Primrose Hill parking bays set to be handed to al fresco diners
Split opinions over future of Regent's Park Road
09 July, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
A PLAN to remove parking spaces in Primrose Hill to make room for social distancing and restaurant diners’ tables and chairs is “very likely to happen”.
Camden Council is considering sectioning off 15 resident permit and pay-to-park spots in Regent’s Park Road as part of post-lockdown proposals.
Pavements are set to be widened and areas would be created for diners to eat al fresco. The exact number of parking spaces to be taken by the scheme has not yet been decided, but Labour ward councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli said: “Many residents have different views but this proposal isn’t radical, it’s also flexible and will allow businesses to reopen by putting tables and chairs outside on the street.”
He added: “At the end of the day we can see if it works and take into account objections, and if it does work we can even think about making it permanent. In my opinion, it could even increase footfall because with wider pavements vulnerable people will feel safer to come here.” He said talks with the council are ongoing but a decision would be made soon and the proposal is “very likely to happen”.
Suggestions to pedestrianise any part of the high street have proved controversial, particularly among retailers who last week told the New Journal that losing parking spaces would deter customers from the area and threaten the future of their businesses.
Labour councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli
Joanna Reeves, creator of the iloveprimrose hill.com blog, said: “There hasn’t been enough consultation, if any, and I’d worry if they took the parking spaces we might not get them back. Right now there’s enough parking for residents and enough for people to park and pop into the shops if they want to pick something up quick or are buying something heavy, and that makes it very easy to shop here which is important to our shopkeepers who many of us know as friends.”
She added: “We have a proud reputation for defending our heroic independent shops and we wouldn’t want anything that would harm them. The problem is also the weather, which was sensational over the lockdown, and now I think we’ve forgotten that we are dependent on rainy London with cold evenings. So, while I want restaurants to thrive, I think the benefits of a system that will rely on temperamental British weather won’t be worth the harm it causes.”
Gerard Levy, owner of shoe boutique Spice, said he fears the impact losing the bays could have on his shop and said a new parking regime would cause chaos with barriers making the area look unattractive.
He added: “They would have been talking about this before relaxing the social distancing laws, but with it now at one metre, why push it forward? I really don’t see the point in it. “I believe they don’t even need planning permission to do this because it’s seen as under their Covid emergency powers, so it feels very underhanded.”
The Greenberry Cafe trialled extending an outdoor seating area on Saturday and Sunday by using parking spaces at the next-door Primrose Hill Surgery which are not used on weekends.
Town Hall environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said: “We want to support local businesses as much as we can, so as the lockdown eases for the hospitality sector this weekend, outdoor seating will be in place again and we are looking to widen the footway outside some of these premises to ensure there is enough space for pedestrians moving through the area.”