On Saturday 18 March a group of Enfield residents gathered in Winchmore Hill to support businesses affected by the Cycle Enfield roadworks.
The Support Green Lanes! event was run by Better Streets for Enfield, with about 20 people in all visiting independent businesses on Winchmore Hill high street, Mason’s Corner and Church Street junction. They gave shopkeepers cards saying, “We value our local businesses and want them to succeed.” Several councillors joined in, including cabinet member for business and regeneration Cllr Alan Sitkin.
The group heard concerns from various businesses about a drop in income during the works, and that the cycle lanes would have a negative effect on the high street.
“These concerns are totally understandable,” said Clare Rogers, freelance editor and member of Better Streets. “And roadworks are always disruptive. But we’re optimistic that the high street will be better for everyone as a result.”
Among other businesses, the group visited La Rocca, Atkinson’s Pharmacy, Keymakers, Autostore, Riverside Florists and Lords, finishing with lunch in Coffee Break. They praised the excellent customer service and plan to make return visits. One Better Streets member, Hal Haines, was excited to ‘discover’ interior design shop Il Falcone. “I’ve never noticed it in all the years I’ve driven past,” said Hal, who took the bus to the event.
Local resident Maggie Davis is shopping editor for Time Out: “In my experience, improved street design and regeneration always improves business. This scheme sets to put people rather than cars back at the centre of the high street, and as a mum-of-three I welcome the slower speeds and better crossings.”
Claire Brady, who works with historic buildings and environments, enjoyed browsing. “Following the Cycle Enfield scheme I’m looking forward to relaxed shopping here in a less car-focused environment and better public realm. I had a nice coffee at La Rocca and a delicious lunch at Coffee Break.”
Cllr Sitkin said, “Changing consumer behaviour means that the sector is facing very big challenges requiring very big changes, and we want to support that evolution.” Councillors Vicki Pite and Achilleas Georgiou also took part.
Better Streets for Enfield are urging their members and other local residents to keep shopping locally. The Winchmore Hill high street stretch is due to finish by April, and the whole A105 scheme in around September. An economic assessment by Regeneris consultants predicted a 10-15% uplift for local business in the medium term due to a more attractive shopping environment.