Fears fragile basements in historic Hampstead will cave in under lorries

Residents are calling on the council to crack down on a fleet of lorries threatening to drive a hole through Hampstead’s heritage.

A 50-year-old tree was felled by a passing lorry in Church Row, smashing two cars and brushing the original windows of an 18th Century house.

The incident has exacerbated home owners’ fears that the quiet residential road could collapse under the weight of the legion of cranes, cement mixers and skips which plough through it.

Esther Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Church Row Residents Association, said residents have taken hundreds of photographs of lorries which flout the road’s weight and height restrictions.

She told the Ham&High: “It’s a beautiful historic road and it has been conserved by the people that have lived here and spent a lot of money maintaining the houses. For Camden Council to ignore the constant photos we send them is awful.”

“That no-one will enforce the restrictions is dreadful and very negligent,” she added. “Thankfully no-one was killed. That was the real miracle.”

She said Georgian cellars underneath houses – often used to store wine – could give way to lorries which thunder overhead.

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But the council said there is a seven-foot width restriction in the middle of the road to stop large vehicles passing.

A spokeswoman said: “Restricting traffic to this location is likely to result in increased flow to neighbouring residential roads and it’s unlikely that residents in these areas will be supportive of the re-routing of traffic.

“We need to allow reasonable access to all residential streets and apply a practical approach to traffic management across the borough.”

In the 1990s Church Row buckled under the weight of a Morris Minor, which has added to residents anxiety about their homes.

Lorries using the road are believed to travel to and from a nearby development and residents have been complaining to the council about traffic since 2009.

Gillian McAndrew, whose house was hit by the falling maple tree, said a large branch also snapped off last year.

The 80-year-old, who had guests for lunch when the tree collapsed, said: “The room began to go dark and they literally got up from the table and ran to the back of the house to get away.

“I’m amazed it didn’t break a single window pain because these are such fragile houses.”