Ladywell Village Improvement Group AGM

Weds 21 July, 7.30pm at the St.Mary's Centre, Ladywell Road

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group is holding its annual general meeting tomorrow night, with a key item on the agenda their plans for a more pedestrian and business friendly centre.

LVIG has been a dynamic force for positive change in the area since it was established and is working with landscape architects Shape and Lewisham Council to look at making Ladywell Village a better place for local people by improving the roads and pavements - the ‘streetscape’.

They say:

The areas is currently designed to outdated standards that prioritise the needs of traffic moving through the village over the needs of the people who live and run businesses there.

LVIG want these priorities to change.

The centre should be an attractive place that works well for local people using the shops, catching a bus, going to the park or the station, sitting out to have a coffee or pint, or simply reaching their homes.

There is currently far greater road space than is needed for this type of road (according to national highways design standards) and pavements could be significantly widened without creating more traffic congestion. Corner sweeps of the road are designed to allow traffic to move around the corner fast, which is dangerous for people walking, and not appropriate in a village shopping street.

For road users, there is no clear indication that they are entering a village centre, which might encourage more considerate driving and improve trade, and there are few if any places to stop a car, should someone wish to 'impulse buy'. Guardrails prevent pedestrians from crossing of the road where they might like to take the shortest route, for example to the train station.

In places pavements are so narrow and cluttered that it is difficult to pass others. There are few street trees, and little space or incentive to sit outside. In other shopping streets pavements are wider, and more pleasant, and people can enjoy sitting at a pavement cafe - and in these areas shops tend to do better too!

LVIG hope to transform Ladywell Village using a range of measures tried successfully elsewhere in London, like those on Walworth Road, in Waterloo, or in Camden Town:

  • increasing pavement widths and narrowing carriageways
  • introducing raised pedestrian crossings at side road intersections, and a crossing on the pedestrian ‘desire line’ to the station
  • incorporating loading/short stay parking bays
  • planting new street trees in suitable locations
  • seating and cycle parking
  • a safer cycle connection to Ladywell Fields
Initial consultations show wide support for this approach, so now more detailed ideas are being discussed with the Council. Consultation is going on now with local residents, local businesses, and interested groups like those representing the views of cyclists, bus operators, people with disabilities, and others.


lb said...

Speaking as someone who uses the shops (and road) in question all the time, my comment is this:

"There is currently far greater road space than is needed for this type of road (according to national highways design standards) and pavements could be significantly widened without creating more traffic congestion"

Have the authors of this actually seen the enormous queues of traffic stretching through Ladywell most evenings, the jams that develop if anything actually stops along that piece of road, or the extremely limited space for buses turning at the main junction? They continue...

"not appropriate in a village shopping street.

For road users, there is no clear indication that they are entering a village centre"

Yes, but it's not really a "village", is it? Just calling it a village doesn't make it one. This is a main vehicle route into Lewisham centre, not a lane into some bucolic hamlet. Neither is it full of shops where one might want to linger for hours, unless you have a fetish for DIY equipment, the contents of newsagents or get a tattoo every other week.

"Guardrails prevent pedestrians from crossing of the road where they might like to take the shortest route, for example to the train station"

i.e. right across the middle of the road junction, where a bin lorry would probably squash them flat in nanoseconds.

This has so many holes in I don't really know where to start. Is it just because there's no room for tables outside Oscars? The other cafe seems to manage outside seating, as does Masons for that matter.

lb said...

Incidentally the same comment applies to the parking bays - there's no space, particularly if they intend to fit "street trees" in as well.

I love street trees and am a great believer in the virtues of designated loading bays, but this just seems a bit, well, misplaced.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lb - not seen the plans in detail, so can't comment on specifics, but to take your points in turn:

1. queues of traffic - fair point, but they're not proposing to reduce the number of lanes, just the width of the road, which might even stop chancers trying to park where they actually block traffic (because it will be obvious that cars won't be able to fit past).

2. Buses turning - fair point, would hope that any solution allows for this.

3. No-one's saying that it's a hamlet, just that it is a local shopping centre, where cars should be aware that there are a lot of people around and they will have to drive more cautiously.

4. Guardrails - there is so much evidence that guardrails are counter productive - they encourage pedestrians to jump over them, trap cyclists against them and encourage road users to speed up. Rails are being taken out across London - from Hackney to Kensington and most recently on Brockley Road. Removal ought to cut indcidents.

