Cycle lanes, School Streets, thanks to Liz and cladding

Plans for an £850,000 cycle lane in Orpington are set to be rejigged. Picture: Tim Ireland/ PA

There are positive aspects to the proposed pop-up cycle lanes at Haverstock Hill - Credit: PA Archive

Let's give these cycle lanes a chance

John Chamberlain, George Coulouris, Jean Dollimore, Paul Allen and Stefano Bertolotto, Camden Cycling Campaign, write:

We refer to Camden Council’s decision to stop work and consult on the removal of parking on Haverstock Hill to make way for pop-up cycle lanes. We are pleased to see that Camden has moved rapidly to consult under the new government guidelines.

We know people, in particular traders with premises on the road, are concerned about the proposals. In this letter we attempt to draw out the positive aspects of the proposal and to reassure traders that, based on experience elsewhere, their fears are likely to be unfounded.

It is excellent news that the chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital strongly supports the new cycle lanes as a means of promoting active travel and enabling the staff to cycle more safely to work. She says hospital staff are increasingly aware of the health effects of the environmental emergency and its impact through pollution, which is of real concern for both staff and patients, many of whom have respiratory conditions.

The plans do not just benefit cyclists. The proposal adds four new zebra crossings which will make life easier for pedestrians, especially elderly and disabled citizens who at the moment have to use dangerous, informal, crossings. Disabled bays are being moved from the main road to the side roads, but continue to be very close to shops and locations of interest - in certain instances closer. 

Most households (69 per cent) in Camden don’t have a car and most visitors to Haverstock Hill arrive on foot or by tube or bus. The provision of safe and convenient cycle lanes is bound to add to the footfall.

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TfL’s study “Walking and Cycling: the economic benefits” (2014) shows that high street walking and cycling improvements can increase retail sales by up to 30pc. People who walk to the high street spend up to 40pc more than those who drive. 45pc visited for social and community reasons and this led to a 216% increase in people stopping, sitting or socialising. 

Outside dining will return in the spring. The bike lanes will create a protective buffer against the motor vehicle pollution and noise for pedestrians and for those sitting at restaurant tables. The absence of parking will remove the additional pollution that occurs when people manoeuvre their vehicles in and out of parking spaces or leave their engines running.

As advocates for cycling as part of the solution to long-term issues like climate change and the health crisis, we support the Haverstock Hill route because it will have an important role in Camden’s growing cycle network extending to central London. The pop-up cycle lanes on Haverstock Hill will form a link in a network designed as a part of Camden’s transport strategy (2019). Substantial parts are already in place and more are under construction. You can see the plans here:

The C6 cycleway between Blackfriars Bridge and Kentish Town through Bloomsbury and past St Pancras and the British Library was completed in 2019. The new lanes in Prince of Wales Road extend that route to the bottom of Haverstock Hill. The same network extends to Fitzrovia via the Tavistock and Torrington Place cycle lanes which now link to the cycle lanes on Gower Street and Bloomsbury Street, offering safe cycling access to the West End and Covent Garden.

We thank Camden Council and urge people to give this scheme a chance. We look forward to the benefits to hospital staff, residents of Hampstead and Belsize Park and others, from being able to cycle from Kentish Town and Camden Town up the hill to Belsize Village and to schools in a safe cycle lane. On the return journey they will be able to travel more freely down the hill without queuing with cars and breathing in exhaust fumes.

Finally, we note that this is an experimental scheme and will be fully consulted on after 12 months. At that point we believe that people will see the benefits and realize that the dire predictions have not come to pass. If we are wrong, then the scheme can be removed or amended.

Our street?

A Kentish Town resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I have just read an article in the Ham&High regarding proposals for consultation for healthy school streets in Camden. I was surprised to see that Holmes Road in Kentish Town is not on the list despite the requests from residents, including myself.

Holmes Road, just off of Kentish Town Road, spans only 400 metres, and has two large schools at either end of the street. The first school, St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, has around 250 students from the ages of three to 11-years-old. 

