A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green
We’ve spent the last 18 months focusing on making The Step the best it can be but we are now thinking more about the future of Myddleton Road and how we can all work to make it a better place. We don’t want to look backwards, we are where we are, but we need everyone including the relevant people at Haringey Council to share our enthusiasm for this street and, more importantly, the Bowes Park area to be bullish and belligerent about our future.
The potential for regeneration in this curious little “Bowes Park Triangle” of ours is immense. We have the excellent transport links, the availability of relatively well-priced housing and the enthusiastic spirit of a creative community. Look at the massive success of the Myddleton Road Market and how it brought our own community together and drew scores of new people to the area. This was a reason to be proud and must be capitalised on.
So we must ask ourselves why the heart of Bowes Park is a rundown, ramshackle street crippled with high density, low quality housing and the multitude of anti-social problems this brings? We must ask why illegal and ugly shutters out number open shop fronts at a ratio of five to one? Because this Myddleton Road does not reflect the vast majority of people who live in streets and roads that surround it so difficult questions must be asked of Haringey as to quite how the street has been left to rot and decay like this. We know of several people who have wanted to set up a business in the area but couldn’t find a retail space to let so we must ask why in less than 100 metres we have ten “property” companies whose activities contribute absolutely nothing to the local community?
We are not kidding ourselves that the solutions are easy and we know the historical reasons that led to the decline of Myddleton Road as a shopping street. There are probably many issues that we don’t fully understand but we founded The Step because we believe in Bowes Park and want to put back something in to the community as well as trying to make a living here. Without being too big headed we are bloody proud of what we have achieved so far but we want to make it very clear that if Haringey Council is not serious in backing the future of Bowes Park then we will move elsewhere and we will do this soon.
We didn’t open our business because we looked at the area and saw pound signs to get rich quick. We opened The Step because we saw a huge potential for long term regeneration and improving the quality of life here but nearly two years on, the signs are mixed and confused. On the one hand, the rubbish in the street is getting worse, anti-social behaviour is significantly on the increase and the quality of housing on the street is becoming ever more alarming and absurd. This is spreading to other roads in the area, make no mistake about that.
However…the positive news is that we know there are local people who want to invest in Myddleton Road. We know that there are many local people in Bowes Park both old and new who care deeply about the area. We know from personal experience that there are many people considering moving to the area but the ugly and seemingly unloved High Street is a big drawback for them. We have a brilliant street market, beautiful community garden, the Tin Tabernacle and an outdoor gym. In two years time wouldn’t it be brilliant if that last sentence was a paragraph?
So let’s not use the past as an excuse for passing more and more poor quality, high density housing in the area …let us use the future as a reason for saying no, this will harm the people who live here, your proposals are of no benefit to Bowes Park whatsoever. Let’s all of us work together to get that English Heritage money flowing in to Myddleton Road because if managed correctly it will make a world of difference.
It is also vital we engage with the certain landlords on the street because when we have spoken to them they don’t seem to have any idea of the damage they are doing to the Bowes Park community. They also don’t realise the huge potential of the properties they own…by train, we are twenty minutes from the City of London and the same from Shoreditch, the creative centre of London. Bowes Park could and should be the next big emerging area of our capital but a handful of cynical, short-sighted landlords don’t, or won’t, see this potential and have their foot to the throat of Myddleton Road. This is choking the life out of a whole area.
Do we throw our hands in the air and leave the future of Myddleton Road and, more importantly, the wider community of Bowes Park in the clutches of a handful of landlords who live far away from the boundaries of Haringey. We have put too much into The Step to walk away just yet and over the coming months we will be doing absolutely everything we can to put Myddleton Road and Haringey Council in the media spotlight…its blighted and bungled past and present, as well as its future potential.
Because it is a story worth telling and a street worth fighting for.
Let us know what you think by posting on our discussion on the Bowes and Bounds Forum.
Yours in hope
Nell and Mat
Great blog Nell... I lived in Bowes Park from 1995 - 2013 and saw everything that Caroline talks about - I attended the public meetings, read the reports, even did a response to a consultation on behalf of Maxwell House, and yet nothing changed on Myddleton. Thank goodness for The Step, the ladies at the florist, and Raj at Londis, if not for you guys it would not have been much of a community at all. We just had to move on because we could get more for our money in Enfield, and we were tired of the lack of community in the block we lived in. However, as you can see I am still very much in touch with goings on at Bowes. I am sorry that Caroline has resigned but completely see her point of view. I hope you guys are able to stay on in Myddleton and help keep the community spirit up - I am right behind you!
Mat and Nel, Thank you for this post and for sharing Caroline's resignation letter. Caroline is such an amazing person bursting with energy and expertise and as you say, things on Myddleton Road and in the area generally, particularly with regard to planning, would be so much worse if it hadn't been for her commitment. How do we get these absentee landlords to behave more responsibly ? Is it ever going to be possible to get the planning and enforcement departments to effectively work in concert with the strategy group? And how do you get all the people who live in this area to spend sufficient money in the street to keep genuine businesses going ? I'm sure all of you involved have been over these questions time and time again and Caroline's account in her letter of dealing with these issues is very dispiriting, I'm not surprised she's had enough - the idea of a planning officer turning consultant for landlords who consistently try to undermine any attempt to improve the physical environment and perpetuate appalling living conditions for vulnerable tenants, is particularly hair-raising!
