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TOPIC: Regenerating Palmers Green town centre

Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 15 Feb 2017 11:16 #2746

Attached the 2014 Public Realm consultation mentioned in posts. Note the comment that 70% of PG locals were in favour of the proposed Cycle Lanes. Who would have guessed.
The 2012 survey, and the much typing it involved, was me supported, by a few other keen locals (I take all blame for typing). Working with FLDRA and GLBA over a long period and following presentations (under the then Conservative administration) to two Area Forums with 100+ attendees in each case, the concept was to look at positive points of PG high street, eg some of the architecture, and the not so good, eg traffic congestion, difficulty in crossing the roads, absence of green and so forth. Then look at options to improve the position for all stakeholders.
After about 3 years work, and under the new Labour administration, the work had been picked up and some background analysis carried out by the Council. A commitment was made to PG and talk included eg grants to help shopkeepers remove ugly metal shutters, paint upper floors and much more (this before the swinging budget cuts).
The survey – which had about 150+ respondees – was a latter part of the evidence gathering and took input through numerous channels mostly based on open questions, “what do you like/ not like / want to improve … ”) sort of thing.
And then on the wrapping it all up walk about with senior Councillors and Officers - and all based on 3+ years work - he whole exercise was hijacked and everyone ended up in Lodge Drive car park, because that was the answer to all PG’s problems it seemed.
And that was that. Strategy undermined, work undermined, collaboration undermined and opportunity shot.
I’ll give background to any group that chooses to form but won’t be spending more time on this one, once is enough. And all I still hear and read is that parking is the answer to the worlds woes.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 16 Feb 2017 15:51 #2759

I will never get tired of declaring that Palmers Green has the loveliest attractive aspect with the most charming buildings, list and unlisted, including the buildings above the shops with a quaint park such Broomfield Park.

Unfortunately, PG seems for many the poorer relation compared to Muswell Hill and Crouch End yet in my opinion and many others those two areas are overrated and dull in-comparison to PG, and even lack such an attractive exterior as PG Railway Station. Their popularity is due to some famous persons choosing to live there, giving the areas an artistic magnetism for some, yet there is nothing artistic looking as one stroll down their high road. Very boring actually. Even Islington high road lacks charming buildings.

Enfield Council needs to start valuing PG far more, what other local area has such beauty to offer and rewards to reap.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 27 Mar 2017 14:12 #2918

Ok, so if it was loved what would it ideally look like and what would the implications be?

And how will (near) future factors likely impact, such as internet banking resulting in some bank branch closures, national chain reviews (such as Clarks shoes currently) which may mean change / closures, ongoing internet growth hitting many types of outlets, substantial planned retail growth in Brent Cross, Wood Green and quite likely some other close-by centres over time, more new households packed in nearby and such?

Bottom line - what is going to make local people (us) spend time and money here rather than somewhere else?

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 27 Jan 2018 01:02 #3578

Palmers Green was once a sophisticated uplifting town centre, I used to go and do my shopping at least 3 to 4 times a week now I go elsewhere where the surroundings are beautiful, it's beyond why it has been left neglected and no one in Enfield Council or Cllrs want to make positive changes I do get the impression that they do not care about improving the high street and to encourage shop-owners to revamp their shops, first impressions is all....We're are the Trees and flowers they promised, and not only that they are removing the Trees instead of putting more just to build more cycle lanes in Winchmore hill, Landlords owning dirty filthy buildings, shopfronts look rundown, no nature, so how do cycle lanes beautify the area and make the high street thriving you cannot make one new and the rest looking like a scrap heap especially with the shocking tarmac and cement is that what they call paving??....very disappointing to say the least...but not surprised by Enfield Council cheap cost planning.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 27 Jan 2018 11:02 #3579

A few thoughts on Joe’s passionate pleas, ones I know have been mirrored by other in the past, both here on PGC and elsewhere. Town centres are really important and not just as shopping areas. PG’s has arguably failed on most dimensions over the last decade and more which resulted in much of its community role reverting to activities and events in Broomfield Park in particular – marvellous but not an all day, every day opportunity.

High streets are changing structurally all over the UK, and the majority are struggling with it. Add in financial pressures from years of deliberate austerity to the present Brexit inspired price rises and things are tough for many businesses dependent on non-discretionary spend. PG has over 200 shops and a lot of other retail competition to capture wallets and purses. Take spend away and it will start to show.

