Wandsworth residents divided over plan to pedestrianise Putney street

Residents in Wandsworth are divided over a campaign to pedestrianise a busy road.

The plan proposed by Wandsworth Living Streets recommends closing the western end of Putney’s Werter Road so that it can operate as a two way street and introducing a civic space in front of the local Sainsbury’s.

Werter Road is a popular route for drivers wanting to cut through to Putney High Street.

Campaigners argue that the high levels of traffic, most of which is non-residential, go against the council’s promise to tackle congestion and is putting the health and safety of residents at risk.

A Wandsworth Living Streets spokesperson says: “With so much pollution, Putney isn’t a pleasant place to live anymore.”

Wandsworth Council has been under pressure to improve safety in the area after a pedestrian was killed after being struck by a lorry on Werter Road’s junction with Putney High Street in 2018 and a report emerged earlier this year of dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide in the borough.

The Evening Standard reported in January that Putney High Street’s annual nitrogen dioxide levels measure 53 micrograms per cubic metre, well above the legal limit of 40 micrograms.

But the council says the campaign was considered in the past but rejected because of significant opposition from residents.

Forty people have signed a letter to the council explaining their reasons for opposing it.

They mention concerns about a rise in anti-social behaviour if a new civic space is installed in front of the Sainsbury’s and worries about emergency vehicles not being able to get through.

Instead, the council is implementing a Copenhagen crossing on Werter Road which forces drivers to make way for pedestrians. It is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

Meanwhile the debate over Wandsworth Living Streets’ proposal appears to have turned nasty as campaigners claim that they’ve been shouted at on the street by some opponents of the idea.

A spokesperson said: “Some people, especially older residents, get very angry at us.

“People are all for stopping climate change until it inconveniences them at all.”

On the other hand, many residents are willing to back the proposal.

Living Streets has started a new petition to the council and has gathered 900 signatures so far.

Wandsworth Council said in a statement: “We have no plans at present to pedestrianise parts of Werter Road which was investigated previously and not supported by local residents but we are happy to liaise with them if opinions have changed.”

Featured image credit: Wandsworth Living Streets.

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