HOP for better things - what Honor Oak can teach us

Whenever we're asked to defend our argument that vibrant high streets are not some liberal fantasy but a perfectly viable reality, we usually point to the relative success of Crofton Park, compared with the Brockley Cross end of Brockley Road or Lewisham Way. But there's another nearby example that's just as good - in Honor Oak Park, near the station.

HOP combines a few "up market" shops with some places to eat and drink as well as some shops and takeaways that suit smaller budgets. It's a mix that ought to keep all the warring factions of Brockley Central readers happy and it's supported by a catchment area that's similar to our own. In other words, it's a successful model and we could do worse than attempt to learn its lessons.

We learned something interesting in our discussions with the Brockley Cross Action Group the other day. During their tour of Brockley Cross with the Council, they discussed the parking problems suffered in Brockley Cross and Coulgate Street. The BXAG believe, as we do, that the lack of parking controls in what is supposed to be our town centre is a factor holding back its development.

The Council revealed that when parking was limited in Honor Oak Park, so that cars couldn't be parked on the main high street for more than 30 minutes at a time, there was an immediate increase in business for local shops.

The reason was simple, before the restrictions the parking was all being taken up by commuters and the owners of the businesses themselves. Potential customers couldn't park, discouraging footfall and trade. All of this was done without the need for a CPZ - just a highly-localised set of parking restrictions.

The implication is clear.

If the Council supports campaigners efforts to introduce some form of parking restrictions in Coulgate Street and Brockley Cross, it would not only dramatically improve the aesthetic quality of our main streets and create safer, more convenient routes for pedestrians, it would also be good for local business.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a reasonable point, but if you then put in parking restrictions, what are the commuters meant to do?

Sensible suggestions please, less guff about "driving in from away"

Brockley Nick said...

I take it you're referring to people who live in Brockley? Obviously, there's no reason why we should sacrifice local businesses for the sake of people who live elsewhere.

So, we're talking about people who live perhaps up to 20 minutes walk away.

Any further than that and there are other stations that are probably closer, such as Nunhead, Crofton Park, Ladywell, St Johns, New Cross, New Cross Gate, Lewisham, etc.

I would say it's perfectly reasonable to expect people to walk 20 minutes to the station, rather than drive and park right outside.

However, for the small number that have problems walking and live on the very outskirts of the Brockley station catchment area then there are of course lots of buses that run to the station, that people could catch, or they could park further away, on side roads - like my own - which are already crowded with commuter cars.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting ideas Nick. I wonder if parking restrictions could even be applied temporarily as an experiment to see what effect it has.

An aside point - Honor Oak - isn't it half in Lewisham and half in Southwark? A strange situation when further on down the road is Forest Hill and you are back in Lewisham Borough.

The Cat Man said...

Definately a good idea - we NEED parking restrictions - its the way forward whether we like it or not!

maxink said...

I think that this also shows that short stay car park by local parades help shops.

Tamsin said...

Twenty minutes is quite a trog if you are burdened with brief-case, umbrella and suit that you are taking to the cleaners. But everywhere around where we are is surely within 15 minutes of a station.
Commuters from further out can equally well go to another station where there is car parking - which the poor things will have to pay for, what a pity.
Short-stay parking is excellent for local businesses - the parade on London Road towards Bromley (where there is the Sponge Kitchen and St. Christophers Hospice shot) is another case in point.
The Borough boundary is certainly a nightmare around Honor Oak Park. At one time we were setting up a pre-school in St. Augustines - had to be a joint effort with Southwark and Lewisham as the premises were in one borough and the entrance in the other - and that at a time when the Nursery Education Grant depended on residence!

Anonymous said...

I reckon there is a good argument for a boundary change and all of Honor Oak going to Lewisham.

Brockley Nick said...

It would be interesting to know which Council HOP residents would rather belong to...

Forest Hill Society said...

30 minute parking doesn't guarantee success as can be seen by the demise of the shops along Dartmouth Rd in Forest Hill.

Mind you, they weren't helped by the closure of the Pools and Post Office, nor by the road being closed for two months (instead of two weeks as scheduled) while Thames Water dug up the road.

Anonymous said...

If commuters can't park at the station they will just park in the next nearest spot- ie on residential streets. My road is 2-3 mins walk from the station.
Recently it is getting more and more crowded with cars- possibly the lure of an Oyster card zone 2 station with free car-parking?
Having been against residents' parking permits a few years ago, I now find myself thinking it would give me a hope of parking within 50 metres of my house. With extra commuter cars this really would be an issue.

Transpontine said...

You could also look at Lordship Lane/East Dulwich and argue that the reason it works is because, the main road aside, it doens't have parking restrictions. So people drive from a wide area to wander round the shops and cafes.

The trouble with 20 or 30 minute parking slots is that they barely give you time to drink a coffee. A 2 hour slot would be better if you must have restrictions, it would discourage commuters from leaving cars all day but allow enough time for a meaningful visit.

Brockley Nick said...

@Transpontine - I'm not sure how useful a comparison with East Dulwich is - it's a much bigger and more developed high street than Brockley's, with a different kind of catchment area. Honor Oak is almost a like-for-like comparison.

However, point taken about 30 minutes not being enough. I guess you could argue the toss about 60 minutes or 90 minutes, but the basic principle of restricting parking in strategically-important spots is the same.

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