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Crouch End needs its car mechanics...

I've been going to the car mechanics at MEB on Tottenham Lane (opposite the YMCA) for years. The guys in there are friendly, professional and very good at servicing and fixing my aging car. In fact the customer service in there is so good even my wife likes taking her car there..! - if that doesn't sound too sexist - but seriously, she likes the fact that they don't talk down to her and show her the respect she deserves as a paying customer when she doesn't know if her 'big-end' has gone or her gasket has blown.

Now I find the freeholders of the site want to close them down and develop the site for a block of flats...!

I'm really astonished. I can't believe there is demand for more flats in Crouch End when, across the road, there is a new development of flats which don't seem to have sold a single plot yet... (ok maybe one or two...) but really - its been there over six months and there's little interest. Is there any need for more flats in Crouch End in this economic climate? I don't think so.

What there is a definite need for though is good, thriving, sustainable small businesses. Especially ones that are in short supply like this one. Crouch End thrives on the diversity of it's small business (though there's still a few too many restaurants and cafes for my liking...) but I'd rather have them there employing local people than another block of flats that creates more congestion on school places and local traffic.

When I heard this news, I asked Gerard Naraina, the owner, what he would do if he had to close. His answer was depressing: "Shut up shop and take early retirement - I've looked at other premises, but none are suitable" he said. Gerard employs eight people, all local to Crouch End including three young apprentices to whom he gives a proper training in car mechanics.

I'm really incensed about this and I'm going to write to local councillors and Lynne Featherstone MP to oppose the plans. In fact I'm also writing to the Planning Inspectorate to tell them that this scheme does exactly the opposite of what it's claiming to do, which is enhance the vibrant local community and economy of Crouch End.

Join me.

The Planning Inspectorate, 3/18 Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN

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Comment by Simon Lillystone on January 31, 2012 at 20:41

We too have been happily using MEB for many years, and our experience is similar: they're courteous, helpful, and there's no hoodwinking - just very diligent, fair service.  It is sad, to say the least, that they (and Quik-Fit, who have also treated us well with our decaying tyres and brakes) may close.

Crouch End, if it is the "community" and "village" we think it is, truly needs these sorts of local businesses - not just more housing at the expense of amenity.  The double sadness is that we can't:

a) prevent owners wishing to maximise the values of their properties

b) force the council to preserve these amenities

Councils have to abide by planning regs, and, as it stands, even if, for example, an application for a new curry house emerged on Topsfield Parade, the council couldn't reject the application on the basis we already have X curry house or because there are Z restaurants in total: it's a relatively free market in this respect.  Where as, I think what Crouch End (and many other places) would like is a diversical 'status quo', where the council could not only judge in terms of congruence with the existing built environment, but also with regard to this aspect of commercial diversity and necessary amenity.

The argument could go further to say that providing as many services and amenities as possible within walking distance cuts car (and public transport) usage.


However, getting back to the planning app in question, if you commented to Haringey Council on the application, you are now entitled to make any further comments to the Planning Inspectorate.  If you didn't, you can't: that's democracy.

Comment by Adrian Essex on January 25, 2012 at 19:33

In respect of the Town Hall OpinioN8 has this group to discuss the issues and a YouTube item setting out some more considerations (i've just listened to this again and its not too bad, though I say so myself).

My view is that we are where we are so let Mountview do their stuff, but keep an eye on them. According to the little survey (black panel on the right hand side) 80% agree with me.

Comment by Adrian Essex on January 25, 2012 at 18:58

I entirely agree with Paul about MEB. They help my and my daughter's car through their MoTs every year with the minimum of fuss. We would miss them.

I hope you've seen the other discussions about the site 



Almost all the members of the public at The development management forum also agreed how useful the businesses on the site are. 

What I'd like to see is a way of expressing my objections to the proposed development in terms of policies in Haringey's UDP, the London Plan and National Planning Policy. If anyone can help with that I'd be grateful.

Which is where I disagree a tad with Debbie, in so far as she takes the planning officers to task. They have in effect rejected this proposal (they certainly haven't approved it) as a result of the depth of feeling expressed at the Development Management Forum and the very many objections lodged on the Haringey website and were attempting to reach a compromise with the applicant when time ran out on the application. Obviously these officers can only work with the policies they are given - if we want a village then it is up to us to ensure that our local plans reflect this

Comment by Alan Newland on January 25, 2012 at 17:20

I agree with a lot of that Debbie - what a loss the cinema idea was to the Town Hall space!

Comment by Debbie Hyams on January 25, 2012 at 16:18

There is no support from the council for local businesses - having run one myself (now sadly closed) I can say from experience that Haringey council have no interest in keeping Crouch Ends lovely Village feel and have no qualms about what is built as long as they make money out of it! Property developers have ways of getting things built! for goodness sake look how much money has been wasted consulting over the Town Hall - years of paying consultation fees and even the Everyman cinema (wanted to rent the space) but Haringey turned them down as they wanted to someone to buy the space - of course now we are getting more flats in the space and okay Mountview Theatre (not paying any rent which really makes sense!)- not opposed to that but would have much rather had a cool cinema really! other councils seem to support their local high streets so much more but Haringey seems make life so difficult for local and especially small businesses and would rather see precious local business  close down to the detriment of the high street than help it thrive. 

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