Hampstead crash prompts calls for 20mph zone in Fitzjohn’s Avenue

A crash involving two cars close to schools and a care home in the heart of Hampstead has prompted renewed calls for new traffic controls and speed restrictions.

Two people were rushed to the Royal Free Hospital after the collision in Fitzjohn’s Avenue just after 10am on Tuesday.

Debris was scattered across the tarmac after the accident involving a BMW and a Mini at the junction of Fitzjohn’s Avenue and Prince Arthur Road.

The BMW crashed into the wall of Hyelm hostel and the Mini span around and smashed into another parked car. The road was closed for two hours as emergency services cleared the wreckage.

It is believed the BMW had been turning out of Prince Arthur Road and the Mini had been travelling uphill on Fitzjohn’s Avenue.

Brian O’Connell, 40, deputy manager of Henderson Court day care centre, which overlooks the crash site, said: “It was pretty dramatic.

“There were fire engines and ambulances and debris strewn across the road and I saw one person on a stretcher. The car had taken a real whack and crumpled into the wall and the other had overshot and smashed into a parked car.”

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The area has a history of accidents and Fitzjohn’s Avenue has been the subject of a campaign to introduce a 20mph speed limit.

It is home to seven schools, and a care home for the elderly and a young persons’ hostel are within metres of the crash site.

“The pavements are usually busy with pedestrians and schoolchildren,” said Mr O’Connell. “It’s a wonder that no-one was injured.”

Prince Arthur Road is a known rat-run to avoid the traffic lights in the centre of Hampstead.

Hampstead councillor Chris Knight said: “Traffic flow is a problem with bottlenecks at both ends of Fitzjohn’s Avenue.

‘‘Frustration creeps in and, consequently, cars zoom up it whenever they get the chance. The whole area ought to be subject to a 20mph limit.”

He said the junctions with Lyndhurst Road and Nutley Terrace – both close to busy school crossings – were particularly dangerous.

Poor visibility has also been highlighted as an issue – with parked cars along Fitzjohn’s Avenue blocking a clear view of the road for those turning into it.