unhappy with the amount of traffic.
Mr Irwin suggested narrowing the road carriageway to 6m, with a 1.5m reserve for vehicles to park and planters to stop people using it as another lane.
He said: "The challenge is how to make it a more liveable and attractive for all roads users, pedestrians in particular, and to ensure that the high street can continue to provide a range of retail services for the local community.
"Already there are signs that retailing is under stress, as evidenced by the recent closure of premises and the large number of charity shops."
Coun Cook buses travelling in the high street are being replaced with a greener fleet of hybrid buses, but said Wandsworth will continue to lobby Transport for London (TfL) for cleaner transport.
He said: "My wife and daughter both have asthma. We take it very seriously as a council - it is something that affects the whole borough.
"Our basic position is that we will look at anything that we think is practical, affordable and might make a difference."
Coun King said the next step is limiting the number of heavy goods vehicles using the road, which could involve allowing deliveries at set times or banning them from the high street altogether.
Putney Bus Station, in Chelverton Road, was also cited as a major factor in the levels of air pollution.
Coun King said: "We have wanted to move it for some time and the problem is where to put it, we need to lobby TFL where to put it."
Jon Irwin, a member of Wandsworth Cycling Campaign, said: "A lot of people in the borough don't have cars. If people felt cycling was an option imagine how much that would free traffic up from the roads."
A number of questions were put to the panel by the public, with people calling for signs to warn people of N02, green walls and more independent shops in the high street.
The meeting comes after Putney breached the EU limits for levels of N02 three days into the year, a second time in the row.
Earlier this week a Boris Johnson said air quality had improved at a number of hotspots across the capital, and will continue to upgrade buses in Putney.
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