Row over lost parking as details of Enfield Town revamp revealed

Council confirms 32 on-street spaces will be removed to accommodate wider pavements and larger pedestrian crossings, reports James Cracknell

The vision for Market Square
The council’s vision for Market Square, where a café would be created inside Market House

Detailed plans for the long-awaited revamp of Enfield Town have been revealed, with several new public spaces and cycle lanes, more pedestrian crossings, fewer parking spaces and narrower roads all being proposed.

Despite a previous £6million Transport for London (TfL) grant to support the scheme no longer being available because of TfL’s ongoing financial crisis, Enfield Council has instead sourced £5m of alternative funding to make the project happen, with further money still being sought.

The proposals include a major redesign of the area outside Enfield Town Station, making it more pedestrian friendly; segregated cycle lanes along Genotin Road, Cecil Road and London Road; a revamped Library Green with better access into Town Park provided; a new public space created at the junction of Church Street and Little Park Gardens; work to better integrate Market Square with the town centre; and new permanent planting and seating around Fountain Island.

Another public consultation on the proposals has now been launched, the fourth time in as many years that the council has invited people to submit their views. A previous iteration of the plans, which would have formed part of the £30m Cycle Enfield initiative, was consulted on in 2016 but later ditched.

The new 'plaza' outside Enfield Town Station
The proposed new ‘plaza’ outside Enfield Town Station

Reactions to the scheme have been mixed, with Better Streets for Enfield welcoming the improved provision for cyclists, while Enfield Town Residents’ Association has raised concerns over the loss of car parking. Enfield Town Business Association had previously welcomed the investment in the town centre but has not yet commented on the latest version of the plans.

Asked to clarify how many parking spaces would be lost, a council spokesperson confirmed it would remove 32 on-street pay-and-display bays, but said this equated to “less than 3% of the total number of car parking spaces that are available, with over 1,000 spaces remaining in car parks across the town centre”.

Market Square would also no longer be available to be used as a short-stay car park on days when the market isn’t running.

The latest council consultation provides more detail and visualisations of the scheme than had been available previously. It is based around five principals, outlining a vision for Enfield Town which “is safe for all”, “has a vibrant economy”, “is a great place to be”, “offers transport choices” and “celebrates its heritage”.

At a council webinar event this week, it was explained that the new public space outside Enfield Town Station would be created by moving the taxi rank across the road to inside New River Loop Car Park. This will provide space for more seating, planting, a cycle lane, and wider footways and crossings. The space would also act as “a celebration of Enfield’s culture and heritage”, with the area’s links to poet John Keats being emphasised.

The proposals for a new taxi rank near Enfield Town Station
The proposals for a new taxi rank near Enfield Town Station

Further along Southbury Road, Colman Parade, which is currently a service road for local businesses, would be pedestrianised. A cycle lane would be added and a loading bay provided for deliveries and short-term parking in the evening. The entrance to St Andrew’s Road opposite the station would be blocked to motor traffic, with the exception of emergency vehicles.

At Library Green – described in the webinar as “a green oasis in the heart of Enfield” – the space would be opened up and a pedestrian crossing provided to guide pedestrians through to Town Park.

The vision for Library Green
The vision for Library Green, which would be made more open and accessible

One of the more contentious aspects of the proposals is the new public space, first announced last year, set to be created at the junction of Church Street and Little Park Gardens. It would mean blocking traffic, although there would still be access to Enfield Grammar School from the other end.

Market Square and Fountain Island would both be redesigned. Fountain Island has increasingly been used as a seating area and events space in recent years, and the new plans would build on this usage, creating what’s been dubbed a “people’s plaza”.

At Market Square – described as the “centrepiece” of the town centre – the old cobbles would be removed to improve accessibility, and a much wider pedestrian crossing would better link it to the shopping centre on the opposite side. Market House, in the centre of the square, would contain a new café, while additional lighting would help with the transition to a bigger nighttime economy in Enfield Town.

The vision for Fountain Island
How Fountain Island might look in future

Market Square itself is owned and managed by The Old Enfield Charitable Trust. Enfield Charter Market uses the space on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but on other days it is used as a short-stay car park with around 40 spaces provided. Speaking to the Dispatch this week, one of the charity’s trustees said there had been a disagreement with the council over whether to retain Market Square’s function as a car park, which is said to provide around 20% of the trust’s income.

Neil Thompson said: “From a design point of view, it [the scheme] ties Market Square far more into the town. It suffers at the moment from being cut off from the shops. The fact the square will be refurbished, hopefully the market will become more successful.

“But the conundrum is the car park. We earn money from the car park and it is clearly a local amenity that people value. Turning it into a communal space makes it very attractive, but at the expense of losing the parking. We are still talking to the council about it.”

Adrian Day, a co-ordinator with Better Streets for Enfield, has welcomed the proposed addition of new cycling facilities for Enfield Town, although the campaign group had also pushed the council to go further by closing Church Street to traffic. Adrian said: “Better Streets supports the council’s planned improvements to Enfield Town centre, and in particular the proposals to encourage walking, cycling and public transport use.

“We would have preferred that private vehicles are prohibited from Church Street – there’s plenty of evidence to show that footfall increases when main shopping streets are made more pleasant and accessible for people on foot, cycling or using mobility aids.”

The new public space in Little Park Gardens, tentatively dubbed 'Saddlers Mill Square'
The new public space in Little Park Gardens, tentatively dubbed ‘Saddlers Mill Square’

Asked where the £5m to fund the scheme had been sourced, a council spokesperson said that £1m in council capital funding had already been aligned to the project, and that another £4m would come via contributions from local developers in the area. Further funding to complete the project, including a revamp of the Willow Road and Southbury Road junction further east, would be sought from TfL in the event it signs a long-term funding deal with the government.

A council spokesperson said: “The outcome of this will determine how much TfL may contribute. The council is confident TfL will reiterate its commitment to fund the Enfield Town project, but in the meantime, we have allocated money in our own budget to allow progress on delivery, because we are committed to investing in our town centres.

“The council has developed a plan that can be implemented incrementally, depending on the amount of funding secured over time. The sequence of delivery will be considered further once the TfL funding situation is clarified.

“The council has been developing a network of active travel routes for a number of years. The Enfield Town project would link into the existing Cycleway 20 to Palmers Green, but also potential future routes to Ponders End in the east, Broxbourne in the north and to Cockfosters in the west.”

The latest public consultation closes on 25th September. There will be another chance for residents to have their say next year when formal plans are due to be submitted. If they are approved, work would begin in 2024.

For more information on the scheme and the consultation events that are being planned:
Visit
letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/enfieldtown