CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Neighbours split over Queen’s Crescent pedestrianisation plan

Town Hall says it wants to reduce the 'dominance of cars'

27 May, 2021 — By Harry Taylor and Dan Carrier

An impression of the new look Queen’s Crescent 

A NEW pedestrian-only section of a road home to London’s oldest street market is set to open today (Thursday) – but the plans have divided opinion.

Queen’s Crescent, in Gospel Oak, will see around a third of the shopping street shut to cars for the next six months under a new trial as part of a £1.9 million redesign of the area.

But the closure – which will see traffic banned along a stretch during the day – has split the neighbourhood, with some businesses trying to recover from the coronavirus lockdowns worried they will lose out.

Charlie Forman, who lives on the road, told the New Journal: “The Town Hall has put in a regeneration scheme under the guise of traffic improvement because of Covid.

“But there are big developments coming and there needs to be an overall plan with the co-operation of residents and businesses. Businesses need to be shown how this will be to their benefit – this has not happened.”

According to the Town Hall report, traffic levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels and are continuing to rise, while the Queen’s Crescent area has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in the borough.

But market trader Tom Young, who lives nearby, said the plans were a missed opportunity and ignored earlier schemes to widen pavements and remove car spaces.

He said: “Pedestrianisation isn’t what’s needed. There has not been a plan from Camden to show how it’ll benefit businesses, just a reference to a streatery. There’s potential here, and it could be something special if they worked with people rather than impose changes from on high.”

Lindy Stacy, who chairs the Haverstock branch of the Labour Party, said in a letter this week that it was disappointed the decision has gone ahead without a “clear majority in favour of the scheme” and the absence of a completed community vision.

“We continue to be concerned that implementing such changes… will not achieve a coherent and workable result,” she added.

Camden, however, is not without support.

Café owner Nick Massetti, who runs the Rogues Corner, a board game and coffee company based in a former betting shop in Queen’s Crescent, said: “We have parking on both sides and the road isn’t wide enough. The biggest problem we have is pollution from cars.

“Every afternoon, especially when the rubbish trucks come, traffic backs up, people sound their horns. It isn’t pleasant and I don’t want that outside my café.”

Mr Massetti said deliveries would not be affected, adding: “It will be just like having the market, but on extra days.”

The Town Hall’s consultation survey saw 7,300 people contacted, with 47.1 per cent who replied supporting the plans, against 44.5 per cent who objected.

Garage owner Branko Viric, who runs a garage in Grafton Road, said his trade would suffer and he feared racking up fines when moving cars on and off his forecourt.

He said: “The barriers and cameras are due to be right outside, and I worry that every time I drive off to turn around, I’ll get a ticket.”

Council officers say the scheme has been tweaked to reduce any impact on the garage – but Mr Viric claims they have not solved the problem.

The scheme is one of a host of changes to the roadmap introduced by Camden and Transport for London in the borough since the start of the Covid pandemic with a view to avoiding a “car-led” recovery.

Camden’s transport chief Labour councillor Adam Harrison said a consultation showed support for a trial closure.

He said: “We know local people want to make walking easier, to green the area, and to reduce the dominance of cars.”

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