Thursday, 11 July 2013

6 - Northumberland Park

6) Northumberland Park

Northumberland Park isn't one of the major areas of Tottenham, and is an area that few people would ever travel into the area to visit, but this is not for any negative reason – it is simply an area where housing dominates the area. Unless you know someone who lives there, there is no reason to visit. Save for a few local shops and African churches dotted around the area, it's about 98% purpose built houses and maisonettes. It stretches from Landsdowne Rd to the South, up to the White Hart Lane stadium in the North, from Tottenham High Rd in the West, to the Tottenham Marshes in the East. It is the area that studio owners Francesca and Jimmy moved to from 2004 – 2006,and as we touched upon in another blog post, and it is an area where high quality housing is much cheaper than most areas.

I have personally been in about 40-50 different properties in the surrounding areas, (while property hunting) and to my mind, Northumberland Park has the best quality and best value housing in the area, by quite a way. And I mean by quite a way!!
Quite a few of the bands that use us live there.  Firstly, the maisonettes are purpose built, and were built back in the Victorian era, when properties were not built to such stringent costs. They are also purpose built, as opposed to being converted from a house into a flat, so everyone gets their own front door and entrance to the garden. The gardens are big, and parking is plentiful. If you were looking at having a nice home in Tottenham, and the home was more important than other factors, my advice would be to gravitate towards this area.

Look at some of the photos that are dotted around this page: all of these properties are based in Northumberland Park. These are properties from an era when people sat down and thought “How can we build properties that, as a result of living in them, they will actually improve the quality of people's lives?” Naturally, all properties will increase the quality of someone's life, from the point of view of having somewhere to call home, but having your own front door, having a lot more space to move around in, a large back and front garden, good storage, high ceilings, great features such as good soundproofing, ceiling roses and cornicing, open fire places, ample parking, and huge windows that let light flood in are all features that many of today's architects seem to have forgotten about. There is an abundance of schools and churches in the area, as well as lots of local shops.  There are no huge supermarkets here, you have to do to Bruce Grove for that.  It's like the 1960's, but in a good way.   There are alleyways running behind houses, such as the gothicly titled Carbuncle Passage, harking back to a day when such passages were used to hang washing up, as well as being a handy way to deliver coal to residents coal bunkers, instead of traipsing it though the house. Sure, by today's standards, such features waste space, but they are handy for wheelie bins and bicycles, no doubt. And ultimately, any space that is handy to the people who live there can hardly be called a waste.

I have touched upon it in another blog post, and I still passionately feel that Northumberland Park is simply crying out for it's own tube station.(A mock up tube station map with the hypothetical station is to the left - thanks to for the image)  More details are in the past blog, of which the link is above, but in short, there are already train sheds in Northumberland Park where the Victoria Line trains already go to get cleaned. The tracks are laid, and many people agree with me that if the government/London underground/council were to build an Underground Station there, with the entrance, platforms and ticket booth, not only would it create a boost to the local economy, it would reduce traffic, create better transport links to the residents, and also alleviate one of the major headaches that Tottenham Hotspur currently has; which is how to shepherd the 58,000 fans who will come to the new ground via public transport. Traffic can be bad enough as it is, and with the current stadium, which has 35,000 or so people at every game, it can descent into bedlam.Let alone nearly double that amount.  

At present there is a mainland train station, which has trains approximately every 30-60 mins, which I know doesn't sound too bad, but still, it is not up to the usual London standards. The bus routes, however, are good, with the 476 and the 341 both going to Angel Islington. The 476, which turns into the N76 at night to provide a 24 hour service, runs via Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington and Essex Rd, while the 341, which is also a 24 hour service, goes via Manor House and Green Lanes. Both of these buses merge when they reach Angel tube station, with the 476 going to Euston via Pentonville Rd, and the 341 heading to Waterloo Bridge via Holborn. This was the reason that Jimmy and Francesca moved there. They could get 24 hour access to the city centre, and more space to stretch out, on a budget.  For 2 people working as club promoters, with the flat littered with demo CD's and guitars, it was great.   Whilst the buses connect the area to great parts of London, they are quite slow journeys during the daytime, especially in the rush hour. It used to take me about 55 mins to get to Old Street when I was attending college there, and a lot of the regulars on the bus would come laden with books and iPods, preparing themselves for a long slog, so expect a long journey. However, many people get the bus to Seven Sisters Tube, and continue from there on the Victoria Line, which is also a good option, and would cut the journey by 20 mins, albeit at an extra cost. 

Apart from the fine property, and the transport links, there isn't too much else to report on in this area unfortunately, just as it is mainly 99% houses. Entertainment wise, there isn't any! There used to be a pub, called The Park, right next to Northumberland Park station, but this was closed down, to make way for even more housing. Right next to the football stadium there used to be a few pubs, like The Corner Pin, which has now closed down, as well as the Bootlaces, which has also closed down. 

Now, if I wanted to, I could list them one by one, going into details for each of them, in a journalistic method of dragging the article out. But I won't. The other pubs to close in Tottenham over recent years are **deep breath** The Bull, The Swan, The White Hart, The Robert E Lee, The Eagle, (which then became Eltons, which also closed), The Flower Pot, The Prince of Wales, The Beehive, The Plough, The Tory Club, The Pleasure Rooms, (which, technically, was a strip bar!) The Red Lion, Sam's, The Corner Pin, The Antwerp Arms, The Milford Tavern, The Pride of the Lane, The Park Tavern, British Queen, The Railway Tavern, The Compasses, The Cockerel Bar, Whitehall Tavern, The Bank, The Bootlaces, The Chequers, The Three Crowns, The Old Globe, The Golden Fleece, The Spurs, The White Hart on Devonshire Hill Lane, The Fox, Dagmar Arms, Poachers, The Rising Sun......... Sorry, I've lost my train of thought now, what was I talking about? Oh yes, pubs that have closed down in Tottenham!! Yeah, there have been a lot of them. Too many. And to be honest, I have no clue why. At the time when we were living in Tottenham, we never had any money to go out to a pub, so we do not know if the pubs closed as they were not very good, or for any other reason. Having said that, I have been in many pubs in London that were not great, that still stay open, so that can't be the sole reason. Around Seven Sisters station, there does not seem to be many pubs either, and in Stamford Hill, there is a dirge of them.

Part of me thinks that it might be down to the demand of pubs from the local residents. Maybe there is not enough patronage in the area to make a pub viable? Stamford Hill is a mainly Jewish area, so there would be less demand from the Jewish community, but Tottenham has a comparable community to Brixton, and Brixton has a thriving pub scene. Maybe the people in the area are on a much lower average wage, hence why they have less disposable income to spend in them, hence why their takings are down, and they find it so hard to survive? I'm not saying that is definitely the case, I am simply musing out loud. It's a strange one. And, by all means, maybe having less pubs in the area is a good thing, as maybe it shows that the people within the area have a good sense of priorities.

