Traffic lights campaigner proposes radical tunnel for Archway Road ‘motorway’

Journalist and father-of-two Charley Allan, 41, of Shepherd’s Hill, is a parent governor at Highgate Primary and leads the North Hill Nightmare campaign to install a safer pedestrian crossing for pupils in North Hill.

What brought you to Highgate?

All the trees! When my girlfriend (now wife) and I started living together 16 years ago, we saw a flat with a shared garden backing onto the Parkland Walk and fell in love with it. Hearing owls at night is sublime.

What’s the best memory you have of the area?

The day our oldest child was born at the Whittington. The sun was out and everyone on the streets seemed to be smiling directly at me! It was probably because I had a huge cheesy grin myself, which lasted at least a few days (before lack of sleep turned us into zombies).

How has Highgate changed since you moved into the area?

The biggest change I’ve seen is the transformation of Archway Road, which is now buzzing with restaurants, clubs and new independent specialist stores. It’s great to see this part of “Low-gate” becoming more like a high street.

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What is the area’s best kept secret?

Watching Ally Pally’s firework display from the fields near the bottom of Shepherd’s Hill. And the Parkland Walk.

What would you change about Highgate?

I’d try to make the roads safer – seriously, slow down at North Hill and Highgate Hill for a start. And do something about Archway Road itself, it’s like a motorway most of the time. Maybe cover it in a giant tunnel, with bridges to climb over!

If you were editor of the Ham&High for a day, what local issue would you champion?

The “North Hill Nightmare” crossing by my daughter’s school, Highgate Primary. There’s simply no safe way to cross it. You have to wait until all the lights are red for a second or two and then rush to the tiny traffic island before the cars and lorries start zooming past again. You see people stranded there with buggies, or in wheelchairs, clearly terrified and it makes your blood boil.

What makes you smile on your way home?

Walking past the allotments on Shepherd’s Hill, all the colour and life there, and the sweet smell of flowers. I wish I had an allotment!

How would you spend your perfect Sunday in Highgate?

Walk in the woods with family and friends followed by a picnic near the playground. Read my book in the sun, kick a football with the kids, then spend the evening listening to live Latin music at the café.

What tips would you give to somebody moving to the area? Keep an eye on the Archway Road charity shops – they have fantastic stuff but you have to be fast!