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Palmers Green Town Centre

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clare richmond video screenshotHow do we regenerate our high street?  A topic which has been much discussed on this website.  Unfortunately, there's no easy answer, and it's not as if the problem was confined to Palmers Green.  Having said that, it might be a national issue, but the solution will be unique to PG and have to be developed locally, using community engagement.  That's the lesson imparted by Clare Richmond, one of the guest speakers appearing on Sunday at the PG Festival's Speakers Corner

Involving the grassroots community was key to the success of a project to revive the centre of Crouch End, which according to Clare as recently as 2007 was looking somewhat shabby, with vacant shops becoming a more frequent sight.

Clare was concerned about the future of her local high street and in 2007, "almost by accident", launched the Crouch End Project.  The project has proved a great success, and Clare now works as a consultant to local government and private business on regeneration.  She's been invited to present at the Speakers Corner to share her findings about how grassroots community engagement can lift the local economy - in fact, the motto of Speak To - Clare's consultancy - is  "Inspiring a Grassroots Attitude".

Clare's slot at the Speakers Corner will be from 3.45 to 4.20pm.  To  get the best out of this short time, I'd advise first watching this interview, carried out by Francis Sealey of Enfield Voices, which starts with a presentation by Clare.

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palmers green triangle logo 1

The triangle logo created for Palmers Green

"If we give PG a facelift, good things will be triggered."

A dozen words that sum up the thinking behind an initiative called "Reimagining Palmers Green" that has the goal of helping our shopping parades not just weather the storms currently afflicting high streets everywhere, but become "a thriving, local, multi-purpose visit centre".

"Facelift" is a rather modest description for what is actually an ambitious project, but it does emphasize the centrality of the visual aspects of PG's townscape to the work that the small team behind Reimagining Palmers Green have been quietly getting on with for the past couple of years, in conjunction with local traders and Enfield Council.

A second important factor is the types of business occupying the shopping parades. To survive in the Internet age high streets need more than just retail. They need to identify what local people want and provide it.

Work with the buildings, rather than against them

For Reimagining Palmers Green the appearance of our shopping parades is key to their future prosperity. A visually attractive townscape would bring in visitors and encourage spending, reduce the time units were vacant between lettings and by increasing civic pride reduce littering and fly tipping.

The parades were built to high visual and structural standards, but from the 1950s on the shopfronts have been subjected to haphazard and unsympathetic "modernisation", while the handsome upper storey frontages have been neglected, giving the impression of a town centre that is not cared for.  A properly enforced shopfront design code and the installation of period shop fronts would create a local community vibe more like a village than a through route.

Drawing inspiration from elsewhere in London

leyton high road before and afterAn example of renovation elsewhere in London: shops in Leyton High Road

restored shopfronts in myddleton roadRestored shopfronts in Myddleton Road, Bowes Park

"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."  Far better to work with the buildings, rather than against them, go back to traditional materials, window sizes, door positioning and so on. By doing so it is possible to provide a "touch of class", but at the same time use modern branding, colours and design sensibilities.

This approach has been used very successfully elsewhere in London, notably in Tufnell Park, Leyton High Road, Myddleton Road (Bowes Park) and along a small section of Harringay Green Lanes - bringing increases in footfall and trading. 

Going back in time for a 21st century Palmers Green

barclays bank palmers green

barclays bank palmers green renovation

shops in palmers green

shops in palmers green renovatedArtist's impressions of what renovated buildings in Palmers Green might look like

For many more examples and a much more detailed discussion of how the town centre and individual buildings could be enhanced, see the  Reimagining Palmers Green Instagram page.

Not just retail

Of course, making the town centre more visually attractive is only part of the solution.  Online shopping means that the late 20th century retail scene in the UK has gone for ever - and, it seems, younger people are in any case less obsessed with "retail therapy".

Reimagining Palmers Green believe, however, that customers are there for businesses who provide them with what they want.  High streets need social, leisure and community uses to draw footfall.  They point out that independent shop openings are on the rise.  And they set a challenge for businesses:  people are prioritising experiences over purchases – how can you combine them?

Working with traders, landlords and the council

Reimagining Palmers Green suggest ways that landlords and traders can meet the challenges by working together and with community groups and employing modern methods, including social media   And, of course, working with the council and individual councillors.

On the subject of Enfield Council, Reimagining Palmers Green say that they've been really supportive, open to ideas and ready to help where they can.  Planning policy and the stance taken towards change of use for retail premises will be important for ensuring the required diversity of businesses for a thriving Palmers Green.

