PLANS to turn a swathe of back streets in Kentish Town into no-go zones for cars have prompted a furious response from residents and businesses.
A meeting at Torriano Junior School last week was told of a scheme to set up no-entry signs in residential streets to the east of Kentish Town Road which residents say are used as daily rat-runs by commuters and delivery lorries.
Members of Bartholomew Area Residents’ Association (Bara) hope the Town Hall will set up a consultation on proposed changes to streets, including Bartholomew Road, Sandall Road, Islip Street and Busby Place.
But many in the neighbourhood say a new lay-out would create more problems than it would solve. Residents overwhelmingly rejected any changes at the meeting chaired by Kentish Town Labour councillor Jenny Headlam-Wells.
John Grayson, who runs Whole Earth Foods in Kentish Town Road, said the plans would simply cause congestion elsewhere. His shop, along with his neighbour, the Phoenician Food Hall, has an access road that runs along the back of the parade. If the scheme went ahead, he said they would have no way of reaching it.
“We estimate it would mean an extra 150 delivery vans using Kentish Town Road each week,” he said. “It is already far too busy.”
He claimed the problem had been exaggerated. “In rush hour, there are at most three cars queuing to get out of Patshull Road,” he said.
Caroline Hill, of Kentish Town Road Action Group, said the scheme was “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
She added: “The plan is unworkable. Some motorists will have to take a much longer route to get to their houses. Some motorists will be able to get in but then find it very difficult to get out.”
She added it would affect emergency vehicles and that two health centres would have problems taking patients to appointments in ambulances.
Her views were echoed by Rickie Hicks, of H and H Van Hire, in Bartholomew Road. He said: “They are proposing to put a ‘No Entry’ right in between our yards, which are a matter of metres apart. We will not be able to move our vehicles from one to the other without driving all the way down to Kentish Town Road and back up Bartholomew Road.”
Former Lib Dem councillor Paul Braithwaite said the streets were rat-runs. “The aim is to create a safe haven for pedestrians and cyclists,” he added. “It will improve air quality in a residential district. It would also help people make the decision to walk, cycle or use public transport instead.”
He dismissed claims that the scheme would be too costly at a time when the Town Hall has to find savings of £70m.
He said: “All that is proposed is an experiment with a few no-entry signs and some bollards.”
His views were echoed by Bara member Paul Charman, who said: “We have lived with a rat-run in the past 25 years. It is not beyond the wit of man to come up with a plan that can satisfy the concerns of residents and traders.”
Source: Camden New Journal