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Enfield Council is continuing its work aimed at reviving the borough's town centres and last week launched a community engagement programme inviting people to "participate in a conversation about Enfield Town and create a vision for its future". Next week a council committee tasked with finding ways to improve Enfield's shopping areas will be meeting - the agenda and accompanying documents provide some insight into the council's emerging ideas for its town centres, in particular Enfield Town and Palmers Green.

Let's Talk Enfield Town

imageThe Let's Talk Enfield Town community survey was launched by council leader Nesil Caliskan following a community event at the Dugdale Centre on Sunday 15 September. In addition to the online survey, there will be several events:

For more information, visit letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/enfieldtown.

Improving Enfield Shopping Areas/Empty Shops Scrutiny Workstream

This catchily named committee will be meeting  on Wednesday 9th October (6.30pm in the Civic Centre). Documents accompanying the agenda provide some interesting information about work to date.

Palmers Green and Southgate

my time

MyTime - part of PG's expanding entertainment provision

The committee's last meeting on 30th April focussed mainly on Enfield Town, but councillors also received a briefing by Andrew Cacheside, the town centre development manager, on the conclusions drawn from visits to Palmers Green, Southgate, Edmonton Green and Angel Edmonton and conversations with local business associations and community groups.

Palmers Green

  • A Palmers Green Action Team had been involved in recent tidying up initiatives and were working on a design guide for shop fronts.
  • There were signs of the emergence of a night time economy similar to that of Wood Green and Crouch End.
  • Currently there were 19 empty shops in Palmers Green, not clustered together, but dotted along the road. 411 Green Lanes had been taken over by the Action Team.
  • There was a view that the retail centre was too elongated.
  • There was some strong leadership in the community and the desire to take part in the co-production of action plans.
  • Entertainment provision was growing.
  • Palmers Green had the highest number of empty shops among the centres.

Southgate

  • Occupancy rates in Southgate were high. Although the upper floors above shops were not always being used.
  • Some shops had a high turnover of uses depending on different trends. Some may only last for a short-time. There are currently a lot of cake shops.
  • Having people living above shops and in converted office buildings can increase local footfall in the area but can also mean the closure of offices leading to lower footfall.

Enfield Town

enfield market from church street cropped

Enfield Town's historic charter market: "danger that it could close"

The main business of the April meeting was to approve the text of an interim report on the committee's work since it was set up in November 2018. This was almost entirely devoted to Enfield Town.

Selected points from the report:

  • Enfield Town has no strong and unique indentity
  • Unable to compete with large retail parks
  • Few independent niche retailers
  • Not much nighttime economy
  • The market is finding it difficult to break even and there is a danger that it could close
  • Work needs to be done to link the market square, the library green and the shopping malls together and to encourage people to move between them.
  • Pedestrians are not adequately catered for:

"The majority of people shopping in the town come by public transport, walking or cycling. Data collected in 2014 found that car use only accounted for about one third of shoppers. 80% of the traffic through the town did not stop. Three quarters came by foot, cycle or public transport. Currently the car dominates the town, particularly Church Street. However, all shoppers were pedestrians, so it was important to make it easier for everyone to get around on foot. [...]

"Some members favoured pedestrianising the whole of Church Street, feeling that a traffic free environment would encourage shoppers and link the two sides of the town, but this was felt to be difficult [...] There were other ways of mitigating the impact of the traffic such as creating wider crossing points and car free days at the weekend."

  • Proposals to consider include:
    • reducing the extent of the shopping area by converting some shops into housing, to use empty shops for other purposes including co-working, micro shops, business hubs, artisan cooperatives, meanwhile uses and the arts.
    • encouraging retailers to stay open later.
    • moving the bus terminus at Little Park Gardens (used by the 329) and creating a bus interchange in front of Enfield Town station.

The minutes of the April meeting show that its members had differing views on the suggestion of pedestrianising Church Street. The meeting (with two members absent) agreed to amend one of the bullet points in the original draft of the report, which had read "To look again at the possibility of pedestrianising the whole of Church Street". This was changed to "To look again at increasing the areas of pedestrian space in Enfield Town".

This report was edited on 2nd October to include information about the Let's Talk Enfield Town survey, which required changes throughout the text.

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