Hampstead and Highgate pavement-widening barriers come down in Camden U-turn

Pavement-widening measures in Hampstead High Streetl. Picture: Harry Taylor

Pavement-widening measures in Hampstead High Streetl. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Harry Taylor

Measures to widen pavements in parts of Hampstead and Highgate have been dropped by Camden Council due to a lack of people using them.

Barriers were erected in several roads across the borough amid the need to social distance during the pandemic. Several have been criticised, including in Parkway and Well Walk.

However, council officials have decided to roll back on them in Hampstead High Street and Well Walk in Hampstead, and Millfield Lane in Highgate. The new one-way road system in the Highgate street will be kept for the remainder of its 12-month trial.

A council decision notice says “the number of pedestrians from on-site observations has reduced”. The barriers in Millfield Lane and Well Walk were to help people access Hampstead Heath for their daily walks.

Cartoonist Ken Pyne, who lives in Well Walk welcomed the U-turn, saying it had caused havoc for residents.

“The road could only cope with one vehicle at a time before the changes were put in, so you can imagine the problems that it caused. The bin collection lorries couldn’t get through the road, and the barriers kept on being pushed over all the time, so it meant it was useless.

“You also had all the pollution caused by the traffic jams, and the road rage and noise from all the drivers blasting their horns.”

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Hampstead Town councillor Cllr Oliver Cooper said: “Listening to residents’ feedback before introducing schemes would make Camden stronger, not weaker. Camden needs to stop rushing into changes without caring what residents think.”

The barriers are being removed this week at a cost of £3,151, which will come from TfL funding.

READ MORE: Camden brings in road changes to improve social distancing amid expected public transport spike

READ MORE: Heath Street: Town Hall approves pavement widening in heart of Hampstead, but locals worry about traffic getting worse

The reversal comes at an uncertain time for the future of the borough’s new Covid-19 walking and cycling initiatives. Transport for London has said it will be removing the new cycle lane in Euston Road, while restaurant owners in Haverstock Hill have criticised Camden Council for not consulting properly over two proposed cycle lanes.

Cllr Adam Harrison, Camden’s transport chief, said: “We have been monitoring all these measures closely and due to the easing of lockdown, we are seeing fewer pedestrians using the temporary widened pavements at Well Walk, Millfield Lane and Hampstead High Street. There is therefore now less of a need for those specific measures in these locations.”

Cllr Cooper added: “A lot of changes were rushed through earlier this year without consultation. Many of the changes being rammed through didn’t make sense then and some that made sense then don’t make sense now. The government has rightly ordered councils not to make changes without consulting residents.

“Camden has tried to justify its schemes by saying there would be a ten-fold increase in cycling in London. However, while removing its own cycle lane in Euston Road, TfL confirmed that there has been just a 20% increase on weekdays: one-fortieth as much. The evidence is not there to support Camden’s claims.”