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

The school run on Heath Street, Hampstead. Picture: Polly Hancock

The school run on Heath Street, Hampstead. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Plans to widen pavements in Heath Street have met with a mixed reception.

The town hall approved making more space for pedestrians outside Louis Patisserie, the Mad Lilies salon and Artichoke, and outside Jeroboams, Le Creuset, and Piccola restaurant.

Despite welcoming the principle, many in Hampstead were concerned about the practicalities – especially given large Tesco lorries use and park on the already-tight road on a daily basis.

Rinaldo Mollura, the local restaurateur who runs Piccola, said: “It’s the sort of thing I’m in favour of, but I don’t see how it’ll work – there’s already not enough space for the Tesco van.”

The impact on traffic was a concern for some, including Marcos Gold, who runs the Hampstead Village BID and said he was anxious this could “exacerbate” congestion.

Hampstead’s Cllr Oliver Cooper called for the changes to be reversed before the new school term in September “when we know traffic jams are worse and blockades have a disastrous impact on traffic and air quality”.

Community campaigner Linda Chung said she would prefer the council to look at Hampstead “holistically” – while Stephen Taylor, chair of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum said expanding pavements was “a step in the right direction” and he looked forward to seeing how the experimental traffic order worked out.

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Valeria Pensabene, of the Green School Runs charity, said the scheme was “a positive start”, but added “much more needs to be done to create a truly welcoming shopping area”.

Cllr Adam Harrison (Lab, Bloomsbury), Camden’s environment chief, said: “We are putting in place measures to make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle locally, shop on their local high street, reach their local green spaces, schools and NHS sites – all while maintaining physical distancing.”

Responding to concerns over a lack of consultation, Cllr Harrison said Heath Street, and the two other sites where widening is set to happen – Regent’s Park Road in Primrose Hill and Kentish Town’s Brecknock Road – had all been suggested on the borough’s Commonplace consultation into where road changes would be welcome.