Of the 179 people who filled in the questionnaire, 113 (63%!) made comments, in response to being asked for 'any additional issues that you may have, or other comments about the area'. Some people made several points (total is 180+), and some of these could be quite long, so this is a summary with quotes. Each point made by somebody is referred to as a comment, so as not to be pedantic about it! Most of the issues referred to below particularly affect children, and also the elderly, the disabled and carers with buggies. So although there are 20 references to children, these will just be mentioned in the relevant category.
Ten people took the opportunity to say what a friendly area this is to live in, and two thanked the residents' association and volunteers for their community gardening. e.g.
- We have a fantastic community and it's a wonderful place to live
- My thanks to volunteers who do so much to make the area attractive
- good community spirit
Two people noted that local shops enhance the sense of community, as do play streets and street parties (another 2) and another suggested a community vegetable garden (perhaps in the bowling green in Albert Road Rec). One person who liked the local street planting initiatives (including around pavement trees) suggested that the Council could encourage people to do more by offering a free garden refuse bin as an incentive.
There were 5 requests for trees to be replaced that have been cut down, or new ones provided, in particular to improve air quality.
There were 8 appreciative comments about local shops and our 'high street'
- I hugely value our local shops and the feeling of community they bring and think everything should be done to encourage local businesses.
- our little high street is very important
There were a couple of concerns about shops being empty or challenged by planning applications, a wish for more diverse shops, and a proposal to
- support measures to promote them and encourage other independent shopkeepers to set up here
There were 3 concerns about the increase in residential development in small areas like the yard of the local hardware store, and Crescent Mews.
Moving on to more critical comments, we start with the condition of local pavements because it is clearly something that should have been included in the tick-box section of the survey! 20 people commented on this issue, several from Palace Gates Road.
Most complained that the uneven, broken paving stones are a trip hazard, particularly for the elderly and disabled, and difficult for carers to push buggies over.
- I have had 2 [electric wheelchairs] written off by vibration caused by the uneven pavements
- With small children, it is very difficult to push buggies, ride scooters and small bikes on pavements as it is so bumpy on our street and those close by. The quality of the paving is poor and this must be a problem for older / disabled people too.
Some people noted that cars and heavy vehicles parking on the pavements are a major cause of broken paving, and one respondent suggested stronger slabs.
Other obstacles on pavements making it difficult in particular for the disabled and carers with buggies to get past include binbags left in front of the shops on Crescent Road because there is no provision for rubbish bins for the flats above (9 comments), and wheelie bins (particularly in Victoria Road, where some houses have flights of steps with no provision for bins at the bottom – 5 comments).
Overhanging hedges in front gardens which in effect narrow the pavements are a particular problem for the partially sighted and blind (4 comments), and cars emerging from paved-over front gardens were also mentioned:
- cars roll across the pavement without warning, inches away from me
Parked cars and builders' lorries obstructing pavements have also been mentioned (including cars parked briefly on yellow lines in front of shops – 3 comments), as also snow in icy weather.
The inadequate provision of dropped kerbs was also mentioned (3 comments), essential for those on mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pushing buggies, and the problem of parked cars making the dropped kerbs unusable, or dangerously limiting the visibility of traffic.
As in the tick-box section, the greatest number of comments was made about speeding traffic – 34, including 3 complaints about motorbikes.
- The speed at which cars race past is unbelievable. When me or my wife are trying to take our children out of their car seats and the car door is slightly ajar, they still race past, missing the door by inches! I have written to the council in the past about having some traffic calming speed bumps put in, but they wrote back essentially saying "no one has been killed on that road yet" [Crescent Road]
The roads mentioned: Crescent road 3 and Crescent Rise 1, Princes and Outram 1 each, Albert 3 and Albert and Durnsford 1, Alexandra Park Road 2 and and APR and Durnsford 1, Durnsford 1, Palace Gates 3, Bedford road and over Alexandra Park Way 3, and Bedford road roundabout 1; 13 non-specific.
6 people commented to the effect that 'the 20mph speed limit is not enforced, so is rarely kept to', though one notes that with the police over-stretched, this is not a viable option.
Speed Humps. Most people did not have a suggestion for reducing speeds, though 6 suggested installing speed humps, or replacing those that have been removed. It was notable in the tick-box section that people had polarised opinions about speed humps, with equal proportions saying that they are a good or a bad way of reducing speed. The comments shed light on the reasons for these differences.
3 people said that speed humps don't work, at least the current type. One person complained of
- Excessively high bumps and road-calming measures which damage cars.
