Residents win campaign to remove no right turn at top of Swain's Lane

People living in Pond Square have rallied against the hilltop restriction

People living in Pond Square have rallied against the hilltop restriction - Credit: Polly Hancock

Drivers will be allowed to turn right at the top of Swain’s Lane from December, after Camden Council decided to scrap the road restriction amid a backlash from Highgate residents.

In May 2020 the local authority banned right turns from the top of the steep hill onto South Grove in an effort to reduce traffic and boost cycling under a trial scheme.

The measure has since faced the fury of residents who claimed it created a rat-run around Pond Square, leading to congestion, collisions with parked vehicles and erratic three-point turns.

A council consultation held from August to September received 391 responses, 57% of which opposed the scheme.  

On Monday (November 8) the council’s director of environment and sustainability approved a report which recommended the no right turn scheme be removed, citing residents’ concerns and the results of the consultation.  

The trial scheme also saw right turns banned from Swain’s Lane onto Bisham Gardens. This measure will be made permanent. 

Jeff Salmon, of the Pond Square Residents Association, called the changes the “correct result for a hare-brained idea”. He described the campaign victory as a case of “David vs Goliath”. 

William Britain, chair of the Highgate Society, called the news “good for Highgate”. Despite the outcome he said concerns remain over how the town hall consults on local schemes.  

“Camden gave little or no consideration to the wider knock-on effects in adjoining boroughs and the borough boundary roads – in this case Highgate Hill and High Street,” William said. 

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“Boundary roads and areas in adjoining boroughs are seen as fair game for picking up additional diverted traffic and the resulting pollution. Further work is needed to tame the traffic on Highgate Hill and Highgate High Street.” 

Data from the council, which will hold elections in May, show traffic reduced by 17% in Swain’s Lane, and by 5% in both South Grove and Chester Road.  

Traffic rose by 17% in Highgate Hill. In Pond Square it jumped by 56%, but this figure does not take into account changes in travel patterns caused by the season or Covid-19. 

The report informing the council’s decision said a scheme for Dartmouth Park was being worked on for 2022/23, which it hoped would tackle traffic in Swain’s Lane. 

The no right turn measure at the top of the hill will end on December 17, when signage will be removed.