The second larger school, College Francais Bilingue de Londres (CFBL), has around 700 students from the ages of three to 15- years-old. Due to the age range of students at both schools - the road has a constant stream of children, parents and teachers, due to the staggered school times for classes. We are unaware of any road in Kentish Town that has two large schools in such close proximity, making the street a perfect candidate for a Healthy School Street.

We would also like to raise the urgency of getting this approved due to the recent planning permission submitted to Camden Council to change a neighbouring building (3-6 Spring Place - directly opposite the CFBL) to a high volume 24/7 delivery depot.

The planning application number is 2020/5913/P and was submitted by the property group Sergo. This application has already had numerous objections from local residents, the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum, and the Inkerman Area Residents Association, due to the increased traffic and pollution that will endanger both residents and students. The street already has a high-volume of traffic due to the Camden Vehicle Depot and the Kentish Town Police Station, and any additional traffic is dangerous and unwelcome. The planning application details using Holmes Road as the primarily route for local 24/7 delivery trucks. While the application has some concessions around shifting traffic volume at peak school hours - this does not go far enough to ensure the safety of residents and children, particularly considering staggered school hours. 

We implore Camden Council to reject the planning application and transform Holmes Road to a Healthy School Street. We hope that the needs of Camden residents and their families comes before the needs of large businesses like Sergo. While we understand the increasing need for logistics companies during the pandemic - there are surely better locations than next to primary schools and in the middle of residential areas.

Praise for our councillor

The Whittington Hospital turned blue for the NHS' 72nd birthday. Picture: Whittington Health

NHS staff from the Whittington Hospital were without water when a huge leak appeared on Hornsey Lane - Credit: Whittington Health

Kerry Shaw, Hornsey Lane, Haringey, writes:

I live on Hornsey Lane and I’m currently sick with coronavirus. 

We’ve had a great deal of disruption in the street from Thames Water digging up the road and yesterday a huge leak started. I reported this at 3pm. We had no water at all in my block of 15 flats. 

Obviously I can’t get out to buy bottled water and I need to stay hydrated - so I tried calling and tweeting Thames Water with no reply. As the evening drew on the lack of action - or emergency provision from Thames Water, was becoming infuriating. We can’t all be popping round to neighbours to see if they have water for us - we’re in lockdown. 

On top of that, there are many NHS workers in our street who work at the Whittington hospital. They really deserve a little more consideration.

As the night drew on and workmen arrived to fix the problem we thought they might be able to help. But they simply told anyone who went to speak to them that the water might be off until morning and there was no emergency provision for us.

So at 10pm, having had enough, I texted our local Lib Dem councillor, Liz Morris. Obviously it was late so I had little hope of a response.

But she responded immediately, made enquiries about the situation - and having hit the same wall of no information from Thames Water, she kindly drove over to our block to speak to the workmen outside and bring bottled water which she left on our doorstep.

Sadly the workmen were just as unhelpful to her - refusing to give a number for anyone in charge - or even tell her what the problem was.

But at least we had some drinking water! And our faith in humanity slightly restored!
She texted first thing to make sure the water was back on.

I really think she deserves a shout out for taking the trouble to go out of her way, late at night and on one of the coldest nights of the year.


Andrew Dismore, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden, writes:

Last week, the government unveiled a new £3.5 billion fund to tackle the cladding scandal, but it will still leave a significant number of our capital’s leaseholders in the lurch.

Any new funding aimed at protecting Londoners living in unsafe homes should be welcomed. But ministers are all too aware of the scale of this crisis. They also know that whilst the £3.5 billion figure might grab headlines, it simply won’t be enough to replace dangerous cladding in buildings in London, let alone across the rest of the country. 

It is also bitterly unfair that only loans will be offered to leaseholders living in low to medium-rise buildings, rather than grants to cover remediation costs. 

Leaseholders impacted by the cladding crisis are already facing financial hardship. 
They should not be saddled with yet more debt after paying for exorbitant waking watch fire patrols on top of their insurance bills, service charges and their mortgages. 
Ministers need to go back to the drawing board, and the way forward is for the government to commit to foot the bill for remediation works in smaller buildings.