However, I will say this – Brixton, Bethnal Green and even Soho are all areas that were once seen as reasonably undesirable places to live, with mainly cheaper, and in some areas even slum housing, and this void was soon filled with bars, which enticed people into the area. Then, when people saw how well these places were located, as well as the other good features such as the parks, the amenities and the local bars themselves, they decided to invest in property in the area. Therefore, while bars may not necessarily be used as a barometer of a great area, at least they give people a reason to enter the area, and to check it out. If I gave you a list of areas you knew, and have been to, and a list of places that you do not know, and had not been to, which one are you more likely to move into, whether it be renting or purchasing? The area you know, of course. But in order to know an area, you usually need a reason to go there. Apart from Tottenham Hotspur, there is no other real reason to go to Tottenham, which means that it is very hard to attract outside investment. And, if there is one thing that Tottenham needs, it is outside investment.

Most pub workers are on, or are just above, minimum wage, and the relatively transient nature of the job means that many students are attracted to them. Pubs need cleaners, DJ's, promoters, and many students rank an area highly on it's pub facilities. No pubs in Tottenham means that Tottenham is a no go area for students. And that is the feedback that I have been given by many students that I talk to about the area. “There is nowhere to go out there.  If you want a night out, you have to get the tube to Finsbury Park, or Highbury & Islington.” They're right , you know. A pub is not just somewhere to drink, it is a hub for the community. A place where you can gather in a room with the people who live in the same area as you. And without that, it is harder to build up that sense of community.  It doesn't even need to be a pub. Anything will do. Tottenham has no cinema. No music venue, no bowling alley, no ice rink, no youth clubs. If you Goggle “Tottenham Youth Club” you get Mulberry Play Centre, which is a Kindergarten. Freedom's Arc, which is a church and The Sea Cadets centre on White Hart Lane - which, to be fair, actually looks great, and I had only just come across just now -  but there are no other Youth Centres.

Tottenham, and Northumberland Park in particular, needs a youth centre.   A focus for the young people in the area.  One, at least. I'm not talking about a place with multi million pound backing, just a simple youth club. A big room with an XBOX and a TV in the corner, a few pool tables, a gym to one side with some punching bags, some dumbbells, a soundsystem with some decks set up where kids can practice D'jing, a few drumkits and guitars. Just a place where kids can sit, listen to music, and not bother anyone. If you're an adult, if you want to meet up with some friends, in a large group, where do you go? The pub? A restaurant? At someone's house at a party? All of them, great locations for a get together. Now consider this. At your work, you may have 40-50 people there, and you may get on with half of them enough to socialise with them. At an average school, there can be from 200 – 1000 students, and young people build up relationships at a rate that would put adults to shame. When was the last time you saw 40 adults playing the same game of football? Never - but kids do it all the time. In terms of the size of their social circle, adults look like loner hermits compared to kids. My cousin, who is 17, has 3,200 Facebook friends. I ask him how many he knows,and he said that he knows all of them - “I mean, if I saw them in the street, I would wave at them, if that's what you mean.” I barely know 500 people, and even that is stretching it.  If these kids want to go out and socialise, as part of a group, where can they go? Pubs won't let them in.  They can't talk during a film, so the cinema is out. They can't afford to go to a football game, with it's £60 tickets. There are no local museums. If they went to a restaurant, when they finished their meal, they would be kicked out. Restaurant owners can't have someone occupying a table for 5 hours for one meal. So where do kids go? The park? The street corner? If that do that, they will instantly be derided as a group that is “trouble making” “a gang” or “ causing a nuisance.”  I cannot think of anywhere that I would go if I were 16 years old.

Here's a crazy idea: Maybe, just maybe, they want to socialise, you know, like “normal” people do, but they don't have anywhere where they can do it? They can't do it around someone's house, as it is hard to get 40 kids in a terraced house's sitting room. And if they have so many friends, why should they not be able to socialise with them all at the same time? Do they not have this right? A place to meet, listen to loud music, chill out and discuss the issues that are affecting the day, at a time in their life when these issues come up a lot more regularly, and with a lot more intensity, then at any other stage in their life. Like a night club, without the drinks?  One of the reasons that music concerts, theatre, nightclubs and the cinema are such big business is because adults like to let their hair down, and blow off a bit of steam. As a society, we have set places aside for adults for such a practice. Yet we have not done the same for our youth. For shame! I'm not saying that this generation does not care for it's youth, but I can certainly see where young people get that  idea from.

Some people say that adults can lay on a space for "structured relaxation".  Football academy's, keep fit clubs and groups where "kids can learn in a fun environment".  Here's the thing.  As an adult, there are times that I finish a long working week, and the last thing I want is anything structured.  I just want to park myself in front of the television, and waste a few hours.  I want to just have somewhere that I can be left alone, to do what I want to.   Even if that is nothing!!  There are some days when a dream day is watching the football scores come in on the television on a Saturday.  A day like that can be great.  Not all the time, mind, just sometimes.  We can all relate to that.   Maybe kids feel the same way?  Maybe they just want to sit down somewhere, and be left alone for a few hours, where they do not have to do something that is so structured?  These are people that have a timetable for their whole week.  "English at 9am, History at 10:30am, Science at 11:50am.  Exams on this day, a field day on this day....." Even at home, they have homework, etc.   "Structure, structure, structure". I think structure is great.  To a point. There comes a time you need to set time aside to just give people breathing space. A place to switch your mind off. Adults have it.  It's called a pub.  A football game. A holiday. Their own flat. Kids have less choice.   

On the other side of the coin, if kids do want to get together, they still need a distraction.  Something to do to break up the monotony.  Especially seeing as kids have a notoriously short attention span.   Leave a kid somewhere with no distractions and they will get into mischief.   (Hell, a lot of adults without distractions will get into trouble!)   Setting aside a place where they can relax, and have the option of things to do, without being forced to do them, can be a great way to reduce "anti-social behavior"- another name for meeting in public to chat to their friends.   Which, when I do it with my friends, is called "a night out", but when kids do it, is called "loitering".   Maybe we should set a place aside where they can "loiter," without disturbing anyone?

