Sudbury Cllrs call for better Sudbury & Harrow Road service in Brent transport plan consultation

At a consultation meeting on Brent Council’s transport plan on Friday 27th July, Sudbury Councillors highlighted the need improve transport links to the ward – including by supporting a more regular Chiltern Rail service for Sudbury & Harrow Road. We’d like to hear residents’ views on any other transport priorities you’d like Brent to set.

In March 2018, the Mayor of London published a Transport Strategy setting out his priorities for London transport over the next twenty years. The plan has some ambitious goals, and is focused on dramatically changing the transport mix in London so people can have a better, healthier quality of life. There are three strands to the plan:

  • Promoting ‘healthy streets’ that encourage people to travel using alternatives to private cars
  • Improving London’s public transport experience
  • Ensuring our planning policy for new developments promotes walking, cycling and public transport use

In response, local councils across London are now required by law to put in place their own “Local Implementation Plans” (LIPs), setting out how this strategy will be implemented locally – which us the opportunity to set some local transport priorities for the area. This will be the third LIP set by Brent Council – or “LIP 3”, to use the jargon.

The Council is at the very early stages of developing this plan, and they have kicked off the process by arranging some initial meetings with Councillors. We can expect further engagement and a fuller, more public consultation in the months ahead – we’ll post further updates on this website.

At an initial meeting to scope out priorities for LIP 3 on Friday 27th July, we raised a number of points about local transport issues in Sudbury.

The poor Chiltern service to Sudbury & Harrow Road station

As the Sudbury Town Residents’ Association has highlighted, Chiltern railway provides just eight weekday services a day to Sudbury – four in the morning to Marylebone station; and four return services in the afternoon.

As well as making this one of the worst-served stations on the entire Chiltern line, it’s also a hotspot for anti-social behaviour during the long periods when the station is empty and unmanned – something I’ve raised in previous blog posts; and highlighted at Full Council on 9th July.

There’s scope for LIP 3 to work to address this problem, and set out a clear strategy to work with TFL, Chiltern and the Department of Transport to provide a more regular service. It’s early days yet, but I can see this going in three ways:

  • It might apply pressure on Chiltern to meet STRA’s demands, and provide a more regular service in the existing contract
  • When the contract comes up for renewal, the Department for Transport could impose this as a new condition on the franchise
  • In future, it might actually be possible for TfL to provide the service instead as part of their network – as they were looking to do with Southern Rail. LIP 3 could spur TFL on to at least look into this

This problem won’t be solved overnight and a lot here depends on practical issues such as track capacity, but hopefully this will be the first step towards improving transport links to and from central London.

Traffic congestion in Brent

Second, we discussed ways to relieve traffic congestion in Brent. The area around Harrow Road in particular often acts as a bottleneck, with traffic backing up into Wembley Central – especially during the rush hour. In future, there might be scope for the Council to relieve congestion on the roads in a number of ways, and a few of these were discussed at the meeting.

For example, we spent a lot of time discussing whether improving the way commercial suppliers operate could free up space on roads. For example, rather than having several vans delivering to various addresses, one van might deliver to one location for numerous small businesses. In future, Brent Council will be look at ways to do more to encourage local businesses to pool together in this way. As part of this, there might also be scope to reduce the demands on roads during rush hours – for example by encouraging freight and delivery services to travel outside of these hours.

This is just one of the proposals we discussed, and clearly there’s scope for this to be discussed much further during the development of LIP 3.

Provision for pedestrians and cyclists

Lastly, we talked about the barriers which pedestrians and cyclists face when getting out and about in Sudbury.

Brent’s planning policy now requires bike sheds in new developments, but we clearly need to go further and look at the routes available to cyclists around Brent, and how we can make it easier for cyclists to use them.

This is a central ambition of the Mayor’s Transport strategy, and we need to respond to this in LIP 3 with a range of locally-relevant goals.

This list isn’t exhaustive, and this is just the start of a long process of developing the plan. Please get in touch if you’d like us to raise any issues.

Cllr Thomas Stephens

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