I haven't read the study myself. But from the summaries of it that I've seen, it does appear to have the ring of b******s about it.
What, for instance, makes a pub healthier than a betting shop?
If I pop into the bookies and spend a couple of hours, and a couple of tenners, on the gee gees am I closer to death than if I had downed four pints of Litovel Premium in the Salisbury?
In any event, West Green Road is fairly well-stocked with convenience stores offering (inter alia) a goodly spread of fresh fruit in their roadside displays. They may be more honoured in the observance than in the purchase, but they do give people quick and inexpensive access to healthy food products. How many shops selling fresh fruit are there on Muswell Hill Broadway?
As we're talking about the change on West Green Road, I noticed last night that "The Goat" Public House has now transformed into a hairdressers/ Wig Emporium.
Dispel the myth....
This video made by a local filmaker shows that the storyline that WGR is the 'unhealthiest high street' in the pla... and that the street just doesn’t fit in with the usual criteria for determining what a healthy high street should LOOK and feel like. WGR has some great shops and services that serve many existing local residents and also does attract incomers. As much as I do like ‘a bit of twee’, it just isn’t your typical gentrified, twee place. It is ‘dishevelled’ but there are mostly independent=non chain, green grocers and non-fast food outlets, a party and furniture shop, a pharmacy, a great well stocked off-license and a bakery too, albeit nothing very posh. Our popular, local, independent optician also forced out some time ago by the Wards Corner project. Fresh veg and stuff at cheaper prices than in the local Tesco and Sainbury’s. The recent WG tavern reopening has been a success - it caters for a demographic that previously had to look elsewhere for a similar offer but it continues to attract an ethnically diverse local clientele.
Just what criteria is used to judge whether the high street is healthy. The study states….
“Firstly there is the high street environment itself. A healthy high street environment is one in which there is clean air, less noise, more connected neighbourhoods, things to see and do, and a place where people feel relaxed. The architecture of the high street would foster active urban design principles including pavements, seating, shade and shelter. Above all the high street would provide a safe environment where the public don’t live in fear of crime, violence, harassment, or accidents.”
West Green Road’s physical state is a direct result of neglect; Of the local authority's inability to proactively manage the physical urban realm, its lack of vision over the past years when resources were more available, its inability to really put faith in the local people and build on and guide their strengths. Things that result in far more resilience.
For whatever reason, there has, and despite some improvements, continues to be a lack of a real vision combined with terribly poor enforcement of planning rules. Despite conservation area designation shop front codes are not enforced with any efficiency. There have been a few efforts to improve some shop fronts but these just always seem to be rapidly rolled back when new shop owners move in - most of the You & Me shop front projects have now been replaced by the most garishly horrid ones that have actually brought the ‘tone’ of the street scene down further.
Haringey Council has been one of the chief culprits, an aggressively willing partner in the Grainger’s scheme to totally annihilate a most valuable, local community asset along with many local stakeholders based in and around Wards Corner. They have put all their hopes and concentrated such resoureces -time money, peoples' energies - into the misguided plans that would see some of the more interesting and characterful architecture destroyed and replaced by an insipid, multi-storey complex, of questionable architectural merit. In other boroughs these would have been used as catalyst for improvement. Yes, Haringey Council has been aiding and abetting this wilful destruction of community, of our uniqueness, with the outdated proposals to build a bigger, modern equivalent of the now-demolished Apex building, using an economic model that caters mostly for wealthy, chain multiples, whose head companies, kill local entrepreneurial spirit, syphon profit not only out of the borough, but out of the country to shell companies based in tax havens. Is this really promoting good local economic health?
Note that the only empty units in the area are those that have been left neglected on the Wards Corner site - very visible to many passers by and this sets the tone giving a false impression that our neighbourhood is not nice and unsafe.
Although perception counts it does not always reflect the reality.
We need a new paradigm to define 'regeneration'.