When I was 15, I was in the same situation. There was nothing to do in my area.  No youth clubs at all.  Wherever we went as a group, we were moved on, told to be quiet, and told to be respectful of our elders. I am of the opinion that respect is too precious a commodity to be distributed like confetti. For it to be truly valued, it needs to be earned, like anything in life. In fact, there is an irony in the fact that adults believe that today's youth should automatically respect them – if adults want respect, maybe they have to earn it? And when today's society values kids so little that they will not even provide them somewhere to meet up, and socialise, face to face, it is no wonder that so much of the youth of today are so glued to their computer and Facebook? I remember a period of time during the 1998 Football World Cup when me and my school friends used to go down to some old derelict changing rooms in Gladstone Park, Cricklewood, as there was nowhere else we could go without being told off, or made to feel like a nuisance. In truth, all we wanted was somewhere to chew the cud, and socialise. One of us bought a stereo, and we would add chip in for D batteries, to listen to our music on. Long hours passed listening to The Beatles Red and Blue Albums, Oasis's “(What's the Story) Morning Glory?” and Blur's “Parklife”. Pretty soon, with no supervision, people started bringing drink, in the form of White Lightning, ThunderBird and Blue Nun.

This was followed by drugs, in the form of LSD, Hash and Amphetamines. You get 30 kids in a room together, and they will have fun, but soon, some of them get bored. When this happened with us, girls and boys in the group used to pop off to the individual showers to have sex with each other. One day, a man in his 40's came around giving out free samples of “Smack”, as he called it. Heroin. Thankfully, we all avoided it.  (Ironically enough, we had learned about "Smack" the year before in the film Trainspotting.  All of the characters in that film that took heroin either died, or went to prison, whereas the main character that got clean ended up being the hero. It made sense to avoid it.) Looking back, it sends a chill up my spine, that we were in that situation. I actually had to give up playing guitar for 3 months when I had my fingers on my left hand were broken in 5 places by a man who came to rob us, armed with a crowbar. I wasn't a tearaway kid. I was just bored. I literally had no-where to go. I couldn't afford to go anywhere, as I did not have a job. When I started working as a butcher on the 16th birthday, I could afford to go to a boxing club in Golder Green with my wage, but before that, I had little money, and little choice.

I can't help but feel that if young kids had somewhere they could go, to socialise, under a roof, where they can be as loud as they want, for free, in a safe environment, with adults watching over them from afar, then maybe they would not be so bored, so frustrated, so angry and so disillusioned that they might.......... I don't know........ go on a rampage and start a riot in the area!! 
Their parents could call up the Youth Club to make sure that their kids are there, and not on a street corner.   Many people say,  “the thing with kids these days, is that they don't care about their community” In fact, the problem with kids these days is that they do not feel part of their community.  They feel that their community does not care about them.  And is it any wonder – how can you belong to an area where you literally do not have somewhere designated for you to go to meet friends? No place set aside to relax.   Maybe when the people with the power in this area decide to set funds and space aside for the kids of this area to have a place for themselves, maybe the kids in this area will start to build up respect for the area and the people within it. Maybe the problem is that adults think that respect is an automatic right? It isn't, it needs to be earned. And maybe now it the time for them to earn it.  It is not as if there are not enough possible locations - they could just pick one of the many derelict pubs. 

The Best Parts:
The Properties.
Northumberland Park train station. (If it was turned into a tube station, it would be the best thing in the area by a country mile).

Room For Improvement:
Lack of Tube.
Lack Of Pubs.
Lack of anything but houses.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

5 - White Hart Lane

White Hart Lane

White Hart Lane is an area within Tottenham, and is also more famous as the home to the football stadium of Tottenham Hotspur. In fact, the stadium pretty much dominates the whole area, as you would expect. But more so, there is also a possibly slightly sinister reason as to why the stadium dominates the whole area. 99% of people who will visit the White Hart Lane area, who do not live there, will do so to visit the stadium. They do so, sadly, because there is not actually that much more to the area than the stadium. And this is for a good reason.

Sometimes on this blog I have touched upon subjects which might not show the area in that positive a manner, and unfortunately this is a case where I have to do it again. Nearly every single shop around Tottenham Hotspurs seems to be derelict. Now, I am not sure why this is. Far be it from me to be speculative, and I certainly do not want to say anything that could be construed as libelous, (especially against a team that can afford to pay people £120,000 a week) but I can't help but feel that this may have been arranged so that it is easier for Tottenham Hotspurs to build their brand-new spanking stadium, which is due to start any year soon. However, this does take quite a lot of the soul out of the White Hart Lane area. Empty shop upon empty shop, especially when you get near the stadium. In fact, apart from Valentino's wine bar which is right next to the stadium, there seem to be barely any shops that are actually operating, let alone shops that are doing well.

White Hart Lane suffers from the exact opposite of the logistical luck South Tottenham has, in that it is the part of Tottenham which is furthest away from central London, and thus people who want easy access into central London want to live there less. It also has no tube station (here we go again....) But it does have a train station, entitled White Hart Lane. However, the location of this train station is pretty weird. It is not on the main high road - instead it is on a tributary road, the road itself being called White Hart Lane. Now, I'm not sure if there is reason for this but it does strike me as bad planning. The few times I had to get off at White Hart Lane, there were 40 or 50 people getting off the train and every single one of them, bar none, (and I do genuinely mean every single one of them) then proceeded to walk the 150 metres/200 metres walk all the way to the Tottenham High Road, specifically to catch a connecting bus. Now, I realise that this isn't exactly akin to birds migrating from Canada to Africa, as it only takes a few mins, but it does seem to be in a pretty inconvenient position with regards to making journeys easier.

And having spoken to quite a few people who live in the area, they have said that they can't help but agree. This does cut down the numbers of people that use the train service, and personally I think it is something that must be looked at, if that is possible. The numbers of bus passengers within the area is hugely popular, and to Transport For London's (TFL) credit, I have noticed a marked improvement on the amount of buses that have been visiting the areas. Whereas many years ago, sometimes buses would pass by as they were too full, it is a very rare occurrence now. This is no doubt aided by the fact that buses that go down the White Hart Lane part of Tottenham high Road also visit areas of London that have no tube stations, such as Edmonton and Enfield.

So, so far, I've talked about the stadium and transport links. So this is the bit where I start revealing all of the fantastic pubs, art galleries and cultural magnets within the area, right? Well, no. White Hart Lane does not have any of this. Lots of residential properties, quite a few budget shops, and lots of empty shops, and the stadium. That is it, there is no more. It is also Tottenham's cheapest part, which considering Tottenham is the cheapest part of London, says a lot. In fact, even in 2013, you can buy a studio flat within the area for under £110,000.