Two others complained about lower humps:
- The current bumps do nothing due to parked cars making the road single lane, and the single lane element means vehicles race along when a gap appears from the other direction [Albert road]
- Normal cars can speed over the speed bumps, it doesn't slow them down. It is only the buses and lorries go over them and shake the houses so there are crack on the walls, windows.
Two other people complained of negative effects from speed humps, resulting from the 184 bus shaking the houses.
Other suggestions were for a speed camera or tree gates; 2 said that narrowing roads only caused more congestion.
In conclusion, I guess most people would agree with the following comment:
- Traffic calming measures need to be considered very carefully.
Much of the speeding traffic mentioned above would have been travelling through this neighbourhood to get to somewhere else. 17 people made comments about traffic using this area as a cut-through, including 3 complaints about lorries. Comments particularly focused on Crescent Road 7, but also Albert 2, Alexandra Park Road 2, Outram, Princes and Victoria (one each), and 4 non-specific.
There were 3 complaints about damage to parked cars caused by through-traffic and buses, as well as 3 mentions of aggressive behaviour and bad tempers (particularly in Crescent Road), and the 'resting stop' [?] at Bedford Road roundabout often being crashed into.
- Road rage is a huge problem as is the frequent use of the pavement by motorcycles avoiding the jams
There was one request for tree gates to stop lorries getting through, and 2 for speed humps (one complaining about them being removed, making it more attractive to rat runners). The most frequent request (5), however, was for one or more roads to be 'filtered' – i.e. have some kind of block at one point in the road which would stop all cars, vans and lorries from travelling straight through. This would allow local drivers access to their homes, but could cause inconvenience on some journeys, because they would have to drive a longer way round.
- In a perfect world, Victoria road, Albert road and Crescent road would all be blocked off to prevent ALL rat running traffic. Placing gates that could only be opened by emergency services would improve the quality of life of the residents immeasurably
There were 9 comments about the quantity of traffic, eg
- The roads around here were clearly not designed for the level of motor traffic now using them… the current situation is massively problematic - excess traffic, too much pollution, impossible for cycling, unsafe for most, and unhealthy in most obvious ways.
Suggestions of factors which may increase the amount of traffic include commuters driving around trying to find a parking place (2 comments), and free parking in Ally Pally attracting commuters to the area. Also
- Drivers on the north circular are directed by Sat Navs to come through our neighbourhood to get to central London, so traffic is increasing here, while, as I understand it, decreasing on the surrounding main roads.
Lorries and Coaches
Apart from the comments referred to above, there were 2 complaints about HGVs not observing restrictions, and one mentioning 'huge lorries and coaches using the [Albert road] junction to reverse from Durnsford Road'.
Motorbikes and scooters
As well as the comments referred to above, there were four complaints about noisy, speeding motorbikes, including two concerned about these as well as joy-riders speeding along Bedford road and through the park, particularly at night. Also:
- In our road some cars and motor cycles go far too fast. This happens at night too when the noise from fired up motorbikes can be extremely loud … The traffic fumes given off are really bad …
- large number of noisy speeding motorbikes driven dangerously around the area … I believe the bike riders rely on the loud noise to alert other drivers to give them the wide berth they need to zoom past other traffic, often in the face of oncoming vehicles.
There were three comments about the dangers of cycling in this neighbourhood given the high volume of traffic, and three requesting secure cycle parking, including
- Would love to see some car parks replaced by on-road bike sheds like they have in Islington & hackney
Also, two complaints about mature people riding on pavements, which perhaps also has to do with the volume of traffic on the roads, and three requests for the neighbourhood to be more cycle-friendly in general.
One of the consequences of large amounts of traffic is of course pollution, and in particular the effect on the health of local children, and 6 people commented specifically on this. Three raised the need for low-emission buses, including one referring to the buses parking outside the station on Spurs home match days. One suggested that the Palace should encourage visitors to travel to events by public transport rather than driving.
There were 14 comments on this topic, with a particular emphasis on the importance of safe crossings for children, including 2 general requests for
- more places to cross the road too since so many children walk to and from school.
Specific requests for crossings were varied:
At the roundabout where Bedford Road meets Palace Gates (3 requests, including one mentioning that children getting W3 bus to school have problems getting to the bus stop)
- It is very dangerous to cross especially with children and there is no alternative
and at the junctions of:
- Crescent Rise/Durnsford
- Alexandra Park Road,Talbot (for the safety of children walking to school, or catching a bus)
- Palace Gates/Crescent. A disabled resident requested that the hump by the bus stop be made into a zebra crossing, saying that they have to cross here if parked cars are blocking dropped kerbs elsewhere, and it is difficult to see if there is oncoming traffic.
