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Healthy School Street: South Hampstead School worries scheme could shift traffic onto 'already busy roads'

PUBLISHED: 17:21 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:23 30 October 2019

South Hampstead Junior School in Netherhall Gardens. Picture: Google Maps

South Hampstead Junior School in Netherhall Gardens. Picture: Google Maps

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South Hampstead School has raised concerns about a proposed "healthy school street" that could divert traffic onto already busy roads, as a consultation on it finishes this week.

The school, which has junior and senior sites in the area involved, said it welcomes Camden "taking the issue seriously" but said it is worried it could just displace traffic onto Fitzjohn's Avenue.

The town hall is consulting on two options for the area which contains five Camden schools.

One proposal would see timed closures on Netherhall Gardens, Maresfield Gardens and Nutley Terrace from the junctions with Fitzjohn's Avenue. The roads would be shut between 8am and 9.15am, and from 3pm to 4.15pm, on weekdays during term-time.

An alternative plan would also close parts of Frognal between Arkwright Road and Hampstead Gate.

The restrictions would be enforced by cameras that would read and record number plates of cars whose drivers flout the rules. Fines would then be given out.

The consultation closes on the same day the NW3 Green School Runs bus service comes to an end due to a lack of support from some of Hampstead's private schools, as reported in last week's Ham&High. It was hoped the initiative would help cut down traffic from parents dropping their children at schools in the area.

Of the schools involved - South Hampstead High School, North Bridge House Pre-Prep, Southbank International School and Holy Trinity Primary School - only South Hampstead and North Bridge's senior school had engaged with the scheme.

In its consultation proposal, which has been open since mid-September, the council said there are 23 schools and 8,500 pupils in Frognal and Fitzjohn's.

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It says the initiative is set up to "provide children with the opportunity to travel to and from school in a safer, less polluted environment, by closing the road to traffic at school opening and closing times".

A spokesperson for South Hampstead School said: "We encourage all methods to reduce car traffic and improve air quality in the local area and are pleased that Camden is taking this issue seriously.

"While we welcome the focus and strategies of the proposed healthy school street zone, and fully support the move to exempt pure electric vehicles from the restrictions, we are concerned about the consequent displacement of vehicle traffic to the already busy nearby roads, including Fitzjohn's Avenue."

Earlier this year the plan for school streets near New End School in Hampstead was passed despite residents opposing it in a consultation.

Hampstead Town councillor Maria Higson has reiterated her call for a joined-up approach to transport in the area.

She said: "Whilst there is huge support for reducing the volume of traffic - and the air pollution it creates - in our area, to simply push it from one road to another does not resolve the issue. Residents want to see a holistic approach which gets to the route of the problem, without disadvantaging one group for another."

Christopher Balogh, who lives nearby, has sent in an objection raising his concerns that traffic will be diverted elsewhere.

He said: "Arguably what is needed is proposals for tackling vehicle emissions in the vicinity of all 23 schools, simultaneously and cohesively. [Otherwise], the proposed, piecemeal scheme may make matters worse and not better for more schoolchildren than it benefits."

The consultation closes on October 31, or November 1 for postal submissions.

To respond, visit consultations.wearecamden.org/supporting-communities/nofhss/ or by freepost to "LBC MAILROOM with Neighbourhoods of the Future, Transport Service."

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