 

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Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #3921 13 Jun 2018 15:15
I don't know what traction this group has with owners, occupants or the council, but improving the appearance of the area can only have positive effects for all of them.

I have previousy argued with councillors and on PGC that a gradual improvement as shop fronts are anyway changed but in line with design guides should be possible. Unfortunately Enfield failed to enforce its shopfront design guide and replaced it with anodyne, general statements in the Development Management Document.

The shopfront design guide is nevertheless a useful reference guide.

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brian lewis in my time palmers green

Brian Lewis: 'Why not spread a pop-up market of local start-ups and micro businesses across several shops in Palmers Green?'

In the face of the growing problems affecting high streets nationwide and the difficulties faced by small start-up businesses, the Palmers Green Festival is working with local traders and with the Green Lanes Business Association on an initiative designed to help both established shops and promising new start-ups.  Their ambition is for PG to become a thriving local multi-purpose visit centre.

On 1st September local shops will  be hosting "pop-ups" giving new entrepeneurs a chance to show off their wares. Then, at the following day's Palmers Green Festival, the same pop-ups will be featured in the Festival's Arts and Crafts Zone.

Brian Lewis, owner of Palmers Green café and entertainment venue My Time, already has a track record for helping other local businesses.  As well as sourcing food and drink locally, he displays products from several small businesses, such as greetings cards and other art and craft specialities.  My Time even has an area at the front of the cafe where local entrepeneurs can meet their clients.

opera ice cream palmers green festival photo by janusz kalisczak

The PG Festival has always supported small local businesses, such as Opera Ice Cream (Photo: Janusz Kaliszak)

Brian explains the thinking behind the pop-up scheme:  “One proven way to bring footfall into an area is to have a market, so we thought 'Why not spread a pop-up market of local start-ups and micro businesses across several shops in Palmers Green?'”

Palmers Green Festival director Phillip Chard says that throughout its history the Festival has been seeking ways to assist local businesses and is excited about this latest iniative:  "This coming together offers immense marketing exposure over a single weekend for micro businesses, as well as helping our high street traders”.

Could your business benefit from the pop-up market?

In the first instance please contact Brian at My Time.

Brian Lewis, My Time
www.mytimefare.co.uk
020 8886 6994

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David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #3910 05 Jun 2018 12:59
Love ideas 1 and 2 in particular. PG lacks any large squares or similar where we can have marketplaces, some of the large vacated retail units could be perfect.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #3913 07 Jun 2018 11:27
Expanding on the pop-up posting and also ideas by Caley, depending on interest, it may be shops will look at additional pop-up days. Festival is, of course, a one-day-only hit; this year anyway.

Our local (rail car park) market had three huge launches with committed teams under residents Philip, Hannah and finally Anita. None proved sustainable despite their massive efforts. High street traders are now looking at the issue but there are several issues to resolve, not least where to locate it, when (Enfield’s Royal Charter is restrictive) and what to sell to who. The large voids have proved impossible to use for this.

As part of some long running background work, all PG traders have received requests this week for a snapshot of current conditions and also their five year view. Response rates have been very high. Under a LBE umbrella, the coordinating retail specialists will be reporting in a tight timescale.

Outside of this LBE driven work, but not unaligned with it, the majority of traders subsequently received a presentation pack highlighting issues, opportunities, some work currently underway and more. Examples include social media opportunities / guidance and a Landlord Charter seeking to drive a more attractive high street estate. This particular work strand includes GLBA but is broader in its trader reach.

All work to date has been purely trader focused but the expectation is that as a high street approach is developed, residents, visitors and others will be asked to contribute. Until then, thoughts via this site are as good as anywhere – and in truth probably the best current place to send them.

[Admin comment: The "background work" that Karl refers to here is the Reimagining Palmers Green initiative mentioned below by Natasha Morris. For more information see A facelift for pG could be the start of a high street renaissance . If you have comments, please make them under that article.]
N Morris's Avatar
N Morris posted a reply #3914 11 Jun 2018 09:41
Following on from Karl's comment - I attach the presentation that was circulated to those traders whose contacts I had collected to date and am happy to post here for wider circulation/comment.

