We live in a lovely ward and are fortunate to have two high streets; Hampstead High Street and South End Green, which has it own distinctive character.

Its layout of the short parade of shops, the way that it acts as a terminus for buses and the Overground station and the solid Victorian-style marble fountain, is evocative of past times, trying to find recognition within the present.

The inscription on one of the fountain arches says “Every one comes to the waters”. Everyone did at one time, for the medicinal waters, the clean air and wide green expanse of Hampstead Heath on its doorstep.

This historic busy thoroughfare has got neglected over time and needs investment.

One of the biggest controversies was the siting of the 168 bus stand on the short slip road by the fountain. Often up to four buses would park outside the shops, blighting the lives of residents with fumes, and blocking their line of sight.

Ham & High: Cllr Linda Chung is concerned about the old working with the new in South End GreenCllr Linda Chung is concerned about the old working with the new in South End Green (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

How to deal with the complaints? Nobody wanted to lose the route or a convenient bus stop, but it was an anomaly that there seemed to be no solution.

The lightbulb moment came in January 2021, when a member of the Heath & Hampstead Society came up with the idea that the 168 should not turn left into the slip road from Pond Street, but instead proceed further along and turn left into the bus stand where the 24 already parks.

This leaves the slip road free so it can be incorporated with the fountain area to create a beautiful open space and wonderful resources for everyone. We are nearly into three years to reach final agreement and implementation.

Camden Council feels it is satisfactory to simply carry out the basic requirements, but residents feel it should not be just a highways project but an opportunity to improve the whole streetscape and green the environment. They have created a planting scheme that will reduce flooding, especially if rain gardens are created.

Camden also appears to be satisfied with simply using its customary ugly plant boxes acting as barriers for a 'streaterie' instead of agreeing to residents' suggestions for more landscaping, raised gardens and a better quality of paving.

It has been done in places such as Shaftesbury Avenue and Albert Place, why can’t it be done for South End Green? If you agree, write to me at Camden Town Hall.

  • Linda Chung is the Liberal Democrat councillor for Hampstead Town ward, Camden Council.