Widening of limited sections took place at various times, mainly on the south side, as much of that was developed later. But no authority gave any thought to the fact that the road was a strategic highway linking two key towns. So the last significant improvement to traffic flow and safety was carried out in the 1960s with widening between Harlesden and Sutton roads – fully half a century ago!
Other improvements which could have improved traffic flow, such as removal of the former railway bridge in Sutton Road may have helped take traffic away, but in the other direction Sutton Road is just as busy attracting even more vehicles into Hatfield Road. The proposed road linking the Sandfield Road junction with Camp Road at Roland Street did not materialise for the practical reason that the council baulked at the price and couldn't imagine how it would take the road across what was then an operational railway line.
And at either end of the district are two complex junctions at The Crown and Beaumont Avenue, which are the only other road connections between Fleetville and Camp.
But it is the combination of parked vehicles and increased number of vehicles overall which we now need to focus our attention. A significant amount of both of these are probably internally generated rather than drivers using Fleetville to travel through to somewhere else. We already have one bypass, after all, although that is also congested at times.
Fleetville has just one off-road parking area for a reasonably large number of vehicles. Yes, it is privately-owned, but at least it is there. A previous attempt to excavate an underground version beneath the recreation ground came to nothing, and the side roads, which are subject to current new parking proposals are limited in capacity with or without taking the roads' residents into account. The pronouncement by Fleetville retail traders in the 1930s inviting customers from far and wide with the promise that "there is plenty of space to park your motor vehicle" is beyond a distant memory!
|A quiet mid-morning in the centre of Fleetville.|
When a main road changes by small increments over a long period of time (is one hundred years long enough?) those changes largely go unnoticed. Many of the shops which line the north side began life as cottages, with no expectation of becoming a retail centre requiring additional infrastructure, let alone an off-road parking place for the owner's "motor vehicle".
There has been one voice considering change, though the county council's offering wasn't recent. Having recognised the success of The Quadrant as a retail location, it proposed that a similar plan should be considered for Hatfield Road. We were not informed how this plan was expected to materialise, exactly where, or the effect it might have on those lengths of Hatfield Road not part of the Quadrant 2 development. Perhaps Morrison's has already taken that idea forward!
It is a pity this idea was not developed further, not because the writer approves of it, but because it would spark a debate about the issue of Hatfield Road congestion; a debate which is very much needed, and from any debate often develops an even better solution than the one which launched it.