Highgate of course has two high streets – the Village High Street and Archway Road – both of which need support in this challenging retail climate. The decline of the High Street makes regular London and national news, with many reports documenting the issues and problems which include rents/rates, congestion/transport and online shopping.
More than 40 people joined us to hear our two speakers who explored the challenges and offered us examples of successful projects around London: Jamie Dean leads on the development of the GLA’s High Streets programme and Jan Kattein, an architect with specialist knowledge in high street regeneration and place making.
Debbie Bourne, Of Butterflies and Bees, gardener, community activist, and part of Transition Kentish Town, curated the evening inviting us to envision a High Street of the future before we joined one of six themed tables where ideas were shared and discussed. Our themes were Transport, Businesses, Intergeneration and Sharing, Sustainability, Experience and Future 1 and 10 years.
Key themes at recurred during the evening were:
- Landlords/councils to support independents/pop-up, young businesses (vs empty shops) and businesses to work together
- New spaces and shops for skill sharing, advice, learning and experiences (vs just retail)
- Making links between generations, social and community spaces
- Improving Pond Square as the ‘heart’ of the village – seating, planting, fountains, events
- Improved public realm – better pavements, new civic space where 271 bus waits, signage, art and pedestrianisation (even temporary)
- Sustainable transport (vs pollution and congestion) electric buses, trishaws and bikes, modern tram up the hill.
More than 100 ideas were collected and our hope is that we can have another event in September to take some of these forward. If you are interested in seeing all the ideas please, here is a complete list of ideas, grouped into themes.
Let us know if you are interested in getting involved in taking them forward by emailing us at email@example.com
This is all good news and it’s good to know that we want to actively encourage new businesses, but for that to happen we need existing businesses to to do all they can to make Highgate High Street inviting, not only to new retailers but to the community as a whole. Shops need to maintain their exterior, clean windows, fix poor paintwork. Where there is space have some Bay trees in pots which could be taken inside at night. More flower planting at the roundabout by Highgate school. It needs joined up thinking and a concerted effort. The assumption that because it’s Highgate people will just come and spend money is wrong. There are simply too many alternatives. Keeping the pavements clean irrespective of whichever council is responsible is important. We need a little more “Open All Hours” mentality to presentation.
It is interesting that come Christmas time it’s always the small independents that make the effort, whilst the chains and notably estate agents do little or nothing.
Pond square a few years ago had additional Christmas trees, but in subsequent years these have not materialised, equally since the demise of George Michael we no longer have the trees by the Flask. Do I take it that Miss K Moss, J Law and J Oliver are a little tight for spare money to fund this ? Or perhaps the owners of Wittenhurst might like to make a small contribution !
Given the date of the original post, I don’t know if anyone is reading/taking account of these comments anymore however, I have to wonder why the issue of pedestrianisation does not seem to feature on the proposals here.
Given the incredible success of the ‘Little Holland’ scheme in Walthamstow, and the transformation of the area around Orford Road, which now draws tourists out to Zone 3 to the local businesses there, why are we not following suit and making the High Street an area for people rather than motorists?
It seems to me that closing the High Street to cars permanently between Southwood Lane and Cholmeley Park would have enormous benefits to the residents and businesses of the area.
Actually Tej, if you look at the ideas box in the header, pedestrianisation was definitely raised – just easier said than done on a busy major road jointly owned by two Councils + the effect on other roads eg Archway Road has to be taken into account… the removal of the 271 bus stand has given new life to all these ideas however – watch this space!