Lack of parking is biggest concern for local businesses, reports James Cracknell
Business owners in two adjacent town centres say their turnover is in decline – and list lack of local parking as their biggest concern.
Retail reports for Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill, compiled by consultants on behalf of Enfield Council, both concluded that trade was declining despite significant investment in local infrastructure being made.
In Palmers Green, 58 percent of business owners said sales were down compared to last year, and 29 percent said a lack of parking was the main weakness of the area. Too many vacant shops and the impact of new cycle lanes, as part of the Cycle Enfield ‘Mini Holland’ programme, were the second and third most common ‘weaknesses’ listed by retailers.
Starbucks and Waitrose are two of the most significant recent businesses to quit Palmers Green, leaving large vacant units in the town centre. However, Aldermans Hill was said to be an area that was “pleasant and improving” with no empty shops at present. The cleanliness and appearance of the town centre was also praised.
In Winchmore Hill, 54 percent of business owners said trade had declined, with 37 percent blaming a lack of parking and 25 percent blaming the new cycle lanes. While the area as a whole was said to be in “reasonable health” the report states that there were several long-term vacant units causing concern. Winchmore Hill Green continues to be the most successful part of the town centre and is said to be “thriving”.
Both reports concluded that the introduction of street markets in Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill would help boost footfall, as part of a long-term strategy that should be drawn up by the council in conjunction with local businesses.
The council responded to the twin retail reports by insisting the issue of parking was being addressed and that the feedback given by retailers would be used to make further improvements.
A council spokesperson said: “Reassuringly, retailers are broadly satisfied with the performance of their shops. Retailers in both town centres recognise that the vast majority of their customers live nearby, indicating the importance of making these town centres accessible by foot, bike, and public transport.
“Though for a minority of retailers parking was identified as an issue, the council has already responded to this concern by providing a number of free short-stay parking bays in both Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill.
“Retailers are also keen to see improvements to the public realm and, though there was a degree of disruption while the A105 scheme was being constructed, our Cycle Enfield programme has already delivered a wide range of enhancements including better pavements, more seating and more greenery.
“Importantly, the results from these surveys will help inform the work we will do to enhance our town centres.”