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TOPIC: Regenerating Palmers Green town centre

Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 11 Apr 2018 19:00 #3792


I thought this reply from Peter George was worth posting.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the quality of the shop frontages in Palmers Green. Supporting and enhancing all our town centres is high on our agenda. The quality of shop frontages which you describe is indeed a challenge that all of the town centres in the borough face and have in common.

As you rightly say, we do have shopfront design guidance, which is on our website. We can and do still reference it, albeit it no longer currently has Supplementary Planning Document status. Going forward over the medium term, we envisage developing a suite of design guidance. We will revisit shopfront design guidance and its status as you have suggested, as part of this programme. More immediately, where breaches of planning control have occurred we will continue to look at enforcement action where appropriate.

In terms of reversing the current situation, we did (with the support of local group Palmers Green Reimagined) approach the Heritage Lottery Fund Townscape Heritage Initiative last year, to explore funding for a shop front grant scheme. Unfortunately such a scheme in the Palmers Green area did not fit with their funding criteria.


I don't know who the PG Reimagined group is by the way.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 17 Apr 2018 13:48 #3797


Hi there - saw this article today in the Guardian. It suggests High Street transformation does not just have to be about retail but about developing a wider user experience. In addition to transforming the aesthetic (consistent well maintained shop fronts, greenery, less traffic) there is also the argument for changing the way in which we 'engage' with the High Street and empty retail units become spaces for opportunity.
www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/a...ets-heart-cities-web
The following user(s) said Thank You: Caley Montgomery, Joe Mark O'Connor

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 17 Apr 2018 14:54 #3798


The mixed, ie not simply retail, is exactly where planning sees town centres headed, finally. It’s all come to a bit of a head now with the perfect storm of austerity / Brexit / rate changes hitting pockets, but what’s called the “polarisation” of high streets has been in plain sight for many years: that’s the internet combined with Westfield’s and the like stripping out high street business, leaving less demand for many items, effectively nil demand for a lot more, all resulting in a high street residual focus on in-fill convenience goods and non-internetable services such as haircuts. This follows the previous supermarket wave – go to Sainsburys at Winchmore Hill and you can see the previous history of our local high streets spread across its huge expanse of tarmac.

The London expectation (and plan) is for town centres to shrink in retail terms, to see housing within them as well as a whole range of mixed use outlets – entertainment, health, leisure and such. In places also add in a push towards a night time economy.

So at a base level a town centre generally will need to be a place where people will wish to go to and also to stay. Looking “nice” is therefore a necessary but not sufficient condition.

And the cycle lanes public realm investment helped with that. We’re also seeing new outlets pressing the same button, eg Chalk, Starfish and now Stage. The local business association are finally catching up and there is generic background planning being kicked around in the same direction.

We do have some big spaces (Starbucks, Multiyork, store 21 and the Fox non-pub section to come – and lets finally be in the world as it actually is and stop tabbing these and more with the cycle lanes to blame). Filling these with traditional retail is going to be some big ask so chances are some may well end up looking at a different type of service. Again, there is some activity in that area.

It’s very fast moving in retail now – much more so than normal – and the large names are struggling to dance. One big advantage for PG is its plethora of independents who can weave at speed and some of ours now are.

Outside missing out on a substantially greater public realm space at the triangle junction, so allowing for say a market, and accepting we will always have to live with an A road going through the middle of it, I’m more hopeful for PG now than I have been for close to ever. There’s a lot of understanding, energy and investment building behind the scenes.

If a shop’s looking good, or doing things well, then tell them, and if not, then tell them. There’s mutual benefit for traders and shoppers in getting things right, as well as it being good for PG as a whole. Just don’t blame the council or the cycle lanes, we’ve waste 4 years or so on that dead-end energy destroying debate, and now, finally a positive alignment is starting to emerge. Great if everyone assisted in pushing it along.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Rebecca Singh, David Eden, Joe Mark O'Connor

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 04 May 2018 07:35 #3818


Thanks David Eden. Perhaps cobbles was the wrong description. How about the whole of the High street from the Fox to the Triangle being 'continuous pavements' as now being 'installed' across the Alderman's Hill end of Lakeside Road and Old Park Road. That would serve both to improve and soften the area. Not sure what reference I was giving to 50's Britain or Brexit to be honest. I was actually looking to the future and away from the 70's / 80's style mess of a high street we have now.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 10 May 2018 10:01 #3820


References to eras is an interesting one. There are benefits and disadvantages from bygone times - if we could cherry pick from them, could we have the perfect high street?

The 1950s golden era is surely nostalgia for a thriving high street, where it provided a community function and place to meet as well as shop. But the days where people have the majority of their shopping needs met by the high street is over, and won't be coming back. The modern high street is a place to visit rather than just a place to shop. We now prioritize experiences over purchases. Therefore, to pull people in, they have to be places we want to visit and spend time - more social and leisure venues alongside shops. And in an environment attractive enough to enjoy and appreciate time to dwell. Few design interventions in the 1950s can be viewed as an improvement to the original.

