Haverstock Hill: Council warned to heed public opinion over parking cuts

PUBLISHED: 16:51 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 17 September 2020

Parking in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park. Picture; Polly Hancock

Parking in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park. Picture; Polly Hancock


Camden Council risks “shooting first and asking residents later” over its plans to remove parking on Haverstock Hill, a councillor claims after a survey saw hundreds of people come out against the proposals.

Camden Council risks “shooting first and asking residents later” over its plans to remove parking on Haverstock Hill, a councillor claims after a survey saw hundreds of people come out against the proposals.

Cllr Oliver Cooper said residents are unhappy the plans could go ahead without a formal consultation, as 84% of the 471 people who responded to a survey run by Camden Conservatives said they opposed the scheme. Letters were posted out in Gospel Oak, Haverstock, Hampstead Town and Belsize wards near the area affected.

Last week the Ham&High revealed that the council plans to remove parking from Haverstock Hill between Pond Street and Prince of Wales Road in favour of two cycle lanes. Businesses told this newspaper that if given the go ahead, the effects could be financially ruinous for them after a difficult trading year. Camden council says it has now contacted businesses along the route to understand their loading and delivery requirements.

Cllr Cooper said: “All residents want our local businesses to thrive and listen to businesses when they themselves say this would put them under water. It’s important councillors in all wards and in all parties hear that and heed it.”

“In this case, with this change so big and harmful to already fragile businesses, it’s important not to expect that the scheme can be undone in 18 months’ time if our high streets are dead by then.”

The changes are one of several being made under emergency Covid-19 laws, using central government funding to implement schemes to make walking and cycling easier. However the legislation means that Camden Council is not obliged to carry out a full consultation and it has decided not to.

When councillors were approached by council officials with details in late August, they were told that they were secret and not to be discussed with members of the public.

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Instead it will monitor the scheme over the 18 month trial, and carry out a consultation a year in - by which time many shops fear it will be too late.

READ MORE: Town Hall’s ‘secrecy’ over Haverstock Hill cycle lanes criticised by businesses and councillors

Adam Harrison, Camden’s environment chief said parents have been in touch with him since schools returned asking for safer cycling routes, and that he wants the scheme to see cycling no longer to be the preserve of “often older men”. He said otherwise some families may feel pressure to buy a car to travel around Camden because of fears about Covid on public transport.

He said: “Segregated cycle lanes could create new opportunities for kids to ride a bike to school, improving their health and making Camden a more family-friendly borough.

“The draft plans also include new zebra crossings and a push-button crossing, helping pedestrians exercise the priority over motor traffic to which they are entitled. We shouldn’t any longer tolerate a state of affairs where it is only the brave - often older men - who use a bike to make local journeys because they are the only ones self-assured enough to vie with cars, vans, and lorries in the same road space.”

In the survey by Camden Conservatives, launched on September 8 the strongest opposition came in Gospel Oak, where 91% 117 respondents said they ddo not want to see the plans approved. Meanwhile Belsize had 82% opposition, from 175 returns. In total 90% of people wanted to be consulted on the plans first.

Cllr Cooper’s colleague, Belsize councillor Steve Adams, has written to Camden’s leader Georgia Gould calling for “proper democratic consultation”. Belsize’s Lib Dem councillors have also written to residents this week about the scheme.

The Hampstead Town councillor said: “Left, right, and centre, residents have told us how angry they are that this might go ahead without the council asking them. Even among the minority of residents that support the proposal, only half oppose having a consultation first, so there really is no reason not to defer to residents.”

A final decision has not been taken but is expected in the next few weeks.

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