Liveable Crouch End – suspended animation

Liveable Crouch End on hold

Suspended, on hold, stunned and shuffled off.

But fear not, no sooner than news emerges of the TfL cessation of all project spending commitments, than a raft of uncannily similar measures rises again. So, closed roads, removed parking spaces, widened pavements, cycle lanes, school streets… all firmly back on the agenda. ‘Pedestrian zones’ with an aspiration toward permanence too. Liveable neighbourhoods redux.

   (image credit: Gulcin Ozdemir, social distancing in Stroud Green Road)

Alas, the greatly needed aesthetic improvements to the town centre will be the missing component – and a townscape of barriers is far from what we had in mind. For retail to flourish the environment will have to be much better than it is now, but perhaps we’ll get lucky – there’s a glimpse of a better world in the government’s proclamations over the weekend suggesting vibrant street life with pavement trading, stalls outside shops and town square markets. Will The Broadway be recast as Boulevard Saint-Germain? (Or maybe we’re trapped in a strange re-enactment of the 14th Century?).

Somewhat unsurprisingly, a brave new world has been espied by the Guardian (‘how coronavirus will transform transport in Britain’s cities‘)  but perhaps its too early to predict where all this effort by local and national government will land. Nevertheless, its a reasonable assumption that longer term economic changes already in train will be accelerated by the economic fall-out from the lockdown, whether that’s the decline of retail or the rise in remote working. We may well see a substantial increase in vacancies in the short and medium term.

On the other hand, perhaps an opportunity is opening for a renewal, a neighbourhood shifting toward local, creative and flexible workspace, building appropriate services and relying less on the London-bound herd commute. Time for temporary uses, pop-ups and events? Time to work out how to attract new visitors? And perhaps a bit more Rive Gauche.

We’ve also rather enjoyed the clean air of late.

Widened footways and pavement trading

We have already blogged on the pandemic implications for LCE (including a presentation of LCE interventions), on the Covid related transport emergency, and on possible cycle routing. For this post we ask: – how do we design for social distancing and outdoor trading? Haringey has already sectioned off areas of road space outside the Post Office, Waitrose and M&S, but how far should we go – do we need to see space for every shop to trade outside the front door, and every café to place seating outside?

Haringey now have a statutory instruction to move quickly with these things, and other boroughs from Hackney to Hammersmith (where King St. has extensive pavement widening) are moving ahead. At least cones and concrete blocks are cheap solutions.

NB: The Forum maintains a record of commercial land use in the town centre. The following maps are a snapshot of Crouch End before the flood, March 2020.

1. Clock Tower

The entrance to Weston Park forms an obvious site for outdoor trading. The road, already entrance-only, could be pedestrianised (and filtered).

Tottenham Lane presents the most significant challenge in the town centre, it requires extensive footway widening in place of the current car parking. As discussed in an earlier post, the corridor here is insufficiently wide for both extended pavements and cycle lanes (at no.1 it the pavement narrows to 2.05m).

Also, narrow pavements along the northern section of The Broadway (nos.41-61), including possible pavement trading outside no.1 Park Road – if the (very) narrow pavement at this point (2.05m) can be widened.

2. Park Road & Middle Lane

Park Road pavements are frequently narrow, including nos.1-9, 21-47 and 2-24.

The entrance to Middle Lane forms another possible site for outdoor trading, with numerous nearby A3 units. The road could be altered to exit-only running.

3. Tottenham Lane

Tottenham Lane continues to be narrow, including the pavement along the northern section of Broadway Parade, nos.27-38. Sites could be found to take pavement trading.

The entrance to Elder Avenue, north and south sections, offers another opportunity for outdoor tables. These side roads could be made entrance only.

4. The Broadway & Town Hall Square

Another section of narrow footways here, outside nos.1-13 The Broadway. Pavement trading could be located at the entrance to Coleridge Road.

The Town Hall Square offers a larger site for market-type trading for local independent shops. However, the space was sold into private ownership and a commercial contract would be necessary.

5. Crouch Hill

Crouch Hill has the narrowest pavements in the town centre, narrowing to 1.25m outside no.147. This is wholly inadequate at the best of times and action really should be taken. The road could be made single track, controlled by lights – or closed to all traffic for the duration. If pavements are widened outdoor trading sites could be found.


  1. Adrian Essex

    It’s a lovely blog, but does it actually change anything? Allons, enfants, do we have to man the barricades ourselves? Have a zoom with a cabinet member? Send a tweet? How do we implement our temporary tactical morphing into permanent strategic improvements?

  2. Mark Afford Author

    I’m informed Haringey may be about to launch a consultation. … well, yes – I know, but … some form of ideas gathering may be a good idea?

    If you want to see *something* done, now’s the time to speak up. Don’t leave it to the usual suspects, and certainly don’t leave it to us at the Forum, we don’t have a direct line to Haringey.

  3. Mark Afford Author

    Swift, cheap and removable. Interventions in Hackney, c’mon Haringey.

  4. Mark Afford Author


  5. Meagen Smith

    Improvements are always good. Micro-improvements that should be included:
    – space efficient use of pavement widths ( street signs, rubbish bins, notice boards all optimally positioned, unlike outside Waitrose and across the road)
    – flexibility of design (emergency vehicles and buses can proceed around therefore no particularly high space divisions)
    – nudging design techniques (reduce pedestrian weaving, standing wait places while checking mobile phone, pushchair adjustments)
    – ensure changes do not further slow down public transport (car parking on both sides of narrow road as outside Aix)
    – bike promoting infrastructure is space efficient and provides some division (not 2 metre wide lane divisions like Mile End or Blackfriars, more like 1 X brick wide of Amsterdam or Copenhagen)


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