Urban renewal, via shop fronts.

Working my way through today’s Charity Shop Tourism post, I found that Ealing are planning (i.e. have been planning for about a year) to start regeneration works in West Ealing, including matching shop fronts. As I pootle down Tottenham High Road on a fairly regular basis, I can’t help but notice that this is the tactic which Haringey are employing, and for which they’ve received general kudos. I’ve spotted it elsewhere as well: Forest Gate, for instance, which has been initiated, or Myddleton Road, Wood Green, which hasn’t.

This must be a thing. You know, people latch onto a thing, and use it at every opportunity. That’s what it seems like with the shop fronts. Example: in Tottenham, they genuinely have done a great job, and the High Road, particularly between Aldi and St. Loy’s Road, is starting to look quite nice. In conjunction with cleaning the pavements, replacing the streetlights with curly, attractive ones, and tidying up the planters, the overall effect is a marked improvement. It needs to go further certainly: the High Road past Lansdowne Road remains a wasteland, its desolation imposed by the looming stadium redevelopment, and things don’t look so happy for that part of the world.

I suppose the thinking is, everybody was so much happier in that Victorian idyll of local community where men were men, and shops were shops. For Tottenham’s community-serving stores to have matching, but individual façades is really an astute move: it will create a little bit of pride in the area, it will spruce the place up before the recession ends, and people realise what a nice place it actually is.

I’m off in September, hopefully to study a Masters in this sort of subject: regeneration, renewal or urban spaces, etc. I’m looking forward to the day when I have my input into what’s a good idea for regenerating an area – there’s been so many mistakes made, but so many good ideas as well (imagine living in a gasometer!) that there’s plenty of source material, and I am sure I can make Tottenham a nice place for me to live, when I get there.

I’m not entirely sure how one goes about deciding what will revitalise an area. Yet. I have my ideas though. I never want Tottenham to become a yummy mummy paradise like Crouch End, or a heaving metropolitan clone town like Islington. The way to do it is to instil pride in one’s community so that it becomes self-sustaining, but a few well-meaning individuals can’t do much on their own – it needs bigger input. We’ll see how it goes.

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3 Responses

  1. West Ealing could do with some regeneration as it is rather sad looking. But then a Pound Shop with a new facade is still a Pound Shop and I think it will take more than that to regenerate it. I only go there for the charity shops.

  2. This is a tactic which was very effectively emplyed by Harrogate in the 1980s. It is a low cost, high visibility intervention which can improve the environment and give confidence for shop opoerators to invest.

    Obviously its limitied in scope but it’s a tried and tested approach.

  3. This is a tactic which was very effectively emplyed by Harrogate in the 1980s. It is a low cost, high visibility intervention which can improve the environment and give confidence for shop opoerators to invest.

    Obviously its limited in scope but it’s a tried and tested approach.

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