High Street 2012

The London Olympic buildings are flying up with incredible speed and the park which will be left behind after the Games promises to be stunning. But beyond the venues and the transport infrastructure, evidence of legacy is harder to find. Many 'legacy' initiatives are simply repackaged plans or - as in the case of Forest Hill swimming pool - much-needed projects being hurried through in time to hit the 2012 deadline.

One notable exception to this is the High Street 2012 project being run by Tower Hamlets and Newham Councils, which aims to maximise the regenerative benefits of the work by rennovating their local high-streets, improving their look and feel to attract more tourists in the short-term and strengthen communities and attract investment in the longer-term. Here's what they're going to do, from Whitechapel to Bow:

- Decluttering
Improving the street�s visual appeal and coherence

- Historic building enhancements
Restoring and improving the historic fabric of the street and reusing abandoned or partly vacated buildings

- Lighting strategy
Defining a unified system for lighting the High Street�s carriageways and pavements, historical assets and special spaces

- Green thread
Introducing new trees and planting, green roofs and walls

- Street surfaces and cycleway Improving the material quality of the street and, in the longer term, forming a new �cycleway�

- Wayfinding
Aiding the intuitive use of the street and wider-scale movement

- Community projects
Keeping the community involved in delivering the High Street 2012 project and celebrating its history and cultures

The strategy is simple and is based on many of the principles Brockley Central has been banging the drum for in Lewisham: get rid of the clutter and invest a bit of money in improving the quality of our main streets. Remove railings, repair pavement, regulate parking, enforce conservation area guidelines on our high streets and increase street trees and planting.

Lewisham Council does some of these things, of course, but not in such a coherent and way and not with any particular deadline in mind.

We're not an Olympic borough, but Lewisham has been trumpeting its status as a "gateway borough" for 2012. Currently, the stated five point plan for attracting a slice of Olympic action includes "improvements to Lewisham Town Centre" and the "development of Convoy's Wharf." Even in the most optimistic scenario, neither of these will be complete by 2012. But in a year or two, simple things could be done that would make a huge difference: pavements could be relaid, planters installed, shop fronts improved, rusting railings, street signs and furniture could be removed completely.

If Lewisham really wants some trickle down benefits from the Olympics, then it needs to follow Tower Hamlets and Newham's lead by creating a high-quality environment in all of its key centres. But we need to hurry.

22 comments:

Soldier Nerd said...

It's simple really. THe research was done by an Aussie academic into how some suburbs became communities in Sydney and Melbourne and some didn't.

An ideal high street needs to have a certain number of each type of shop/service. If they don't exist, the council should provide microfinance and/or mentoring to local residents for new small businesses. A high street needs:

1. A couple of supermarket type shops
2. A bank
3. A local accountant
4. A local lawyer
5. 5 + entertainnement locations, with 2 being available for under 18's (this included pubs and cafes)
6. 7 + artisan shops, e.g. butcher, baker, locksmith
7. 10+ small businesses that provide services/products out of area but work in area.

Brockley Nick said...

Very interesting, thanks. Have you got a link to that please?

Anonymous said...

Artisan locks! That's what Brockley needs!

Matt-Z said...

This fits in well with my idea to open a butchers called Crofton Pork.

Anonymous said...

Not forgetting Broccoli Central for all your fruit n veg needs.

Anonymous said...

'High Street' needs to be defined I guess - in terms of the catchment area that the 'high street' services. All the things in the list above would probably be available in Lewisham town centre and that could be clearly recognised as a 'high street' but Brockley doesn't have a particularly clearly defined high street (for several reasons). Ladywell does because all the shops are in the same location. But ladywell wouldn't have all the criteria listed to be defined as a 'high street'.

(does a bookmaker class as an'entertainment location'?)

Brockley Nick said...

Brockley (and every other area of Lewisham borough) has high streets that are already defined and served by "town centre managers".

In Brockley, they are Brockley Road and Lewisham Way, although I take your point that in Brockley's case there are three distinct areas along the high street - by Brockley Station, by Crofton Park station and the 'mid-town' section next to Hilly Fields.

You could also include Coulgate Street which is officially part of Brockley's "town centre."

Of these, Crofton Park is the minimum standard to which the rest of the high streets should aspire, in my view.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think it may have something to do with the 'two-sidedness' of Crofton Park (it occupies both sides of the road)

I used to live in Herne Hill and there there we're a number of distinct 'high streets' - the area by the station, the area running alongside the park, and the area round the corner by the pub - but they all formed a very good 'whole' - perhaps because (at that time) the quality of the shops was very good (don't know what it's like now). being strung out along one long 'high road' may help.

The problem with Brockley is a lack of unification (and a lack of consistently 'good' shops) - for instance, the Tea leaf gallery was almost instantly doomed (in my opinion) for having been tucked around the corner. If there had have been a suitable place, for instance, on Coulgate Street, then it would have helped no end.

