Idea: Part-Pedestrianise Perry Vale



Continuing the discussion from Pedestrian Crossing - South side of Forest Hill

Here’s an idea:

  • Pedestrianise the part of Perry Vale indicated in red (block the intersection with the South Circular)

  • Encourage North-South traffic onto the road marked in blue:

Sunderland road is wide and straight enough to take the traffic that currently flows through the Perry Vale loop:

And Perry Vale, which currently looks like this:

…could look like this:

(Coulgate St, outside Brockley Station)

Creating an attractive pedestrian precinct would be great for businesses on the “wrong side of the tracks” and the perfect home for a brand new Forest Hill Market.

20mph speed limit rollout by Lewisham Council (effective September 2016)

I was thinking the same but did not dare to say it out loud - too bold. And I think it is a great idea. There could be local market events, coffee shops, nice little traffic free area.


The largest businesses in that red circle is a cab office, mechanics, MOT garage and mail order shop. I’d say vehicle access is pretty essential for them.


I would certainly be in favour of pedestrianising the bit from Waters to the A205 and making the rest up to the car park a one way.

That would also allow servicing the supermarket and the other businesses but providing a safer, cleaner and more pleasant environment.


It is an interesting idea, although one that might not have much support from residents of Sunderland Road. There is one big problem with Sunderland Road and that is the junction with the South Circular - turning right out of Sunderland Road and turning right into Sunderland Road from the eastbound carriage way of Waldram Park Road.

The right turn out isn’t a huge issue, as little traffic joins the South Circular heading east at this point (more likely to head down Woolstone Road or Kemble Road). But the right turn into Sunderland Road would be an issue especially since it is a bus route. Inevitably it would require traffic lights to facilitate the tricky turn and the filter lane would need to be extended.

The other end of Sunderland Road would also need consideration if there were to be an increase in vehicles turning right into Sunderland Road immediately after a mini-roundabout. It would be too easy for the mini-roundabout to become mini-gridlock.

Both of these problems have solutions, the question is whether residents of Sunderland Road should be expected to accept their road being upgraded to the B227.

It is also worth considering just how much positive impact this scheme would make to the town centre. Is this side of the railway the right place for a market. My opinion is that the station car park (or a new plaza) is the best place for a market - which is part of the suggestion the Forest Hill Society is currently consulting about.

However, I don’t see a regular market as particularly viable, and would be concerned about the impact on local businesses. I could go into a lot of detail about the market for markets (and my wife and I have run one or two between us), but this thread is really about the roads.

One of the ideas I’ve been considering (a bit less radical than Chris) is to:
a) Leave access to Perry Vale as it is, but add a pedestrian crossing
b) Make the Perry Vale section of the Triangle one-way (a scheme we have suggested before)
c) Make Sunderland Road and Westbourne Drive one way for vehicle traffic (probably southbound on Sunderland and northbound on Westbourne)
d) Add dedicated cycle lanes to both Sunderland Road and Westbourne Drive to provide better cycle routes and restrict traffic flow on these residential roads.

As with other road schemes, I don’t think there is a single scheme that solves all the problems. But I do think is that it is worth creating and discussing ideas to see what might work. And there is money from the Mayor of London for such schemes - which is why the Forest Hill Society and Sydenham Society are slowly working to develop some ‘Liveable Streets’ initiatives in our areas, thinking about how to make local roads more bike and pedestrian friendly. Which is why Brendan raised the issue here a couple of weeks ago. And we would be keen to hear from more people who have ideas about how their roads and their non-car travel could be improved in the area.


WThe problem with using Sunderland Road is the nasty right hand turn into Sunderland on the bend in the South Circular. Most people will prefer to turn right on one of the two preceding side roads. There is room for one car to wait to turn into Church Rise, but any more would hold up larger vehicles behind. Even if people do take Sunderland, if they need to turn left again, they will again be very tempted to use the side roads rather than turn left at the bottom, which is very close to the mini roundabout at the bottom of Mayow Road. The manoeuvre is fine now, but I can imagine it being more difficult with a significant extra flow of traffic.

The current right-hand turn into Waldram Crescent doesn’t hold up traffic behind, and benefits from gaps afforded by people using the crossing lights at the Co-Op.

ETA - I see I’ve repeated some of Michael’s comments. I’ll leave mine here as a support to his observations. I live on Mayow Road and use these routes almost daily.


I don’t drive or have a car BUT I do live on Sunderland Road so, for obvious reasons, would not be supportive of this proposal.

