When town centres in Enfield re-opened after the lock-down it became clear that local people expected more from their high streets then convenient and accessible retail. Engagement with businesses and community groups across the borough established a three-pronged strategy including the introduction of arts and culture into town centres, the facilitation of outdoor trading and direct physical improvements to public spaces with an emphasis on greening.
We initially identified suitable sites in the town centres and then singled out local partners that would take on responsibility for the operation of the interventions we wanted to make. Afterwards we went on to implement projects on several sites. In Southgate we helped businesses to obtain pavement licenses for outdoor trading and installed tables and chairs. In Enfield Town we secured planning permission to re-conceptualise the town square to become a venue for culture, events and outdoor dining and in Palmers Green we extended the closure of a road to form a new space for people to meet.
For each location we designed street furniture that supports the new civic uses that were introduced. In Enfield Town this included a modular stage, a miniature swap shop and a mobile café trailer operated by a local business. The stage became the public venue for Enfield Live, a summerlong programme of free music and public performance. In Palmers Green the design intervention celebrates the legacy of local artist Stevie Smith. We applied her writing to the gable end of one of the buildings and used her graphic work to create an interactive dot-to-dot pavement artwork. Two elevated platforms, one planted with a tree are providing a vantage point to examine the artwork from above.
Although the interventions are temporary, they are helping to build the capacity and networks of people across the borough to take forward the permanent transition of Enfield’s town centres into places that are a celebration of public life.