Anonymous said...

**NOT being strung out along one long 'high road' may help.**

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Crofton Park is (as it always has been) the 'real' Brockley, and everything else is just 'some shops'?

Brockley Nick said...

Perhaps.

patrick1971 said...

The current Crofton Park was of course where the historical hamlet of Brockley was located. The railway to Croydon stole the name, and the area around Brockley station was developed much earlier than around Crofton Park (thanks in part to the owner of Brockley Hall, which wasn't demolished until 1931 or thereabouts).

Crofton Park does pretty well on those criteria:

1. A couple of supermarket type shops: Co-op, Budgens

2. A bank: Barclays

3. A local accountant: can't think of one but I'm sure there is one.

4. A local lawyer: Walter Saunders

5. 5 + entertainnement locations, with 2 being available for under 18's (this included pubs and cafes): Mr Lawrence's, Jam Circus, Bar Rio (also for under 18s), Brockley Jack, Maclarens (under 18s too).

6. 7 + artisan shops, e.g. butcher, baker, locksmith: Peter James, Betram Bakery, Terry's All Locks, Caribbean Whole Foods on Brockley Rise, RAI Fruit & Veg, can't think of a seventh!

7. 10+ small businesses that provide services/products out of area but work in area: struggling on this one! Maybe the posh frock end of line shop, surely that does internet ordering.

midtown boy said...

Living as i do on Adelaide and avoiding public transport as much as poss, I rarely go anywhere near Coulgate St/BX (possibly excepting emergency runs to Fishy Biz), unless I'm zooming past on some type of powered/unpowered two-wheeler. It's just so scuzzy in general, and might as well be another town as far as I'm concerned. I find that Crofton Park satisfies pretty much all my needs. If I need to make any more effort, then I'll head off to Lewisham, Blackheath, or East Dull Itch.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Lewisham has much money to spare. There's lots of desperately needy people in the borough and they must come before beautifying high streets.

Tressillian James said...

To the above anon - then how does Southwark do it? Just drive through Brockley's Westside and into Southwark and you'll notice that all residential streets with Victorian Housing have new, period, street lighting. Makes a huge difference in the look of the street. I know Southwark have just as many needy people as Lewisham - and I am sure they are not going wanting..

Brockley Nick said...

What are Councils for? One of their main purposes is to protect and enhance our local public spaces - whether that's street cleaning, rubbish collection or repairing and maintaining our streets.

I understand the point about finite resources, but a) this is one of their fundamental duties b) by investing in the area, they could attract more local businesses and c) the Council jacked up the Council tax this year with no clear indication of what the money would be spent on. The Greens had a decent proposal to ringfence this rise to pay for better insulation in Council properties - this was rejected. So let's see some money ringfenced for a clean up of our streets.

Anonymous said...

Re Nicks comment at 12.50, not all areas in Lewisham have town centre managers, we dont have one in Ladywell and have been campaigning for one with a petition for some time now (details on the LVIG website if you'd like to sign!). I dont think Crofton Park has one either.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Crofton Park is the area which feels most 'high street' like.

I think the key thing is that one or two elements from Soldier Nerd's list must be in place in order to attract the others; we are slowly catching up in Ladywell, with Gedddes, the pub, Oscars, but it does take time. I'd love a bank to open up but think I have more chances of an Oxfam bookshop appearing...

And do you know Ladywell does have a 2012 connection; the Arena/athletics track is to be a training venue for one of the smaller countries taking part. Look out for Ladywell Welcomes Latvia signs...

* disclaimer; my friend at work is Latvian and i am in no way suggesting it is a 'small' country (even in olympic medal table terms). But it starts with an L, like Ladywell, so would be my prefrerred option. I love latvia, I really do.

Old Letch said...

That should please Hugh.

Latvian ladies are usually blonde and lithe and presumably as they are athletes.........FIT

Monkeyboy said...

Did you see the ladies shotput at the world championships? I'd love a woman who could heft a pork pie 30 meters.

Money's too tight to mention said...

According to figures from Lib Dem Councillor Mark Bennett.

There's been “22% increase in Council Tax and rent arrears and a 20% increase in the amount paid in Housing Benefit”

and

“Local Government Association statistics from May this year show the ratio of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to vacant jobs in each local authority area.

These figs show that for every vacant job there were 25 claimants in Lewisham ...which us fourth worse in the country”

The national average is 7 jobseekers per vacancy.

Source: http://lwplibdems.org.uk/news/000060/recession_costs_lewisham_234_million.html

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/lewgreen/4559613.LEWISHAM_AND_GREENWICH__Concern_over_employment_figures/

samantha said...

More good news for Ladywell. Nice bread would be high on my list.
Samantha
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