5. Designated bays. Who do we want to be able park in Ladywell town centre? Shoppers. Can they park there at the moment? Honest question, I don't know the answer. I do know that in Crofton Park and Coulgate Street, the absence of bays means that shoppers can't park because people leave their cars there all day. I know that in Honor Oak, bays work for local businesses.

Anonymous said...

As a local resident my real concern is the level of traffic, they should be addressing this in the first instance. Ladywell is treated as a shortcut from the south circular (and as lb says, the evenings are a complete nightmare for queues) - stop people using it for that purpose and the 'village' centre will gain a different and more pleasant environment immediately.

In addition though, i don't think there is anything wrong with Ladywell aspiring to better things, as the newer retail premises in the area have shown, there is a desire and need for improvement and every little helps.

Anonymous said...

instead of wasting your time posting here why not actually go to the AGM and raise your points?

lb said...

Well, here's my point - it's like with Coulgate Street, I think you need to start from the point of reducing (or eliminating) traffic before you look at anything else, simply because wide pavements will look very nice but do little good with a fume-emitting, honking mass of cars jammed through the area every evening and morning. The problem is, pedestrianisation probably isn't an option through Ladywell.

I don't think reducing the width of the road here is a good, or at least practicable, idea because:

- Buses have to turn up Vicars Hill
- There isn't a huge amount of room for the lorries and buses going up the main road either, and narrowing it will make less safe for pedestrians or (particularly) cyclists
- Even less room for vehicles to filter past buses at the bus stop, or to filter past when people are turning right into Vicars Hill.

This is a heavily used road and junction, something I'm not happy about, but not something that can easily be surmounted. Moreover, there's very little space to spare. There's plenty that can be done to tidy up the streetscape without focusing on pavements.

I agree that more parking would be nice, but it's a question of where it can be sited, unless they squeeze in something down by the railway somewhere. Not sure that railings "encourage pedestrians to jump over them", though, surely the issue is one of pedestrians crossing away from the protected crossing area and the absence of barriers making this easier?

Incidentally, the large number of junctions, crossings, traffic islands, and speed bumps in the vicinity ensure that most traffic is already travelling at a crawl through there. I know, I drove through it just last week. I'm not sure how reminding motorists that the area was a "village" would change matters - although if they simply want to put up a sign saying "please drive carefully", there's no harm in it.

TJ said...

Let's improve Ladywell by all means - and good on anyone civic-minded enough to give up their own time to do so. But in some respects I have to agree with LB. Ladywell is not a 'village shopping street' nor should road users need to have indication that they are entering a village or any other centre.

Hampstead - that most desirable of 'villages' has major traffic snaking through - as does Blackheath. Why? Because they are part of the urban city called London. I'm not sure that widening the pavements and causing more traffic chaos when a car wants to turn off the road, pass a bus or delivery vehicle would actually make much difference.

Oh and Anon - this isn't a waste of time - it let's people air their thoughts and perhaps change, modify or inform their opinions before the AGM

lb said...

"instead of wasting your time posting here why not actually go to the AGM and raise your points?"

I just happened to read the story and made a comment.

I might go to the meeting, but my experience of local action groups suggests that going along simply to make the point that I find the agenda itself largely pointless is not very productive either.

It's a shame said...

"The area is currently designed to outdated standards that prioritise the needs of traffic moving through the village over the needs of the people who live and run businesses there."

And where do they think the traffic is going to go? On to another road? Route it up by Hilly Fields and along Adelaide Avenue?

Surely you know about the traffic when you move there. Unlike Coulgate Street that is being used as a parking lot for comuters and van rental companies, this is a busy road.

The trafic is not moving through a village, but through Ladywell, part of Greater London. I'm afraid I'd rather have moving traffic than traffic clogged up, and polluting smoke. Rounded corners and all.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

The main reason so much traffic goes through Ladywell is the current alternatives.

Lewisham roundabout or Catford one way system. The Lewisham Gateway development will only make things worse - if it is ever built that is.

I see in last weeks Mercury there are plans now to redevelop catford Town centre. I hope the road scheme is better than that proposed in Lewisham.....

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with the traffic is less that it is slow moving than that it often doesn't move at all.

But the second, and more important point, is that, yes, we live in a city, but Ladywell Road is not a major arterial link through it, and in the 10 or so years i have lived there the number of lorries using it as a shortcut has only increased, which is a shame.

As for "instead of wasting your time posting here why not actually go to the AGM and raise your points?"

