Barriers cutting off a road as part of a low traffic neighbourhood have been described as “isolating and divisive”, as well as “brave and bold”.  

Work on the Railton LTN between Brixton and Herne Hill started on Saturday (June 13) after Shakespeare Road was made access only. 

Council workers put temporary barriers – modal filters – in place, as well as on St Matthew’s Road, which aim to stop rat-running and promote cycling and walking.   

Only cyclists, walkers, and emergency vehicles should drive through, while a sign on one barrier warns that cameras and fines will follow. 

The move was the first in a series of changes planned for the area – the council will also be introducing bus gates at Atlantic Road, Marcus Garvey Way, and Herne Place. 

See more: Work on Railton low traffic neighbourhood begins

Many people living in the area back the scheme, saying it will decrease air pollution, traffic, and is much safer for cyclists.

But some residents north of the Shakespeare barriers feel isolated because of the changes.  

James Thomas, who lives just off Shakespeare Road and north of the modal filters, said one of the main problems was the lack of consultation.  

“This is clearly a plan that’s going to be in the works for a long time, and it feels like Covid is the excuse rather than the reason. 

“Most residents have great sympathy for, and are in favour of reduced pollution and emissions, and safer roads,” he said.  

But he added that when it looks “good on paper”, it’s “very easy to dismiss the concerns of residents”. 

“The thing that’s affected people most around here is a feeling of exclusion and the creation of a schism, of pitting residents against each other or against the council,” he said. 

Mr Thomas said it can feel like a “rich versus poor” scheme.  

“Because once you get on the other side of the railway barrier the houses become three times more expensive that the ones here. 

“A Labour council bringing in a policy that makes what is already a very nice, much more affluent area even nicer and more affluent at the expense of its lesser residents to the north – it’s certainly provoked a lot of strong feelings,” he said.  

The 32-year-old said despite the division, people in the area have been coming together and “some are very supportive of at least allowing us access as residents”. 

He suggested that residents be given passes that allow them through, so that miles aren’t added to journeys, and people feel less isolated.  

Mr Thomas also fears traffic will be pushed onto Coldharbour Lane, “which is already terrible” and “heavily polluted”.  

The “noisy and polluting trucks” from the Norris Waste site, he added, “are now exclusively on the north side of the road”.  

But Mr Thomas said if access through the barriers was granted to all residents in the area “nearly all the complaints would dissipate”.  

“We would still feel part of the community, as opposed to cut off on our own little island,” he said.  

Other residents have echoed his concerns on Common Place, labelling the scheme “divisive” and “really terrible” for those north of the modal filters.  

There are also concerns that the data gathered from the trial will be skewed because of Covid-19.  

Most comments on the north side of Shakespeare Road are either negative or undecided.  

One said: “Shortsighted, ill-thought out scheme that will benefit some to the significant disadvantage of others.” 

Another described it as a “mess”. 

“We already contend with heavy traffic from the Norris dump site, dustbin lorries from the Veolia site and now due to this plan, will see this volume of traffic grow even more,” they said, adding: “Where are the environmental/wellbeing benefits for our end of the road, now effectively cut off from the rest of Herne Hill? And why were none of us included in any form of consultation prior to this going live?” 

Other comments were positive, while residents south of the barriers have voiced support for allowing access to people living north of them.  

One said: “As a resident of Railton Road for over 20 years I have seen first-hand the dangers that occur.  

“It’s a miracle that no one has been killed by out of control speeding cars crashing into parked cars and buildings.  

“I understand the concerns of access, specifically the Shakespeare Road north gate.  

“Surely a work around for residents there to use the bus gates (as the council vehicles will also be using it)?” 

They added that the Norris site should be shut altogether.  

Another resident said: “We live on Railton road and it’s a noisy and dirty road.  

“During the lockdown we have had windows open that we have never opened before because of the reduction in traffic noise. It would be amazing to maintain this.  

“There’s also less of the black dust settling in our house from the fumes, which is good for our health.  

“We are car users but don’t mind cutting down journeys or going the long way round given the benefits the scheme will offer. We have to do this!” 

On the south side residents raised concerns about increases in traffic on the corner of Morval Road and Dalberg Road, described as “already very dangerous”, and on Dulwich Road and Half Moon Lane.  

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council did not comment on allowing access to residents north of the barrier.  

He said: “We are implementing an emergency transport programme right across Lambeth to ensure that as lockdown restrictions ease but severe public transport restrictions remain, we can keep our borough moving. 

“The Railton area low traffic neighbourhood is one project from the programme and it aims to create a safe link between Herne Hill and Brixton town centres.  

“This is so people can move between their homes to work, schools, the park and local businesses safely, as well as supporting our vital local businesses by enabling social distancing as we move out of this pandemic. 

“Our plans will remove thousands of rat-running vehicles from all roads in the area, including Shakespeare Road.  

“Whilst we appreciate that some people in the area may feel inconvenienced by having to take slightly longer or different routes on those journeys that they must take by car it is essential to enable people to walk and cycle.  

“Every person that we are able to shift to walking and cycling is one less person on public transport or on our roads, freeing those up for people that absolutely have to use them.  

“We will be monitoring all of the projects that we put in place and will seek to address issues should they arise.”