You can read how Enfield Council is planning for vibrant town centres in the Local Plan here (Chapter 7).

We support better high streets and town centres as Better Streets. Part of making a high street healthy is reducing the impact of traffic on pedestrians visiting the town centre. Here is our response to this aspect of the Enfield Local Plan – don’t forget to respond to the Plan yourself via the online questionnaire by 28 February!

We were disappointed to see that neither motor traffic nor on-street parking were mentioned in the town centres chapter. Both have a huge effect on people’s experience of town centres. While traders often think that most of their customers come by car, surveys have shown that only a small minority do, and shoppers themselves would rather see less traffic than plenty of parking spaces. This is illustrated in the survey results below from businesses and visitors on Lea Bridge Road in Waltham Forest.

Business perceptions vs visitor perceptions of improving access to Lea Bridge Road from this report by Waltham Forest Council.

The A105 and A1010 Cycle Enfield schemes have vastly improved the town centres they run through, with more planting and seating, slower vehicle speeds due to narrower carriageways, and cycle lanes acting as a buffer between pedestrians and traffic. But there is lots to be done elsewhere in the borough. We can give two examples of town centres blighted by traffic, with recommendations to improve each.

Southgate town centre

Dominated by motor traffic: The shopping area on Chase Side from Google Streetview

In Southgate, car is king. Cars line the high street, both parked and moving, polluting it, clogging it up and making it a hostile environment for pedestrians – on a street that is otherwise pleasant with a good mix of shops and restaurants. Chase Road and Chase Side are completely unsuitable for walking and especially cycling, despite the presence of primary schools on both roads (Chase Road has three). The Bourne/A111 was identified by the Met Cycle Safety team in 2018 as one of the most dangerous roads for cycling in London. Car ownership is high in Southgate, with multi-car households, and driving the school run is the norm. Building homes in Southgate needs to go hand in hand with creating an environment that prioritises walking, cycling and access to public transport, and actively discourages car use.

Drivers regularly speed along Southgate High Street, with predictable results. People also report that drivers often fail to stop at the pedestrian crossing

We recommend:

  • 20mph throughout this built up area.
  • Cycle infrastructure on the main roads that converge at Southgate Circus, especially the A111 and Chase Road, to create active travel corridors to the schools and town centre.
  • Reduce parking – remove it completely from Southgate High Street to reduce noise, danger and pollution for pedestrians.
  • Use the street space reclaimed from parking for outdoor seating and greening, as well as safe space for cycling.
  • Consider pedestrianising Crown Lane to make it a haven for people enjoying the various restaurants and cafes – more greenery would also be welcome here.
  • Prevent rat running by creating low traffic neighbourhoods in the surrounding areas to make walking and cycling to the town centre and station the natural choice.
  • Provide plenty of secure cycle parking at the station.

Church Street EN1

Pedestrians wait at a crossing on Church Street EN1. A survey by Living Streets found that drivers often fail to stop at red lights here as they are intent on overtaking buses at the stop before it. The one-way system also lends itself to high speeds

70% of traffic on this street is through traffic. It is an intimidating environment to shop in and crossing the road is unpleasant especially with children – drivers often speed or don’t stop at pedestrian crossings (findings of a Living Streets survey on Church Street in 2018). We are not surprised at the health of businesses in the pedestrianised Palace Gardens compared to Church Street, with its high vacancy rate.

We recommend removing motorised traffic except buses and reverting to a two-way Cecil Road, as envisaged in the original Cycle Enfield plan. We would expect this to have an invigorating effect on the high street in terms of more footfall, longer stays by visitors, and hence a lower vacancy rate. Since Orford Road E17 was pedestrianised it no longer has any vacant units for the first time in its history.

Car parks

We welcome this statement on surplus car parks:

“TC2 Surplus car parks: The Council will promote the development of a mixture of uses including housing within car parks of the borough’s centres … where there is marketing evidence to suggest no demand, car parks may provide greater opportunities to introduce life back into town centres and promote a better use of available land to meet the borough’s growth strategy.”