The Lewisham neighbourhood where bad parking and speeding drivers mean families fear walking

By Staff

South London residents say they fear walking down their street because of dangerous drivers who illegally park on the pavement and speed down the road. People living on Sandhurst Road in Hither Green, Lewisham, say neighbours’ cars have been damaged by careless motorists.

Meanwhile, prams and wheelchairs struggle to weave past vehicles that are parked on or overhanging the pavement.

They claim a lack of enforcement from Lewisham Council has emboldened the rule-breaking drivers who treat their side street as a short-cut and free parking area. After months of alleged inaction, residents are now calling on the council to launch a crackdown on dangerous drivers and consider plans for a low-traffic neighbourhood in the area.

Matthew Sparkes, 41, who moved to the area a year ago, said: “The traffic is insane at times. We had a monitor up and it was tracking 8,000 cars a day at one point. The council has allowed people to park on the pavement. It’s an attractive cut through and it has turned into a main road.”

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He added: “It’s coming to a head. Everybody seems annoyed about buses hitting their cars and people are annoyed about not being able to go by with a pram. The council is doing nothing. You walk to town with the other half and you have to walk single file the whole time. It’s a dehumanising set-up.

He added: “I would like them [the council] to get cars off the pavement but I think they need to build a low-traffic neighbourhood [LTN] really. The rare times it’s blocked by roadworks it’s a dream, cycling, but I think an LTN would transform the area.”

His neighbour Nat, who asked for his surname not to be published, said: “It has essentially become a rat-run. We have issues around dangers to pedestrians. It’s essentially already a narrow street and when cars park on the curb you’re left with a very narrow walk through. If you have a pushchair or wheelchair there’s essentially no access down our street.

“We also have a problem with overhang on the pavement from cars parked in driveways. There’s persistent speeding and this is down to it being a rat-run and having cars regularly coming over the 20 miles per hour speed limit.

He added: “A low-traffic neighbourhood in the area, it’s important to consider. In terms of public safety and access, it’s an important way to stop constant issues with over-pollution in the area.”

Ann Coppinger, who lives just off Sandhurst Road, said: “My concern is for small children who come out with their parents. They have to weave around cars that are 100 per cent on the pavement. People are over the lines and there’s people hanging off their driveways. The enforcement is not happening in the way it is in the other London boroughs.

“Some of the buses, if they have a clear run, they go for it. It’s downhill. There’s a temptation to speed up when there’s a downwards run.”

Lewisham Council said it had ‘significantly’ increased patrols in the area in response to residents’ concerns about illegal pavement parking on Sandhurst Road and had been issuing drivers with more fines.

A spokesperson said: “In the last 12 months there was a nearly seven-fold increase in total time spent patrolling Sandhurst Road alone from the previous period. Our enforcement team issued seven times the amount of penalty charge notices for pavement parking on Sandhurst Road in the last six months, compared to the previous period.

“Whilst we may not be able to eradicate obstructive and or inconsiderate parking altogether, we will continue to patrol this area until we see an improvement in compliance and safety for the community.”

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