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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

With interest in Wood Green running high following the launch of Tammy's campaign on HoL this week, I was glad to see a neighbouring blogger has done a piece to mark the Mall's 30th birthday last month.


"Last month marked the 30th anniversary of the official opening of Wood Green Shopping City by HM Queen Elizabeth II on May 13th 1981.

The current mangement of "The Mall" marked the moment by relocating the original plaque unveiled by the Queen. They have also included an item on their website and Facebook page inviting former staff members and shoppers to share their stories of the last three decades.

However its easy to forget that today's all too familiar shopping centre was a revolutionary concept for the UK when it was planned and built.  The town centre mixed development comprising residential, car parking, a library and office space -alongside retail was innovative in a landscape where most shopping was still carried out in discrete shops along linear high streets.

The closure, in 1963 of the LNER Palace Gates Railway Line including the Noel Park Station meant that a large amount of town centre land became available for the major re-development envisaged.  The plan was to bridge the main road and integrate a new indoor shopping centre with the existing high street.

It wasn't just the physical plans for using the space that were innovative..................."


To read the rest of this blog and some tidbits about Duckett's Common, read the full blog on our sister site, Bowes & Bounds Connected. (Glad to see that Richard's made great use of the 70s Wood Green video footage we unearthed some time back).

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These indoor shopping malls have sucked the life out of traditional high streets. Look no further than the Wood Green one to see why the High Street is full of pound shops etc. Or, at least, look no further than Brent Cross, or Tottenham Hale retail park ... or dozens of out-of-town shopping malls built during the last 20 years of so. The other thing they do is to privatise public space - the old, public high street becomes a security-guard-patrolled private space, from which "undesirables" can be excluded. Sorry to sound negative, but the 30th birthday of another mall is hardly something to celebrate, if you care anything for the life of the traditional town centre and shopping street.

Yes, isn't it a scandal the way millions of people are dragooned into using these dreadful malls?

Neither we nor anyone we knew used Brent Cross until armed police forced us all into our cars and made us drive there. Nor had we even heard of the Tottenham Hale Retail Park until we were frogmarched there by private security guards. When given free choice I'm certain everyone would do all their shopping in traditional stores just like their grannies used to.

Alan, I wasn't suggesting that anyone was being forced to shop in malls, either in-town or out-of-town. The point about the inside of a mall being a private space, which can thus be restricted, and patrolled by private security guards, is a separate one. You can agree or disagree with the point about the privatisation of public space, but it is a valid point for discussion. Personally I feel that the more of our country, space in town or country, that is open to all the public, the better. Neither am I suggesting for a moment that we should all be like our grannies, or indeed our parents, or indeed, _anyone_ else, since I'm all in favour of the individual and choice. Nonetheless, my point is, I believe a valid one. Large shopping malls deprive local shops of business, and by concentrating shopping even more in centres, encourage people to drive to them, thus increasing traffic overall, with all the consequences we can see clearly all over London. The devastating effects of the out-of-town malls (and I realise that the Wood Green Shopping City is _not_ one of these) on town centre shopping are well documented; perhaps you have heard the term "walmartisation" to describe the effects on town centres in the USA to the building of huge supermarkets by (often) Walmart, often destroying completely town centre shopping. This forces people to drive to out-of-town malls, thus increasing traffic and pollution. These malls also deprive people who do not have cars, or who cannot afford bus fares to travel to them, of access to the economies larger stores and chains can provide. This is part of a general process of concentrating all services - including hospitals, for example - into fewer and larger units, forcing people to travel further, and increasing motor car dependency. Most local councils in the UK have tried to protect the diversity and viability of local shopping centres, so as to maintain access for poorer and less mobile people - the old, the disabled etc - by refusing planning permission for these large malls. When given free choice, people like to shop in attractive, friendly shops which offer the wide range of goods and services which they want, at a reasonable price; and most people prefer to spend their time doing things other than driving miles to shopping centres to do it. When a local council allows a large shopping mall, they do not increase choice, they decrease it; and they deny access to the best shops and services to people who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The Retail Park at Williamson Road is clear example of a very bad planning decision, which has created huge traffic problems, and worsened the traffic on Green Lanes, often causing huge jams at the junction of Williamson Road and Green Lanes. That has a knock-on effect on the bus services, and on traffic in the Ladder area. Oh, and by the way, what is wrong with grannies? There are lots of grandmas and grandads around, and don't they have just as much right to access to shops as anyone else? In fact, don't "grannies" have just as many rights as everyone else?

Christopher, I was trying  - but obviously failing - to use gentle humour to make some points about the choices large numbers of people actually do make.

Now I have to confess that I'm a terrible shopper - in the sense that I'm usually uninterested in buying stuff. My attitude to clothes, for example, is that what I've got will last a few more years. But I very much enjoy a walk round a 'traditional' town centre with individual shops. One reason I bought my current pair of shoes - apart from the fact that the old pair leak in the rain - was because they were in an old fashioned store which looked like it hadn't changed for decades.

But aren't Department stores also fascinating - and pretty historic as well? So are covered markets and even malls - or shopping arcades as they used to be called. It seems to me that all these take ingredients from - and sometimes set out to recreate - the attractive aspects of a traditional street.

Some do it so well they are beautiful. Forget the nonsense of a "cultural quarter" - shops can be art. 