Notwithstanding the increased traffic, as others have pointed out, the exit turning right onto the South Circular would be horrific. It’s bad enough now. Also, as a pedestrian trying to cross the South Circular at the ped crossing there can be quite dangerous as it’s difficult to see cars coming around the corner. There would have to be significant changes such as traffic lights and pedestrian crossings etc. There is a nursery right at that junction as well.


In that case we could choose to block the roads here, so those businesses keep their direct access to the South Circular:


Thanks for the detailed feedback @Michael and others.

Could a small roundabout help with that issue?


I would love a proper once-a-week street market in Forest Hill. For me the Farmer’s market at the Horniman doesn’t cut the cheese (even with a cheese stall).

But like others have described so eloquently, I can’t see how this particular proposal would work. As noted by @Michael and @RachaelDunlop Sunderland Road’s junction with the South Circular and Perryvale are particularly troublesome. One could argue for lights at either end, but traffic on the South Circular through that bend is already often at a standstill. Would this further exaggerate the problem?

There is also a primary school on Sunderland Road, on the crest of the hill thus poor sight lines coming in either direction. Should Sunderland be incorporated into a b-road with additional traffic calming measures including the enforcement of a 20mph (or slower) may be required for this school zone.

Above all Sunderland Road is and always has been a residential road popular with families. Many residents rely on on-street parking which could be lost or limited with b-road status. And surely residents of Sunderland Road should reasonably expect to keep their lovely often tree-lined avenue which many have lived in for several years.

This aside, I still love the idea of a market and while I was reading this last night I too wondered whether the Forest Hill parking lot would be the best place for this. Though on second thought why couldn’t this happen on Perry Vale once a week, perhaps on a Sunday when traffic is at its lowest? The North Cross Road market in East Dulwich was originally just a Saturday event. With the street closed to traffic only one day a week, the market has appeared to invigorate local businesses creating a small but neat second shopping district.

Given the need for vehicular access to the businesses noted by @Ross the market could be limited to one side of Perry Vale and a one-way system encourage to include Church Vale and Westbourne Drive.


There are obviously lots of ifs and buts to consider and the best practice would be to consult everyone concerned with some solution feedback. One thing is clear that something has to be done to make the “wrong side of the rail” safe for people to cross the road before somebody gets hurt or killed (God forbid). Sunderland road can be one way road with 20mph limit, with traffic lights on the junction with South Circular sharing the traffic with Perry Vale that can be a one way road too with traffic light and pedestrian crossing. It can be all discussed and most importantly to listen to all people concerned. One condition, people concerned have to offer a solution. I dont think saying just NO is fair for all of us living and using this section of Forest Hill.


I hear you on both points, and I understand your objection. But do bear in mind there is also a school on Perry Vale B227. Parents of kids at that school have to suffer a busy road that incorporates two very dangerous bends. So there will be winners and losers from the proposal.

Perry Vale has become far more residential with recent developments. In fact its residential housing is now far more densely populated than Sunderland Road.

If we want to reduce traffic per resident headcount, we’d route the traffic off Perry Vale and onto Sunderland Road.

I know the houses are prettier on Sunderland, but I don’t think that makes their residents more important, to be frank.


Thinking about a miniroundabout - I’m not a fan of these as for some reason people find roundabouts much harder when they can see all the cars. I use the one at the bottom of Mayow daily and almost every day we have a situation where either people just don’t bother to give way to me when I’m turning right, like a miniroundabout is sort of optional (yes, daily this happens), or a car arrives at each of the entry points, they all stop and no one know who should make the first move.

If there were a miniroundabout at the top of Sunderland Road, right turners would take precedence over traffic flowing towards FH. Would this be acceptable to TfL (I believe they are responsible for the South Circ, especially where it is Red Route. Do correct me if I’m wrong)?


I don’t think that’s the argument being made. Rather, it would be significantly changing the nature of the road, and that needs to be taken into consideration. While there is some more residential property on Perry Vale that before, those that bought there knew the type of road they were buying on. I doubt reducing traffic congestion purely based on the number of people affected is a usable metric.

As a long term resident I can tell you that trafffic flowed much better in the section by the subway before Lewisham redesigned the layout a few years ago. This has been a horrible botch job, including the legal parking that blocks passing traffic. A much simpler solution would be to get that section redesigned, but properly this time. Highly unlikely to happen, I know.


You need to consider more than just how pretty the dwellings are, or the income required to buy/rent a property.

The City Walk development has extra thick glazing on the side facing the road ans railway (I know because I demanded it was included in the planning application). Similarly when Perrystreet and St George’s were refurbished they would have taken account of the noise levels at the design stage. This has not been the case for any houses on Sunderland Road, many of which will have single glazed, timber-framed sash windows.

