The £1.2m Heart of Hackbridge project, funded by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund and Sutton Council, is coming to completion. This programme of physical and economic regeneration, focussed on the intersection of the A237 London Road and B277 Hackbridge Road, in Hackbridge, Sutton, had many aims. High on the list was the delivery of a more people-focussed centre, a place where people want to spend time, a place which is safer and easier to get around, and which serves as a hub for socialising as well as an improved local shopping experience. It was about civilising the traffic and prioritising pedestrians. Proposals to bring all of this about included the realignment of kerb lines to narrow the overall carriageway width, provision of a raised road surface to include several courtesy pedestrian crossing points in place of two formal zebra crossings, installation of an implied roundabout, widening of pavements (especially outside the nearby Hackbridge Primary School), planting of mature trees, and the installation of benches.

However, given that typically over 19,000 motorised vehicles pass through this location every day [Source: DfT Traffic counts], has the aspiration to provide a shared-space ethos on a heavily trafficked road, proved to be more of a challenging and ambitious project than the proponents thought it would be?

In this guest blog, Tracey Collins, Road Safety Campaigner, Hackbridge resident, and founder of Hackbridge Safety First, gives her personal view on the story so far.

One of a series of panels produced as part of the Heart of Hackbridge consultation (Sutton Council 2013)

One of a series of panels produced as part of the Heart of Hackbridge consultation (2013)

How Hackbridge can look on a weekday afternoon. London Road, Hackbridge, 17 September 2014 (Photo Charles Martin)

How Hackbridge can look on a weekday afternoon. London Road, Hackbridge, 17 September 2014 (Photo Charles Martin)

Hackbridge Junction is NOT safe as it is at the moment. The number of near misses on the six new informal crossings is an everyday occurrence, and vulnerable individuals are disadvantaged.

What is aim of Hackbridge Safety First?

  • We believe that every child has the right to be able to cross the road to get to school safely.
  • We believe that ALL pedestrians should not feel alienated from their local community – the elderly, disabled (whether they have a physical disability, a guide dog user, visually Impaired, sensory, hard of hearing).

ALL pedestrians have the right to feel safe in the community they live in and, at the moment, that isn’t the case in Hackbridge.

The following has been witnessed in Hackbridge over the last few weeks:

  • Vehicles/mopeds driving on the pavements.
  • Vehicles driving down Elm Road (one way street) through the NO ENTRY sign.
  • A lorry was driving along Hackbridge Road and tried to go right onto London Road. It couldn’t get round the “ROUNDEL” so REVERSED back, straight onto the pavement and almost took out the new benches.

There is a smiley face speed clock on London Road before you drive over the railway bridge. This has been seen to clock drivers speeding along London Road towards Hackbridge at 52 mph!!

There are some Hackbridge residents that are very happy with the NEW HACKBRIDGE. Some have commented that if the first car doesn’t stop to allow you to cross at the new informal crossing then the second one almost certainly does…This certainly is not the case.

That the roundel does not work as large lorries are not able to safely navigate it… also remember that Hackbridge is not a QUIET village. Drivers come through Hackbridge off the M25 straight into London. In Wallington for example, this year they have transformed Woodcote Road. They now have a mini roundabout, with road markings. Large vehicles i.e. lorries are able to navigate round the mini roundabout without any problems. They do not have to reverse back along a main road to go around the new mini roundabout. The transformation looks nice and works very well. If you carry on along Woodcote Road it will eventually lead you to Hackbridge.

Let’s try and make it right FOR:

  • The local resident who uses a guide dog, who attempted to independently try and cross one of the informal crossings and 14 cars didn’t stop for them;
  • The elderly resident who has lived in Hackbridge for 60 years who no longer feels safe crossing any of the new informal crossings;
  • The child that had to sprint across the road because they had to get out the way of a car coming towards him;
  • The pregnant lady who got half way across the crossing when a car zoomed past;

We want crossings that are recognised, that are in the Highway Code to safeguard all pedestrians that live and visit Hackbridge and at the moment we do NOT have this. As added protection WHY can’t we have a Patrol Officer on a permanent basis to protect our children? The Patrol Officer was put in place for the last 7 weeks of the summer school term. Because of the campaign the local authority agreed to extend the Patrol Officer’s contract from September to the end of October. The interim safety audit was carried out on 19 August 2014. The report has been completed. The local authority have now extended the Patrol Officers contract AGAIN, this time the patrol officer will remain in post until the proposed changes have been fully assessed.

As responsible parents we try and encourage independence in our children once they reach a certain age, i.e. walking to school on their own. We also want the children to walk to stay fit, as we are advised by the Government, plus walking reduces the environmental impact of having more cars on the road.

The rejuvenation of the “Heart of Hackbridge”, that was meant to bring our community together, has had the opposite affect and alienated certain members of the community.

Sutton Council provide background and updates on the Heart of Hackbridge project.

A Press Release from Labour London Assembly Member Fiona Twycross, 16 October 2014: Fiona Twycross AM visits controversial junction at Heart Of Hackbridge

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