The 'High Street Camp' at Willesden Library last week suggested that public realm design in the town centre could be regenerated and revived. This might be done with (old and) new ways of facilitating social interaction and (safer, slower) use of the high street.
The day brought together street design and regeneration interests from all corners, and Mary Portas popped in to chat. (It was suggested to her that the built environment was under-emphasised in her Review) Government 'Communites' funding has been announced for ('riot-stricken') Croydon as the only 'Portas Pilot' project in London.
A presentation by Living Streets' Jack Skillen suggested that economic vitality in streets was a key factor in making them work well, but also the activity and transparency of 'good' shops make a conducive built environment. In the case of the centre of King's Cross, for example, we might say that the Post Office (17 Euston Rd) and Megaro (23 Euston Road) - with their active frontages - contribute more to the street and public realm than 'Play 2 Win' at 1 Euston Road, or William Hill opposite.
Here is my response to the feedback request from High Street Camp:
1 Overall, what was your impression of the event?It was a lively, well-organised day, allowing a useful exchange of case studies and a diverse range of interests and networking contacts.
2 What, for you, was the highlight of the day?
The highlight for me was visiting Queens Parade to see a regenerated street frontage accommodating pop-up small enterprises including a print shop, vintage shop and juice bar.
3 What could we do better if we were doing another High Street Camp?
I found the balance of my time about right and the flexibility of participation appropriate. I can't think of any improvement, apart from holding one in future in my neighbourhood of King's Cross.. (13miles by cycle eastward on the Regent's Canal)
4 Could you pick one idea from the event that you hope or plan to follow up?
Its ambitious, but would like to get develop the idea of high streets' roles in urban regeneration of King's Cross Town Centre in our Neighbourhood with local Boroughs (Camden and Islington) and Transport for London Streets!
Punch and Juicy (r) before
Julian Dobson on High Street Camp in the Huffington Post
The ReviveOurTownCentres site.
Greg Cowan, local group chair