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All change for Golborne?

On a wet July evening last year around 90 people came to a public meeting organised by Golborne Forum to hear about options for change on Golborne Road and to voice their views. If evidence were needed about how much people care about their neighbourhood, this surely provided it.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea engaged consultants in May 2005 to report on a variety of aspects concerning Golborne Road and to suggest proposals for regeneration and improvements. A major part of the study was an extensive consultation exercise including interviews with 40 ‘stakeholders‘, a survey of 88 of the 112 businesses located on Golborne Road and 16 of the 32 stallholders. In addition, street interviews were carried out with 327 people on Golborne Road over four days.

The street interviews revealed some interesting facts. Two thirds of the visitors to Golborne Road lived in the local area, a little over a quarter came from elsewhere in London and six per cent came from elsewhere in the UK or from overseas.

The main reason for visiting Golborne Road was to visit local shops (29%), followed by visits to the market (19%) and then to eat or drink at a local café, restaurant or pub (15%). Most visited Golborne Road more than once a week (59%). Most of the people surveyed had very positive things to say about Golborne Road and few could identify changes they’d like to see, though crime in the area was a concern.

The consultants also did a ‘Pedestrian Movement Analysis’ which showed that 601 people per hour on weekdays and 1,048 people per hour on weekends ‘flow’ along Golborne Road. During the week, it is mostly local people doing the flowing and at the weekend, visitors flow in from Portobello Road market.

Apparently, this type and level of flow tends to mean that a shopping street will have betting shops, charity shops, video outlets and off-licenses, independent cafés and fast food outlets. Notice that this does not include large supermarket outlets, coffee shop chains or clothing chains. In other words, Golborne Road is not regarded as economically viable by the large retail, food and café chains.

After the research and consultation the consultants came up with three broad options:

1. No intervention
Retain the status quo and allow the street to evolve without any planned or managed direction. The consultants believed that: ‘This approach would fail to address the inherent problems of the street and market, and will almost certainly lead to further deterioration of the area.’
2. Cease market trading and improve the public realm.
This means abolishing the market and creating ‘ a more simplified urban environment with the opportunity for wider pavements, additional trees and further parking spaces.’ The consultants felt that this option might not ‘retain the character and identity of the street as it exists, a key component of its future success in attracting people to the area.’
3. Improve the retail environment, the public realm and the market
The consultants say that: ‘This option proposes the introduction of specialist markets, a new market management structure and the enhancement of the streetscape and building frontages. It is considered that this approach achieves the important objectives of both retaining the character of the street and ensuring economic viability.

What next?

People at the meeting were relieved to hear that the option of abolishing the market was not being recommended and it seemed that the third option enjoyed the most support.
The Royal Borough has made it clear that there will be formal public consultations before any major changes are made to the look and operation of Golborne Road.

If you would like to see a full copy of the report, it is available at the local libraries. You can also view it here