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Camden News - by JOSIE HINTON
Published: 3 December 2009

New single carriageway high street sparks business anger

A TRAFFIC masterplan for Camden Town has backfired with angry complaints about clogged-up roads and rush-hour tailbacks.
Cab drivers are leading the criticism with claims that the plan – known as the “Naked High Street” project – with its new single-lane carriageway in Camden High Street has led to extra congestion.
They say they have been forced to devise convoluted routes just to avoid the bottleneck as the road runs up to Camden Lock.
The “Naked High Street” project was supposed to make life better for workers and visitors to Camden Town.
As well as widening pavements at the expense of a carriageway, the council are removing street furniture, signs and crossings in a bid to “de-clutter the area”.
But regular users of the road say it could mean queues running back to Euston and Warren Street during peak hours.
But while some frustrated drivers say journey times through one of north London’s major arteries have dramatically increased, some residents and businesses say the new-look Camden Town is a big improvement.
This week has been particularly painful for motorists, however, as in addition to the single lane queues at rush hour, diversions have left businesses in Chalk Farm feeling isolated.
Olive Demeke, who lives in Stanhope Street and has driven a taxi in Camden for 14 years, said: “If there was a separate lane for buses and taxis I would agree with this because you have to try and discourage people from owning cars, but putting everyone altogether in one lane is just chaos.”
Mike Kenney, who owns The Reject Pot Shop in Chalk Farm Road, said businesses at that end of the street are being put on the line in the run up to Christmas.
“We’ve had delivery drivers calling us up saying they can’t get to us – if they can’t get to us then how are customers supposed to get here?” he added.
Julia Dollimore, who owns Modern Age Vintage Clothing, also on Chalk Farm Road, said: “The whole thing has knocked us for six. We can’t even deliver to the front of our shops at the moment.”
Simon Pitkeathley, chief executive of Camden Town Unlimited, said: “There will always be disruption as you can’t have a scheme on this scale without it. But these changes are long overdue. There has always been more space for cars than people in Camden Town which isn’t right for the area.”
Farokh Khorooshi, who has campaigned for a similar scheme in Hampstead, added: “Shouldn’t people give Camden the chance to try and take this bold step before we condemn them?”
Labour ward councillor Pat Callaghan has also spoken in support of the scheme which she said would help accommodate the large numbers of visitors to the area.
A council spokeswoman said: “The works to complete the Naked Street are still ongoing and we are constantly monitoring them as they take shape. The current stage of works are just south of Jamestown Road where we have installed temporary barriers to enable our contractors to work safely during the day.
“As a result of this temporary obstruction, traffic is only able to queue at the junction in a single lane, which leads to some additional queuing on Camden High Street.”
The diversions in Chalk Farm are due to be lifted by December 17.

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