Saturday 6 May 2017

The Saturday List #128 - Forty things every good high street should have

I had a very pleasant evening last night. I quite fancied a quiet one, so went for a little walk with my wife to Mill Hill wines, to get a nice bottle. On the way there, we noticed a new Sushi bar had opened in Mill Hill Broadway ( It is called Kiyoto). Clare rather likes sushi, so suggested we try it, which we did. It was very nice. We got chatting to a nice couple, who have recently moved to Mill Hill. They said that it was "just the type of thing which Mill Hill needs". We then had a chat about the other imminent arrivals in the Broadway (two fish restaurants, possibly a Superdrug, a macroiotic juice bar, Hudsons brasserie, to name a few).  Our new found friends suggested that a high quality greengrocers would also be a good addition. It got me thinking. What constitiutes a "good high street". What are the key elements. For me, there are two elements. There are things which are not very sexy (for want of a better word), but are needed to make a High street work. The second are the things that are sexy and make a High Street a "go to place". In brackets I have added a (Y) if we have this in Mill Hill Broadway (or very nearby) - maybe you'd like to count how many you have in your High St.

So I've actually put two lists together. The first is the things that should be there, because they are good for the area. The definition of this list is you go there to buy/do stuff, not for a chat

1. A couple of banks/building societies (Y)
2. A Chemist (Y)
3. A good chain general grocers (not a superstore) (Y)
4. A convenience store (Y)
5. An Estate Agent (Y)
6. A shoemender/Locksmith (Y)
7. A hardware store (Y)
8. A newsagent/tobacconist (Y)
9. A butchers(Y)
10. A Greengrocers
11. A proper delicatessent (not a cafe that has a small deli counter)
12. A fishmonger
13. A florist
14. A record shop that sells vinyl
15. An electrical store that sells gadgets (not a phone shop) (Y)
16. A bakers(Y)
17. A proper patisserie/cake shop
18. A sports/sports accessorie shop
19. A post office (Y)
20. A proper bike shop (where they can mend things and give advice)
21. A good butcher (Y)
22. A pet accessories/dog groomers/aquatic store (Y)
23. An independent wine shop (Y)
24. A proper book shop
25. A music instrument store (Y - Nearby)

The second list is places that you go to relax/chat/socialise

1. A decent pub (one that sells proper real ale and beer which is drinkable and doesn't smell of wee)
2. A hairdressers (or two) (Y)
3. A proper barbers (indeally with a rotating white and red pole) (Y)
4. A proper cafe that does a tasty full English breakfast (Y)
5. A two or three of restaurants selling quality Asian food (Chinese/Indian/Thai,/Korean, Japanese,etc)  (Y)
5. A couple of coffee shops (I prefer non chains, but admit that they are necessary for some!) (Y)
6. A proper Fish and Chip shop (Y - opening soon)
7. A pub/bar that has quality live music (note this is a very different proposition to one that is a good pub)
8. Some Churches, synogogues, mosques, non religious community centres etc that are open and welcoming, but primarily have large halls that host community events (dog shows, art shows, plant sales, music,etc) and run youth clubs/activities (Y)
9. A family run Italian restaurant.
10. A decent burger bar
11. A Milkshake style drinks bar (Y)
12. A good Pizza restaurant (Y)
13. A Town square area where people can gather and events can be held.
14. A library (Y - Nearby)
15. A gym (Y)

I counted 28/40 in Mill Hill.

My ratings

40-35 - You are lucky, you have a brilliant local high street. Use it!
34-30 - You have a decent High street that you can do more or less everything you want in. Use it!
29-25 - Your high street is OK, but nothing special. Support the good things in it. It needs work!
24-20 - Your high street really needs some looking at. See what can be done.
19-10 - There isn't much there, is there. Needs some serious work!
9-0 - It isn't a proper high street at all. It is a parade of shops, which isn't a bad thing

People may question some of these. If you don't have a bank, it is hard for local businesses to pay cash in. If you have to drive down the road to do this, you are not running your business. Estate agents show an area is doing well. To afford a high st office and have displays in the window says something about an area. I think good pubs bring an area up and build a community, as do churches and other religious establishments, if they are open and welcoming. We couldn't run the Mill Hill Music Festival which would be a real shame.

And what makes a bad high st? Here's my top ten tell tale signs.

1. Litter strewn streets.
2. Ugly shop facades
3. Wheely bins in the road
4. A plethora of Bookies
5. Closed & boardedup shops & pubs in disrepair
6. Pubs that smell of wee and look threatening
7. Lack of diversity in food offering
8. Bad street lighting
9. Lack of community space
10. Lack of old ladies walking around

If I was a council leader, I'd look long and hard at this list and see what could be done. In Mill Hill the Neighbourhood forum are working on it!

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