Well, i'm with lb in that this (excellent) site is also a forum for local discussion, and unfortunately some of us can't make the AGM.

Pete said...

lvig have an email address to which you can send comments if you are unable to make the meeting it is

alternatively they also have a blog:

lb said...

Incidentally, I suspect the reason the crossing is where it is, and not on the "desire line" to the station, is for safety reasons, as otherwise it would be either next to, or actually on, a junction. See this document on pedestrian crossing design, if anyone wants a spectacularly dull read.

Anonymous said...

I suggest a market square for Ladywell on the currently abandoned plot of land opposite the carwash.

Farmer Markets and seasonal markets could then be held there. It would encourage first time visitors to the neighbourhood who would then spend money in local shops and restaurants and give a boost to the area.

The abandoned garages at the back of the plot could become artists studios.

James Wild

Peter Tooke said...

LVIG's efforts are laudable. Here are a group of people working hard to improve things. Even if one accepts the level of traffic can't be reduced it seems to me there is plenty can be done to improve the streetscape for pedestrians, cyclists etc. Unless the streescape improves there is no hope of rescuing Ladywell as a viable retail centre and it will remain dominated by takeway outlets. Keep up the good work LVIG - I only wish I had the time to help you with your campaign.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

As an member of LVIG I find some of the comments here quite depressing. We've commissioned a well respected and experienced designer whose successfully introduced improvements to the streetscape in other parts of London e.g. Lambeth. She's also liaising closely with Lewisham Highways team who certainly wouldn't let us implement anything that was dangerous or counter-productive.

Asking us to first reduce traffic levels before trying to improve the streetscape is naive. Experience from other comparable parts of London shows that it is possible to create an environment that works better for pedestrians and cyclists and allows the shops a better chance of to succeeding. we're just at the early design stage but the response from people who bother to meet with us and the designer has been wholly positive

Elsiemaud boy said...

Tony - don't be depressed - you've got a long haul in front of you, and a few reasonably presented criticisms or negative comments shouldn't really throw you - you know the great work you are doing.

I personally would have thought you would appreciate getting a range of views. Chin up - Ladywell will be better for it in the end. It may even become a village.

Brockley Nick said...

Well said Elsimaud. Tony, the weight of opinion expressed here clearly supports your objectives and even your methods. However, some concerns and issues have been articulated well and I think that is helpful, rather than a cause to be depressed.

Marc said...

Please don't be disheartened Tony, talking to the neighbours we agreed that its great to have an active group looking at ways to improve our high street! Speaking for myself I am liking what I have seen proposed, keep up the good work. Have submitted the questionnaire too with comments.

lb said...

"Asking us to first reduce traffic levels before trying to improve the streetscape is naive"

Believe me, I doubt any of the people who mentioned traffic are as naive as to believe that LVIG itself can do anything about the volume of traffic.

Secondly, if you're looking to improve the streetscape function for "pedestrians and cyclists", I think the environment actually works reasonably well, on a purely functional level, for pedestrians and cyclists in its current form. The proposed changes will potentially make it more dangerous for cyclists, by squeezing them in amongst cars, and in some respects for pedestrians as well. Bearing this post in mind, I walked down to Ladywell at the weekend and had a look in the context of the issues that had been raised, and it confirmed to me that yes, these are all concerns that should be addressed. This is not "depressing", but is all part of taking a professional approach to urban planning, rather than starting from an inlfexible shopping list of desired outcomes.

Incidentally your designer, in their model on your website, appears to have depicted the buses rather underscale. I checked again at the weekend and there is barely room for them to turn up to Vicars Hill as it is; the extra road space is also important to allow traffic to filter past as cars are turning right at the same junction. Again, this is something that should be addressed one way or the other.

By the way, the commenter who claimed that Ladywell was "dominated by takeaway outlets" is a bit wide of the mark. There's a fish bar and a kebab shop, but this is hardly unusual or excessive. Ultimately this kind of thing is to do with what the market will bear, rather than the width of the pavements.

milk-plus said...

I love the idea of widening the pavements and taking down the rails. I'm concerned about public seating areas such as benches which I think could encourage the drinkers and drug users from Lewisham & Catford to move in. You're right... this isn't exactly a village, yet... but get rid of the Coral bookies and that would be one step in the right direction. Finally, does anyone know what is happening with the land opposite the car wash? I heard rumours of a Tesco Metro. Anything but a nightclub!

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