Another consideration would be the number of crossovers on the road. Sunderland Road has stretched with very large numbers of cross-overs, and this is not ideal for a main road.


And I believe this is a very different issue that is currently being discussed here and in previous threads noted by @ChrisBeach in that linked topic. I cannot believe the solution to the pedestrian crossing is to pedestrianize a large chunk of road, and redesign traffic flow in the entire area.

There is another issue which should be addressed in tandem with the pedestrian crossing and that is complete lack of access for people with mobility issues to the underpass or from the platform 2.

St. George’s also has access from the corner of Church Vale and Westbourne Drive which can be used. Though my point wasn’t to suggest the importance of one school over the other. But to illustrate that the need for traffic control which would kibosh your earlier proposal for 30mph speed limits and the removal of traffic calming measures on Sunderland Road. But I see you’ve deleted that in later edits of your post.

What? What wonderful straw man argument are you bringing from Politicos dear boy?


I cannot believe the solution to the pedestrian crossing is to pedestrianize a large chunk of road, and redesign traffic flow in the entire area.

I think the idea pedestrianize that part of the road and close it to all traffic incorporated the solution for safe crossing, for havy traffic with coaches and lorries and dangerous driving on Perry Vale and for the idea of Forest Hill getting some village vibes. I will personally vote to pedestrianize that part completely and create a “little village centre” look.

Unfortunately, in life, there will never be a solution to satisfy all, we have to compromise in something. And i think Sunderland road and Westbourne drive have to share the burden of Perry vale traffic allowing for the opportunty to create a nice town area for the people of Forest Hill.


What is beginning to be proposed here is a huge project that needs multi-agency implementation. It feels to me like a hammer to crack a nut. Are we losing sight of where this topic originated - reducing the impact of traffic on Perry Vale near the station AND getting a crossing put in.

The issue of a pedestrian crossing is one that has been debated numerous times over the years on this and other local forums. If memory serves, someone asked Lewisham quite recently to reconsider it and they refused, as traffic engineers deemed it inappropriate not so long ago (can anyone remember this conversation from previous threads, here or elsewhere, or have I imagined it?). Given that and the fact the road was (poorly) redesigned quite recently, I can’t see grand schemes that would involve redesigning it again and changing traffic priorities on the South Circular at Sunderland Road making much headway.

Fun to spitball, but perhaps it would be better to focus on what we can realistically achieve in the short to medium term.


I have always belived that all concerned people should be asked and listened to. Everyones opinion is important - and those who does not want extra traffic on their roads, and those who wants some village vibes like myself. When ALL ifs and buts collected in one pot and analysed, so an optimal solution can be found. The question is HOW TO START this process.


I completely get the attraction of a pedestrian shopping area on your door step. And yes, I agree that pedestrianizing that part of Perry Vale would solve the road crossing issue. But there are many other solutions available many of which have been offered and discussed on those other threads. If the top priority is to solve this one problem then it is worthwhile to discuss this in context of other solutions.

Living as I do on this side of the tracks, I am attracted somewhat by this idea. But I don’t think this is worthy of discussion in isolation. It needs to be considered in terms of the needs of all of Forest Hill. For me a major question would be the affect on businesses on Dartmouth/London Roads by creating a competitive commercial centre. If pedestrianization of some of our streets is the solution should we not also consider the areas where the majority of Forest Hill shops exist. Other topics show that business is difficult enough already with the losses of Montage and most recently the Hill and at some point the Capitol.

There are already some very bold proposals coming from the Forest Hill Society for a radical redesign of Forest Hill incorporating pedestrian zones along with improvements to the Perry Vale entrance of the station and mobility access in the underpass. I’m not sure if this includes a safe road crossing but I’d be very surprised if it didn’t. Maybe @michael could comment. But I’d encourage you to review these in context of this specific proposal here.

Scroll down to June 27 news release.

On this I don’t agree. Its a slippery slope which allows London’s growing traffic problems to take priority over residential streets. For instance I once read a proposal to relieve the South Cirular on Waldram Park Road by creating a one way system incorporating Stansted Road. Yes, it would probably work but at what cost? Perhaps our priority should be to reduce the number of road journeys rather than respond to them. Residential streets should be maintained to ensure safe and healthy environments for those residents. Our priority should be on maintaining our streetscape rather than radically change it in favour of road access. As @Michael pointed out, new builds on Perry Vale have been designed and built for their position on a b road. Properties and communities around Sunderland and Westbourne (and Church Rise) have not.