In central Paris you find displays outside local greengrocers and bakers which delight the eye as well as make your mouth water. It's several years since we visited Barcelona and Budapest, but I remember indoor markets which were glorious. Like a gallery with aromas. Which, of course, is what expensive shops are. (The aromas may be expensive perfume and leather.)

Now I wouldn't advise a visitor to London to skip the British Museum and go to Brent Cross instead. But a market, High Street, or shopping mall are useful places to learn about a town and its people.

The only time I've been to Brent Cross this year I did a bit of people-watching. And yes, there sometimes seemed to be three generations together. One thing I didn't expect: in the stores we went into staff were knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient. They did "offer the wide range of goods and services [we] wanted".

And at keen prices. I've never been, but I'm told quality and pricing at Costco is even better.

There's a joke about an elderly couple who make Wills asking for their ashes to be sprinkled in Brent Cross. 'So we know our daughters will visit us every week.'

Alan - I don't dispute the points you make. But none of what you have written addresses any of the points I raised about centralisaion of services - hospitals, schools, shops - and the increased dependency on motor cars, with the associated harm to those who are socially or economically disadvantaged. This process is being driven by a notion of "efficiency" which is actually based on reducing costs (and maximising profits) for the large, often multinational (cf Walmart) private providers, while ignoring the social and environmental costs, which are borne by the public. And if departments stores are "historic", then the continued success of the John Lewis chain is obviously some kind of anomaly, as their success grows in the present.
Not wishing to pour cold water on the celebrations, but I wonder whatever happened to the plans to further extend Shopping City to include a Debenhams department store. The filling station in Mayes Road was demolished for this, but it's still an empty site many years later....

Hi All

Just wanted to add my thoughts on this one

I think there are two very different discussions here  one is out of town shopping and the other high St shopping centres

I dont think its actually the out of town shopping itself thats the problem more our lifestyles that

necessitate the need for them, these days many of us lead 'busy' lives where in many households both parents hold down fulltime jobs and can't pop to the high st during the day for daily groceries in the way that they used to. Lots of people rely on being able to drive to a 24 hour supermarket - me included sometimes for simple convenience.  I am old enough to remember shops not opening on Sundays and my mum who did stay at home would just go into the village and get bread from the bakery and  fruit and veg from the greengrocers or our allotment and meat from the butchers - I dont recall eating any readymade supermarket food or having a supermarket near us until I was older. Of course like everyone else my parents now just hop off in the car to the giant supermarket out of town once a week to get their groceries.

 Really we can't blame companies like Tescos etc for building these out of town spaces like any good business they are just adapting to their customers needs.  So for me its not as easy to say that we should stop out of town shopping its actually about changing peoples attitudes towards life in general and making time to shop locally and be part of their community.

Second one Monolithic American Shopping Malls dominating High Streets I really wouldnt mind them as I do think that high st retailers deserve a place in every high st if they just looked a bit nicer - particular bugbear with the awful 1960s and 70s ones - what on earth people were thinking back then is beyond me!  I think what really needs to happen is better planning of these buildings - perhaps using up derelcit older buildings that have a great history adn bringing them back to life? just something that fits in a little better with the exisiting infrastructure - look for example at our own shopping centre and cinema complex backing onto the lovely Noel Park area its looks dreadful. I also think that when high stret shopping malls are created they must agree to give a percentage of space over to local retailers at reduced rent, and that they should be supportive and refelctive of their local communities.  They also need to give them nicer names - I still have nightmares about the one near to me when I was younger - it was called the Swansgate centre and played typical elevator music throughout it, and its selling point seemed to be the giant Wimpy upstairs that everyone ate in!

I don't know where to start ... however, the "monolithic American shopping malls" don't dominate the high street, they destroy town centre high streets and replace them with out-of-town malls which people have to drive to. They have destroyed the retail heart of many American cities. They are doing the same here in some parts of the country.


If contemporary shoppers are short of time - which seems to be at variance with the evidence that for most people, shopping is their preferred leisure activity - then surely being able to walk five minutes (or ride a bus for ten) to get to a high street supermarket is preferable to spending an hour or more driving to some mall.


You suggest that Tesco (and other supermarket chains, four of which dominate the UK grocery-and-related market) is adapting to customer needs. It is not. It is seeking to maximise profits by having the largest stores possible, served from a few centrally located warehouses. Any examination of the British grocery system shows that enormous numbers of "food miles" are attached to all products, even those sourced from and processed in the UK. And "food miles" mean petrol use, and consequent damage to the environment, increased greenhouse gases, and cost to the consumer. All these costs are borne, not by the supermarkets, but by the public. The aim of Tesco (and to a lesser extent Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda an the other Big Boys) is to take over more and more areas of high street retail business -witness their extension into clothes, pharmacy, books, music, financial services, banking and more - and drive out of business the competition from local shops. They want to create a monopoly, and at the point they are able to do that - albeit they may manage it only in some areas (cf Tesco towns) - they can dictate prices and the consumer will have no choice. The "free market", naked and unfettered, does not work. This we have surely learned from the recent banking crisis. A _regulated_ market can and does work.


As to the architecture - blame the cost-cutting developers for that.

Surely ranks as one of the dreariest of the dreary things Her Maj has had to open in the past 60 years. No wonder she seemed to be enjoying her recent Dublin trip and at least toying with the temptation of downing a pint or three with that old geezer she lives with. Followed up a couple of days later with a happy stroll through Cork's 'English Market' which has been going strong since 1788 but evolving in character right up till today.
Only 30 years old.  It looks older to me.  Seriously ghastly.



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