The buildings are often splendid, if unloved, and many shop fonts are splendid too, yet many are not. There is certainly no coherence – consistency to say, “You’re now in PG”, rather than anywhere on the A105 or elsewhere. In the main these are issues for landlords (the biggest annual cost to traders) and the traders themselves, not the council - coherence aside where options are available and being looked at. There have been previous efforts to address all this and work does remain ongoing to support, but the first stage has to be for traders (and landlords) to work to help themselves – messy shops and a messy area loses trade.

Greening is a council issue and it would be marvellous to see much more. This mock up from many years ago was not supported – traders at that time absolutely did not want trees on the high street. If their customers did want it then maybe they need to think about a mind change.

Financially it’s difficult for councils to make such major changes to public realms: Enfield has any number of town centres all experiencing pretty much the same issues and all wanting help. Money is however both finite, demanded by many other worthwhile and needy causes and is also being taken away centrally. They need to prioritise. Their last town centre prioritisation saw focus on Ponders End for example. The PG public realm improvements seen as a spin-off of the GLA’s cycle lane investment offer a good opportunity to up their looks and game. Moaning about it really isn’t a successful marketing strategy to win business.

On the plus side, the next set of prioritisations will be driven by the Local Plan, I believe due for consultation in June, and unless I’m very wrong, we should see PG taking a leading role in that. The Draft London Plan, now out for consultation, also raises the stakes for Town Centres considerably – that is also a real positive.

There are certainly some very big and very important strategic issues for PG town centre to be faced. I think we’ll see those surface in the next few years, but in the meantime there are short term items which can be tackled, not least traders projecting a caring, tidy image – and knowing their customer. Some other issues are with the council, being worked on and yet others with locals who have some ability and desire to make a difference. It would be very wrong to believe nothing is happening, or that the council or indeed others simply don’t care. That would be and is, very wrong. PG centre was allowed to lapse long, long ago when the writing was on the wall for those with an eye for the future but times were good and so traders / landlords could sit back. No longer.

Hopefully Joe and others of a like mind can find a way to channel their emery and passion for the area towards its development.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Joe Mark O'Connor

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 29 Jan 2018 10:07 #3581

Great post, thanks Karl, enjoyed reading it - balanced and on point, IMO.

Not sure what nicer/prettier alternatives there are to PG really. I LOVE Muswell Hill, would be a dream to live their (owning not renting) but I don't think the high street looks any more invested in than PG. It just has owners/occupiers of a much higher calibre reflecting a mucher wealthier neighbourhood therefore more care taken over appearance - bit like how you can tell social vs private housing a mile off in any new development. One treats with respect, the other doesn't.

PG is wedged inbetween the relatively wealthy Lakes Estate area but also the Edmonton side. It's declining high street seems to reflect Edmonton more than anything - littany of bookies and nail salons etc. But there are some definite rays of light coming through. The nicer place it is to visit, and spend, the better the retail offer will become. Sorting the Starbucks and MultiYork units should be a priority. Get them let again.

Planting in the triangle is good and will improve with maturity. Tree lined streets just arent' feasible but some more space for raised beds would be nice. Local Plan led, hopefully PG can thrive once again.

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 29 Jan 2018 13:09 #3582

Agree with many of the above and have a few more comments.

Re David's point on Muswell Hill, one of the greatest differences is the lack of vacant units in Muswell Hill and also the proper maintenance of the facades above the retail units. It's not just the shopfronts themselves that create the streetscape, the facades, roofs and chimneys too - which is normally the landlords responsibility (responsibility can be devolved in leases to tenants, depending on the occupier, so this can sometimes get complicated. If it's one landlord with the repairing and insuring liability, they have the control and power to renovate as a whole. Some instances in PG show refracted ownership, such as the building on Green lanes with Monroe clothing shop and the Pharmacy in the ground floor - opposite the entrance to Lodge Drive. The different floors and sides of the building facade above are either painted in different shades of white or not painted at all. That's the exact kind of visual disharmony that damages a streetscape and makes a place feel run down). I noted that at the end of Winchmore Hill Broadway -where the new traffic light system is and the road curves around to the bridge - a period building terrace with ground floor shops has been renovated and the upper floors are now being marketed as flats. The improvement is eye-catching as you proceed south down Green Lanes. A great example of what can be achieved when the underlying architecture is of good quality - as it is in PG.

