The last day of the formal consultation period for comments on CS9 is Tuesday 31 October 2017. This despite the fact that local councillors in Chiswick and Hammersmith have asked for an extension, as have Chiswick High Rd traders at a meeting with Ruth Cadbury MP last Thursday. This despite the fact also that TfL don’t yet have the results of the Environmental Impact survey they commissioned, so they aren’t able to tell us what the environmental impact of their proposals might be. I have been trying to find out when TfL expect to get the result of the Environmental Impact survey because it seems to me that is vital information that we need in order to make up our minds as to whether CS9 will deliver the positive outcomes TfL hope it will. No joy as yet.
Traders’ consultation ‘deeply unsatisfactory’
Around 30 traders met Ruth Cadbury MP at Outsider Tart last Thursday to discuss their concerns. Despite assurances from TfL that traders would be consulted, a quick show of hands revealed that some had not yet had any direct consultation from TfL about how their businesses might be affected and it quickly emerged in discussion that those who had found the process deeply unsatisfactory.
There are around 800 businesses directly affected by the proposal to route a two way cycle lane along the south side of the High Rd. TfL has commissioned a third party, a survey company, to go round to businesses and talk to them. But instead of making appointments so that the business owner is present, they have just called in unannounced and spoken to whoever is in the shop, leaving junior staff to field their questions. Instead of having a two-way conversation with someone from TfL who knows the details of the proposal and might be able to answer questions and address their concerns, traders have just been asked to provide answers to a set list of questions for a survey, leaving them none the wiser as to how their business would be affected.
The traders present asked Ruth Cadbury to see if she could get an extension of the consultation period as people are only just finding out about CS9 and don’t yet understand enough about the details, which many people have said are unclear on their plans, to make a sensible assessment of what the proposals might mean for them.
Where are the hearses supposed to park?
Among those represented at the traders meeting was W.S. Bond the funeral directors on the High Rd, who wanted to know where their hearses were supposed to park to load an unload coffins. Under the TfL proposal their shot front would be beside the cycle route, with a double yellow line preventing parking in the road. They have no access at the back of their premises.
Others wanted to know how the two nurseries on British Grove were supposed to survive. They currently have around 75 children being dropped off and picked up by car. In order for that to continue under the new proposals, as far as residents can tell from the plans, parents would have to drive in through St Peter’s Square, negotiate the very tight bend into the narrow Berestede Rd at peak rush hour times when residents are also trying to get out to work.
Businesses in Devonshire Rd were concerned that the priority given to cyclists on Chiswick High Rd at the junction with Devonshire Rd would make it much harder for people to drive in to Devonshire Rd, with a resulting negative impact on trade.
Dog Town, who have just opened up on the High Rd, were concerned that the introduction of a double yellow line would kill their business. They provide physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to injured animals which by definition cannot walk to the premises and many of which are too heavy to be carried. Another businessman who relied on people coming in to Chiswick from outside the area for 80% his business also says that if they can’t park his customers won’t come any more.
Ruth Cadbury offered to lead a fact finding trip to another area of London where a Cycle Superhighway has already been introduced in a residential area, to see what the impact on businesses had been, but traders were luke warm in their enthusiasm for this idea, many of them having a very clear idea of how they thought their trade would be affected.
Comments will still be considered
Joy Wigg, Senior Sponsor at TfL told me that even though they were sticking with the 31 October deadline for the online consultation, they would still welcome comments after that date by email. She said they’d already received a lot of feedback and that the next step would be for TfL to take a report to Hounslow council, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea and to the relevant TfL board. She also said that she would be happy to meet traders with members of her team to answer specific questions and get feedback to the plans and that it wouldn’t matter that this was after the online consultation cut off point as the conversation would still continue for a while yet.
Give your views online by Tuesday 31 October here: consultations.tfl.gov.uk
After 31 October (but don’t leave it too long!) email: firstname.lastname@example.org