Reimagining Palmers Green Presentation
Sue Beard's Avatar
Sue Beard posted a reply #3924 14 Jun 2018 08:37
Thank you for all you are doing Brian, Karl, Natasha...if this could all happen- wow
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #3947 04 Jul 2018 14:55
The death of the UK’s high street story rumbles on with the latest Grimsey report released today. He is now saying, “bricks and mortar retailing can no longer be the anchor for thriving high streets”, instead he indicates they should move with the times and “be repopulated and refashioned as community hubs that include housing, health and leisure, entertainment, education, arts, business / office space and some shops”. I think that’s a message many in PG have been communicating for a long while.


On that popular life-or-death chestnut of parking / free parking he puts the high street's decline down to the growth in popularity of out-of-town shopping centres with their free parking, as well as online shopping. But he dismissed the idea that free or cheaper parking being reintroduced into High Streets would revitalise them: "If it was that simple then people would have done it already." "The point is that the retail proposition in town centres has been overtaken by the more convenient out-of-town parks. The town centres should say 'let them have it'.


People who have followed this debate for-ever will realise that latter point is exactly what David Hughes was saying over and over to local traders (GLBA) a good decade since.


Looked at simply, with all else being pretty much stable, then opening up huge supermarkets (eg Sainsbury Winchmore Hill), enormous shopping centres (eg Westfield), retail parks (pick your own) and then a whole set of new internet shopping channels (mobile, tablet, laptop et al), traditional retail volume has to suffer – big time. It really was that obvious; the trick was to anticipate and plan for the inevitable change before being forced to do so. So it’s a huge shame that cycle lanes got the blame and all the necessary business attention instead. But give it another decade and I’m sure strategic reality will have caught up on that one too.
David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #3948 04 Jul 2018 15:13
Spot on Karl.

Gimsey report in summary:

"Among 25 key recommendations, Grimsey’s taskforce calls for a new town centre commission to develop a 20-year strategy for local high streets, abolishing the business rates system and speed up ongoing digital transformation in smaller towns."

Great point about parking. Reinforced by the failed Mary Porter exercise - parking (more and cheaper/free) was a big part of her proposition. It proved to be utterly useless if the high street offer is still all wrong and an unpleasant place to be.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #3956 05 Jul 2018 10:25
On the speeding up digital transformation theme, and specifically following one strand of the work recently highlighted in a presentation posted by Norris Morris, PG traders now have a quote from a UK award winning organisation in this field to help their cause. The price is small, particularly when shared amongst numerous outlets; call it half a lost cycling legal case, so let’s see what happens next.

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In March 2014 Enfield Council carried out a public consultation, using a vehicle parked in Green Lanes, with the aim of discovering what residents of Palmers Green thought about the town centre and what improvements they would like to see to the "public realm".

Model used for Palmers Green consultationA hundred people attended the consultation sessions, filling in a questionnaire, annotating a map and using a "Planning for Real" model of Palmers Green town centre to focus their thoughts.

A report based on the consultation exercise was expected to be published by Summer 2014, but to date this has not happened. However, in August I submitted a Freedom of Information request with the aim of finding out why the report had been delayed and what the survey had revealed.

A batch of information was duly provided in September. As the documentation appeared to suggest that the report's publication was only delayed, not cancelled, I initially held off posting any details of the information that was released. However, as we are now approaching the end of October, I have now decided to make the information public.

The key information provided in the FOI response is a copy of the draft report as at 5th September and photocopies of the individual questionnaires filled in by members of the public. However, the foreword to the draft report indicates that in addition to information gleaned from the questionnaires, the report writer has taken into account views expressed by people who stopped by and spoke to the consultation facilitators but did not fill in any forms.

Recommendations

Based on the views expressed during the consultation exercise, the Council officer responsible for drafting the report drew up the following recommendations:

