Outrage as Camden tarmacs over historic mews cobbles to save cash

Residents were horrified when they came home to find their beautiful cobbled mews - one of only a handful left in Camden - asphalted over by the council.

Homeowners in Wolsey Mews, Kentish Town, are furious the council did not inform them of its intention to asphalt over the cobblestones, which are believed to date from the 19th century and could be worth up to �27,000.

People living in the mews were sent a letter on May 17 saying Camden Council “would shortly be carrying out works to the carriageway” as part of its ongoing improvement programme.

But the letter did not stipulate the nature of the work or the fact that the cobblestones would be asphalted over.

Retired Maureen McAllen, who lives in Christchurch House flats on the mews, said: “Wolsey Mews was one of the last cobbled streets in Camden. I was very upset when I found out. It’s ruined the character. It’s not a mews anymore.”

Musician John Barham, 59, added: “The cobbles gave it character. I had visitors from Texas last year and they remarked how quaint it was. A lot of people say that putting asphalt down modernises it, but it also makes it more ugly.”

Some front doors of houses in the mews now also open over a yellow line painted inches away on the road, which residents say causes a potential health and safety hazard when they leave their homes.

Most Read

The council has not provided a footpath outside the entrances of two blocks of flats on the mews.

Risk analyst Frederic Lacouture, 34, said: “It’s a safety problem. I would like them to make it safer and get a pavement.”

There are also concerns Christchurch House could flood due to an existing dip and the fact that contractors covered a drain nearby.

A council spokeswoman said: “The road surface at Wolsey Mews was recently overlaid with asphalt as the previous surface was uneven and posed a potential hazard. Owing to budget constraints we felt the asphalt was a better option, as we were unable to justify the significant costs involved in making it completely cobbled.

“It would have cost approximately 80 per cent more than the works that did take place.”

The council said there was no legal obligation to provide a footway outside houses, only where “considered necessary or desirable for the safety of pedestrians”.