The Mayor of London and Transport for London have adopted a Healthy Streets Approach in their design of streets, to encourage more Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport, with an important co-benefit of reducing their carbon footprint. They aim to improve air quality, reduce congestion and help make London’s diverse communities greener, healthier and more attractive places to live, work, play and do business. Lucy Saunders who developed this approach for TfL came to talk to us in Oxford in November about what the Healthy Streets approach is and how it could be applied in our city.
There is considerable interest in developing low traffic neighbourhoods like the inspirational Waltham Forest Mini Holland, which many members of our coalition have visited. The Healthy Streets Approach, which is now used as an assessment tool in all street developments in London, provides the framework for putting human health and well being at the heart of planning, allowing local communities and other users of streets to assess the quality of their environment. It is now a widely used and accepted tool with a set of ten indicators and 21 questions.
On behalf of CoHSAT, Oxfordshire Liveable Streets, aimed to conduct a survey of 1,200 households in the Florence Park area to find out what they think about their local neighbourhood, particularly the ‘health’ of their streets.
Over the year when the survey was conducted, there was substantial progress in plans to reduce traffic flows in the Florence Park area of South Oxford. The process started with four group visits to the London Borough of Waltham Forest, to see what is required to create a ‘mini-Holland’. These visits resulted in considerable enthusiasm and a real understanding of the benefits and challenges involved.
Several talks and a survey of the residents of Florence Park is creating a consensus that something needs to be done to reduce rat-runs, make cycling to school safer and generally make the area a pleasant place to walk around. Draft plans are being considered and there is strong support from local councillors. The process is well underway, but will take more time to come to real fruition and depends upon actions and investment by the councils.
Meanwhile, the success of Florence Park has inspired the inclusion of seven more low-traffic neighbourhoods in the Oxford local cycling and walking infrastructure plan (LCWIP) which was approved in 2020. The team in Florence Park are committed to helping these seven, or any others, understand the process of establishing a low-traffic neighbourhood.