Residents warned there could be a fatal accident on a West Hampstead estate because motorists are making U-turns there to avoid a new “healthy school street” designed to cut traffic.
Sandra dos Santos, who is secretary of the Sidings estate tenants’ and residents’ association, said the new zone “will inevitably lead to an increase in school run traffic being diverted up and around the Sidings estate”.
She highlighted her concerns in a deputation at full council and said her son had nearly been involved in an accident with a motorist.
The new healthy school street has just been launched for an 18-month trial period. It restricts traffic driving near Kingsgate primary school at the start and end of the school day.
The experimental scheme bans traffic from sections of Maygrove Road and Loveridge Road, and the whole of Ariel Road at school drop off and collection times.
Dos Santos said roads are closed to traffic after the junction of Maygrove Road with Barlow Road, causing extra traffic and pollution on the Sidings estate.
“It is impossible for any cars to do a U-turn on Maygrove Road, which is an added reason for cars choosing to go round Sidings estate. This will create chaos for current residents and will almost certainly not lead to an improvement in the air quality on the estate,” she told councillors.
She warned: “There will be a fatality. My son cycles to school and he nearly got hit by a car because they are just doing u-turns on our estate.”
Dos Santos added: “We feel that Sidings estate is being used as a detour.
“It is a dead end, there is no way out. All the pollution is coming onto the estate.”
She asked the council to consider starting the zone before the Maygrove Road junction with Fordwych Road.
“This change would allow cars coming from Kilburn High Road to make a left turn onto Fordwych Road, reducing traffic on our estate and, more importantly, safeguarding the wellbeing of our community.”
She said: “We don’t think that’s fair for our children, our elderly, our nursery which deserves environmentally clean air.”
Fortune Green ward councillor Lorna Greenwood backed residents’ calls for a review of the layout.
Cllr Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, said he could look at extending the zone as requested.
“Incorporating the entire Sidings estate as a zone is not impossible.”
He said the scheme aims to “keep the space free from cars for children and their families. What we want to do is build a radically improved area in terms of road safety risk, space to play, space to cycle”.
The council will talk to residents regularly and ask for feedback.
Jenny White, from the Netherhall Neighbourhood Association in Hampstead also brought a deputation to the council.
She explained that healthy school streets “severely affect older and less able residents, especially those with serious health conditions or disabilities”.
White said residents may rely on taxis and cars to get around, especially if they find it too steep to walk uphill and struggle with a lack of step free access at nearby stations.
She told councillors how drivers are worried about the penalties if they breach the rules and drive into the healthy school street zone.
White told them about “one individual who left outpatients’ without seeing the consultant, nervous about getting home before the 3pm curfew.”
In another case: “A taxi refused to drop a couple at their door after a hospital appointment, leaving them to inch their way over wet leaves at great risk of falling. “A third resident caring for her disabled husband had to wait another week for an urgent delivery – an oven – because the driver, delayed by traffic, wouldn’t enter the zone,” said White.
Both deputees said they support the aim of the schemes to reduce traffic and pollution.
Harrison said: “We have to make the schemes work.”
He said there are some exemptions at the Netherhall zone.