Highgate CPZ: Traders’ fears as Camden Council gives green light to high street parking restrictions

Elspeth Clements and Michael Hammerson stand next to a sign with Highgate's current parking hours. P

Elspeth Clements and Michael Hammerson stand next to a sign with Highgate's current parking hours. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Highgate traders say they’re fearing the worst after Camden Council confirmed it would clamp down on weekday parking in the high street.

Highgate High Street, which is split equally between Haringey on the left hand side of the road, and

Highgate High Street, which is split equally between Haringey on the left hand side of the road, and Camden on the right. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Currently, regulations on the Camden side of the road – to the east – mean drivers need to buy tickets for two hours between 10am and midday on weekdays

But new rules, signed off after a consultation last year, mean drivers will be unable to park outside shops in the village between 9am and 5.30pm without buying a ticket.

The matter is complicated by the fact Highgate High Street is split down the middle, with the west side ruled by Haringey.

Traders this week told the Ham&High that, if the changes go ahead, they will stop people coming into the area to shop and make use of local facilities.

One is Ricky Green, who runs greengrocer’s shop Greens of Highgate.

Ricky, 31, said: “It’s outrageous. With the amount of business rates we that we are paying on this high street, we should be getting some help from Camden.

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“It’s not a busy high street. It’s quieter than it ever has been before. It’s a struggle here as it is. The solution is not changing it.”

Another trader, Ammar Chomoko of Highgate Stationers, also fears it will hit his business badly.

Ricky Green at Greens of Highgate. Picture: Polly Hancock

Ricky Green at Greens of Highgate. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

“It will affect us a lot,” he told us. “We get a good trade from people living nearby, and parents from the schools who come in for school supplies, but stopping people parking risks turning Highgate into a ghost town.”

Inevitably, there are two sides – at least – to the story. Long-standing issues in Bisham Gardens, just off the high street, had led to pressure on the council to act, with residents saying it was rare they could park outside their own homes.

One, Richard Webber, said: “During a typical working day we found that between 94 per cent and 100pc of the available parking spaces were occupied, both during and outside CPZ hours.

“On a typical Friday afternoon, there are 52 parked cars and not a single spare space, whether for residents, local business owners or for shoppers to use.”

There have also been concerns about how the council garnered opinion on the scheme.

The consultation for the area referred to as “CA-U” showed of the 723 people who responded to the questionnaire, a thin majority of respondents (50.8pc) actually said they wanted to keep the rules as they were rather than have stricter ones.

And the split down the centre of the high street means businesses on the Highgate side weren’t consulted about changes that are still likely to affect their footfall and people’s ability to call in to their shops.

Phyllis Harper, owner of Highgate Butchers, said it meant businesses weren’t able to have their say.

Empty shops on Highgate High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Empty shops on Highgate High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

“We would have thought they would have asked us, as it’ll impact us,” she said.

“It will mean less people coming up here. Who will pay more money on top of their shopping? I only found out about the changes because the Highgate Society came in and asked us if we knew.

“We pay enough rent to want to know what is going on and it is a very bad idea.”

Phyllis, who has run the butcher’s shop for 44 years, issued a stark warning. “If they want all the high street to have empty shops, then carry on. We are struggling to survive already and we will be more impacted.”

The Highgate Society’s chair Elspeth Clements said the high street was already under “severe stress” and the consultation seemed as though it hadn’t given shops a proper say.

“Our shops are the soul of the village, and they are already under severe stress,” she said.

“I’ve spoken to so many residents and businesses who didn’t even know about this consultation and the changes until I told them. They are saying to me: ‘How has this happened?’

“There are changes that needed to be made, but this has thrown the baby out with the bathwater.”

Phyllis Harper of Highgate Butchers. Picture: Polly Hancock

Phyllis Harper of Highgate Butchers. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Haringey councillor Liz Morris (Highgate, Lib Dem) said Camden Council’s consultation had flouted the “spirit” of the Highgate Neighbourhood Plan, which was drawn up to treat the high street as one entity.

“If you look at the plan that was agreed, they’re supposed to be treated as one area,” she said.

“I asked Camden to speak to businesses on the Haringey side, but they haven’t. I was really disappointed that they didn’t listen. The transport links here aren’t good either, so it could end up cutting the village off.”

A traffic management order will be put into place on Thursday and a further 21-day consultation will follow. The Highgate Society will hold a meeting for concerned residents and businesses at the Gatehouse in Highgate, on Monday January 28 at 7pm.

If it is approved, the new rules will come into force in April.

A spokesperson for Camden Council said it had spoken to Haringey Council, and had consulted businesses through “local community groups.”

They also denied there was a link between the turnover of shops, the transport used by customers and the amount of parking spaces provided.

A spokesperson said: “We recognise the issues faced by communities which straddle two boroughs and will always try to mitigate the impact of this.

“We held early discussions with Haringey Council regarding our plans to undertake this review, and agreed that we would share the results of the wider consultation exercise and recommendations with them at the earliest opportunity, as well as consulting with Haringey businesses through local community groups.”

“Consultation responses to proposed changes are one of a number of factors that are given consideration when reaching a decision on whether those proposed changes should be implemented. Other factors that are also considered are the council’s agreed strategies, policies and objectives and the council’s duties and responsibilities.”