THE Groves area of York will permanently become a low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) after senior councillors voted to keep measures brought in at the height of the pandemic.

Road closures were implemented in September 2020 after long-standing resident complaints about rat-running through the residential area.

Traffic has reduced in the area, air quality has improved, cycling has increased, and more community activities have taken place, but the changes have still split opinion.

Nearly double the number of people who responded to two consultations objected compared to those in support, though council data suggested consultees living within The Groves were more likely to support the LTN.

Traffic did increase in streets surrounding The Groves and the council predicts air quality in some of those streets will also have deteriorated, most notably outside Haxby Road Primary Academy.

One resident speaking at Thursday night’s executive meeting said the LTN was causing problems in various streets, including outside her home around Earle Street and Amber Street.

She said: “I’ve never had a problem in 26 years with the traffic going through here. But with blockages it’s caused so much damage – I’m really quite amazed.

“I work from home and the constant beeping of traffic, turning around, people arguing – it’s constant noise pollution that’s increased outside my house.”

She also said that one person living in the street had to be carried on a stretcher through the LTN as an ambulance could not get through.

The council’s highway development manager said Yorkshire Ambulance Service had “no big issue” with the changes after drivers became familiar with the layout.

Ann Stacey, chair of The Groves Residents’ Association, supported the plan.

Executive member for housing Denise Craghill said: “I do think it’s really important to remember what the traffic situation was in The Groves without the current closure points in place, at peak times and for large parts of the day – it was constant lines of traffic. 

“In my view, this simply isn’t appropriate or fair on a residential neighbourhood which has a very strong sense of community and identity, but also includes many of York’s most vulnerable residents.

“It’s true that reducing the dominance of vehicle traffic in our streets and neighbourhoods is never going to be an easy change to make. But we have to start somewhere and inevitably at least at first, most traffic – not all, but most traffic – that can’t go one way will go another way. And we will have to monitor and respond to that.”

Cllr Craghill said the “awful concrete blocks” currently in place would be replaced by bollards.

Executive member for transport and council deputy leader Andy D’Agorne said: “This landmark decision for The Groves enables more young people in particular to safely walk or cycle to school or shops and develop a lifestyle which will benefit all of us and reduce obesity, setting them on the path for a more active lifestyle.”