Businesses blast wavy kerb cycle route in historic Islington street as trade 'drops dramatically'

Tap above to watch video report by Divya Kohli

North London business owners have said roadworks to install wavy kerbs in a Georgian street makes it 'look like Legoland' and the low-traffic measure has already decreased their revenue by as much as 40 per cent. Islington Council has redesigned Charlton Place, just off the A1, and banned traffic from driving down the road between 8.15am to 9.15am and 3pm to 3.45pm. The wavy kerb is meant to make cars slow down, discourage parking, and creates a 'safer cycle route'. Lorries weighing over 3.5 tonnes will also be banned from the street, with these restrictions being enforced under an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) with an 18 month trial.

The authority adds that it also plans to install new paved areas featuring 'more attractive York stone paving' and a 'safer cycle route to enable people to cycle southeast bound down Charlton Place'. There will also shortly be more greenery in the vicinity, including planting beds and trees in the street and more seating on Charlton Place, which dates back to 1795.

But some local business owners - who say most of traders are of the same opinion - say the scheme is not worth it and is already losing them money.

Trader affected by the roadworks in North London Credit: BPM Media

Jacqui Bulmer, 47, owner of home goods store In-Residence in Camden Passage, said: “I’m definitely against it. I think it’s a complete and utter waste of money. There’s not a problem with traffic around here, there’s been no increase in traffic. And this is limiting people coming and shopping in the area. “There have already been cyclists effing and blinding at somebody who has asked them to dismount on the pavements. This will just give them more of a carte blanche to do what they like - it’s an accident waiting to happen. It’s dangerous. “And they’re putting benches out, that’s lovely. But we do have a lot of vagrants around here and all you’re going to have is drunks using them. There’s also the cost of living crisis, and money in the borough would be better spent on people who can’t afford to feed their children or heat their own homes. “It’s affected my business massively, especially my deliveries. At the moment, my customers are not getting their orders because couriers can’t get in and they’re refusing to deliver them. There’s also been a huge impact because it stopping people coming here to park and shop in the area. “The council has set up pay and display bays to try and encourage people and more to come in. It’s completely contradictory to what they’re trying to do here. I’d say 90% of residents and businesses opposed it, but it went ahead anyway. And they’ve said it’s a trial, but they’re not going to spend the money and then remove it so it doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like we live in a democracy anymore.”

A seller of antiques since she was 12, trading in the West End for 25 years before moving to Camden Passage, Maryanne Wilkins, 81, said: “I’m shocked by it. It’s the most lovely Georgian crescent opposite a house Mr Charlton built himself, the double fringed house. It could be the best house in the area. “It hasn’t handicapped my business, but it has handicapped me. I’m 80 plus and at the moment bringing things in in the morning there are already seven lorries so it’s trouble having to get in and out for the workmen. I’m not complaining about that - they’re doing a good job. “But I’m a council rate payer at a huge cost. It was a lovely visual thing, but now early in the morning you see a hurly burly of lorries coming in. We’re going to be offered just one loading bay for all the businesses - we’ll never get into it. I could get things nicked, I have to leave it open. But before I just used to nip up the road and park for ten minutes whilst I got things out.” Owner of The Framers, Botan Aygun, 32, said: “Currently because of the road works I can’t bring in any stock. And I’ve had to on occasion carry large sheets of glass through the roadworks. It’s a hazard, and suppliers have told me they’re not delivering whilst it’s going on. “The council said it wouldn’t affect my businesses, all I’ve had is a leaflet dropped off saying they are doing the works but that was two or three weeks before. There’s been little pre-warning. They said they went door to door, but that’s a complete lie. I’m in there [his shop] six days a week, and the only time I was able to dispute this was during an open forum on the corner of Charlton place and Camden passage. I popped my head out to see what was going on, and I expressed myself to a young lady saying it would have a negative impact and a public health hazard. “I’m having to carry large pieces of glass three millimetres thick that wobble, around 25 a week, and oversized artworks that are two and half metres. I can’t any longer accommodate that. Customers are needing multiple works done but they can’t get to us for collection. More than 40% of my turnover has gone since these roadworks. It’s ridiculous, what they’ve done without consideration for businesses. It’s insane, it seems to be a vanity project. They’re not hearing our voices.”

Camden Passage in North London Credit: BPM Media

Another business owner, who preferred not to share their name, said: “What has happened is the council held two public consultations, we were badly notified. Very few businesses attended. We’ve carried out a questionnaire asking how many were for and against, and those against were over 97 per cent. The diagram they’ve provided to us in a PDF is also hard to understand. We need to make sure the community at large is heard.” Another businessman, who has been selling his wares in the area since the 1970s and wished not to be named, said: “It’s a load of nonsense. There’s something wrong with the people who designed it. Here is supposed to be a conservation area but they’re turning it into something out of Legoland or Alton Towers or something. “They’re complete and utter idiots using traffic as an old excuse. Pollution is pollution. The biggest single cause of pollution is that millions of people are living in terrible conditions in their houses. But they’re spending more on roads than housing.” Although, other traders are more keen on the project. Scott Humphreys, 35, owner of Kitch Hair for three years, said: “I love it. Everyone’s going mental about it, but I love this new road. The guys on the corner tried to set up a meeting to oppose it, but if it stops my clients from getting hurt whilst they stand outside the shop, that’s fine. It will also make the whole area look a lot nicer. They’re putting in benches and flower pits as well, it will look gorgeous.” A woman who was passing by, in a hurry and wished not to be named, added: “Is it to slow traffic? Well I think it’s a good idea.” An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We’re making high-quality improvements to Camden Passage – one of Islington’s most iconic streets – and Charlton Place, to make the local area greener and healthier for local people and traders." They added: “The changes will help attract more visitors and bring more footfall to local businesses, which include many unique shops, as well as outdoor markets and cafes. There will be new seating and planting on Charlton Place to create a pleasant, inviting area for local people to sit, rest and chat outside. “The redesigned carriageway at Charlton Place aims to increase pedestrian safety by reducing the speeds of vehicles approaching the junction with Camden Passage. We consulted local residents and businesses on the proposals last summer, receiving more than 200 responses. We took feedback on board and made changes to the scheme.”

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