OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

How long have you lived in Crouch End?

A few months or tens of years?

Has it changed in that time? Well, yes, of course it has.

When I came here school catchment areas stretched for appreciable distances. My children walked every day from Glasslyn Road to the tiny, one-site Coleridge School, 0.42 miles as the crow flies. The Haringey schools admission figures for 2015 show that the cutoff distance for places at Coleridge was 0.24 miles. The school is mow huge (a change) but the area is over full of school age children.

Now that might not be a change for the better - depends if you're a head teacher getting paid on the basis of how many pupils there are in the school, perhaps. Not if you are a parent desperate for a good state school place.

When I came here it was possible to buy suitcases from a shop dedicated to selling luggage, not far from the clock tower. There was a third hardware shop, trading where Melange is now. There was a shop selling school uniform. Woolworth's! These have gone to be replaced, broadly speaking, with boutiques specialising in clothes, and coffee bars and restaurants. And nail bars, and hairdressers and beauticians and estate agents and high street dentists and opticians. And coffee bars and restaurants. And cinemas, plural. Now the reasons for this are very clear. High Streets can no longer compete with out of town shopping malls, discount supermarkets and online retailing, so high streets don't even try. Your High Street is now a place to relax and enjoy the ambience. To take tea, or coffee, or falafels or pancakes, with a friend, or friends, or to gather in gregarious groups with a common interest in buggies. I think the planning argot is "to dwell".

When I came here the centre of Crouch End was a centre for the administration of various Haringey related administratively administrative things. I'm sure we've all seen the British Pathe Crouch End mum making her way to the Town Hall and the Annex at the rear of 12 Haringey Park to do something , probably with coupons. But Haringey sold the Citizens' Advice Bureau, moved all the admin offices out of the Town Hall, and converted the building above Budgen's etc, into flats. So there is not much admin any more. But what there is in its place is a thriving set of businesses, in perhaps slightly surprising places.

The Town Hall now has over 100 small business units, all let. Praise be to ANA (if only they could keep their web site updated). There is a thriving business park just behind the row of shops on Park Road just beyond the Maynard which includes the wood flooring place, the education.centre and  the keep fit thingy. Crouch End is a business centre.

When I came here there was no such thing as the Crouch End Festival Chorus. David Temple was just a freelance , peripatetic music teacher, but he and the choir made singing in large groups fashionable and sexy, long before Gareth Malone moved here. Crouch End is home to a lot of creative people and ideas.

Which rambling, barely coherent, incomplete and utterly subjective wander down memory lane, must be brought to an end, by getting back to the title.

There is a force now awakening in Crouch End for localism. It is manifest in more than one way. One group of local people has set up a website and a series of meetings under the heading defendcrouchend. You can go to their meeting on February 3rd 2016 if like them, you believe that Crouch End is under attack and needs defending. For myself I'm taking a slightly more positive view. It has to be accepted that places change, and Crouch End is no exception. So what we have to do is identify what it is about Crouch End we like and value and ensure that the changes taking place reinforce and emphasise those aspects, to which end the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum exists. The forum will be holding its Inaugural General Meeting on Sunday February 7th in Hornsey Town Hall during the course of which the audience will participate ("Oh, yes they will") in an attempt understand just what it is we value and like about the place, with a view to creating a long term vision and encapsulating it in in a Neighbourhood Plan.

Tags: crouch end neighbourhood forum, neighbourhood plan

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