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The text of the presentation given by Liz Robinson of the Palmers Green Action Team at last Saturday's town centre meeting in the former Starbucks building.

palmers green action team logoHello to everyone and thank you to Enfield for organising this morning and inviting us to be a part of it.

My name is Liz Robinson and I am one of the committee members of Palmers Green Action Team. We are a volunteer run group with a diverse range of skill sets and a common goal to improve the high street for the local community. We met at the school gates and through social media and for the last few months have been putting our heads together and investing our energies into revitalising Palmers Green town centre.

Our aims are:

  • to reposition the high street and put it back at the heart of the community;
  • to support existing and new local businesses;
  • to make it a more attractive and stimulating place to be - as well as encouraging locals and visitors to come to the high street more regularly and for longer.

Crucially we want to create new uses for the high street that will encourage increased footfall.

So in the 6 months we have been operational, what have we done?

We have suggested and supported a local trader WhatsApp group, putting business owners in touch with each other to share information and create a sense of solidarity.

We held a Spring Clean morning in May, with over 100 volunteers turning out and getting their hands dirty in the name of community. The event saw local people litter picking, cleaning off stickers and children being encouraged to create their own artwork to be displayed in shop windows.

We also had lots of new planting put into the existing beds, with many businesses being given trees to house permanently outside their shops and businesses. And with the help of the local scouts and girl guides, we cleared and planted the large bed outside the job centre - I think we can all agree it looks much improved.

Several local businesses leant their support on the day, giving out free pizza, water and ice cream. It was a huge success and proof that there is enthusiasm, passion and commitment that we can harness for the good.

On the day of the Spring Clean, we surveyed local people, gathering important feedback on what people want to see on their high street, learning what works and what could be improved. The results can be seen on the boards here.

We also held an exhibition in the vacant unit next to he Fox pub, displaying our ideas for how we could make improvements - like tidying up the shopfronts, giving them a more consistent and traditional look and pushing for pop ups to go into empty units. This exhibition was hugely popular and subsequently moved to the window of this unit to ensure everyone got to see it.

Off the back of the Spring Clean, we have brought together a new litter picking group, the New River Wombles - look out for them the next time you in that part of PG.

And last Sunday we had our first roll up for volunteers and enjoyed meeting all the new faces who came down to Baskervilles and offered their support, passion and ideas. We are really looking forward to working with you and welcome anyone else who would like to join, please come and chat to us at the end!

A big passion for us is helping to fill the empty units on the high street, which in the current climate is a real challenge; we call it our Tenant Target. Our biggest success to date has been with Stitch! A member of our team heard via social media that a group of women were looking for space for a creative venture and we - along with Kostas from Green Lanes Business Association - helped matchmake them with the landlord, for them to eventually go into the unit in a pop up capacity.

We are currently working with other prospective tenants and existing landlords to create more success stories like this alongside approaching businesses directly that we would like to see in PG - retail and non retail - exploring more experiential offerings as is the current trend.

So what is next?

Our mission is to give people, local and otherwise, good reasons to come to our high street. We want to make it more attractive for businesses as well as the community. We champion a joined up approach between Green Lanes, Alderman Hill and Broomfield Park and equally in the other direction up to Hedge Lane. The aim here, to give Palmers Green a unified town centre feel.

Ongoing projects are our Tenant Target as I’ve just mentioned - looking at bringing community functions to the town centre to plug the gap of vacating retail (for example GPs, cinema, indoor market, dentists, nurseries, office spaces, community centres, experiential spaces).

We are identifying areas and alleyways that are prone to fly tipping and looking for solutions.

Plus putting more greening in the area including new mature trees, more potted trees, hanging baskets and living walls. We are always seeking grants and funding for these kinds of improvements.

We feel improved aesthetics are vital.

We know we have so many artists in PG and we want to create two street art installations - please come and talk to us if you have some talent to lend to this - we are currently identifying viable sites for these pieces.

The Shopfront Project is also ongoing, pushing for uniformity in look and bringing back a traditional style, plus crucially better relationships with landlords and letting agents to encourage property maintenance and more investment.

So as you can see, we are busy and we are ambitious! We have reported all our research and findings to Enfield council who have been encouraging and supportive to date and we really look forward to continuing that dialogue and relationship.

To stay up to speed on what we are doing, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram - Palmers Green Action Team. We are trying to post regularly and share news and updates on all things PG so let us know your thoughts and ideas, we’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for listening.

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