Safer Street for Holmes Road? Correspondence with Camden

From: Inkerman Area Residents Association
Sent: 29 March 2021 09:52
To: Brierley, Karl <Karl.Brierley@camden.gov.uk>
Subject: Holmes Road

Dear Karl Brierley

As you probably know, we represent residents in the streets between Prince of Wales Road and just north of Holmes Road.

You will be aware that Holmes Road has for some time presented a major problem when it comes to traffic.  Residents (and there are now many, with a number of fairly new blocks of flats, two student buildings, a hostel and a significant number of houses, most of which are divided into flats) have to endure daily congestion, road rage and personally dangerous situations.  

The pavements are narrow, and this currently represents a further problem with St. Patrick’s school children using the Holmes Road entrance during the pandemic (and possibly indefinitely).  The junction with Kentish Town Road is a nightmare.  Delivery motorbikes cluster outside the cafe near the end of Holmes Road, making a very narrow entrance even narrower.  Even without the bikes, it is impossible for traffic to enter and exit at the same time, so traffic backs up along Holmes Road and is sometimes gridlocked.  Children from the two schools are at risk at many points along the road, and all pedestrians are in danger trying to cross Holmes Road where it joins Kentish Town Road. 

A considerable number of delivery vehicles use the road (principally UPS vans to and from Regis Road) as well as other commercial vehicles – some of them HGVs, often connected with construction sites.

There are now two current applications (planning and licensing) which, if granted, are likely to make things even worse.  You are probably aware of the huge local resistance to Segro’s application for a warehouse and distribution centre in Spring Place.  Their plan is likely to be amended following discussions with the planning department, with heavy goods vehicles now routed solely along Holmes Road and Grafton Road.  There is also an alcohol off-licence application (for offsite deliveries) for 69 Holmes Road which suggests that this site will also become a distribution centre fairly soon.

Both St. Patrick’s School and le College Bilingual de Londres (CFBL) have expressed huge concern about the prospect of increased traffic (and there are over 500 objections on the planning website) and St. Patrick’s parents have launched a petition for the road to be made safe by restricting traffic during school start and finish times.  This has already attracted more than 350 signatures.  We are aware that there are already restrictions near our area for Gospel Oak school and Camden School for Girls, and a consultation for Kentish Town C of E school in Islip Street.  Our members are desperate to see Holmes Road in the same category, and soon.

We know from the meeting we attended online back in January that Holmes Road is somewhere in the discussions and we are writing to ask that this should be given urgent consideration.

We look forward to hearing from you – hopefully with some good news for our members.

Regards Debby Hyams Chair

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Karl Brierley <Karl.Brierley@camden.gov.uk>Fri 16/04/2021 07:57

Dear Debby Hyams,

Thank you for raising concerns in relation to Holmes Road and thank you for chasing me. I have provided an update, similar to the below, on what the council is doing in relation to the concern raised in relation to the volumes of traffic on Holmes Road to the Head of St.Patricks School at the start of this week. Thank you also for your patience in awaiting my response.

Local residents in the area have for many years being highlighting that streets such as Holmes Road and Anglers Lane have high volumes of traffic for local streets. Anglers Lane has for long been highlighted by local residents as suffering from high volumes of through traffic which also spills over onto Raglan Road; passing St Patricks Primary as they make their way to Kentish Town Road. We have been on site and commissioned traffic counts to assess the issues in the area to help inform our approach going forward.

One of the primary reasons that Holmes Road and Anglers Lane host a significant amount of traffic is due to the fact that there is no left turn for motor vehicles from Prince of Wales Road into Kentish Town Road at the junction where both roads meet. This means that both Holmes Road and Anglers Lane provide the only access from Prince of Wales Road to Kentish Town Road. Unfortunately as a consequence of this, restricting movements on either of Anglers Lane or Holmes Road would currently force more traffic onto whichever of the two streets we  don’t have a restriction on. It is also not possible, in the current layout, to restrict both streets at the same time as this would mean there would be no access from Prince of Wales Road to Kentish Town Road for motor vehicles. Further to this we understand that since reopening post the initial Covid lockdown that the access to the school from Inkerman Road is now also being used and any changes to one of Anglers Lane or Holmes Road would potentially send more traffic along Inkerman Road creating issues on these local streets.  

To address this issue Camden consulted on changes to the Prince of Wales Road and Kentish Town Road Junction to allow motor vehicles to turn left from Prince of Wales Road into Kentish Town Road, with an additional measure to restrict access for motor vehicles on Anglers Lane. A decision was made to proceed with this scheme and we are working through the final design approvals with TfL for this scheme to be implemented in the early summer. Details of this scheme are available here.  However in this consultation there were many comments submitted by members of the local area in relation to high levels of though traffic on other local streets to the west of Kentish Town Road and north of Prince of Wales Road (streets like Holmes Road and Inkerman).

In addition to these comments I personally have received comments from members of the public from the Inkerman/Holmes Road area directly at engagement events held as part of the Kentish Town Healthy Streets project. Also during online engagement on Commonplace for the Kentish Town Healthy Streets Project and for a Covid transport related engagement the Council has also received a number of comments on through traffic in this area. Based on these comments we have made a commitment in the Officers Decision Report for the above scheme to develop additional proposals to reduce through traffic in the cell of streets west of Kentish Town Road and north of Prince of Wales Road, including Holmes Road. As you note Sam and I attended a meeting with Kentish Town Councillors and members of the public to discuss schemes that are coming forward in this area. We are also aware of the petition you identified in your email.

We are working on these plans at present and we are hoping to bring forward a consultation after the Mayoral Preelection period, over the summer. However this is a complex area and we are working to establish the appropriate scheme for the area that enables access for local residents and businesses but prevents through traffic, thereby serving to protect our most vulnerable road users, including of course school children. In any case no restriction can be placed on either Holmes Road or Anglers Lane until construction is finished on the Prince of Wales Road and Kentish Town Road junction scheme that will enable the left turn, for motor vehicles, from Prince of Wales Road to Kentish Town Road. Construction is not planned to finish on this junction scheme until the late summer. In this time we plan to bring a scheme forward for consultation that will reduce through traffic in the cell of streets west of Kentish Town Road and north of Prince of Wales Road.

My transport planning colleagues have provided a response to the planning application in Spring Place and have highlighted the proposals for the cell of streets west of Kentish Town Road and north of Prince of Wales Road outlined above.

I hope this has been of help in assuring you that we are progressing measures to tackle the issues highlighted.

Kind regards,

Karl Brierley Principal Transport Planner (LEN & Healthy Streets)

Telephone: 020 7974 5297