  • The 'town like feeling' and sense of place should be underpinned through public artwork, outdoor seating areas, more greenery and improved pedestrian environments, particularly on Green Lanes
  • The requirements for parking on Green Lanes should be further evaluated (and additional consultation undertaken) to ensure that parking is located correctly and that it can be integrated with cycling proposals and proposed additional greenery, while also addressing concerns from residents regarding lost parking spaceBetter, safer cycle lanes should be created within the area – having designated cycle lanes may help to reduce problems with cyclists using the pavements on Green Lanes and Aldermans Hills
  • Further improvement proposals for the area around the Triangle should be developed, to ensure that this location remains a focal point in the area and becomes a place for 'people rather than traffic'
  • The feasibility of suggested traffic calming measures and parking management in residential roads should be further evaluated
  • Potential improvements to crossing points and new crossing points in proposed locations should be further investigated
  • The potential for improving and moving the existing market to a more visible location (possibly using the wide pavements on Green Lanes) should be explored
  • High quality ornamental planting areas and tree planting should be introduced in key locations such as Green Lanes, Aldermans Hill and the Triangle. This can help to create 'green links' from the high street into existing green spaces.
  • Potential 'quick fixes' such as repairing potholes, gating alleyways and more policing in locations which suffer from antisocial behaviour (for example the area around the station, Fox Lane and the Lodge Drive car park) should be identified, while more complex issues such as the requirement for parking and cycle lanes are evaluated further
  • The resident suggestion to expand the street play scheme on Devonshire Road (drawing inspiration from earlier schemes by organisations such as 'Playing Out') should be explored.

Report findings

The main part of the draft report is made up of sections describing "consultation themes" and "key locations". These two sections are reproduced in full below.  Please bear in mind that this is only a draft.  We do not know whether the final report is due to include additional sections, nor do we know whether the writer is/was planning to look through the source data again and possibly make some changes.

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Rebecca Singh's Avatar
Rebecca Singh posted a reply #474 26 Oct 2014 16:58
Hi Basil - I've just joined the PGC website and saw your update/post on improving Palmers Green and the info you got from the FOI request. I was just wondering if you know where it all goes from here? And at what point the 'recommendations' (which I agree with wholeheartedly) become a plan and who will be tasked with implementing that plan? I'm keen to be involved in any way I can.
Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #475 26 Oct 2014 19:02
Welcome to PGC, Rebecca.

Good question, and wish I knew the answer.

If you dig back into some of the earlier articles on the Palmers Green Town Centre Improvements page you'll find some background and some clues as to how things might progress. In particular read the article dated 29th June.

Look also at the discussion thread about "Cycling and Cycle Lanes" and the document that shows how the consultation process will work when "Mini-Holland/Cycle Enfield" is implemented.

"Mini-Holland" and the Palmers Green Public Realm Enhancements are intimately connected because it is the cycling improvements money from Transport for London that will be used to improve the general environment in Green Lanes (and elsewhere in the borough).

This will be the second stab at improvements to PG town centre. Two or three years ago the Council was planning various improvements and there was a public consultation - the responses are on this page of the website . There were some interesting ideas put forward by a group called Improving Our Place - in fact, I think they may have been responsible for triggering the whole process (and they in turn were triggered by the loss of the magnificent horse chestnut at the Triangle). Anyway, that all fell through because no money was available.

This time money will be less of a problem because of the TfL Mini-Holland money. However, Mini-Holland itself is extremely controversial. The Council's first idea (and probably still their preference) was to put cycle lanes right through PG on both sides of the road, with a certain amount of "light segregation". This proposal is fiercely opposed by people who don't want to see any reduction in road capacity and particularly any reduction in roadside parking. The anti-cycle lanes campaign is being led by the Green Lanes Business Association and the N21 Online website - both are concerned primarily about potential loss of custom for shops along Green Lanes if customers can't park nearby. This is a legitimate - though not necessarily well-founded - concern, but the propaganda put out by this group is sometimes of questionable accuracy.

The two extreme views are, crudely put, on the one hand, optimise conditions for cyclists by giving them lightly segregated cycle lanes all the way from Enfield Town to PG; on the other hand, leave things as they are along the A105 and send the cyclists along back streets. But there are also people, myself included, who don't much like either of these. I would certainly like fewer noisy and smelly cars and more quiet and clean bicycles in Green Lanes, but as a pedestrian I think that two lanes of high-speed cyclists and two lanes of cars would be more of a barrier to crossing Green Lane than the present generally sluggish car traffic. And to boot, the proposals would do away with some of the pedestrian refuges, at least one bus stop and various bus lanes.

What I and others are looking for is a solution that works for all street users - pedestrians, shopkeepers, cyclists, drivers, bus passengers, and people stopping for a chat with friends in a pleasant environment, with a bit of bustle yes, but not overly polluted by noise and poisonous fumes. I'm not sure what that solution would look like - shared space is a concept that might be appropriate, but might present problems for disabled people.