Regarding local demographics, as with all London neighbourhoods, rapidly increasing house prices have changed the type of incoming owner on both sides of Green Lanes. House prices on the Hazelwood Lane side are now reaching £900K for a family house. The differential between that side and the Lakes Estate is closing. Notwithstanding, the existing local population would still benefit, visit and spend money in a high street that met their needs. My assessment is that the poor offer of the high street is actually out of step with the local demographic, who are all clamouring to have quality and appropriate venues to shop/relax in.

Finally, on providers such as hairdressers and nail salons - despite the hard time they get given on this forum, their businesses are survive on the high street because they provide what you cannot buy online. Where other typical high street retailers have lost the competition with Amazon et al, they provide services that you have to physically attend - just like eating out, or going to the cinema, taking a yoga class or visiting the pub. That's why we have to expect leisure and services to be the majority providers on future high streets, rather than shops. Of course there is a still a place for shopping, but we should set our sights on attracting business that that would thrive - probably more specialist shops, delis, cafes, quality bakeries etc. or those where service and advice is a great asset, such as hardware shops and wine shops. A great example is the high street in Tufnell Park - once a hollowed out sad collection of shops - now totally revived with fishmongers, bakeries, childrens shops, pretty ice-cream parlours, pilates studios and restaurants - as well as the essential laundrettes, dry cleaners, corner shops etc. many of which have invested in face lifts.

So our challenge, if we want all shop units let and operational, is to not only support existing businesses with our custom, but to attract new investment and new businesses, and also new leisure and wellbeing providers that can survive in an online retail world. We need to get out the message that we are a numerous and ready-to-spend local population. We need to spread good and positive messages about PG and boost its reputation. We need to encourage existing landlords and shop owners to invest in a facelift. Landlords of vacant units need to undertake shopfront and facade repair works to attract the right interest. Its simple maths that attractive spaces attract people. The right businesses will have customers.

Endless discussion of on the merits of the cycle lane uses up the time and energy that are needed to tackle the problems in front of us.

I'm personally very hopeful on the prospects of the new London Plan to stimulate change. We also need to start doing things to help ourselves too (residents and businesses alike).
The following user(s) said Thank You: Joe Mark O'Connor

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Regenerating Palmers Green town centre 01 Feb 2018 18:13 #3591

When I first started the conversation of PG needing TLC it was because I passionately love the area I was conceived, it has changed considerably and yes maybe I do miss the smart looking tradition shops I used to stand and watch shopowners paint and decorate there shops if something needed a makeover, they took pride wiping their windows, throwing buckets of water and sweeping their entrance, arranging perfectly their items in shopfronts, watering their hanging baskets outside their premises and I miss the hustle and bustle it had a warm friendly inviting feel to the place, I am not one of these people who just go on sites deliberately mocking areas I literally want the best for a area I still reside in call me sentimental but I found not care less. Haringey Council will be regenerating the whole of Wood Green Town Centre so why not PG and the plans look clean modern bright with a lick of paint and full of greenery makes all the difference.

I just do not understand what is so difficult for human to use creative minds in the Regeneration depth of Enfield Council not to use exciting ideas and have great imagination to put down on paper just like they did with the cycle lanes, I do ask myself what are they there for if not to take their job seriously and show passion of a area they are representing, the whole of PG looks poor and rundown and grey, the cycle lanes are smartly done and that does make the rest look scruffy lookin i.e. shops & crumbling characteristic building which look poorly maintained, not even cycle lanes can ever make the area look grand, if Cllrs and Enfield Council do not motivate or encourage shop-owners to start to regenerate how will our Town Centres ever be thriving and feel inviting again, it's all about bringing people back on our high street to shop and to enjoy their surroundings and feel a sense of pride.

I am also so shocked to read that traders rejected greening the Palmers Green when the word Green is in the name of the area, PG was once full of greenery outside premises, it's mentally healthy and uplifting to look and be surrounded in. So traders prefer to expose their shabby, filthy shops, then to beautify the high street, I think they should either consider revamping their shopfronts with a lick of paint, a hanging basket or cover their shopfronts with a climber OR put flower containers all along lamp posts like they have in Bournemouth etc because as they look at the moment they should feel embarrassed, doesn't anyone take pride in themselves well its the same for anything else, first impressions is all.

I think we should start making positive changes now before we lose our high streets for all, rather then keep going on and on about it, I am very sure Cllrs and Enfield Council can put their heads together and find ways to give back to the community.

If they need my ideas they know where I am I be only happy to oblige....

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