Camden Square: ‘New road layout like Spaghetti Junction’

Supporters welcome quieter pedestrian route

Monday, 21st February — By Harry Taylor

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Camden Square’s new route

THE Town Hall has been accused of dividing the community with a new traffic scheme in Camden Town after a fractious meeting descended into anger.

Changes were introduced around Camden Square last month partly to counter concerns about rat-running and safety in Murray Street. But critics say the new layout limiting which roads people can come in and out of has created a confusing “Spaghetti Junction” for customers trying to reach local businesses.

Michalakis Theodotou, known as “Lucky” who has run Lucky Motors in Camden Mews for 38 years, said: “I’ve had customers who can’t get to me, or they get lost, or it takes them so long and they give up, and deliveries aren’t able to get through either.

“I was expecting a delivery from Vauxhall on Monday, and they couldn’t work out how to get through, so they went back. That meant my repair was delayed, and I had to stay late on Tuesday to get it fixed.”

He added: “It has divided the community. People are arguing with their neighbours about it when there was no problem before. It has been turned into Spaghetti Junction around here with all the closures. Last week I took £55, I had one job. It’s a shame, I don’t want to retire. I enjoy working and enjoy people – but I can’t carry on like this.”

Michalakis Theodotou

Rachel Wrangham said that the changes mean crossing Murray Street is safer and Stratford Villas is now quieter and calmer.

“I have crossed Murray Street on foot pretty much every single school day for the last 11 years. For many of those I had small or tiny children in tow,” she added.

“Crossing Murray Street with three small children, with a constant stream of accelerating traffic turning in from north and south, always felt like the kind of risk you just shouldn’t be forced to take, to walk children to primary school.”

Tempers frayed at a meeting of the Camden Square Neighbourhood Association at the end of last month. People who live near Agar Grove were let into the normally members-only meeting, and raised concerns about more traffic in the road, and an inability to turn from Camden Road on to York Way, and Camden Street to Camden Road.

Lidia Santos, manager of Temptations Cafe in Murray Street

Annie Mullins, who has lived in Camden Mews for 20 years, agreed that it had split the area. Initial plans would have seen traffic funnelled past her front door before neighbours pressured the council into changes.

“It just feels divided and there’s a sense of isolation,” she said.

“To drive from one side of the square to the other requires a huge round trip. Not everyone can walk or cycle, and those who have to drive are ironically having to drive further and causing more pollution. I’m a cyclist and used to use an e-scooter regularly, but the meeting made it clear that not enough proper consultation has been done.”

Lidia Santos, manager of Temptations Cafe in Murray Street, said her income had similarly suffered since the changes were brought in. “The council does not take into account the impact of passing trade,” she said. “Yes, we get people who walk past and cycle, but before people would stop on their way through and buy something. Now that’s gone.”

A full consultation will take place after 12 months. A focus has been on improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

Cllr Danny Beales

Councillor Danny Beales, who represents the Cantelowes area and has been selected to stand for the new Camden Square ward said: “Everyone agrees that we need to have less rat-running on residential streets, we need to create a neighbourhood where parents are not worried about letting their kids play out due to speeding cars, and we need to reduce air pollution.”

He added: “Following concerns about large numbers of cars using Murray Street as a rat-run – around 5,000 vehicles a day – a project was proposed to reduce traffic in the Camden Square area. “We’ve been clear that we consider this a trial. We need to work together as a community to tackle these serious issues which won’t go away without action.”

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