Changes in consumer behaviour, rates and housing pressures on commercial spaces are a few of the factors that pose a significant threat to our high streets and there are a number of reasons why we should all be worried about this.
Despite the economic challenges they face, high streets remain significant places of employment, with a significant proportion of businesses located on or within 200 metres of a high street. High streets are a key component of the urban character of London, all of us have a local high street. Alongside their key economic role, they also act as vital, accessible and diverse social spaces.
We have been looking at a terrace of houses and shops called Canal Terrace, which lies on a narrow strip of land between The Grand Union Canal and Harrow Road in Queens Park, London. Canal Terrace was formerly a busy High Street. We have been investigating the history of its development alongside the causes and impact of its decline.
As part of our research we want to engage with the community to discover their memories of the Canal Terrace as a High Street before its slow conversion into residential units, which has created a closed and inactivate street frontage. We have identified a number of areas where interventions would help this underused location be brought back into the community, but we need the support and feedback of local residents to test out our ideas. We believe that Canal Terrace and the adjacent landscaped space, set right on the canal, possess the potential to become a waterside location with a special and unique character.
On Saturday 3rd August 2019, we set up a stall at the Queen’s Park Summer Festival to show our research and initial proposals, to learn more and receive feedback. It was an invaluable day where we met some really interesting residents who explained what it was like growing up in the area; the canal side drive-by for boaters to pick up their fish and chips, as well as learning about the recent closure of two community centres.
We have created a website for our work in relation to this project:
We would like to create a momentum for this. We firmly believe that any proposals should be developed with the full involvement of the local community, so we would love to hear from your – either through leaving a comment on the Canal Terrace website, or by leaving us an email, so that we can show that there is support behind improving and providing better spaces for the community.