Pushing for stronger planning enforcement in Tulse Hill

We have been concerned by recent changes in Tulse Hill – the use of the space on the corner of Thurlow Park Road and Norwood Road, and changes in use from retail to residential of shops and cafes on Station Rise. We have been pushing planning enforcement officers to address these issues.

Officers have visited the neighbourhood and written to the used car business on the corner of Thurlow Park Road. The proposed car wash being installed has been halted as it did not have planning permission, the area which was paved without permission has been depaved and damage caused by cars on the pavement to the electrical post by the bus stop has been reported to the Highways team. We believe that further work is required to check that car sales is a legitimate use of the site, to remove paving and to require that discarded concrete is removed to make the area less unsightly. We also want to ensure no part of the property is being used without authorisation as an HMO.

On Station Rise, we are worried about the apparent trend to convert retail units into flats. The Streetworks project will hopefully create a pleasant town centre space where people can use shops and cafes – retaining active shop fronts is important for this.

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Bridge over Troubled Traffic*

A big thank you to residents and David McKenna from TfL for yesterday’s meeting about bridge strikes on the railway over the South Circular. 

It was a very productive meeting looking at – 

  • Bridge strike statistics – Thurlow Park has the most bridge strikes in the country
  • Impact on the local area of bridge strikes – economic cost of delayed journeys, effect on air pollution, impact on Lancaster Avenue when it is used to divert traffic, road safety, damage to bridge, cost to train operating companies
  • Long term strategy – David and his team are developing the business case for lowering the road as a way to prevent bridge strikes and to remove the need to divert any traffic down Lancaster Avenue. This will take some time because it is a complicated engineering challenge thanks to bridge foundations and the sewer. It will also have a huge impact on the road, as it would have to be closed for the works to be completed.
  • Short term strategy – David is installing better signage within the next 4 months. These will be “smart”, triggered only by oversized vehicles which should mean they are more effective. CCTV will be installed to monitor and measure impact

Our next steps as a community are to – 

  1. The community will write to the mayoral and GLA candidates requesting that they all prioritise this issue.
  2. David will feedback based on questions raised by attendees, including about whether lorry drivers and their companies can be prosecuted or fined when they hit the bridge, more data, maps showing locations of signs and how the community can support his business case. 
  3. The signs will be installed within the next 4 months.
  4. Feasibility studies will be developed, beginning now. This may include some drill holes and radars to identify services underground. These will be ongoing for the next few months.
  5. Once a new London Mayor and GLA member are in post, we will organise a meeting to request that this is high on their agenda.
  6. We will organise a progress meeting in approx. 6 months where David can share how he’s getting on. We can invite Network Rail and Thames Water, as appropriate. 

Thank you LARA for organising the meeting and Rosemead for hosting. If you would like to be involved in this project but weren’t aware of or able to attend the meeting, please get in touch on abirley@lambeth.gov.uk

*excuse the pun, borrowed from Richard Alford on Lancaster Avenue!

Another bridge strike on Thurlow Park Road

This morning another bridge strike involving a large lorry disrupted commuter trains and traffic. This bridge is the worst in London for strikes and the disruption has a huge impact and cost.

As we shared a couple of months ago, we have raised this issue with TfL and action is being taken as a result. Senior officers are looking to invest in better signage to replace the existing temporary signs before the Spring. These should provide a short term improvement – and signs can be reused so if and when they are no longer needed in Thurlow Park, we can ensure they are reinstalled elsewhere to make best use of resources.

To tackle the problem in the long term, a business case for the large amount of funding it would take to lower the road is being put together. This would also be a significant engineering challenge – there is a sewer below the south circular and the side roads like St Faith’s would need to be examined to work out how to accommodate lower junctions.

Senior TfL officers have offered to meet with Lancaster Avenue residents this month as their road is currently the diversion route for oversized vehicles. We will be discussing new signage, improving 20mph signage to reduce speeding, and the long term plans for the bridge.