Now, this is London, and 2013. And you can get a flat for £110,000!! For the uninitiated, this is obscenely cheap. In fact, so cheap as to even raise a suspicious eyebrow, in a "too good to be true" manner. But no, those are the prices, because the area is unfortunately one of the less appealing areas of Tottenham. At the moment. I say "At the moment" because Tottenham Hotspurs are keen to catch up with the north London rivals Arsenal and build their own 58,000 seater capacity stadium. Of course, we will not know until it is built, but there is a real chance that the area will improve in popularity significantly when this is finished, meaning that the fortune of the area is inextricably linked to the success of the football team. For example, if Tottenham were to become the new Barcelona of football (would that mean that Tottenham High Road would become the new La Ramblas?) then the area would no doubt improve massively, both in prestige and also in the quality of life for the residents. On the flip side of this, if Tottenham were to suffer a relegation, and were to become the next Watford, (ie, a team, that is stuck outside the Premierships elite) then it is likely that the area would take a massive downturn as well, especially if it meant that the proposed new stadium was delayed. If you are a local resident, even if you are an Arsenal fan, you should be cheering on the Spurs! (OK, probably not if you are an Arsenal fan.....)

Obviously, the football team is central to the community, but I can't help but feel that many of the other shops within the area have been driven out in order to make way for the shops to be empty so that when Tottenham want to build their new football stadium, there will be no issues with driving local businesses out at the time, and therefore there will be no compulsory purchase orders that will need to be paid. For this reason I would go so far as to say that I think Tottenham Hotspurs are not actually adding to the local area in the same way that Arsenal are. For example, when Arsenal moved out of their old Highbury Stadium, they made sure that the stadium was renovated into nice apartments, the pitch was preserved, the art Deco facade of the building was preserved, and the pitch was turned into a very scenic garden. Substantial amount of student and affordable commendation flats were built within the area that actually provide something for the community, i.e. affordable housing, and community projects were prioritised. However, at present, with Tottenham Hotspurs, I cannot see anything that they have added to the area whatsoever, at least in terms of infrastructure and investment. There is a strip of land just of the north of the stadium where, conveniently, Tottenham plan to build a new stadium. This land has been sitting empty for many years . Are Tottenham Hotspurs keeping this land empty so that they can one day eventually use it? Just like the person who leaves his jacket on the seat in the pub, depriving anyone else a seat for a Saturday night in a packed pub, and then proceeds to come back three hours and complain that somebody has moved it and sat down, I can't help but feel that this sort of behaviour is quite selfish.

Could they not have leased the land out to the local community project in the meantime for very cheap or even for free? That way at least the community will have been able to benefit from the land in the intervening years, before the club decided to get its act together and build their new stadium. And on another note, it is quite surprising how it has taken so long to get this stadium off the ground. I would have thought that any football club within the London area would have quite a demand for sports, simply because London has so many residents who need to be entertained of a weekend. Let alone for a team that, for the first time in 25 years, is actually seen as a realistic threat to their north London rivals, as well as also being a team which, barring a catastrophic end of year collapse (which to be fair has happened a few times over the years) are pretty much guaranteed to have Champions League Football next season. Of course there will no doubt be reasons behind the scenes, but I suspect that if Tottenham Hotspur had built this stadium a few years ago, they could already have been reaping the benefits of doing so. And more importantly, the local residents could have been benefiting from brand-new infrastructure that would no doubt be put in place to help service the new stadium. The stadium is meant to be a big part of the area. As far as I can see, it IS the area. 


One of the other reasons why there are so few notes of interests in this part of Tottenham if any note was because of the massive abundance of industrial areas centered around Brentwood Road. And this is not to say this in a negative manner. I mean, my business is based on industrial estates, and industrial estates have moved on massively from the ones that characterised the Victorian era, with smoke billowing out, and men with sooty faces heading out to the pub at 5:15 PM, only to return to their wives, to impregnate them at gone midnight with a few shillings left over from there days wage. Now they are massive contributors to society, not only in Tottenham, but to London as a whole. Many companies have moved into Tottenham, no doubt to benefit from the vastly reduced land prices within the area, meaning that they can keep their profit margin suitably protected. Industrial estates provide a lot of employment within the area, and to this end they are very good. If you ever walked down Brentwood Road (and to be fair, there really isn't that much reason to...) then you will see car yards, cash-and-carry's, (particularly Chinese cash-and-carry's), and manufacturing factories as far as the eye can see. There seem to be quite a few scrapyards based around this area, as well as shops that are both foreign owned and aimed at a specific foreign clientele (i.e. Polish/Lithuanian shops etc). So pretty boring, in one way, but then this is where Tottenham has a small gem.

As I mentioned, there seem to be quite a few Chinese food distribution centres that are based here. In fact, if you were to look at quite a few packets of some of the popular brand Chinese foods that are in sale in many mainstream supermarkets, many of them seem to have their distribution centre based in the White Hart Lane area of Tottenham. So you may think, "Well, to be fair, I don't really eat Chinese food that much that I need to go to a distribution centre..." Well, there are other benefits to it. Many of the Chinese takeaways in the area are of a much higher quality than you would ever expect. Best of all, they are significantly cheaper than Chinese takeaways in any other areas. It's quite logical really, as they are only based about half a mile or so away from the distribution centre, meaning they can buy their stock in quantities that are much smaller, at the same price, instead of going to the distribution centre once a month and getting a massive order. Instead, they can go, for example, 15 times a month and get lots of smaller orders. So they still spend enough money to benefit from the cheaper prices that the cash-and-carry can offer, but it also means that they have less transport costs, as well as having less overheads as they are in one of the cheapest areas in London, and the food they have is fresher. If you are a vegetarian especially, the quality of Tofu/bean curd is way beyond anything you would get anywhere other than Chinatown. For example, there is a Chinese takeaway called PeSing (" stop laughing at the back please......") that, the last time I went there in approximately 2010, were still being able to serve people for £3.95 for a Chicken in Black Bean Sauce and Egg Fried Rice. The portion was plenty big enough to feed a person with even the most hearty appetite, and it was,(speaking as somebody who has tried about 50 different Chinese takeaways across the whole capital), to this day one of the best Chinese takeaways I have had. I wouldn't recommend you go to the area just to use it, but if you did find yourself in the area then you would be silly not to.Some of the other shops sell some amazing food that you will not find elsewhere, especially the Eastern European shops. 

So what I would say to Tottenham Hotspur is that the new stadium is desperately needed in order to revitalise the area. The fact that they even entertained the thought of leaving the borough and instead going to Stratford to use the Olympic stadium - Well, that lost me a lot of respect for them. I hope that they finalise and complete the project as soon as they possibly can, because it is desperately needed. It is also worth nothing, unfortunately, that the crime statistics show that the area has a higher rate of crime than other areas within Tottenham, especially late at night, although this has improved over recent years, but it is still worth mentioning.   But as opposed to this blog post being about how other parts of the area of Tottenham are so much better, instead it should be about how much fantastic potential this area has.   Mark my words, if they decided to build a proper tube line, or a train line run by the government here, the place would shoot up in popularity, which would likely bring with it a similar boost to the area in terms of investment, regeneration and property values.   Maybe now is the time to pub some smart money into the area.  After all, it is not as if the prices can fall any lower, surely..........?