The style and designs left over from the 1980s/90s, the sad, faded, plastic efforts that we're suffering today, are not creating that stylish and attractive environment to attract the modern customer - but what would it mean to make them current? Floor to ceiling glass, oversized door handles and chrome, chrome and more chrome. Maybe some LED for good measure? Neither are much appreciated by locals, according to the other forum comments.

Or do we look back to the era the buildings were originally designed and built for - 1910/ 1920. Good design means working with a building instead of against it. Good design is key to create that attractive environment to attract customers.

The contemporary approach to shop design seems to be to work with the original architecture and to go back to traditional materials, window sizes, door positioning etc. The benefit to sticking with 'original' is not falling out of fashion as easily, and it satisfies cravings for nostalgia and quality and a touch of class - but are adaptable enough to allow modern branding, colours and design sensibilities. The thriving modern high streets have a high concentration of 'venues' amongst retail, so a visit to the high street could be a couple of hours of leisure, socialising and shopping. Fortunately the required modern elements like public realm improvement, public transport links and roadways already exist in PG.

So two lines of attack could be the high street diversifying its offer (may need the Council to revise planning policy on what each unit can be used for - known as Use Classes) and investing to create an attractive environment, so we end up with 1950s concentration of customers, on a contemporary high street meeting modern social/leisure/retail needs, in shops with edwardian shopfronts and modern branding. If we were to cherry pick...

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 15 May 2018 01:08 #3826


N Morris wrote: References to eras is an interesting one. There are benefits and disadvantages from bygone times - if we could cherry pick from them, could we have the perfect high street?

The 1950s golden era is surely nostalgia for a thriving high street, where it provided a community function and place to meet as well as shop. But the days where people have the majority of their shopping needs met by the high street is over, and won't be coming back. The modern high street is a place to visit rather than just a place to shop. We now prioritize experiences over purchases. Therefore, to pull people in, they have to be places we want to visit and spend time - more social and leisure venues alongside shops. And in an environment attractive enough to enjoy and appreciate time to dwell.


An interview on Monday's PM programme on Radio 4 was entirely in line with this view. You can find it at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b2gsd6 . The discussion starts at 48 minutes into the programme.

The starting point was the continuing fast decline of high street shops in the UK... Shoppers deserting the high street... A brutal climate, a 5 per cent fall in sales in March and April - worse than during the 2008 recession, the growing number of empty shops...

The two interviewees were Wayne Hemingway of Hemingway Design and Jay Gort of Gort Scott Architects, who recently refurbished the Central Parade in Walthamstow.

For Wayne Hemingway the main function of town centres should be social interaction, not "retail therapy". "People will always want to get together in a place that's easy to get to by public transport or by walking." For him it was an aberration to consider shopping to be a better thing to do than talk to your friends. A new generation don't see shopping as the be-all and end-all. High streets should go back to being about conviviality, not consuming and buying.

Jay Scott described the refurbished Central Parade as a "place that people can feel some sort of connection to". He agreed that we should get away from the idea of high streets as being about shopping. They are the "lifeblood of our towns, especially in London". 50 per cent of all jobs are within 200 metres of a high street.

He talked about a project in Cricklewood which had succeeded in reconnecting the residential hinterland with the High Road, a once fine high street in danger of becoming merely an arterial road.

So, if you go along with these views, the key questions for Palmers Green are how to make Green Lanes and Aldermans Hill attractive enough places for "conviviality" and how to generate the money needed to keep them functioning in this new era where shopping becomes a much less important element.

To restore conviviality I think that reducing and slowing down through traffic is essential. A lot of this through traffic is probably people travelling unnecessarily long distances for leisure pursuits. If people could be persuaded to do this nearer to where they live, a lot of this through traffic would disappear. Which means that their high streets too need to become attractive hubs for convivial pursuits. Who knows, they might even get to know some of their neighbours!

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 15 May 2018 12:19 #3827


Of course, pre-cycle Enfield's outcome some of us argued for a shared space solution through the centre of PG, given that traffic was already slow in this section of the A105, to allow just the sort of "conviviality"to be generated by easing pedestrian links east-west from one side of the road to the other. I'm not sure that the outcome hasn't been to emphasies north-south road routing by adding the cycle lanes, which whatever else they do, don't favour pedestrian connections across the road. PG could never become a village centre given necessary traffic flows but it might have helped. (Yes, I know shared space isn't perfect and many oppose it)

On the real estate, I note that an application to change the use of the vacant Starbucks from A1 to A3 (shop to food and drink) has been turned down, and that there are applications in to turn the Post Office in to two units by adding a central door where the post box is, and to turn the vacant Store 21 in to three units and a storage unit.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 15 May 2018 17:26 #3830


Great points by Wayne and Jay. For the modern generation, shopping is a largely functional enterprise. Our lives our busy, congested and stressful and there is little motivation to take a few hours over something that can be done in a few minutes from behind a computer screen or even mobile phone.

Therefore high streets need to be about form, not function, and focus on the experience and encourage people to come, stay and enjoy themselves - therefore serving a social use.

Not sure about Starbucks. It wouldn't have been able to operate under an A1 useclass in the first place, should be A3/4/5.

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