As I understand it, consultation on the Enfield Town-PG cycle route will begin imminently, but only involve a few chosen "stakeholders". By the time the Council publishes its amended plans, it may be too late to make any significant changes. So if anyone has any innovative solutions, the time to speak is now.
Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #476 26 Oct 2014 20:54
One of the areas of controversy, apart from the question of car parking, is that of the fate of the Palmers Green Triangle. Traffic planners have long wanted to replace the large pedestrian island (a "traffic splitter" in their terms) with a simple T-junction. Removal was part of the mini-holland bid.The recent consultation however indicated a significant degree of support for its retention and improvement.

The Triangle has been denuded of the (diseased) huge horse chestnut, the railings around the disused public toilets (which might yet find a new home protecting the Broomfield Park conservatory), large planters and (perhaps?) some seating. Strangely, promises of re-planting and a general greening up have failed to materialise. The triangular clock is the only addition, though that is not without controversy. Personally I think in retrospect that it would have benefited from being taller, and perhaps being in a slightly different position, but that is hindsight, and I know that there are issues with regard to the lighting lay-out of the whole area which constrain this.

There have been mixed messages from councillors and officials over the last year about the future of the Triangle. Whether the Triangle could be improved and retained in some form of "shared space" scheme remains to be seen, but the tenacious hold that removal seems to have on the mind of traffic planners may be an indicator.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #477 27 Oct 2014 10:42
Basil, if I may, one minor correction: Improving our Place and its identified benefits from a social-centric Triangle and improvements to the nearby shopping areas predated the loss of the chestnut tree; and the ideas didn’t fall through, rather than agreement was that Palmers Green would become a priority investment area once Ponders End and Meridian Water were taken care of, and then subject to capital availability, ie we are now where we hoped we would be, indeed via the successful Mini Holland bid, getting there far earlier than I had personally expected. The largest risk currently seems to me to be losing that goodwill, and hence investment potential, through a focus on individual trees rather than the collective wood.

Town Centres are far from areas of purely commerce. That is perhaps the first area on which to reflect. Transport hubs, social spaces and a whole lot more.

There are then some much bigger issues resulting in very wide strategic themes which will inevitably impact on any decisions. Why for instance do we have extremely aggressive (80% reduction by 2050) CO2 targets and fresh, closer, ones emerging only last week. Why is London threatened with fines of hundreds of millions of pounds due to air quality breaches – and hence premature deaths. Why, last week, did Public Health England highlight that 1 in 6 UK deaths is directly due to inactivity, even suggesting simple changes to lifestyle such as – wait for it, and leading with – cycling to the shops. Mental health effects, I believe, 1 in 6 of us at some stage, possibly the biggest health cost to the UK, and its biggest cause is apparently loneliness. And then we read the NHS risks financial meltdown.

If I can quote for a rather splendid group of papers now emerging from Changing London ( www.change-london.org.uk ), this one “ A Fair City”

In the late 1800s policymakers began to realise that designing and building homes, streets and public places with due regard to sanitation and public health had a direct impact on the fitness and wellbeing and especially on the economic productivity of the nation. A series of public health measures were enacted which were radical at the time but which today we take for granted.

We know that the built environment also influences the way we interact with one another and so affects our mental wellbeing as much as our physical health, but still planners in the UK largely ignore this dimension. The parent of a primary school child, for example, knows how their local network expands and improves when they join the school gate fraternity. A peer network evolves sharing knowledge and, often, practical help. Just as the school gate brings together people with common interests and concerns so too do allotments, places of worship, local shops, outdoor markets, cul de sacs and even shared dustbins. We can design social interaction into the places where we live or we can design it out.

It’s a complex mix now being assessed within PG. What I would ask is for everyone to stand back, drop their own personal hobby-horse - and we all have them – and think the big question. What exactly are we trying to achieve, holistically, and then consider the various strands now in play. It’s not an easy one and there are a lot of bricks being thrown which tend not to assist.

It now appears that another wide ranging and informed set of thoughts has been provided to the Council which you have surfaced for all to assess. Far better, as much appears to be, a focus on what people want PG to be rather than the main attention being what it shouldn’t. That’s easy, change is hard. Let’s see what comes out of this latest raft and in the meantime perhaps there are visions out there of how PG could look like which could be shared on the Community web site. Personally I like the idea of designing in social interaction, probably more attractive to recruiting and retaining shoppers than parking spaces, but like everyone else in this one, I don’t have the data to make the claim.
Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #478 30 Oct 2014 15:11
This week's Enfield Gazette carries a report on the publication of the survey data by this website . It also includes the response to the publication by Enfield cabinet member Chris Bond, who is quoted as saying that the responses will be considered along with those from two upcoming consultations - on Cycle Enfield ("Mini-Holland") and on Quiet Zones.
Rather disappointingly, Councillor Bond doesn't say whether or not the Council is planning to publish the survey findings, just that they'll be considered...
Holly Bothwell's Avatar
Holly Bothwell posted a reply #495 07 Nov 2014 15:54
Thank you very much for posting this, Basil - the summaries provided contain such a lot of positive comment and pride in the area from the residents surveyed, more so than I'd have dared hope for. Fingers crossed that the Council decide to publish their findings henceforth, instead of you needing to extract them through FOI requests!