The Best Parts:
Cheap properties
If you're a football fan...
Chinese Takeaways

Room For Improvement 
Transport links
More things to do in the area

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

4 - South Tottenham

South Tottenham

South Tottenham, is located, as you would imagine, at the very south of Tottenham, and it borders the predominantly Jewish-based community of Stamford Hill. Of all the areas that Tottenham as a whole borders, Stamford Hill is the area which many would see as being the most affluent, and therefore this is what has caused the knock-on effect to South Tottenham, in that it boasts much of the most expensive properties within the area. I have seen property's go for £500,000 for a three-bedroom, which is simply unheard of in other parts of Tottenham. For example, in Northumberland Park you might be paying £250,000 for a property with a similar specification. Much of this may just be down to basic logistics of the area: to get to London Central from Tottenham, you had to head south, and therefore Tottenham South is the part that is nearest central London. However, it is more than that. Much of South Tottenham borders the River Lea, and having been somebody who has walked down by the river quite regularly since 2005 to 2012, I have noticed a marked improvement in many of the developments that have sprung up around the River Lea. Many of them actually look very nice, for example, Watermint Quay

Despite being a relatively new housing development, I actually think it looks extremely nice, and would not look out of place in Chiswick or even parts of Richmond. I used to traverse the River Lee ticket from my home in Tottenham to Hackney Marshes to play Sunday league football, and I will never forget the first day I walked down there and, to my amusement and surprise, I came across a rowing club? A rowing club?!?!?! in Tottenham?!?!?! It would appear so.

And it actually looks pretty damn nice as well!! (I actually got my phone out and called my partner to say "You'll never guess what I've just seen?") On a Sunday morning, there were groups of well-to-do teenagers, putting themselves through their rowing paces. None of them seem to be nursing hangovers, and they all seemed to have a surprising amount of enthusiasm, considering it was 8:30am. It was almost like they were their of their own free will! Behind them, a rugby game was commencing, while a crowd of about 80 people looked on. I walked down, and came across a lovely little cafe, which was joined onto the rowing club. Just past that, was a lovely little picturesque bridge.

And then we come to the actual Marina itself, which is surprisingly nice. In fact, for any bands that are based in the area, they even seem to put on gigs there. Although I am not 100% certain where the gigs are, I have seen a couple of bands posting links to gigs on Twitter that they have at Springfield Marina, N15.. It would be a fantastic place to play a gig, although to be fair, it is quite far away from public transport. There are even some Tennis Courts right next to it, which are in pretty fantastic shape; they seem to be maintained very well, in that they have been laid recently, and there never seems to be any rubbish or litter there, and the nets are also well maintained. In approximately 2009, my ex-partner and I decided to pop down there for a game of tennis. Having popped to the nearest Argos to buy rackets, located right next to Tottenham Hale station, we made the approximately 25 minutes walk down to the tennis courts located in Springfield Park. We saw a sign up on the wall saying that it was £5.20 for one hour, so we stayed for 90 minutes, and then headed off to see where we could pay our fee.

However, it was only then that we realise that everybody seemed to be playing their tennis, and heading off in different directions, with seemingly none of them heading towards any sort of building which looked like an official Council building to pay. We walked for approximately 10 minutes in Springfield Park before we finally came to a lovely little cafe area, and it was in there that we realised that was where the council offices were. We walked in and asked if we could pay, and the gentleman who worked for the council there said,

"Pay for what?"
"The tennis?"
"Oh, God, right, yeah, I'm not actually sure who you pay for that....."

10 minutes later, and we still could not find somebody to accept the money. Eventually, the gentleman just suggested to us, "look, I wouldn't worry about it to be fair..." So, it would seem, there seem to be free tennis courts located approximately 25 minutes south of Tottenham Hale Station!! We ended up going back approximately 12 to 15 times and never once did we see anybody pay, and it was a fantastic facility within the area. It gave us something to do and also kept us very healthy.

Here is where we get to know one of the greatest paradoxes about Tottenham. Once again, the best and the worst seem to sit side-by-side, as Springfield Park is a mere five-minute walk away, if that, to the notorious Murder Mile in Clapton. Now, this blog is for me to inform you about certain parts of the area, but the fact that it is called the Murder Mile, I don't think it needs to much embellishment..... (I'm going to bow out of this one gracefully...)

South Tottenham also has a massive added benefit of recently being added to the Overground Train Network. I have been actually quite taken with the Overground Train service, and it used to go past my flat in Bream Close, when I lived there. Having said that, it barely went by at all. That was because the train seemed to be once every 30 minutes, but I would swear that there were whole hours that went by without a train going by. And also the train seemed to stop at roughly 10pm. Not officially, mind, it's just that I never saw them - they seemed to be cancelled a lot. This was when it was called the Silverlink, or the North London line. However, recently, the London Underground has totally revamped, spruced up and relaunched this line under the London overground name. And how is it? Well, it's great actually!!! The trains arrive every 15 minutes, and what's better, they do actually arrive every 15 minutes!! No hour long wait for South Tottenham residents of 2013. South Tottenham residents of 2008 may have had to wait for one hour for their train, but no more! It has fantastic commuter links to Gospel Oak, which is great for exploring Hampstead Heath.... Yes, you see, if you live within a few minutes of South Tottenham station, then technically you could be 20 minutes away from Hampstead Heath. The train takes 13 mins. (13 mins!!!) The very same Hampstead Heath that sells two-bedroom properties for £1.5 million. You're also a very short distance away from areas such as Wanstead to the east (which if you ever had a bit of spare time on your hands, I would recommend walking across Wanstead Flats towards Wanstead Park, as it is one of the most underrated parts of London). Some of our Studio staff have also said that they have gone to gigs at the Barfly where they have changed at Gospel Oak and gone to either Camden Road or Kentish Town West, and managed the journey from door to door in 30 mins or less. I have gone from South Tottenham over to Crouch End station many times, and I have even made the barely five-minute journey across to Green Lanes to sample some of the fantastic Turkish Shops that are over there. It is very hard to underestimate just how important the new station has been for the area. If before the transport regeneration, South Tottenham was a 6/10, this redevelopment of the train station has definitely turned it into a 8/10.
Having said that, I do think that the area is slightly overpriced. I guess if you have the money, and had reason to stay in the area, then it would be worth it, but for me personally, it is an area that is much more expensive than the rest of Tottenham and is only a bit better than the average. Maybe I'm being unfair: I mean, as I have said it is a fantastic part of Tottenham and it has so many things that the rest of Tottenham does not offer. So if you were looking for somewhere to rent, and if you maybe didn't mind paying a little bit more money, then by all means go for it. You are barely a five-minute journey away from Stoke Newington, which is a great vibrant area full of live music, restaurants and artistic folk, and only about 15 minutes away, at the most, from Dalston, which seems to be the new hotspot of the world, and seems to attract hipsters like Rappers attract Gold. I would say, though, that in consistency with the rest of Tottenham, it does seem to lack a range of pubs. (Maybe I should have written a blog called Tottenham: A Tale of Closed Pubs....) I think that is the one thing that brings the area down the most. However, if I had to live in South Tottenham, whilst in 2005 I may have not jumped at the idea, now I would certainly be happy to do so, as the area has improved that much. In fact at the time of writing in February 2013 there seems to be a new Sainsbury's opening literally just down the road, and they seem to be clued up on which areas are up-and-coming. Who knows, maybe in a few years this will be the new Dalston?

