New parking scheme sees gardens flourish
Gardens are making a comeback in Highgate and springing up in place of concrete driveways. Priory Road used to be a prime parking spot for commuters using Highgate Tube station and many residents were forced to pour concrete and tarmac over their gardens
Gardens are making a comeback in Highgate and springing up in place of concrete driveways.
Priory Road used to be a prime parking spot for commuters using Highgate Tube station and many residents were forced to pour concrete and tarmac over their gardens to guarantee themselves a space.
But since the introduction of a residents' permit scheme, homeowners have been able to park in the road again and are now choosing to replace grey concrete slabs with lush green grass again.
"We wondered whether the road should be called Priory Concrete instead of Priory Gardens at one stage," said Adrian Henriques, who is now the proud owner of a beautiful little lawn.
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"People used to think, 'Well, if I convert my garden into a drive at least I will be able to park'. We used to have a concrete patch just like everybody else. It was pretty ugly, really. But now we've converted it to a lawn and a bit of a flower bed."
His front garden is south-facing and he and his family have taken advantage of the sunlight to cultivate the ground and grow a few vegetables.
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"We love it. Instead of walking out on to a terrible piece of concrete in the mornings you stride out past a lovely garden with flowers," he said.
"We've had a super crop of tomatoes this year, although the wet weather in the last few days hasn't helped too much. It's a bit damp and there are lots of slugs having a go at them at the moment."
In his work as a consultant Mr Henriques is used to thinking about environmental implications and his new garden is a place where rainwater can sink into the earth rather than washing away and causing floods on the roads when it rains.
Some of his neighbours have commented on the new-look garden. "Ironically, when you look out of your house it's other people's gardens that you see, and so while we did this for our own benefit, it actually benefits others as well," he said.
"Some of our neighbours are quite amazed at our little project. At first we had visions of a grand summer meadow with wild flowers and grasses but that hasn't quite come off yet. The only down side of it all is that dogs like to come and pee on your grass but it's definitely worth it on the whole."
Neighbouring couple John Edwards and Martina Mockova also used to have a bare concrete parking patch, but now they have a front garden full of roses, camellias, spindle trees and little rhododendrons.
"I've always liked front gardens but it was tricky because of the parking situation," said Ms Mockova, who designed the shrubbery herself.
"I think it's a tremendous change - a garden is so much nicer than a drive. I love colours and I now try to plant a few new flowers every year."
Mr Edwards admits it was a bit of a risk because they have put up a garden wall and will have nowhere to park if the controlled parking zone (CPZ) is ever removed.
"It is a gamble, but it's about how you want to live," he said. "It's nice for us, nice for the environment and nice for our baby. Our neighbour has taken an interest and given us a few plants which are really starting to grow out now. We like it and we hope that other people do too."