Rebecca, one thing that may help you become more involved in the process is to write in support to anyone who will listen. I assume that your representative in Parliament is David Burrowes MP. He is not in favour of the current Mini Holland proposals and seems quite happy so far to swallow the line from the Green Lanes Business Association, which is a pity - and one thing you can do is write to him directly to remind him that he represents you, not just the GLBA. Mr Burrowes is broadly in favour of improvements to the environment for pedestrians, and I know him to be familiar with and supportive of the work of Living Streets, but he may need a gentle reminder that these proposals are designed to make our streets more liveable. You may also like to take some time to correct any troublesome misinformation that ends up in local newspapers. None of this will have much effect on the Council departments who are tasked with carrying out the work, but it certainly might discourage them from handing the money back, which they have sadly done before. Supportive voices and constructive criticism will go a long way.

As Basil says, the Mini Holland proposals are going to be what brings us the money to pay for improvements to Palmers Green across the board, so it's important that the dialogue is not dominated by a single group protecting its own interests - especially when their concerns about imminent ruination are not borne out by evidence from any town, borough, or area that has made changes to improve the walking and cycling environment.
Rebecca Singh's Avatar
Rebecca Singh posted a reply #516 11 Nov 2014 13:40
Holly thanks for your reply and I'm sorry I did not see it sooner (still getting used to navigating the forum). I will as you suggest write to My Burrowes and the Council and anyone else for that matter. Thank you.

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clock1 before installation at Palmers Green Triangle

installation of new clock at Palmers Green Triangle

Costas Georgiou and Danny Hammond at the Palmers Green Triangle clock installation

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs:  Colin Younger

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Enfield Council have provided a written statement outlining their plans for consultation about implementing the "Mini-Holland" cycle scheme (now rechristened "Cycle Enfield")  along Green Lanes and carrying out "urban realm improvements" in Palmers Green town centre.  The letter clearly states that it is not the intention of the Council to "remove the Palmers Green Triangle".

As expected, the urban realm improvements will be funded using Cycle Enfield money provided by the Mayor of London.  The results of the public consultation exercise that was carried in Palmers Green during March will "inform" the work of the traffic engineering consultants tasked with developing preliminary designs for cycling improvements in Palmers Green.  Another input into this work will be traffic survey data which is currently being collected.  The Council hope to have the preliminary design work done by November 2014, at which point they will carry out "extensive consultation with all residents and businesses in the vicinity of our proposals" (how "vicinity" is defined is not  yet clear).  However, consultation will actually start earlier than this, with the setting up of a Partnership Board, which may meet beginning in September.  The Partnership Board will have representatives from residents and business associations and groups representing disabled people and cyclists.

The full text of the letter, sent by the Group Leader for Traffic, Road Safety & Parking to Colin Younger, Chair of the Lakes Estate Conservation Area Study Group, is reproduced below.  (Hanna Salomonsson, referred to in the letter, was in charge of the March 2014 consultation.)

The recent Palmers Green consultation did not propose any measures but instead collected people’s views on what they thought was good and bad about the area. Notes were also taken of any measures suggested by consultees. As you know although Hanna Salomonsson is currently on maternity leave she is liaising with her colleagues to produce a report that will summarise the consultation findings. This report will then inform the design work that our Mini-Holland (now branded as Cycle Enfield) consultants will be preparing. The Cycle Enfield funding gives us the opportunity to fund the urban realm improvements in the Palmers Green section of Green Lanes that have long been sought.

The Council is in the process of collecting traffic survey data to assist with the preparation of preliminary designs for our Cycle Enfield proposals. When we have completed these preliminary designs we will carry out extensive consultation with all residents and businesses in the vicinity of our proposals. At present we hope to start consultation on our proposals for Green Lanes in November 2014.