One final note, few citizens of South Tottenham realise that there was actually originally an extra station that was planned in South Tottenham, which was at the location of St Anns, and is now a convenience shop. It used to be between South Tottenham and Haringey Green Lane station, and it would be more than possible to reopen it, and even possibly connect it to the Victoria line because the Victoria line runs underneath it. People who have been reading these blogs will know that I seem to be going on about opening new tube stations all over Tottenham (in fact, I will not rest until the day I am on a tube train and hear "the next stop is - "Bally Studios Personal Station" - alight here for copious amounts of tea.....") but my only point is that if the tracks are already laid there, then it would actually make good economic sense to open them, even if they were only operated on peak hours like Turnham Green.

Best bits
Rowing Club
Springfield Marina
Springfield Park, especially the tennis courts
New Overground station

Room for improvement
High Prices (although to be fair, if they keep their value,then it is not too bad)
Lack of bars (again.........)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

3 - Bruce Grove

Bruce Grove

Bruce Grove is the area that most people will have seen of Tottenham. For the wrong reasons. You remember the big building on the corner that was set fire to for the Tottenham Riots? That was in Bruce Grove. As was the bus that was set alight. So it's a bad area, yes? Well, no, I actually quite like it!!! There are a lot of good aspects about the area. The main area is centered around Tottenham High Rd. This road runs North-South, with a spur coming off it in the very centre of Bruce Grove, which comes off it in a North-West direction, towards Lordship Lane. 

On this road, there are a few types of shops. You have the usual chain stores: Asda, Greggs, McDonald's, KFC, the usual banks, etc. And then you have the independent shops, many of which are fantastic, and 99% of them owned and run by immigrants. There is a Reggae record stall right near the station, African shops that sell indigenous food (Snail on a stick, anyone?), a shop that sells some great Turkish pizza, and some great restaurants, including an Italian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Caribbean, Turkish and African restaurant. On this road, I have had some of the greatest ever Caribbean Chicken ever, (super fiery hot with amazing quality chicken and soaked in tangy sauce, served with Caribbean rice) which was at a Caribbean takeaway which was briefly based next door to The Elbow Room, and I have been able to track down some great Cypriot food from some of the Eastern European speciality shops that operate there. You only have to take a stroll down the road to see exactly how multicultural Tottenham is, and how much the richer it is for it. More details are in this BBC piece on the area, and its diversity. (Ironically enough, though, my love for many of the shops was thrown into a bit of a quandary one day, by the BBC themselves, as I have explained in an after note....)

However, there are two shops that dominate the road. The worst offender being betting shops. Even the local MP, David Lammy, has been on his soapbox about it. Quite rightly too. There are too many of them. "How many is too many?" you might say?" 4? Is 5 too many? "People like to bet don't they, what's wrong with betting shops?" Well, there are 38 of them in Tottenham. Within a 6 mins walk, you can pass about 6 or 7 of them. And if I am being honest, I have seen a deterioration of the area since they opened. Local pub? Good place for a betting shop!! Local family business? Ladbrokes will love that site!! I think this is the one factor that is holding the area back the most. I have personally spoken to about 6 bands who have come to Tottenham Hale to use the studios, really liked it, and then decided to check out rental property in Bruce Grove, as it seemed close to the studios, and they were surprised by the quick transport links to the area. Sadly, all of them, with no exceptions, said that the betting shops were an eyesore. And you know what? They are! How many were interested in renting in the area? 6. How many ended up renting? 0. All of them had jobs, were nice people, and would redoubtably have spent money in the local area. Such a shame. 

The other shop that is plentiful in the area are hairdressers, and barbers. Tottenham, in general seems to be full of them. 30 or so, at least. I think that they are really great, and add to the area a lot. (Which I guess is ironic for a man who hasn't been to one in nearly 15 years). Now, when looking at the effect that any shop can have on an area, you can look at it from one of two different points of view. The first one being from a cultural and community point of view, i.e. a non economic point of view, which is just counting the value that they add to the area, apart from a value that can be measured in pound-sterling. For example, an Art gallery, as well as giving people a chance to spend money in an area, and employing people in it, are nice for an area. They give you something to look at while passing, and can bring a bit of vibrancy to an area. I believe that the betting shops detract from the culture and community of the area, and take both money and the soul out of the community. However, the barber shops, I think do the exact opposite. Walk past, and, especially on a Friday and Saturday night, they seem to be crammed, almost like they are a social club! I guess that, in a way, they are. After all, if you don't drink, and don't want to be in a drinking atmosphere, as many of the social clubs seem to have shut down, there are not too many places where people can gather for social reasons.

Especially in Tottenham, there are no cinemas, no dance halls, no bingo halls, roller skate rinks, ice rinks, youth clubs, etc. (Having said that, Tottenham was once a hotbed for entertainment venues). Therefore, these salons, in part, seem to serve this purpose, and by this, I believe they really add to the sense of community, and vibrancy of the area. From an economic point of view, the rents are relatively low (compared to other parts of London), and there always seem to be at least 2 stylists/barbers busy cutting or styling hair in each salon, so they provide employment aplenty. Seeing as they are businesses that have very low operating costs, they are relatively stable and can ride out economic hardship better than many businesses, and are therefore usually passed down through the family, providing security for future generations. They are cheap to set up, in that they do not need massive amounts of stock, and instead of adding a profit margin on a product that needs to be bought first, they turn skill and training into cash. To my mind, businesses such as these can become the foundation of growth and prosperity of an area

Finally, transport wise, Bruce Grove is well served. The train station has direct links to Liverpool Street, and there are numerous bus routes, including the 149, which has direct links to the very up and coming Dalston, before continuing to London Bridge. 





The Best Parts:

Great range of restaurants, takeaways and shops with a wide cultural range.

Great sense of community.

Good amenities, such as supermarket, banks, etc

Train service is vastly underrated.


