Camden consults on 'radical' traffic schemes and Healthy School Streets
Sam Volpe and Will Durrant
- Credit: Camden Council/Google
Camden Council is holding consultations on a range of new traffic measures which would transform how people travel around areas of Primrose Hill, Swiss Cottage and Gospel Oak
The town hall is also looking at introducing a number of new Healthy School Streets schemes to reduce traffic outside of schools, including in Highgate, Kentish Town and Somers Town.
In Primrose Hill, plans for a "Safe and Healthy Streets" area around King Henry's Road have met with a mixed reaction.
Local Conservative councillors have lodged objections to the plan, with Belsize councillor Steve Adams saying he is concerned the plans for King Henry's Road are a "solution in need of a problem".
The scheme would see restrictions prevent drivers cutting between Adelaide Road, Avenue Road, and Primrose Hill Road. A Healthy School Street would also be brought in outside of St Paul's Primary in the eastern end of Elsworthy Road - stopping vehicles entering from 8-9am and from 3-4pm during term-time weekdays.
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Cllr Adams said he is interested to see how Camden would respond to consultation feedback, but that the plans "don't exactly jump off the page".
He added: "We've got the feeling this won't be popular. The concern about the consultation is that it'll be done in such a way to allow Camden to cherry-pick the responses they want.
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"King Henry's Road and Elsworthy Road are just not death traps, there are many other problematic areas in the borough."
Cycling and clean air campaigner Justin McKie said the scheme is welcome, particularly as it addresses transport issues left over when the CS11 cycle lane project was scrapped in 2019.
He said: "This scheme makes a lot of sense, not least dealing with the acute issue of un-necessary pollution outside of Schools, but it would also importantly add a safe route for the huge uptick in cyclists that want to avoid public transport going forward.
"Several years ago, CS11 might have made this scheme less important – but local ‘pro-car’ lobbyists disagreed. They scuppered CS11 and never came up with their promised alternatives."
CS11, which would have taken cyclists from Swiss Cottage into central London via Avenue Road and then Regent's Park, was shelved after opposition from campaign groups and Westminster Council.
Other plans in the works include blocking traffic through Queen's Crescent, making it easier for cyclists to cross Mansfield Road and implementing new Healthy School Streets with similar restrictions at the start and end of the day across the borough - including outside Brookfield Primary in Highgate and in Kentish Town.
The charity Green School Runs and the Camden Cyclists group have both expressed support for the plans.
The scheme earmarked for Islip Street in Kentish Town has already upset one local business. Denise Mathews, a director of Boma Garden Centre told this paper a two-week consultation is "much too short".
She said: "We are disappointed and distressed. This is for a school, so good on them for trying to make sure children are protected, but this is yet again about the manner in which Camden treats businesses.
“It’s as if we don’t exist.”
Another consultation, on introducing new crossings at the bottom of Swain's Lane and Highgate West Hill, closed at the end of January.
Of the Islip Street plan, a Camden Council spokesperson said: “In line with new Department for Transport guidance, the Healthy School Streets consultation for Kentish Town Church of England Primary School will be open for two weeks until February 15 and we are actively engaging with local residents, businesses and stakeholders about these changes."
Citing statistics showing two-thirds of Camden households don't have cars, the spokesperson added that the changes are designed to "bring our road network more into line with where our residents are".
They continued: "We also want to help children get to and from school safely, breathe cleaner air and make more space outside our schools for social distancing.
“As Camden and London also continue to grow, we need to radically change the way we move about to ensure that travel becomes healthier, safer, sustainable and more affordable."
In the King Henry's Road area, the council has said there are "significant volumes of through traffic" and "some of the highest levels of speeding in the borough".
To see the proposals Camden is consulting on, visit consultations.wearecamden.org/