In the meantime a Partnership Board will be established to allow a wide range of stakeholders to participate in the project. This will include groups such as yours and also the Fox Lane and District Residents Association, Green Lanes Business Association, Enfield Disability Action, local Councillors and representatives of other local residents associations and cycling groups. A report that recommends the setting up of the Partnership Board will be presented to Cabinet in July and we expect to hold the first meeting in September, after the summer holiday period.

Please be assured that it is not our intention to remove the Palmers Green triangle. The design that accompanied our Cycle Enfield bid was only conceptual in nature and will change as detailed design and consultation progresses.

Kind regards,
Liam Mulrooney – Group Leader Traffic, Road Safety & Parking,
Traffic & Transportation Service, Planning, Highways & Transportation Division,
Regeneration & Environment Department, Enfield Council, Silver Street, Enfield EN1 3XD
Telephone:020 8379 3550 Fax: 020 8379 8517

extensive consultation with all residents and businesses in the vicinity of our proposals.
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The debate about the "Mini-Holland" cycling improvements along Green Lanes has so far been pretty polarized:  on the one hand, advocates of cycle lanes along the whole street, on the other some fierce defence of the right of drivers to park in Green Lanes close to the shops they want to visit.  Cycle lane supporters claim that there is evidence to suggest that reducing car parking would boost shop sales, those defending the interests of local businesses dismiss this argument as contrary to common sense.  The row started up again last week on the forums of Bowes and Bounds Connected, sparked off by the news that Enfield Cycling Campaign are planning a "cycle cash mob" in Palmers Green on 5th July..

Wednesday 30 July 7.30pm

Public Meeting: Mini-Holland and alternative approaches to revitalising Enfield Town Centre

Conference Room,  Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield EN1 3XA

Come and help shape the changes to Enfield Town Centre

Hosted by Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group (ETCASG).

The speaker will be Ben Hamilton-Baillie, Transport, Traffic and Urban Design Consultant, who was consultant on a notable street scheme which has been completed in Poynton town centre. The streets have been redesigned with an informal central median strip, with courtesy crossings and extended pedestrian areas, unified through a common paving pattern.

 

In fact, opposition to "Mini-Holland" started not in Palmers Green, but a couple of months earlier in Enfield Town, when it became known that Enfield Council's proposal was to completely remove private cars from Church Street, where the carriageway would be divided into a bus lane running west-east and cycle lanes in both directions.  Other traffic would use Cecil Road, converted from one-way to two-way.

Shared Space

In Enfield Town too the argument has been between advocates of cycle lanes and those who resist any restrictions on cars.  However, it appears that a third, more radical, approach is about to be proposed - "shared space" - and ideas for how it could be implemented in Enfield Town will be described and discussed at a public meeting at the Civic Centre on 30th July, organised by the Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group.

The main speaker at the meeting will a leading authority on "shared space" - Ben Hamilton-Baillee, who played a leading role in redesigning the town centre of Poynton in Cheshire (see the video clip below).

 The principles of shared space are a complete contrast to conventional road design, where motorists, pedestrians and (sometimes) cyclists are assigned their own particular confined spaces, which they do their best to move along as fast as possible.  Conflicts between different flows of traffic and people are controlled by lanes painted on roads, pavements, traffic lights, roundabouts, give way signs and pedestrian crossings, a source of irritation to everyone concerned.  Such an arrangements creates rivals of different types of street user and of motorists driving in different directions.  Shared space does away with all these controlling elements and changes the relationship between street users from one of rivalry to one of collaboration, making the whole experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

On the face of it, it seems unlikely that shared space could work as described above in a country where a culture of embattled rivalry between different users of the street has built up over many years.  But the Poynton Regenerated video provides strong evidence that a well designed scheme can transform an unpleasant, traffic-clogged main road into a pleasant environment for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike - and all without causing any traffic delays on a major road.

What about Palmers Green?

Though the invitation to the public meeting in Enfield Town does not mention it explicitly, the involvement of Ben Hamilton-Baillie strongly suggests that the "alternative approaches" will be based on the shared space concept.  It will be interesting to see how it could be applied in a London town centre with a much higher population density and more crowded pavements than a Cheshire village.  And the question naturally arises as to whether it might be a better solution for Palmers Green town centre than the conventional approach of segregating motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and making them wait impatiently for traffic lights to change.  And might it make it possible to create a safer environment for cyclists while retaining the current level of on-street parking provision?

