'Roads and independent shops': Hampstead survey results revealed
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Hampstead residents are most worried about traffic and pollution, and many expect to spend more time at home as a result of the pandemic, a local survey shows.
The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum has published the results after consulting with the community over the future of its village centres.
“The evolving high street: the future of Hampstead’s village centres” was published last month, with the support of the Ham&High.
Among more than 300 responses, the results showed residents are concerned for the loss of independent shops, with many closures since the Covid-19 lockdown also affecting chain stores.
Alex Nicoll, vice chair of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, said: “We’re grateful that so many people offered their opinions about our village centres.
“The survey showed that a significant number of residents do expect to spend more time operating from home than they did before the pandemic.
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“This is likely to produce greater demand for things like office supplies, and spaces to meet and collaborate - and, in general, places and activities that can counteract the isolation that can come with home working.
“Meanwhile, by far the greatest concern of residents was traffic, with some people calling for greater restrictions on car use, and for more pedestrianisation.”
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Nearly one third of respondents anticipated spending more time at home, with only 12% reporting they were likely to go back to full-time work elsewhere after the pandemic.
The survey was held to determine whether the community will have changing needs following the pandemic, amid easing restrictions but fresh concerns over the Indian variant of Covid-19.
As online shopping has grown and work patterns have shifted, with many offices across London still closed, 59% of respondents believed that the community’s needs in Hampstead village and South End Green would change.
Respondents said the area’s village centres need more services to support home working, such as places for meeting and co-working, and office supply and IT shops.
Reflecting the high proportion of residents who have retired, more than half of respondents said they had already been operating from home and expected to continue doing so.
Around 20 local businesses including shops and restaurants have departed since March 2020, including Carluccio’s, Cop Copine, Heath Dry Cleaners, Sergent Major, EE, Jigsaw, and Pizza Express.
Many new shops have cropped up in their place – for instance Heath Street Bakehouse, Cannacares, Kojo, Dandie Dog Cafe, Bread Ahead, Cubitts, Peony, and Da Cheffone.
Gail’s bakery meanwhile has taken over from Le Pain Quotidien, and Ole & Steen has assumed the old Café Rouge.
On the pace of change to the high streets, 44% of respondents saw it as worrying, 30% were not worried or pleased, and 26% were unsure.
Many residents viewed the departure of shops and restaurants, coupled with the arrival of new businesses, as a natural and healthy sign of changing trends and demands.
But some residents expressed concerns over a perceived retail imbalance in favour of chains over independents.
Many more however reported positively on the range of shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs in Hampstead.
The most serious concern of residents by far was heavy traffic, and its knock-on impact to air pollution.
When prompted to name three bad things about the village centres, more than a third pointed to traffic, with litter and uncollected rubbish also cited.
Looking at the positives of the area, residents praised the village atmosphere, the feeling of community and belonging, and the natural beauty and heritage of the neighbourhood.
The availability of independent shops selling fresh produce within walking distance was also noted, with residents appreciating the easy access to public transport and the proximity of Hampstead Heath.
Looking ahead, many respondents said they wanted a greener Hampstead, with curbs on car use and more pedestrianised streets.
In addition to facilities to supporting home working, they wanted more spaces for community and cultural activities, and for sitting outside and meeting people.
72% of respondents backed the idea of developing a shared vision for the future of the village centres.
To see the results visit https://www.hampsteadforum.org/