Room For Improvement:

Way too many betting shops


A slight parenthesis: After living in the area for about 6 months, I had a bit of a shopping spree one day, and came home laden with about 7 bags from 5 different, local shops. It was about 2pm, and just as I was making a cup of tea, I heard the voice of John Peel coming from the TV. John Peel? On the TV at 2pm? I wandered into the sitting room, cup of tea in hand, to see what this programme was, and John's dulcet tones continued: "Haringey Health inspectors are carrying out a raid on local shops within the Bruce Grove area of Tottenham....." and to my horror, a camera crew was walking into the very shop that I had been in 10 mins earlier!!! (Although obviously it had been filmed many months ago). Still, when the producer unveiled a rats nest, and cockroaches in the kitchen, my heart sunk! After the credits rolled at the end, the announcer revealed there were 3 more shows like this. 4 shows in a row. Oh dear.... Now, I'm not saying that Tottenham has a problem with Health and Safety, and Hygiene; To the contrary, the Haringey website seems to suggest otherwise. However, the difference being that when other places have a less than perfect health and safety record, I didn't have to watch it on a 32 inch TV with stereo sound!! I confess, that it did put me off going to some shops, the shops that were exposed, but I can genuinely say that the show was called something along the lines of "Grime Inspectors" or something similar, so they were obviously hunting out the worst offenders. Still, many of the locals shared my fascination of the show, and I can assure you that it is not representative of the shops of the area as a whole. Honest :-)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

2 - Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

You could blindfold yourself in Seven Sisters, spin around a few times, and throw a dart in any direction (although I wouldn't recommend it), and there is about a 4% chance that you will hit a musician with it. The place is positively teaming with them. Studios, and musician flat-shares, everywhere. And it is easy to see why. Firstly, it is a little "rough around the edges" Not in a bad way too. What it lacks in clean lines, 5 year plans and commercial aesthetics, it more than makes up for in atmosphere and vibrancy. It's unlike any other area in London.

The best part of Seven Sisters is undoubtedly West Green Rd. For several reasons. I am of the strong belief that any business why decides that their staff need to wear uniform in order to show the customer who works at the store is missing a trick. I can understand a huge chain store warranting them, for brand identity, etc. However, a better way to show your customers who runs the shop, and who they need to chat to is to simply make your presence known to the customers. And that, in a nutshell, is West Green Rd. Walk down the road, and many shopkeepers are standing in doorways. Some will say "Hello my friend, have a look around, best price for you my friend, best price....." They are all passionate, many of them will have their kids working on the weekend. Signs are handwritten on bright yellow and pink cards. There are only 4 chain shops on the road out of about 130-150. Let me just repeat that -  there are just 4. A fried chicken shop, a betting shop, an estate agents and a convenience store.   There is not one chain shop on the Tottenham end of West Green Rd. None. 

Here is something that says a lot about the area. There was a Pound Store there. (Not the big chain, an independent one). Someone set up a shop called "99p or less." In an act of business bravado that was mind-blowingly simple as it was brilliant, someone down the road set up the "98p shop". (Right now, in Tottenham, someone is plotting the opening of the 97p store...) It's that sort of place. Shopkeepers live on their wits, you can bargain with them.  I once bought 2 suitcases that were £35 each for £39 in total, and the shopkeeper seemed happier with my purchase than the guy before who paid full price for his parrot cage. Yep, a parrot cage and suitcases being sold in the same shop. That's West Green Rd. 

There is a road with 19 African churches on it too, Lawrence Rd. This isn't the longest road in the area by the way, you can walk it in about 4 mins. The local community centre is called the Bernie Grant Arts centre, and has the Marcus Harvey Library in it. Not some 16th century aristocrat who many people fire up wikipedia to find out who he is, but men who meant something to the people there, in the late Local Labour MP Bernie Grant, the first British Black politician, and Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican Political leader who died in 1940.

Some roads in London have an African shop. West Green Rd has a Ghanian shop, an Ethiopian Shop, a Kenyan Shop, etc. I used to work as a Butcher, and used to do shifts as a fishmonger on the side. There are fish shops selling fish I had never heard of there. Instead of the local travel shop having promotional deals to Barcelona, Paris and New York, instead there are trips in Nairobi, Kingston Jamaica and Akra. Now, I probably have more need of a cheap flight to New York, rather than Ghana, if I am honest - but the difference is that 99% of all of the travel agent shop windows in London show the prices to the same places. These ones do not. Instead of a package holidays, it's flights only. These people are not going away for a 2 week holiday in the sun, they are making a pilgrimage home. Not many people based in the area have family in New York, compared to Ghana, Nigeria and the Caribbean. Thus, these shops are actually representative of the area. The products they sell are actually tailored to the area, as opposed to being a homogenized Starbucks-Costa Coffee-Pizza Express parade of the usual suspects. 

What a novel idea!! They are shops by the people of the area, for the people of the area. Instead of a multinational company deciding what their customers want, and convincing them that they want it, these shops have a different approach. As the sign in a shop window a few weeks ago said: "We book tickets to anywhere. Ask Amin for details." Amin. Not "your local store manager". Ask Amin, he'll sort it out for you. There is no Starbucks. No "head of marketing and brand development." The guy who cashes up and signs the lease is the same guy who mops the floor at the end of the day. It is business as it should be, and as a business owner in the area, I have to admit that sometime I walk down the road, and get a great feeling from seeing these independent business owners go about their trading. And that is because I actually feel part of the community here. I feel that I am actually contributing to the area, and I feel that I know the other people that are too.

Another great place is the South American Indoor market that is right next to the entrance of Seven Sisters station. Its a fantastic indoor market, where the sellers and shop staff have personality and rapport with their customers. (I once went into a shop on the road, just outside the market, looking for a deal on some soft drinks, and the shop owner shouted down into the basement, "Dex? I'm sending a guy down to see you, sort out some cheap drinks for him. He's might order some extra stuff off us, so don't f**k up his order, right?" To be fair, he didn't f**k up my order, which I was glad for.) The shops might not be on the same scale as the Westfield, but nor should it be. The best selling point of the area as a whole is that, when people say to me "What's it like", it takes me about 3 mins to explain it all. It usually ends with me saying "Well, you should go there." Sure, many of the stores are a bit rundown, and need a bit of a clean up, but it's all part of the character for me.

Aside from this vibrancy, which is it's greatest selling point, there are other good points too. Transport is great. Central London in 15 mins. The buses are good. Night buses too. Many of the properties rival Northumberland Park in terms of size and quality. More bands that come to the studios come from Seven Sisters rather than any other area, and a lot of them are working in the city, or students, looking for more bang for their buck within the rental market. If you;re looking for that, as Bally Studios staff can personally testify, there are worse areas than Seven Sisters. 
Of course, the area is not perfect, not by a long stretch. There are prime buildings that have sat empty for 10+ years. The building that used to be the bank, right on the corner next to the station,and Wards Corner, the empty building opposite, both have huge potential. But alas, they have been empty for years, and that is sad. It is also very hard for the local shops to compete with the local Tesco. Maybe this is the reason that all of the shops that are in the area specialise in the sort of food that Tesco would not usually handle.