Thanks Mat and Nell. You write with such passion. And Caroline's letter made me sad and angry - clearly huge amounts of effort have been put in but Myddleton Road remains much the same. The attitudes of landlords and certain members of Haringey council make my blood boil. There are lots of lovely people in the area but there still isn't a visible 'community' because (apart from The Step and the Ranelagh) there is nowhere for us to go - no geographical 'village heart' for the local community as in, say, Muswell Hill or Crouch End. Myddleton Road is the obvious contender for the heart of the Bowes Park community. Do we want to be yet another London area where people just go to work and come home and don't know their neighbours?
I have lived in the area for about 14 years, having moved here from Muswell Hill because I could not afford a larger property there. Things definitely have improved, thanks to the community association, but Myddleton Road remains largely unchanged. Friends who have lived here for even longer tell me that once it was a thriving street.
So what do we do? Set up a petition to press the council to pull their finger out - and drive the thin end of the wedge into the selfish practices of local landlords? Any other bright ideas? For example, pop-up shops? What about a good hairdresser? I can see an opening there. The dentist on the corner is thriving, so why not a new hairdresser?
I agree with Diana, this is an impassioned plea, well put, thanks Nell and Mat. Caroline's letter also make me angry and sad - and amazed that she's stuck with it and done so much over such a long time. A bunch of us need to pick up her baton.
- which thought has given me more confidence to look at and object to planning applications, something I was nervous about having only lived here for 3 years and a tenant at that (one of the exceptions though, thanks Sam!). I didn't feel I knew enough to put objections in. But we can all see what over-development of units is doing to Myddleton Road, we can all see the rubbish and we all know whether we feel safe on the street. Out of character shutters and shopfronts are easy to spot. I don't want to see the last vestiges of the area's heritage and character disappear. Haringey need to know there's more than a minority shouting for Bowes Park.
I visited Myddleton Road for the first time this morning after viewing a couple of properties in the neighbouring area. I was really impressed by the incredible potential for it to be a beautiful little village but a little bit nervous about how derelict some of the shops were, notably George Moore's Mens wear...
I had noticed The Step and came home to google the local area. Finding this article has actually made me feel a lot better about moving from our Highgate rental to a first own home in the area. It's clearly not quite yet where it could be, but the idea of it being fought for by people who care about its conservation, who've clearly been fighting to preserve it for many years, makes us a lot more optimistic.
I'm a self-employed photographer with a few quieter months ahead, so if there's anything I can do to lend a hand to putting Myddleton Road & Haringey Council in the media spotlight with you, I'd love to help.
Wow CB, what a lovely thing to say and thank you for your support. Why not pop down on the 29th Sept and visit our very own street market. Full of local traders, great foods and lots of lovely people. http://www.myddletonroadmarket.co.uk/Myddleton_Road_Market_N22/Home....
or visit our hidden gem, The Step for one of its famous Soul Sessions on 26th Sept
Lots happening down here, so would be lovely to see you join the local community spirit
Click Photography Club last Thursday of the month in The Step (Two professional members, but mostly amateurs). THIS THURSDAY! You are very welcome. 7:30pm. https://www.facebook.com/groups/163324897185631/
Goodness, what a lovely lot you are! We have friends over this Thursday but this is definitely something I'd be up for. Even if I'm not a neighbour (just yet...)
Thanks guys for your lovely replies.
My partner and I recently moved to Palmerston Road and I feel it's worth saying that we chose to buy here, not only because the area has so much potential, but also because it has a lot going for it now. The area stood out for us in having an identifyable centre, a beautiful river path, a community garden, a successful street market pilot, an excellent venue in The Step... even a community website. This makes it stand out from loads of other areas in North London, and we shouldn't lose sight of this. The pace of change in a regeneration effort can be frustratingly slow, but when I see The Step busy with happy people or the community flower bed I helped plant at the weekend I think this is an area where the good stuff is already starting to happen. It does make me sad when I read pioneers like The Step owners even talking about leaving the area, because to me that's regeneration in action. It's 100 times more tangible than a council's community plan, and it's attracting good responsible people to the area right now. I hope that the tide can be turned in terms of relations with the council as with them on side I think the critical mass of people who do care can help create a great little neighbourhood long-term.
Personally I'm trying to take small actions to help make a difference - picking up litter when I can, spending my pounds locally, lending a hand with community projects - but happy to hear about other ways to get involved, even if it's just to offer a bit of new resident optimism.
Thanks loads for all your responses. We love Bowes Park and we want to see it become all it can be. We opened The Step without fully understanding all the issues of Myddleton Road and it has certainly been a real eye-opener but we are starting to see the way forward!
We feel the road does not represent the wider area and the people we meet. The more people who understand the detail of what is going on is really important to us and then we can all work together to change things.
What is very clear to us is that money talks and landlords want to make as much money as possible from their property portfolio – cramming as many flats as possible into one building is one way but we think there is another.
We cannot stress the importance of the market this weekend. The more people who turn out the better, because then there is a chance that landlords will see the potential and respond to the changing market conditions.
We would also like to hold a meeting for everyone who is interested in the future of the road at The Step soon and then we can have a good old brainstorm… and maybe we can persuade some people from the council to come too!