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Highbury Corner rat-run victims: ‘Traffic is unbearable’

Residents furious as roundabout overhaul diverts vehicles past their homes

21 February, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Lucy Facer, Tony Saggers and Maria Koval

RESIDENTS have vented their anger at the design of Highbury Corner, which they say has pushed rat-running drivers down residential streets to avoid the junction.

Calls have been made for the council and Transport for London to bring forward plans for a traffic count on residential streets around the £9million junction.

Islington Council has confirmed a count will start in June this year, but critics say the council should have foreseen the issues, and claim residents’ concerns have been ignored since work started in 2018.

Transport chief Labour councillor Rowena Champion admitted there was a problem with traffic displacement to nearby residential streets.

Lucy Facer, of the Liverpool Road Residents Group, said the council should have been planning to deal with the fallout from Highbury Corner from the start.

“They should have put in low traffic neighbourhoods in residential areas and then changed the main road layouts,” she said.

“All they’ve done is displace the traffic from the main roads into residential streets like ours, Drayton Park, Canonbury Lane and Islington Park Street. All of these roads are really suffering.”

Councillor Rowena Champion

Ms Facer, who has two young children, added it was only a matter of time before there was an accident in Liverpool Road.

Michael Michaelides also lives in Liverpool Road, and has a daughter who attends St Mary Magdeline Academy in the same street.

“It’s been getting worse and worse as more people realise that you can avoid Highbury Corner by coming down Liverpool Road,” he said.

“The traffic levels here are now unbearable. The school is right there and you have obviously got children crossing roads, which can get dangerous. It’s a real problem.”

Tony Saggers, who also lives in the street, added: “Most people in the borough don’t own a car, but we have to now live with this traffic displacement outside our home.

“We have considered moving, it’s that bad. We know people on the street who have left because the traffic has ruined this once residential area.”

Former transport chief Claudia Webbe at the new Highbury Corner

Natalie James is one of the drivers who uses Liverpool Road as a shortcut to avoid Highbury Corner. She said she started using the street when works began on the new junction.

“When they finished the works I started going through Highbury Corner again, but the traffic lights change so quickly that when there’s traffic you can get stuck going around it more than once,” she said.

Michael Graham, of St Paul’s Road, said: “I think there has been a bit of deliberate naivety or disingenuous thinking about the affect that the works would have on congestion. The council thought that people might leave their cars at home, but that hasn’t proved to be the case.”

Kate Pothalingam, who chairs the Highbury Fields Association, called for a traffic count to be carried out on nearby residential streets as soon as possible.

“There are lots and lots of reports of pinch points on residential streets,” she said.

When asked by the Tribune, the council and TfL said they would take mitigation action if needed. Cllr Champion said the council was aware of the concerns and is committed to reducing the overall amount of traffic on the borough’s roads.

“We will take action, in consultation with TfL, if the traffic counts suggest significant traffic displacement following the transformation of Highbury Corner,” she said

“The redevelopment of Highbury Corner represents a major step in our bid to make Islington a safer and easier place to walk and cycle.

“The updates to the junction will help to cut unnecessary car journeys, reducing air pollution and supporting our bid to make Islington net zero carbon by 2030.”

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