Shared space was in fact proposed for Palmers Green back in 2010 by the pressure group Improving Our Place, who drew up a number of options for improving the town centre in general and the Triangle in particular.  The suggestions made at the time can still be viewed on the Improving Our Place website, though the website itself has not been updated for three or four years.

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The Enfield Cycling Campaign is hoping that by organising a "Cycle Cash Mob" to coincide with the Palmers Green Festival of Shopping they will be able to soothe the concerns of shopkeepers in Green Lanes about the effects of the planned "Mini-Holland" cycle improvements on their businesses.

The Shopping Carnival will be held on Saturday 5th July and the Cycling Campaign is asking its members - and anyone else who would like to see safer conditions for cyclists in Palmers Green - to assemble in Winchmore Hill and then ride along Green Lanes to Palmers Green, where they will then spend money in local shops and join in the Carnival festivities.

The organisers point out that research has shown that cyclists and pedestrians spend as much, if not more, in local shops than motorists.

Would you welcome safer cycling in Palmers Green?

Come to the Palmers Green Shopping Carnival on your bike!

- 12 noon on Saturday 5 July -

EnfieldCyclingCampaignLogo

Enfield Cycling Campaign are organising a short cycle ride along Green Lanes in Palmers Green during the Shopping Carnival on Saturday 5 July. We will meet at 12 noon on the junction of Green Lanes and Compton Road in Winchmore Hill.

The idea of the ride is to:

  • Celebrate Enfield’s success in winning the Mini Holland bid to create safe space for cycling
  • Show our support for cycle lanes on Palmers Green high street
  • Encourage shopkeepers on Green Lanes that they will not lose business to cycle lanes – people can also shop by bike!

Research in the UK and abroad shows that cycling facilities boost business in the long run. We aim to reassure our local traders on Saturday 5 July by doing a bit of shopping by bike: a cycle ‘cash mob’!

Please come if you support safer cycling for you and your children. Cycling should be for everyone. Come even if you don’t normally cycle – and bring your friends and your children and your friend’s children and your children’s friends and your granny and your mother-in-law. Oh, and your bike!

Any questions? Email

 

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Both the discussions on the mini-Holland scheme and the consultation on the future of Palmers Green raise issues about the shopping environment. One of the most significant influences on the street scene, whether in a Conservation Area (as along parts of Aldermans Hill) or more generally, is the appearance of shop fronts themselves.

This can be as subtle as the colouring and lettering on shop fronts or as “in your face” as the spread of the solid shop front security shutters which can give a forbidding aspect to the street scene when closed.

Strangely little known, and regrettably so far as I can see little used, is the Shop Front Design Guide, which if applied could have an enormously positive effect. Shop fronts are subject to frequent revision, and it seems to me, if the Design Guide was used could transform our shopping areas at no added cost to shop owners.

I would like to see Enfield using this routinely - in fact I can’t understand why they haven’t been using it. If local businesses want to improve the shopping experience and are concerned about the death of local high streets perhaps they could begin by taking this in to account when they replace shop fronts. What’s the down side? At the moment we have a jumble of clashing frontages  which have no regard to their overall impact – let’s bring some style to Palmers Green!

 

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According to the Enfield Council officers involved, last weekend's public consultation about improving the "Public Realm" in Palmers Green went well, and they were pleasantly surprised at the level of interest and the amount of time many local residents spent engaging with the 3D model of Palmers Green town centre.  They have begun analysing the information they gathered from residents and hope in the near future to be able to provide some initial information about the most important themes that the survey threw up.

pg consultation modelThe model of Palmers Green used in the consultation - the significance of the dinosaur is unclearThe next step will be to write up a full report summarising and collating the views collected from the public.  Once this is finished, its findings will be fed back to the local community by various routes, including Palmers Green Community, and possibly also at a presentation event - Broomfield Park is a potential venue for such an event.  At the same time, the public would be informed about proposed next steps and whether or not funding was available.  This feedback phase is expected to occur in June.

Following the feedback phase, and only if funding for the project becomes available, the Council will outline some design options and invite comments from the public.  A Masterplan would then be drawn up - again with opportunities to comment, but little if any scope for making any major changes.  Once detailed design work began, there would be further public presentations, but these would be information events rather than consultations.

 Among issues raised by visitors to the mobile consultation space was the threatened removal of the triagular traffic island at Palmers Green Triangle.  Visitors were assured that the Council was well aware of the level of public opposition to such a change and had now decided to retain the traffic island.

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