Enfield Council are inviting residents and businesses to join in walkarounds along Chase Side in Southgate, when council officers will be looking for suggestions as to how to "green" the public realm in this important street, currently characterised by traffic congestion and hard impermeable surfaces.
The Greening Chase Side event on Saturday 7th October will run from 10.30am to 12.30pm and will incorporate two walkabouts, at 11am and 12pm.
Greening Chase Side walkabout
Enfield Council is exploring the possibility of installing green areas on the wide footpaths of Chase Side to improve the public realm and develop a green, vibrant and inclusive town centre.
The project represents an opportunity to address the current state of Chase Side with the aim of improving the everyday experience of the local community and develop a shared vision for the town centre.
The project is currently in the early stages and no design is being proposed at this time. We welcome residents, businesses and other stakeholders to share their ideas with us on Saturday 7th October from 10.30am to 12.30pm.
The meeting point is Southgate Station with two walks along Chase Side taking place at 11am and 12pm.
Source: Flyer issued by Enfield Council Journeys & Places team, September 2023
While Southgate Circus, the adjoining underground and bus stations, Chase Side and Ashfield Parade were, when built, the very latest word in enlightened urban design and street planning, over the past 90 years the town centre has become less attractive, the main causes being newer buildings that are, quite frankly, downright ugly, and the takeover of the public realm by the motor car, exacerbated by the attitude of some drivers who simply park where it suits them without consideration for the congestion this causes. The overall effect is to dehumanise the environment.
Perhaps too the 1930s developers overlooked the importance of designing in greenery because at the time Southgate Circus would have been surrounded by fields. The contrast between present day Southgate Circus and Southgate Green in this respect is very marked. On the one hand, we have large expanses of grass with trees on the Green, and a wide swathe of grass and trees running along Canon Hill; on the other hand, no trees and no grass along either Chase Side or Ashfield Parade. The only green areas are some scruffy patches of grass near the station.
It's long been known that trees and grass make for a more psychologically calming environment. But it's now becoming clearer that there are also physical threats associated with streets with no trees and with impervious surfaces as climate change causes dangerously hot days and increasingly heavier downpours.
As stated in the text of the council flyer advertising the walkabouts, work on improving the "public domain" in Southgate town centre is still at an early stage. However, some clues as to what the council's Journeys & Places team have in mind can be gleaned from the slides that were presented at the most recent meeting of Enfield's Environment Forum*, held earlier this month. "Providing a safer, welcoming and equitable town centre" involves addressing the dehumanising and environmental problems caused by the lack of greenery.
One of the slides from the presentation shows "a masterplan of integrated interventions" and other slides illustrate concepts for the individual interventions: "parklets" (seating areas with integrated planters and small trees) in Ashfield Parade, intended to make the street "greener, more attractive to families and customers"; a "pocket park" occupying the currently sad looking area of grass at the end of Crown Lane, outside Nando's - the design for this will be based on ideas that were explored with members of the public in 2022; and, for Chase Side, the creation of "spaces where people can feel at ease in the midst of a heavily congested environment" - these sound pretty much like more parklets, but perhaps the walkarounds next Saturday will come up with other possible solutions.
*The complete presentation, in higher resolution than the excerpts included in this article, can be downloaded from the council website. As well as ideas for enhancing the public realm in Southgate town centre, there are slides relating to town centre improvement projects in Palmers Green, Enfield Town, Upper Edmonton and Edmonton Green.