PROPERTY: Highgate's Neighbourhood Forum want to tackle traffic problems, retail diversity, leisure facilities and what to do with the 271 bus stand!

Thursday, 22nd November 2012

Traffic is backed up on Highgate high street yesterday (Wednesday)

Published: 22 November, 2012

CHOCK-A-BLOCK traffic and an ancient village whose centre is blighted by a bus stand are two major issues facing people living in Highgate, according to a comprehensive survey completed by members of the area’s new Neighbourhood Forum.

The Forum, established under the government’s Localism Bill which aims to put more power over planning issues in the hands of neighbourhoods, has spent nearly three months asking people in Highgate Village for their views on the issues facing the new Forum – and the word on the doorsteps of N6 is that there is far too much traffic and not enough independent and varied shops.

The survey saw 250 Highgate residents reply and answers are still coming in.

Forum chairwoman Maggy Meade-King said: “The results of the survey give us our marching orders about the issues which we need to address. It looks as if we shall have our hands full.

“Once we have received the official approval of our status by our councils in the next few weeks, we shall be discussing these results at a series of public consultations early in the New Year, at which we want as many as possible to contribute.”

The 271 bus stand, which is on the corner of Highgate High Street and The Grove, should be moved and the routes in and out of the village by bus should be overhauled.

One respondent said the 271 terminus had become the village’s focal point by accident rather than design and it should be Pond Square.

There were also widespread calls for Transport for London (TfL) to improve links across to Muswell Hill and Hampstead to help ease the congestion caused by cars on school runs.

Simon Briscoe, who analysed the results, said:  “This is a great response for a survey of this kind and has produced some very clear results.

"The open nature of the questions has enabled us to tease out a wide variety of issues – from controlling satellite dishes, to putting up noise barriers on Archway Road, to reintroducing the village post office and introducing community art displays.”

Forums are beginning to spring up across the borough, with areas such as Kentish Town and Dartmouth Park having established groups. Another is based in King’s Cross.

For the past year, the group has been signing up members and says it is ready to submit a formal application to both Camden and Islington councils – proposing a cross-border area – before Christmas for affiliation.

With no strict boundaries agreed on a national or local level, it is up to each Forum to decide how large its beat is – and have that rubber-stamped by the local authority.

Forum secretary Peter Tompkins said: “The boundaries are not laid out by law, so we have to decide what is in and what is out.”

He believes it could take another 24 months after the boundaries are confirmed for the group to lay out priorities for the Forum.
He said the group had already spoken at length to residents and held meetings to discuss issues in the area.

As well as having an input in the many massive developments in the patch – the King’s Cross Railway Lands, The Crick Institute, and developments south of the Euston Road all loom large on the radar – the group wants to help shape smaller sites.

Mr Tompkins said: “There are some real blots on our landscape, derelict sites in the centre of King’s Cross.

“We have found that developers own lands but do not touch them for years.”

He highlighted the issues over the Lighthouse Building on the corner of Gray’s Inn Road and Euston Road, and another prominent corner building on Caledonian Road and Wharfedale Road.

He added other general issues included trying to persuade the King’s Cross Railway Lands developer King’s Cross Central Partnership Limited to give people a voice over the naming of new streets in the area, and ensuring TfL listened to the needs of pedestrians.

Mr Tompkins added: “There are 30,000 people living in this area and there are many issues to look at. One is the lack of play facilities and play spaces. As an urban area, it really is not well catered for.”

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