We visited the Birmingham village where Low Traffic Neighbourhood plans have split the community

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
We went to Birmingham's model village Bournville to meet residents and business owners amid controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood proposals

Implementing a Low Traffic Neighbourhood system within Birmingham's idyllic model village of Bournville has been a controversial proposal.

Birmingham City Council intends to extend the Places for People plan - also known as Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) - to the village which is of course the home of Cadbury's chocolate - as well as to Cotteridge.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Traffic builds up quickly through Bournville, especially on Sycamore Road during the school run for the local primary in the mornings, and the aim of the scheme would be to reduce the amount of heavy traffic in the village, aim to make roads safer and improve air pollution, but many residents aren't pleased with the plans that have been put forward.

Under the scheme, car use is restricted on residential streets, with some larger roads blocked and 20mph speed limits introduced. Mary Vale Road and Beaumont Road in the village would both also become one-way streets. The Sustrans National Cycle Network has said that LTNs allows people to safely travel on foot and on bike.

The council received a mixed response from Bournville residents during drop-in session over the summer. Although many people who live in the south Birmingham village showed support for the aims and principles of the project, 46% of respondents expressed positive sentiments about the project, compared to 43% expressing negative ones. The council said there is now a need for further engagement with residents and businesses in the coming months before any decisions are made.

LTNs have caused a lot of controversy in Birmingham districts such as Kings Heath and Moseley. The scheme was introduced during the pandemic in Kings Heath and Moseley and it was met with resistance, particularly from many businesses who experienced issues with footfall and delivery levels. It became a permanent measure in these two districts in November 2023.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Affecting business is also an an issue which traders in Bournville are concerned about if the scheme was to be implemented. There are many businesses who rely on people coming to their stores from all over the city, as well as those who live in Bournville who need cars to travel to work outside of the area.

Previously, the council introduced temporary measures in Bournville in 2020 by placing large planters and bollards on Oak Tree Lane and Franklin Road to prevent motorised vehicles from using these side streets to cut through and avoid main roads. The measures could not only become permanent but would apply to whole of Bournville if the scheme is passed by the council.

I headed down to the model village to have a chat with a few residents and business owners about what they think of the proposals to reduce traffic and driving in the area. Andrew Evans, the owner of Evans's gift shop on the busy Sycamore Road told me that he "couldn't see the LTN proposals providing the benefits that were suggested during the council meetings."

Cars parked along Sycamore Road in Bournville on Friday (January 12) morninCars parked along Sycamore Road in Bournville on Friday (January 12) mornin
Cars parked along Sycamore Road in Bournville on Friday (January 12) mornin

A photo posted on the Badly Parked Brum Twitter account at the start of January (seen below) showed a car parked on the pavement of Sycamore Road as there were no parking spaces left along the street, providing an example of how much of an issue parking can be in the village. I asked Andrew about what he thought about the council's LTN scheme aimed to reduce the heavy traffic in the area.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Andrew, who also lives in the village, said: "The LTN is an interesting thing. The parking outside these shops [on Sycamore Road] isn't restricted so people can come and park here all day, and we do have people who park here all day when they use the train station.

"The difficulty with the LTN scheme is that there was talk about essential and non essential journeys for it and that is relative. They were sayng a journey less than a mile would be classed as non essential by car, but we have an older population here, and to them that journey of less than a mile might be absolutely essential - so it's not as black and white as it has been made to sound."

He added: "To be able to afford to live here you have to have two high paying jobs and there aren't many of those in Bournville itself, so most residents have to commute out of Bournville and back. They were talking about blocking off the road [Sycamore] up here and making it a large cul-de-sac which would be very difficult for traders."

Andrew EvansAndrew Evans
Andrew Evans

While standing outside the Cadbury factory, Robert, who has lived in the model vilage for 44 years, told me that the LTN proposals split the community. He said: "I have a lot of sympathy with people who need a car to get to work. I use the train, but I used to work in Cradley Heath and it was a bit of a journey - nearly two hours as you have to go into Birmingham. And you compare that with half hour in the car, so I do have sympathy with people working and driving, and I dont really know what the solution is. Many people dont work in the same area they live."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Julie Davies owns Christine's wool shop a couple of doors down from Evans's. She says parking can be an issue in the area, but she was not in favour of the LTN proposals that were put forward. She told me: "We weren't too happy about the LTN suggestion that they were going to block the road at both ends. We don't want to put any barriers to our customers really."

Robert says the LTN proposals split the commuitRobert says the LTN proposals split the commuit
Robert says the LTN proposals split the commuit

Vojay manages the The Clean Kilo a little further up the village on Mary Vale Road. He lives in the town, but believes implementing a Low Traffic Neighbourhood would be beneficial for the village. He said: "People can struggle to park here, but being a zero-waste echo-friendly shop it's not a bigger problem for us as maybe it is with other businesses."

On the LTN proposals, he said:"Personally, and I may be a bit biased as I don't have to commute or anything, but I'm all for it. A lot of our customers are people that come from afar, but I'm not sure it would reduce it that much. If the roads outside were blocked off, then many of the businesses here could also have outside seating. I also have two children so the less traffic here the better, especially on this junction [Mary Vale Road and Linden Road] as it's so busy here."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.