Back in May 2021 a large amount of hours were put towards making a bid to the GLA’s “High Streets for All challenge”. We spent that time putting together a bid as we felt that, somehow, Kilburn tends to be left out and that if we did not make a bid nobody else would. We were delighted when we received an email late June 2021, confirming that our project had been selected. Sadly we could not share this good news until the 21st July when the GLA removed the news embargo.
So what is the High Streets for All Challenge?
Here is a link to the GLA page that explains it all.
In summary, the challenge aims to address the lack of strategy in important Town Centres, like Kilburn, and aims to enable the creation of plans to drive innovation. Here is the official wording “Only 10 per cent of town centres in London currently have a strategy and even fewer have a night time strategy. Through the on-going work on local regeneration programmes such as the Good Growth Fund, TfL’s Liveable Neighbourhoods, Creative Enterprise Zones and plans for the 24-hour economy, it is evident that boroughs and local communities require funding and support to prepare plans and drive innovation. Stakeholders and partners have highlighted that locally derived and responsive high street strategies following COVID-19 are needed now more than ever”
The challenge has 3 phases, and we have been selected for phase one and will have to submit further bids for the following phases.
The bid needed to address 5 key themes:
- Creating a public welcome – How can we create streets and public spaces that encourage walking, cycling, cultural activity and boost visitor confidence, generating a thriving mix of high street activity within easy reach of all Londoners and at all times of day and night?
- Innovative places of exchange – How can we support both existing and new types of business and nurture innovation within local economies, through place-based policy development, targeted business support, planning, licensing and cultural and economic development incentives?
- Generating social value – How can we ensure that high street economies generate public value, shared prosperity and benefit from the socially productive use of land and property for the communities they serve?
- Connected communities – How can we promote social integration and active citizenship by strengthening local collaboration and securing vital social, civic and cultural infrastructure?
- Responding to the climate emergency – How can high streets help tackle the climate and ecological emergencies and poor air quality, whilst creating green jobs, developing skills and supporting a just transition to a low carbon circular economy?
This is how we are proposing to address those themes. We have copied below the contents of our bid.
Create a pop up week-end Community Market in underutilised Grange Way.
Grange Way is in the middle of the length of Kilburn High Road, a space linking the High Road with the valuable Kilburn Grange Park and is underused, ie only used for parking. There are very few residential units on its length.
The idea is to animate the entrance to Grange Park (many visitors do not know of its existence) and the High Street and provide affordable trading spaces for local businesses and designers/makers, provide a space for local community organisations (located mostly far away from the High road) to promote their activities, provide a space for community activities like “Bring, Swap and Repair”, “Restart Project”. There is a possibility to open the space for local residents to sell their unwanted items, reducing fly tipping, increasing reuse of items.
This would become a pop-up hub for the Community, within the High Road, a place for the yet to be formed “Kilburn Network” to engage with residents, businesses, landlords and users of Kilburn. We hope this pop up market would drive more people back to their High Road, while creating a sense of community.
This space could also be used for themed events like a Christmas Market, Eid Market or “Taste the World in Kilburn” in collaboration with our restaurants or “discover new talents” in collaboration with ICMP.
Specific place-based challenge and proposition
Kilburn High Road is split between 2 local Authorities and sited in a deprived area of London. The High Road has suffered from lack of investment and the lack of an organisation representing Businesses, Users and Residents across borough boundaries. The public realm has not been maintained, the air is highly polluted and the High Road has been transformed from the “Music Mile” to the “Bargain Mile”, which is not sustainable in the long run. Most local residents will not use the High Road if they have an alternative.
The challenge is to create a Network encompassing Businesses, Users and Residents of the High Road with tangible actions and to provide a voice for Kilburn’s Town Centre.
Once this network is created the first step would be to create a pop-up Community Market in the under used Grange Way, at the heart of the High Road.
This would provide a much needed community space in the middle of the High Road. Much of our current community spaces are away from the High Road and most residents don’t know about their existence.
This pop-up space would enhance the entrance to Grange Park, providing an active area linking the High Road to the Park, thus giving an incentive for people to linger on the High Road and for local residents to rediscover what Kilburn is about.
The innovation would be to use this space to bring the community together while providing an economic benefit to local traders. This would become the hub for finding out what is happening in Kilburn, exchanging goods and engaging in wider community projects.
