Royal Parks retains car reduction plan for a another year

After trials during the first lockdown received immense support from residents, the Royal Parks have announced that they are continuing their car reduction measures for another year.

The Royal Parks, which is implementing changes in Richmond and Bushy Parks, as well as Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, and St James’ Park, received almost 18,000 responses from the public which suggested the public wanted car restrictions to continue.

In Richmond Park, there has been a permanent closure between Sheen Gate and Sheen Cross, as well as weekday restrictions for all through-traffic from Broomfield Hill car park to Robin Hood car park, whilst a ‘quiet zone’ has been created on the north side of the park, restricting weekend traffic between Roehampton, Richmond and Sheen gates.

There is to be reduction of cars in all the other parks, with a full-time closure of part of Chestnut Avenue between Teddington and Hampton Court Gates to motor vehicles in Bushy Park, as well as a full-time closure of the Avenue to vehicle traffic in Greenwich Park, and a full-time closure of North Carriage Drive in Hyde Park.

The idea is to reduce cut-through traffic in the parks and allow people to enjoy the parks for their greenery, with many walkers and cyclists using the parks in London every day.

Andrew Scattergood, chief executive for the Royal Parks said: “London’s green spaces are vital refuges where people can come to escape from the busy city, and never has this been more apparent than over the past 12 months. 

“These trials have proved that there is support from park visitors to limit cut-through traffic and create car-free spaces, where people can enjoy spending time in the natural environment to boost their health and happiness.”

These measures are now in place until March 2022, where further data will be collected to establish how effective this scheme is, with the possibility of it becoming permanent.

In Richmond Park and Bushy Park the support rates for permanent change were at 71% and 56% respectively, showing a large support for the reduction of cars in the Richmond borough.

Elsewhere support was higher, 81% in Greenwich Park, 79% in St James’s Park and 74% in Hyde Park.

Councillor Alexander Ehmann, deputy leader of  Richmond Council and chair of the transport and air quality committee said: “Richmond Council’s view was that it was desirable to extend the review period to ensure Royal Parks were able to obtain a clear understanding of how the park will be used after the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. 

“That the Royal Parks reached the same view as this council is of course welcome.

“The Royal Parks were always popular destinations and all parks and open spaces have seen significant increases in use as a result of Covid-19’s impact on all our lives.”

Councillor Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee added: “Parks and open spaces have never been so visible and important, as in this past year as the pandemic and its lockdowns have led many residents to turn to green spaces for refuge and to support mental and physical wellbeing. 

“We are very lucky in Richmond upon Thames to have some of the best green spaces in London, including the two Royal Parks. Both of these parks are also important nationally as habitats for native flora and fauna.”

Image credit: Bartholomeus Thoth via Creative Commons license

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