Added: Sylvan Goll - Date: 30.01.2022 22:38 - Views: 20370 - Clicks: 6570
Perrins Court - Credit: Michael Boniface. Traffic is back; bike lanes are on the way. People are working from home; Zoom is the new norm.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live, travel and interact — and it will no doubt help shape the future of our village centres. Covid has taken a heavy toll on our high streets: Some shops have been forced to close, and many residents have relied on neighbours, families, friends and volunteers for support.
This period has debilitated and knocked many of us off stride. But it may also offer an opportunity for a new direction. The lost shops around Hampstead are one of the most visible aspects of change from the pandemic. There are around retail and leisure units across Hampstead Village — 16 of which are vacant. Flask Walk - Credit: Michael Boniface. Since lockdown began, around 20 local businesses have departed. A new charity, Go Dharmic, has set up a temporary store in the former Gap clothes shop, and the optician Jimmy Fairly is set to replace Organic Pharmacy.
Despite these encouraging s, prime sites remain empty including the former Natwest and Lloyds banks. The future of the former Hampstead police station remains uncertain too, after a planning appeal for Abacus Belsize Primary School to move in was turned down. The building, owned by the Department for Education, has been put up for sale. And as for pubs, in South End Green the Magdala Tavern — closed since — is set to return next month, amid much anticipation. Elsewhere, there is still hope that pints can be pulled once again at the former Rosslyn Arms. As lockdown restrictions ease, there are calls for Camden Council to introduce more streateries — outdoor dining areas Future Highgate to help boost Hampstead businesses in hospitality.
But while commercial demand appears to remain largely intact, and residents gradually return Future Highgate the high street during the phased easing of lockdown, other challenges simultaneously arise. The school run on Heath Street, Hampstead. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant. Issues of traffic and congestion have long troubled Hampstead, and they have resurfaced in recent months. Traffic is worsened by Hampstead having the highest concentration of schools in Europe, as many parents drive in and out for the school run.
The area faces different logistical challenges being atop a hill, akin to more of a suburban neighbourhood.
Hampstead also has the oldest average age in the borough, and many elderly and disabled residents rely on their car to navigate the many climbs, and to complete everyday tasks. Both groups have voiced opposition to recent road changes. This frustration, often expressed through the feeling they are not being listened to, covers plans for cycle lanes in Haverstock Hill, which many of the elderly and disabled say will harm their access by taking away parking. So how can these issues be tackled, without disadvantaging many vulnerable residents, at a time when there needs to be consensus on moving towards a greener, more sustainable future?
Alternative schemes have been suggested, including increased infrastructure for electric vehicles; greater access to car-sharing; more timed road closures around schools; and the introduction of privately run local bus services. To try to tackle a nationwide shortage of housing, Whitehall has set out plans to make it easier for landlords to convert shops into homes. But there are fears this could disrupt the presence and mix of businesses in Hampstead Village, while hollowing away its soul and character.
Community groups and neighbours worry planning decisions will be made without proper consideration and consultation of local residents. And as people shift away from the office and towards home working, how does physical space need to be reimagined? Residents have been forced into an odd form of neighbourhood retreat by restrictions on movement. But as a result, many people have reconnected with their area.
Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant. Against the backdrop of these changes, challenges and rediscoveries, a sense of returning to normality is still likely to be the first priority for many people in Hampstead. Beyond the short-term, however, the economic and social fractures of the pandemic may offer an opportunity to rethink how people live — where they go, how they get there, and what they do. Could there be new flexible workspace shared by the community? How about low-traffic neighbourhoods for cleaner air?
And how can we protect local nature? Is there room for another creperie? So much has changed over the past year. The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum has launched a survey inviting the local community to discuss the future of both Hampstead Village and South End Green. The forum is posing questions to residents, businesses and anyone connected with Hampstead to gather an understanding of how its town centres can be used and improved in the Future Highgate.
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is a voluntary group, set up by residents, which uses a local plan to help guide developments in NW3. Its survey on the future of the high street will close on April Complete the questionnaire at www. This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces Future Highgate times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.
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