Post by Dr Sadie Boniface
We have been busy visiting potential case study areas and feeding back on the suitability of the different areas to the wider Street Mobility team. I am pleased to say that this has been very productive and we now have our first case study confirmed: Woodberry Down, in the London borough of Hackney. The approximate boundaries of the area we plan to study are shown below:
The area is bounded by reservoirs to the South, a river to the North, and Green Lanes to the West. Seven Sisters Road, a six-lane road which carries around 40,000 vehicles a day (based on 2012 data), runs through the middle of the area. This road is the most apparent feature that might be causing community severance.
Public transport provision is good, with Manor House underground station close by and a number of bus routes running along Seven Sisters Road. However there are a number of features of the existing pedestrian environment that could be contributing to community severance. When we visited the area we identified that there are few benches along Seven Sisters Road, and while there is a lot of green space in the surrounding area (e.g. Finsbury Park), there is little along the road itself. We also noticed that the locations of pedestrian crossings were not always consistent with the locations of bus stops, which can encourage people to cross the road at other places (known as informal crossing).
According to the 2011 census, the population of Woodberry Down was 3,733 (counting the neighbourhoods inside the triangle formed by the New River and Green Lanes). Hackney in general, the population in Woodberry Down is relatively young, with less than 25% of the population over 50 years of age in most parts of the neighbourhood. In Street Mobility we are primarily interested in barriers to walking among older people, so we might have to make extra effort to make contact with this group.
The area is undergoing enormous redevelopment by Berkeley Homes and Genesis Housing Association. According to Hackney Council, the phased demolition of 1,981 homes has begun (mainly post-war social housing) and more than 4,600 social rented, private and shared ownership new homes are being built. There will be many new residents in Woodberry Down and the demographic composition is likely to change. In addition, the redevelopment will bring changes to the commercial and leisure facilities in the area and there have also been talks of narrowing the Seven Sisters Road to four lanes (from six). We are optimistic about making contact with community groups and networks formed in response to consultations on the redevelopment in our upcoming workshops that will be led by Mapping for Change. Members of the Street Mobility team hope to meet the borough’s public health team soon as well.
In a time of such change, the Street Mobility team is really excited to come to Woodberry Down to investigate community severance. We will post updates about our community workshops very soon – watch this space!