Once a Network and Community Market are established the following could happen:
1. Renting an empty shop unit to give a more permanent location to host community initiatives ranging from showcasing our local designers and makers, hosting repair and mend workshops, holding Digital training for local businesses, be the base of the new Kilburn Network.
2. Promote what Kilburn has to offer. For example rent out spaces in our local listed buildings to hold music, community, creative events while letting the local visitors discover the heritage of the area.
3. Engage with young people, who are often left out in the current community organisations by providing a space for schools to reach out to their community.
4. Lobby to get funding for much needed improvements to Kilburn’s Public Realm, designed by Kilburn people and businesses. For example we would push for more public benches and cycling parking spaces, push to improve the waste management situation.
5. create pocket parks to provide socialising spaces on the High Road and green havens in possibly Palmerston Road and Priory Park Road.
Projects would come from the needs of the local businesses and residents communities, and would be enabled by a structure with space and skills to realise these projects.
The aim is to create a vibrant Network that is apolitical and inclusive and welcomes people of all backgrounds, skills and with different time availability. Engagement will take several forms and allow people/businesses who want to participate to participate. Means of engagement will be by physical meetings, social media and remote meetings. Due to the lack of digital skills of some of our population we hope to engage with them at the new Community Market. Time poor people/businesses will be engaged via remote meetings. We will collect what people are interested in and form relevant working groups as we know that some people want to be engaged and contribute on some limited specific issues. For example we could form a “cleaner Kilburn” group, with those interested in improving the cleanliness of Kilburn, a “know your Kilburn” group for those interested in local history, a “greener Kilburn” group for those interested in environmental issues, a “promote Kilburn” group for those interested in promoting Kilburn and organising events to attract more visitors.
The Partnership will act as a catalyst and enabler for all those groups to function. It is anticipated that the partnership will have a steering group, with one representative from each sub group, overseeing the work as a whole. There might be a need to hire a salaried employee to manage the Network. Kilburn has a large number of skilled individuals in all areas that would welcome to give back to their community within the right structure.
Available asset/s or priority area of intervention that will help to unlock the challenge and act as an anchor for our wider strategy
Grange Way that we want to turn into a pop-up Community Market is a short one way street that doesn’t have a purpose any more except for the parking of vehicles. It runs at the back of the Grange Cinema (now UCKG church) and along Grange Park.
This street is located at the heart of the High Road, ie about midway between Kilburn Station at the North and Kilburn Library at the South. It serves as an approach to Grange Park, this invaluable community green space that sadly is not really visible from the High Road.
Activating this space via a community market would create a pedestrianised area that links the Park and the High Road while providing an affordable space for local designers/makers, local small traders and for local community groups to showcase their activities and work. It would also provide a much needed space for socialising and community activities referred to above. We hope that such a market would attract local people back to their High Street and also visitors from further afield.
Creating this market would allow further community engagement and show that things can happen when people come together. This would anchor the work of the Life in Kilburn Network and hopefully increase engagement into creating a Kilburn for all. This could lead to more specific actions at a later stage like creating pocket parks, providing business support to small businesses, engaging stake holders into improving the public realm, organising punctual events in our open spaces and listed buildings. It is hoped that eventually the Network would be in a position to hire a location on the High Road (empty shop) to run activities, workshops and exhibitions.
The road is owned and managed by Camden Council. Creating a Community Market would require Camden Council to suspend parking bays at the time of the market, prohibit vehicular traffic on Market days, to supply power points on the pavement and to gain planning permission to hold pop up events. It is possible that a few parking bays on Messina Avenue would be required also for traders on pop-up market days.
There would also be a need to organise cleaning operations after the market days, possibly involving either Veolia or an alternative waste provider.
It is anticipated that market vendors and community groups showcasing at the market would supply their own tables and canopies initially. The costs associated with running the market would be covered by stall holders fees.
These ideas above come from gathering information from businesses, residents and Community groups we have been engaging with for a while. They are not a definitive set of proposals and are bound to evolve as the project evolves. Kilburn needs a strong partnership, led by local people and businesses, to make sure that our Town Centre remains vibrant and continues to serve the local community. Establishing this partnership is a priority, and because we are all fed-up with the countless consultations that lead to nowhere, we would like to implement the Community Market idea quickly, to show that if local people and businesses get together things start to happen.
We are currently working to establish what is the best legal structure for the partnership and what the gouvernance of the partnership could be. We have attended a number of GLA workshops for that purpose.
We will be providing regular updates and letting you know how you can get involved.