As council wins £6m to revamp town centre, Clare Rogers from independent campaign group Better Streets for Enfield makes the case for pedestrianisation
While we know very little about Enfield Council’s new ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ scheme, we welcome their stated aim to reduce the impact of motor traffic on pedestrians shopping in the town centre – and we hope this will also boost the local economy.
It will be vital that the scheme reduces traffic volume and speed on Church Street, as well as delivering better crossings. As long as Church Street stays dominated by loads of fast-moving cars cutting through the town without stopping, shops will suffer and so will Enfield Town.
We think in the medium term, the best answer will be to remove the one-way system – as many town centres are doing around the country – routing through instead traffic via a two-way Cecil Road. That would give Church Street back to pedestrians, bikes and buses, making it truly people-friendly, boosting incomes for local shops and reviving the nighttime economy.
As a way of experimenting with this idea and bringing local people along, why not hold a series of monthly car-free Saturdays or Sundays on Church Street, so people can experience it for themselves? Various temporary traffic arrangements could be trialled at the same time.
If these events boost high street income through extra footfall, that will reassure local businesses. And if the trials prove popular enough, they could be the basis for drawing up transformational plans for the town centre that the public are likely to approve.
We hope that as young people – who overwhelmingly support bold schemes like this – grow older, and as this and other Cycle Enfield schemes mature and show what can be done, residents’ fears are allayed and we see more steps to make the town better. Given the inactivity crisis, latest statistics on air pollution, and the United Nations report on climate change, future generations will not thank us for anything less than bold action now.
This is our vision – and we look forward to working with the council, businesses, and other residents to come up with the best possible plans for a thriving and people-friendly town centre.
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