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.