Low traffic neighbourhoods could lead to ‘ghost high streets’ as businesses affected

Ealing: Huge line of traffic builds as road blocks are implemented

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He claims local business owners “won’t be able to afford to run” retail businesses as they will lose customers who would drive past their storefront. He warns the council will not reduce rates for those affected by a loss of customers which will lead to businesses going bust despite surviving the effects of the pandemic.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Freeman said: “It makes the current business rates unrealistic.

“People who have acquired these businesses have done so with the expectation that they are going to generate a certain amount of business by virtue of the fact people can stop outside their shop.

“I don’t think it’s going to give them an argument of ‘I want my rates reducing’.

“The real economics is the business will just go bump.

He added: “You’re going to have ghost high streets aren’t you.

“It’s going to be full of charity shops, coffee bars, restaurants but no retail outlets.

“People simply won’t be able to afford to run or operate those types of businesses, it’s no longer financially viable.”

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were expanded last summer to encourage more local residents to walk and cycle instead of using their car.

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However, the schemes sparked protests in London with many authorities ripping up road closures they had only recently installed.

Last year, protest group Horrendous Hackney Road Closures claimed “the majority of the community” were against the changes and warned many businesses had been massively affected by the schemes.

Speaking to Express.co.uk late last year, Sahsa Murdock, owner of Junior Caribbean Cuisine in Hackney issued a stark warning over the schemes.

She was fearful the new restrictions could have a massive impact on footfall which risked closing down her business.

She said: “Coronavirus already had an impact on my business so the road closures have kind of doubled that.

“The alternative routes are congested with traffic so people are like ‘I can’t be bothered, let me go and eat somewhere else’.

“I understand that we have a pollution problem but I just don’t think it’s the right way to go about it.

“If I have to live with this for 18 months I’m not going to be here because I’ll be closed and bankrupt.”

A survey conducted by Kantar Media last year found 65 percent of motorists support reallocating road space to those wishing to walk and cycle.

Nearly four in five people said they were also in favour of measures to reduce traffic in their area.

However, RAC head of roads policy Nichoalas Lyes claimed local councils had a “difficult balancing act between encouraging behaviour change and not negatively affecting drivers and businesses”.

He added: “Ensuring local authorities consult on changes is not only an important step for greater buy-in from the public.

“It also increases the chances of schemes being well-designed for the benefit of all road users and ultimately being successful in the longer term.”

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