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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

202310 greening chase side walkaboutEnfield 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.

photograph of chase side southgate with text about public realm improvements create space where people can feel at easeThis slide from a recent Journeys & Places presentation shows Chase Side Southgate without a single tree or blade of grass in sight

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.

map showing masterplan of integrated interventions to improve public realm around southgate circusAt this month's Environment Forum meeting the council's Journeys & Places team briefed on their work on "rebalancing" the public realm design in Southgate town centre

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.

parklets proposed for ashfield parade southgate 1

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.

proposed pocket park adjacent to southgate station 

*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.

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Adrian Day posted a reply
05 Oct 2023 08:23
To make a material improvement in that area there needs to be a significant reduction in the space devoted to vehicles. Filtering one or two of the roads and reducing parking would allow much more planting than indicated - and provide a safer, quieter and less polluted environment.
Neil Littman posted a reply
05 Oct 2023 17:24
I wonder if the people behind this initiative really know Southgate that well or are aware of the underlying issues in the area many of which are not car-related but to do with anti-social behaviour and a general loss of community. Nearly all the banks are gone and the loss of the police station has had an impact.
And then there are the massed mopeds outside the fast food restaurants. I wish them luck but think it will take a lot more than a few green spaces to improve the area and as for getting rid of car spaces, I think it would be a brave person who confronts some of the drivers who hang out around Ashfield Parade.
My visits to Southgate are usually to the blues club which is one of the best in London but other than that, I don't find the shops or restaurants very interesting apart from the places to eat around Southgate Circus opposite the station.
The land around the station itself is a mess at the moment with the container units and think the improvements proposed specifically for that location would really help but I have seen some pretty shocking behaviour around the high street over the years which gives me little incentive to make repeat visits apart from using the station to get into town and back again. The sad thing is it has been going on a long time.
Darren Edgar posted a reply
12 Oct 2023 10:36
A parklet isn't going to make Ashfield Parade family friendly. It is some of the business and unsavoury customers that are the problem and the Council ducked the opportunity to take enforcement action during Covid.

Definitely needs a massive motor vehicle reduction to make that area anything close to pleasant. Either one way with some roadway re-allocation or even full pedestrianisation.

I agree with Neil that the failure of the Police Station is a big problem but sadly that is outside the Council's control as it is privately owned. The old pub that Fios flattened is another eye-sore where the Council have failed to do anything about enforcement-wise.

Unlike Neil I think Southgate has a number of nice eateries. Maybe he needs to look a little harder.
Neil Littman posted a reply
16 Oct 2023 17:36
I think your point about places to eat in Southgate is a fair one. I have however reviewed three places; La Paella, Tonnbo and Zgara which were all good. I have also eaten at Kervan which is very good but reviewed the branch in Edmonton and also been to Nurjenna (several times) and Romna Gate (now closed). Had a bad experience at Fantozzi though they might have been having an off night but there are a lot of fast food places though not that keen on the atmosphere on the high street at night. I saw the Honeymoon Chinese Restaurant listed on Google but thought they had closed down. Some of the cafes are good. What places do you rate?
Darren Edgar posted a reply
17 Oct 2023 17:00
Is Zgara the new one just round from La Paella? Menu felt very uninspiring. Disappointed with the replacement of Souvlaki to Go too as that was fantastic.

La Paella, Nurjenna and Tonnbo are all firm favourites and absolutely excellent in my opinion. A neighbour said Honeymoon was good but I haven't tried. Warda is well worth a try too, Lebanese place at the top of the Bourne. Finally our favourite family "cafe" is Chunk of Green. Must have been 100 times over the years! Really good coffee, nice food and good for kids.
Neil Littman posted a reply
18 Oct 2023 11:15
Darren, Thanks for the reply. I only ate at Zgara once and am not a red meat eater which seems to be what they are all about but the other places are good. Have also eaten at Warda. I don't know Chunk of Green so will look out for that. The Souvlaki to Go site seems to keep changing hands. They had a branch in Winchmore Hill Green at one time.
Neil Littman posted a reply
21 Oct 2023 15:33
Darren, hi, I wasn't expecting so add anything else on this forum discussion but found out that last week Tim Martin from Wetherspoons paid an unannounced visit to the branch in Southgate only to be told the kitchen was closed for month due to staff shortages.