Shopfronts — garish and gutted, enforcement pending?

There’s growing concern about the Crouch End high street as a rash of ripped out shopfronts and new depressing, over-lit, poorly designed, cheapjack signage is driving a coach and horses through the conservation area and damaging the local economy. It’s not as if we wish ill on new enterprise, but the requirement to submit for planning is the same for everyone, as is the duty to protect the conservation area. You open a business, you have legal obligations.

The most grievous instance is, as many have told us, the overnight demolition of the traditional frontage of 144 Crouch Hill, the ex-Flashback Records shop (image above). Work has now stopped and we can report Haringey’s enforcement team are on the case, instructing the new owners to reinstate the traditional shopfront. They have until the end of June to submit a planning application.

Image: facing enforcement?

Quite a few of the objectionable and non-compliant frontages are attached to new fast food and convenience stores, not least along Topsfield and Broadway Parades where the wen of take-aways, bookmakers, charity shops, and beauty parlours has produced an unattractive and economically depressing spectacle. It feels like a concerted attack — to walk here and still view Crouch End as some kind of west-of-borough El Dorado is increasingly myopic. Notably, an upwardly mobile neighbouring Muswell Hill continues to attract the kind of retail investment rarely seen here. With a comparison retail sector already on the floor town centre improvements are long overdue — improvements that begin with protecting what we have and, we strongly suggest, are secured in a plan to deliver a revitalised, visitor-centred, greened, public realm.

So even as we speak, two new additions to the workload for Haringey’s planning enforcement dept., both Tottenham Lane:

  • 44 Topsfield Parade, RFC Chicken & Ribs — New massive signboards obliterating the traditional dimensions of the frontage. They light up too (see image, below).
  • 14 Broadway Parade, El Loco Burrito — Another fast food outlet, with another over-illuminated fascia.

Add these to:

  • 33 Topsfield Parade, Strada café — Now behind a new folding shopfront and signage, all without bothering to apply for planning (they too have until the end of June to put together some king of retrospective submission)
  • 42 Topsfield Parade, Maxxi convenience store — More garish, flashing, multi-coloured illuminated signs, all without the required planning, prosecution pending.

Of course, 42 and 44 Topsfield are directly opposite the grade II* listed Queens, blighting the setting. We need to make the most of such heritage assets we have, not drown them in tat.

As many as ten shops across Crouch End town centre are currently facing enforcement action.

Images credits: CENF, google streetview.


  1. Will Chan

    Thanks for the detailed post – the current state of the high street is admittedly rather depressing.

    What really concerns me is that many business owners don’t seem to care about planning enforcement. The council served enforcement notices to these shops:
    – 50-52 Crouch End Hill (Off License)
    – 19 Broadway (Wenzels)
    – 68 Park Road (Off License)
    Compliance by dates have all passed but I am not seeing any remediations / rectifications.

    I suggested to Haringey Planning Enforcement a while ago to write to all shop owners and remind them of the conservation area planning rules, however they said they might not have the resource to do so. Perhaps CENF can help here?

  2. Pat Pearson

    I’m a local traditional signwriter and I hand paint shop fascias in many parts of North London. It makes a massive difference having signage and lettering painted appropriately for the area. For an example, I’ve been involved in a number of jobs in Belsize Village – the shops there look classy because the owners (and the local residents) care enough to want properly designed signs with hand painted lettering. There’s no reason why this couldn’t happen in Crouch End too…and for Haringey planning to encourage classy signs. We’ve done a number in N8, as have a number of other traditional signwriters. We need more, otherwise I’m afraid it’s a race to the plastic and vinyl bottom!


Leave your thought