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Bid to boost trade in Enfield Town

Council providing stage for local musicians to perform alongside areas for outdoor eating, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The 'Enfield Live' stage on Fountain Island has been in place for weeks but has only just won planning permission
The ‘Enfield Live’ stage on Fountain Island has been in place for weeks but has only just won planning permission

Plans to attract more people to Enfield Town with a stage, food trailer and extra tables and chairs have won approval.

The new outdoor dining and cultural activities space – which has partly already launched – occupies Fountain Island, which sits at the corner of London Road and The Town.

Designed to boost the vitality of the town centre and support an “active nightlife”, the plans allow for temporary outdoor seating areas to be used by businesses currently operating in the area, such as Nando’s, Gooey Waffle, O’Neill’s and Billy Hair. In addition, a food kiosk trailer owned by Bonito Cafe will be permitted to occupy a loading bay in Church Street.

A stage designed to host community workshops and performances will be allowed in the square, alongside a plinth showcasing work by local artists.

Council planning chiefs recommended approving the scheme for a three-year period. But members of the planning committee only granted permission for a year after raising a series of concerns over the proposals during a meeting on Tuesday.

Fountain Island is situated in Enfield Town Conservation Area and is close to a number of listed buildings. Mike Rye, a Conservative councillor, said the plans would put a “huge amount of temporary structures that are incredibly ugly in front of buildings that are of considerable merit”.

Noting that the scheme had begun before permission was granted, Cllr Rye said he was “disappointed that the council’s own application is partly retrospective”.

Planning officer David Gittens said it was “unfortunate” there was a “retrospective element” to the application, adding that the local election in May had delayed it from coming to the committee.

Nicholas Page, principal heritage adviser at Enfield Council, said part of the town’s heritage was linked to its use as a “commercial centre” and the scheme would “bring vitality to the conservation area”. He added that he did not think the structures would cause harm, pointing out that they were designed to be temporary.

Several councillors, including Labour’s Mohammed Islam and Doug Taylor, raised concerns that the extra structures could limit access and pose a safety risk, particularly for visually impaired people. Cllr Taylor said there appeared to be a “lack of clarity” over how the risks would be managed.

Committee members also raised concerns over whether people using the area would be able to access toilets when shops and cafes are closed.

Following the debate, the committee voted to approve the scheme for one year and added a condition calling for a management plan to be drawn up to ensure their concerns over accessibility are addressed.

Long-term plans for Enfield Town include the creation of a new public square at a road junction and a plaza in front of Enfield Town Station.