Two people noted unsafe zebra crossings by the garden centre ('situated as it is on a bend at the bottom of the hill'), and another at the end of another unspecified road. One person commented that speeding cars do not stop at crossings promptly. One resident of Crescent Road noted that:
- It is also impossible for our disabled residents to cross the road safely at any point. We have 3 neighbours on mobility scooters and one using a guide dog who have to travel well out of their way every time they wish to cross. This is clearly unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue. Apart from the obvious failure of Traffic Management this is an issue of social justice.
In the tick-box section of the survey, more people said that parking was not a serious issue for them than those who said it was a serious issue. However, parking has been a contentious issue for a long time, and comments are particularly often made by those with strong opinions. There were 27 comments about parking in all.
Six people said they did not have any parking problems, and did not want a CPZ (including a couple of people who were suspicious that this survey was a 'disguised attempt to foist a CPZ on the area'!).
14 people found parking to be a problem (particularly in roads adjacent to those in the CPZ, such as Victoria and Princes Avenue), and 7 of them were non-specific with regards to what to do about it. One of them did not want a CPZ, 5 of them did want a CPZ, and 1 complained about football fans parking here during Spurs home matches, and another that since the Palace has introduced plastic barriers on the South Terrace, visitors to AP now park in roads in this neighbourhood.
More miscellaneous issues: 4 people mentioned people people parking here for a long time (e.g. living elsewhere, holidays), or abandoning their cars; there was a complaint about staff and parents from local schools parking in Clifton Road; 3 said that people owned too many cars; a few mentioned problems with the piecemeal approach to CPZ implementation; there was 1 request for residents-only parking bays; and one complaint about arrangements for parking permits.
A more specific suggestion re: disabled parking –
- to get a disabled parking space you have to have a higher level of disability than for getting a blue badge alone, but once you get one anyone with a blue badge can park in it... It would be a good idea to make disabled parking spaces that are given to residents because of their level of disability for their use only and maybe have a few non-allocated disabled spaces in the area.
Finally, there was a suggestion to introduce a car-sharing scheme, which apart from saving its members money, would reduce the number of parked cars in the neighbourhood.
Rubbish and Fly-tipping
There were three comments about fly-tipping, with a particular mention of the green triangle at the end of Palace Gates road, and Victoria road, and two comments about littering being a general issue in this area (see also in Pavements section re: rubbish outside the shops in Crescent Road).
Residents in Bedford road have particular problems with littering after events in Alexandra Palace, in particular in the lay-by there, but also a mention of bottles being thrown into a front garden.
Three complaints about badly managed street repairs – roads being frequently re-dug up, one saying this was because they were badly done the first time, another complaining about lack of notice of roadworks. Another commented
- The road surface on Bedford Rd is always in a poor way, which means the buses that pass shake the house when they pass.
Accessibility to AP Station
There were three complaints about accessibility to the station for the elderly, disabled or those with a pram, one referring in particular to the pedestrian bridge. Another comment about the bridge:
- The bridge over the train station is unsafe and needs re surfacing
And more generally
- … access to the train station from Bedford Road must be improved and is surely long overdue. Given the further redevelopment of Alexandra Palace and the increase in passenger traffic, this access is wholly inadequate.
Specific issues for children, and the elderly and infirm
- Muggings are a big worry especially of children. There have been many around Alexandra Park and Muswell Hill. A safe and secure area where teenagers can enjoy themselves without fearing being mugged would be ideal.
Elderly and infirm:
- More public seating as walking in this hilly area is very tiring for elderly, disabled and frail people.
- Need a seat at exit /entrance to park where the bins are
- Make the bus stop seats flat so that elderly, disabled and frail people have somewhere to sit down
- [need] public toilets … or by educating and obliging all commercial property owners to give access to their toilets [for those with] medical conditions which cause them to need urgent access to a toilet.
Drowning hazard from flooding of parts of the playground in Albert Road Rec, prostitution in a car parked in Alexandra Palace Way, obscured street names, better street lighting, no local boundary changes, damaging effects of Go Ape and lack of lighting in Alexandra Park, installing bee hotels, car alarms going off, responsibility for access paths at the backs of houses, the Council not making sure that local businesses keep to health and safety guidelines, initiatives to reduce household plastics/against Heathrow expansion/initiate a local no-fly movement …