Low Traffic Neighbourhood plans to be extended in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council is extending the controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood trials - which it is calling Places for People - that restrict transport in local areas

Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes are currently being trialed in five areas of Birmingham - with a new pilot due to be introduced this year.

The projects, funded by central government, restrict traffic flow in local streets and are intended to improve air quality and make more space for walking, cycling, playing and socialising.

But they have proven highly controversial in communities across the country with more than 200 being introduced in the UK so far - mainly in London.

People and businesses have complained that LTN’s prevent them from being unable to drive freely from one street to another. Some businesses say that they have caused a reduction in footfall.

In Birmingham the city council is calling them Places for People.

They are currently being piloted in Kings Heath and Lozells, with “early measures” being introduced in Mosley, Bournville and Castle Vale.

Now the council has said that it is looking to introduce more measures in Bournville with a consultation due to go underway later this year.

Why is Birmingham City Council extending its Places for People (Low Traffic Neighbourhood) scheme?

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “The main principle of the Birmingham Transport Plan is prioritising active travel in local neighbourhoods and Places for People (low traffic neighbourhoods) are part of this.

“During 2020, we introduced pilots in Kings Heath and Lozells and some early measures in Moseley, Bournville and Castle Vale followed by consultations in Kings Heath & Moseley and Lozells.

“Currently, the council is working on a proposal for Places for People at Bournville with consultation, later in 2022.”

What are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods? See our video explainer below

What is happening with the other Places for People (Low Traffic Neighbourhood) schemes?

The latest pilot is being planned as the council delays making a decision about the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Kings Heath.

A spokesperson said: “We had anticipated being able to bring a recommendation to Cabinet in January 2022, but will now be postponing that, as we take more time to develop the preferred option.”

BirminghamWorld visited Kings Heath to find out how residents and businesses are finding the Places for People - Low Traffic Neighbourhood - there.

People living, working and visiting the bustling suburb renowned for its independent shops, bars and restaurants have strong opinions. Many people have encountered issues - while understanding there are benefits for the environment.

The Jewellery Stop on Poplar Road in Kings Heath

‘We are down in footfall, it’s being very difficult for us’

Cheryl from the Jewellery Stop on Poplar Road said: “It was set up in the pandemic and we’re still in a pandemic.

“We are down in footfall, it’s been very difficult for us. There aren’t as many people out on the street, or coming down the street.

“We understand and appreciate the reasons for it and how it can benefit the environment but it isn’t helping us.

“Businesses and restaurants had always operated harmoniously in Kings Heath. Some hospitality businesses have benefited by being able to use the streets more. But that isn’t possible where we are.”

Joan, King’s Heath

‘Some people have got more traffic going past’

Joan says: I think it’s very, very bad. There’s people who are blocked off, they’ve got no traffic I know that, but the other people have got tonnes more traffic going past, giving them more pollution. I don’t come into King’s Heath now unless I absolutely have to because the way I have to go round and all the way round again and then all the way round again to get back home in Hall Green. I’m using twice as much petrol.

Ted, King’s Heath

‘I haven’t noticed any more walkers than usual’

Ted says: “Along with a lot of people on Vicarage Road where I live, it just hasn’t worked. When Shutlock Lane was closed for road surfacing the traffic was horrendous, it has got a bit better, but it’s still pretty bad. And the problem is, it hasn’t achieved its objectives outlined by the council. They were saying it was to get people out of their cars to walk and cycle. Well, I haven’t noticed particularly more walkers then usual. You’d notice the cyclists now because they all ride on the pavement.

Jenny, King’s Heath

‘There are problems with parking’

Jenny says: “I don’t feel it’s fair to the local people and to people coming into King’s Heath because they have real problems with parking. And also getting out of your house you got to go all around the Wrekin to get out of your road. And it’s affected so many people it just doesn’t seem fair.”

Stephanie, King’s Heath

‘I am really keen for it to go ahead. I think people’s attitudes will change once restrictions are in place fully’

Stephanie says: “I think it’s a really good idea. And I know some has gone into the west side of Kings Heath. And I’m keen for it to go ahead on the east side as well. But I know that decision’s been delayed by the council. I’m really keen for it to go ahead and I know that a lot of people aren’t, but I think their attitudes will change if restrictions are put in place - and we’ve got a really good bus route here with the number 50. So we don’t need to use our cars as much as people do.”

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