Friday, June 26, 2009

Local Things

A warning that this is likely to turn into a sweary post, so apologies about that.

Firstly I want to talk about lovely Noel Park, the area where I live in Wood Green. There's a wikipedia link to it here. It was made a conservation area and was given Article Four Direction status in 1982, which is meant to ensure that the houses keep their appearance and mustn't be altered without permission. The idea is to keep it looking pretty, because frankly, it's a lovely estate.
So, for example, you can't stick a satellite dish up on your house, or change the sash windows for alternative ones. Also you can't build extensions to the front (or back) of the house, and I suspect, you can't paint your house pink either.
Well, not in theory anyway...
The trouble is it's very difficult to stop people doing things, once they start. And this is what's happened over the last 10 or more years. It seems that this hasn't been policed particularly effectively, and now there are violations to these rules going on all over the estate.
There are lots of reasons for this. One in particular is that I don't think that many people who live in the estate even know that it's a conservation area, so have no idea they're doing anything wrong.
It's something that some of us locals have been thinking about, and one idea we had recently was to apply for a grant from the Making A Difference initiative to help raise the profile of it's conservation status by having some noticeboards put up with some history of the estate and also a map with points of interest on. These would be marked with plaques (like the Blue Plaques you see around) at each particular point of interest.
So I put together the application and sent it off. I asked for 5 grand.
I got a call today to tell me that we'd been awarded £2,500! That's all rather brilliant isn't it?
Obviously, we discussed the difficulty in affording all I'd asked for with the smaller amount of money and we thought about alternatives that would still have the impact of telling people about Noel Park, but on a more affordable scale.
I'm rather chuffed about this, and i'll keep you all informed about how it all progresses.
The timing couldn't have been better, as The English Heritage have announced this week their first ever Heritage at Risk register and Noel Park is one of the 3 Conservation Areas at risk. A link to this can be found here, and if you live in Noel Park it's worth a read.

I've also just finalised with Caroline Welch, the author of Noel Park, A Social and Architectural History, an event at the shop. Well, actually it's a historical walk of Noel Park followed by a snifter at the shop. August 13th 6.30pm kick off. So, if you want to learn a bit more about the area, this is another great opportunity.

OK here's the sweary bit.
Muswell Hill (I see it as the fancy hat that sits on Wood Green's head) 'celebrated' the opening of their first 99p store last week. Apparently it was chaos as eager shoppers piled in to pick up a bargain or two. Fights broke out and shoppers were locked in the shop until the scuffle was sorted out.
The local newspaper reported that local shopkeepers were worried that 'the new addition will cheapen the area and ruin its classy reputation.'
Happy shopper Susan Bennett said on the other hand "I just think it's brilliant and, more than anything else, it's great to see an empty shop busy again.
I don't think it will compete too much with the local traders because we haven't got anything else like this in Muswell Hill."

now then...

*** *****, co-owner of ****** **** Jewellers in the Broadway, said: "This is going to be the thin end of the wedge. It won't be long before we are another Wood Green or Turnpike Lane.

Fuck off *** *****, you pompous asshole.
Painting a whole area with your very thick and unpleasant brush doesn't help in any way.

I will say no more about it...


themanwhofellasleep said...

Simon, I read that article and was also very pissed off. As a denizen of Muswell Hill I have long-awaited the 99p shop. Finally, a shop in Muswell Hill that might sell something useful instead of organic hoummos, art supplies or bruschetta.

Having lived in Muswell Hill most of my life, I've seen the area change and evolve. It used to be a fairly normal lower-middle-class suburb, with a Woolies, a butchers, a record shop etc. You know, normal shops selling normal things. Now it's been gentrified to the point where every other shop is an overpriced boutique selling useless shit that no-one other than a well-kept yummy-mummy can afford. With the closure of Woolies, there were almost no shops in Muswell Hill where you could buy anything practical. A hammer, for example.

Frankly, Muswell Hill can do with a good dose of Wood Green to bring it back down to earth.

I mentioned the 99p shop to a woman who works in Boots. She said that they had been hoping to move into the vacant Woolies themselves. I mentioned that there was a very large Boots in Wood Green.

"Yes," she said. "But people in Muswell Hill don't want to go to Wood Green. They go to Brent Cross instead."

"But that's miles away. Wood Green is just around the corner."

"I know," she sighed. "But they simply will not go to Wood Green."

Let's hope a small degree of humility returns to Muswell Hill.

Rachella said...

That's not the first time I've read nasty comments in the press about Wood Green. A recent Telegraph article used the phrase "the down at heel London suburb Wood Green" in an article about the M&S historic archive. Why they had to use that phrase, and its relevance to the M&S archive is beyond me.

On a positive note, Noel Park got some good press as a result of the English Heritage Campaign. We were on the BBC 6:30 news on Tuesday, we were mentioned in the local papers, and we made the Guardian today, here:

Congratulations on the signs! We also got a grant to produce some educational leaflets, informing residents about the conservation area. As you said, it's a lovely neighborhood. It would be nice to keep it that way.

Mrs E said...

We had a discussion about Noel Park in this course of this thread
on Harringay online.

We are all wishing you well with your campaign and many of us will be watching your progress with interest.

Here in Harringay, there is enormous sympathy with your problems. Just getting Haringey to admit there is a problem can be an uphill struggle let alone tackle it, because tackling it means finding funding.

As to the whole East/West thing in Haringey, we KNOW that most of what happens here in the East would simply not happen in the West. Have a look at the councils future plans for development. Virtually no new devlopments being sited in the west whereas in the East, charming new devlopments like this are going up fast:
Imagine if they tried to build that in Muswell Hill?

Mistar C said...

Right! I have found some sense at last. I've lived in Muswell Hill all my life and even in this short period of time the area has gone rapidly down hill. 'Classy' couldn't be further from the truth. Muswell Hill is a tacky arena for Americanized suburban competition. I like to describe it to people as a 'shit Hampstead'. All of a sudden the shops are French boutiques, everyones middle aged (with surprisingly young children), overweight and white. Imagine being gentrified out of your own area, it just isn't fair. How can an area be cool if it doesn't have a record shop? Whatever happened to retro being cool? Why are all the pubs overpriced and over 21's? Why isn't there a pool table left on the planet? How many estate agents does one area need? Do men in Muswell Hill not wear clothes anymore?

What is good about my area is the man I call the bubble gum man because he decorates the gum stains on the floor. He is London.

What is good about my area is all the charity shops, because they are the only places I can afford to buy clothes and they are in good condition.

What is good about my area is the 99p shop!

Toffs used to make me happy, but now it makes me sad. Some people go for fish and chips, I go for chips because fish costs over 6 quid.

KFC should be made illegal.

So should the rich, they are disgusting, gosh, tacky, vain, ignorant and thieving!

Someone has to tell the kids that this isn't how its supposed to be, otherwise they'll turn into their parents pretense and blackberry all their mates about it.

Who shops in planet organic? who thinks that thats alright? that it makes any difference at all? I'll tell you who, people who are rich enough to fanny around all day with impractical contradictory morals. Lets recycle our plastic bags and drive a bloody tank around! Lets actually save battery chickens and talk about saving Africa.

The end is upon us, the end of Muswell Hill, the Palace will burn again and so will any remaining glimmer of humanity, reality, life!!!!