Getting a look in on Wood Green’s future

by John Miles

Winding up her first Wood Green Summit, organised on Zoom by the BID (Wood Green Business Improvement District), our MP Catherine West looked forward to the next one, in May 2022. She issued a roll-call of people she’d like to see better represented – young people, faith groups, landlords, the voluntary sector and the Cultural Quarter. It does say something about Wood Green that this event had only a small turn-out. A great deal of effort goes into running the place which makes it all the more disappointing that we don’t come together more naturally. The Mall and its surroundings impose something structurally which seems to cut us off from each other and keep us apart. This lack of joining up was a big theme of the discussion whether in the way it affects organisations and departments or in its impact across diverse communities. New council leader Peray Ahmet promised the C ouncil would be more strategic in Wood Green where in the past it had tended to be piecemeal.

From the business point of view the lockdown didn’t have too dramatic an effect on Wood Green – only 6% of the area’s businesses have closed and some found themselves taking on new staff. Footfall continues to be high. We heard impressive data about the rates of local employment for what Catherine called ’entry-level’ jobs – at McDonalds, Primark and Morrison’s, for example, all paying the London Living Wage. And in the case of Mcdonald’s putting youngsters through apprenticeships and even funding a small number to take courses through Manchester University. ‘Employability’ was one of Catherine’s themes and she wanted to know more about career development and the prospects for life in the longer term.

We talked about the downsides, too. From time to time, particularly for young men on the streets, Wood Green can be a pretty dangerous place. We heard from Joe Benmore the borough’s Community Safety and Enforcement Officer – it does seem a pretty obvious use for empty premises on the High Road (of which there are only eight) that they be turned into facilities for young men and women. Rachella Sinclair from the Noel Park Big Local and I both suggested more be done to engage private tenants, particularly those in multiple occupation, and develop better housing policies with them. Better control of rubbish and packaging, the pros and cons of street litter bins, the need for good quality food and Big Local’s interest in opening a community supermarket were all discussed. The need for better mental health support was touched on, the need to better connect neighbourliness with formal services.

Regeneration have plans for improving Wood Green Common. Catherine pointed to the need for a fairer deal for the borough’s own parks. The restrictions imposed (correctly!) by the Mayor’s ULEZ (the Ultra Low Emission Zone) are worrying some businesses. And from PMRA’s point of view this was another opportunity to raise yet again the predicament of Hornsey Park Road, the lack of a transport strategy for the whole neighbourhood, and the dangerous levels of air pollution that blight it. That just leaves the Wood Green Area Action Plan of which we’ve heard nothing for a long time now. In her closing remarks Catherine West spoke of regeneration now focusing on smaller things and of today’s Summit coming back to these issues in a more organic way. After the grandiosity of the Heartlands developments might Haringey be discovering a sense of proportion?

2 comments on “Getting a look in on Wood Green’s future”

  1. It's awful to follow this report with a reaction to the horrifying murder of a young man near Turnpike Lane. When such deaths were a big issue at the end of the last decade our two MPs collaborated in holding public meetings. The response was terrific with the public, faith leaders and youth workers attending in substantial numbers. At the time I argued that we should keep meeting and talking - this was not just a professional task. If such an opportunity comes up again resident groups should press for a permanent Wood Green public assembly to address all the interlocking the problems we face. JM

  2. My street langham rd is just next to wood green yet we are not included because we are n15. Maybe a wider area should be included

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