Council says pedestrianisation popular with residents and businesses
Pad Thai Story on Old York Road
Wandsworth Council is to extend the pedestrianisation of two local High Streets until October. The temporary closures of Old York Road and Northcote Road were started in July to allow local shops, restaurants and cafes to open with greater social distancing measures in place for customers.
Now, Old York Road in Wandsworth Town will remain closed to traffic and Clapham Junction’s Northcote Road will continue with weekend closures until 25 October, which is the end of British Summer Time. A closure on Bedford Hill is not to being extended to avoid traffic congestion in the area.
Subject to TfL agreement, northbound buses on Old York Road will continue to be diverted via Morie Street and Ferrier Street and southbound buses diverted via Swandon Way. Buses on Northcote Road would be diverted along Bolingbroke Grove at the weekends.
The council says that the move has been welcomed by businesses operating on the streets who want to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by al fresco dining and shopping.
Nok Hatch, manager at Thai Pad Story on Old York Road said, "Business has been wonderful since the road closure.
"We've been busy everyday - apart from when the weather's been bad. We're actually much busier now than we were before lockdown. Customers say being able to eat outside makes them safer and more comfortable."
It is claimed that the pedestrianisation scheme was so good for trade in those three areas that not only were local shops and cafes able to bring 58 members of staff back to work from the furlough scheme, but they also took on 45 new employees. The council quote a figure for a 30% average increase in change from July to August for the three roads.
Konnigans on Old York Road
Cllr Aled Richards-Jones, Wandsworth Council’s cabinet member for Business and Economic Growth said, “The council had to act quickly to support businesses as they started to re-open and the warmer summer months offered the best window of opportunity for us to help with the powers that we have.
“After months of lockdown, we’ve seen that residents were keen to seize the chance to enjoy their neighbourhoods with safety measures in place. I was delighted to hear that Northcote Road is seeing an average of 3,000 to 4,000 people visiting each Saturday, which is great news for those local businesses and their employees.
“We wanted to give as much help as possible to hospitality businesses before winter sets in, so extending these road closures will encourage people to continue visiting their favourite cafes, bars and restaurants.”
Wandsworth Council’s transport spokesman Cllr John Locker said: “It was a big step to close these roads but with the support of local residents, TfL and the local business associations it has been a great success and we’re pleased we can keep the initiative going into the autumn.
“As well as understanding how businesses and their customers used the extra space for social distancing, the temporary change has also given the council the opportunity to consider the viability of low traffic neighbourhoods in the longer term.”
During this closure period, the council is keen to hear the views of local people. Comments can be emailed to SocialDistancing@wandsworth.gov.uk.
September 2, 2020