This part of Tottenham has been in the news recently, as many of the residents are concerned with plans to open a shopping arcade in the area. We have touched upon in in our Blog post in the area, and our views on the subject are mixed. On one hand, the jobs for the area will be great, and hopefully it might encourage people to visit the area. However it is also hard enough for the local businesses to survive while being in competition with Tesco, so we hope that this is taken into effect when the local council decide whether to press ahead with the plans, as it would be a real shame to lose so many of these great shops that already add to the area. More details are here.

The Best Parts:
The shops of West Green Road.
Transport Links

Room For Improvement:
Let's hope that the council decides to make sure that the current South American Market can, in some way, be saved, while still redeveloping the area.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

1 - Tottenham Hale

1) Tottenham Hale

Seeing as this is where we are based, and the part of Tottenham that most of our customers will know best, we will start with Tottenham Hale. This area is the part of Tottenham that is least representative of Tottenham as a whole. Most people's opinion of the area is that it is a little bit of a thoroughfare. I wouldn't dispute that, to be fair. Many people get the tube to Tottenham Hale and change here to get the train to Stansted Airport, or Hertfordshire, and there are buses that go from the station to parts of London ill served by the tube, like Edmonton and Enfield. Many people going to Ikea change here also, so it does have a bit of a transient feel about it. However, with the recent redevelopment in the area, with about 1 in 4 people you now meet in the area being students, and with them skateboarding, roller-blading and even doing parkour in the area, it has given the area a really nice, youthful and vibrant feel.  A lot of it consists of beautiful nature, the river lee, Tottenham Marshes and the Walthamstow fisheries, photos of which are on the following link:

Nature aside, it is mainly made up of a few different parts.
There are 2 main housing estates that make up pretty much all of the housing in the whole area. The Ferry Lane Estate is a 1960's ex-council estate. It has improved a lot recently, and speaking as someone who was going to buy a flat in it, I think it is a fantastic place to rent or even purchase. At the time, in 2009, we were looking at a flat that was £148,000 for a 2 bedroom, good soundproofing and nice proportions, with fantastic views over the walthamstow fisheries,and only a few mins from the station. It was a lot cheaper than other flats that were in more up-and-coming areas, and there seems to be a surprising amount of city workers living there (no doubt taking advantage of the direct links form the nearby station to Liverpool Street). The aesthetics of the estate could be improved however, and since the pub and post office were ripped out for more housing, there isn't much reason for anyone else to go into it unless you live there, hence it can feel a bit cut off to the rest of the area.

Just across the river is Bream Close, a private estate that was completed in the 1990's. I lived here for about 4 years or so, and I think it has a much nicer feel about it than Ferry Lane, just in that the buildings are more spaced out, there is more natural sunlight as a result of the lighter tone bricks, and there is a lot more greenery. When the place was built, it was built with having more trees and patches of grass in mind, whereas the Ferry Lane estate has the feel of an estate that was built without green spaces being considered, and they have had to be crow bared into tiny patches retrospectively. One of the hidden gems in Tottenham Hale is that if you go down to the bottom of Bream Close, in early spring, there will be a few families of Geese living down there at the bottom. Many times I used to pop down there, where there is a picnic table at the end, and bring my laptop and complete e mails down there, while the Mummy and Daddy geese were walking around with a chain of 4-12 baby geese behind them. It was a nice way to spend a few hours. However, the proportions of the properties are not great. The ceilings are very low, and there is absolutely no outside space direct accessible from the flat. The soundproofing isn't amazing either. They are great places for crash pads, (and in fact a lot of the major airlines seem to have bought flats there so that their Stansted based pilots and air stewards can use them as opposed to hotels) but, in my opinion,  they do not lend themselves well to anything more long term. Cab drivers always speak very highly of the estate, and a lot of them will say that they have never had any problems there, and we moved there after were robbed (more of that later), as the police actually advised us to move there, saying how safe it was.

The Retail Park - which is home to big shops like PC World, Boots, B&Q, etc. The retail park is the main reason why most people come to the area. They get the tube from central London, or the train from Hertfordshire, exit the tube station, do their shopping, and then head back. A lot of them also drive there, especially on a weekend, as is evident from the traffic delays. There is a little cafe inside of Asda, and a Costa Coffee, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Greggs,  KFC and Subway for the shoppers, so they do not even need to venture further from out of sight from the tube station. Now, a lot of people I have spoken to have actually talked about the retail park negatively. They say it looks like a homogenised identikit area, with no personality. They say that it doesn't encourage people to investigate Tottenham High Rd. My personal opinion is that if people want to do a bit of shopping, there is nothing wrong with that, and they are still free to investigate the high road if they want to, no-one is stopping them. Also, from experience, I have seen so many people walk into the Ferry Lane and Bream Close estates wearing uniforms from the shops within the retail park to know that it undoubtedly offers a huge amount of employment to the local area. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I would estimate that there are about 400 jobs in the area as a direct result of the park. This, in itself, can only be a great thing.

Just north-east of the retail park, is the new Hale Village. I have to say, when it was announced, I was quite sceptical myself that it could be good for the area. Talk of cramming 1,600 flats into such a small area, well, it sounded like they were prioritising quantity over quality. However, since it has gone up, I have been pleasantly surprised, and actually think that it is a really great addition to the area. The buildings have a great splash of colour, and there is also a great little playground in the middle of the development, which has a bouncy, rubbery floor to it (I must confess, I actually walk through the playground on the way from the tube station to the studio, just so I can literally have a spring in my step...... *embarrassed*) Also, the shops that they have currently opened in the development are actually shops that the locals will benefit from, as opposed to shops that people will travel in on the tube specifically to use. The Tesco extra is very handy, especially as before Lidl had a shopping monopoly over the area, and with it there is a new cash machine, which seeing how unreliable the cash point at the petrol station was, was much needed. The new gym that has barely been opened for a few weeks now also seems to be very popular, and is cheap enough that it doesn't price out most people from using it.

These are the only shops that are opened at the moment, but if it were up to me, and in case any of the developers are reading, I think the area desperately needs:

A Nando's style restaurant – currently, Pizza Hut is the only place where you can go to eat that isn't your typical fast food restaurant. If you want anything a bit fancier, then it's just Pizza Hut at the minute.

A Charity Shop - I'm a big lover of charity shops. I think they are great, in that they raise money for worthy causes, but also as they are a great way to spend 15 mins of a rainy day. Charity shops appeal to students, older people, people on a limited income, and people looking for something to do, and Tottenham Hale has a lot of each of these.

A Bank - If you want to go to the bank, you have to go to the high road at present. And when you do get to the high road by taking the quickest route, it's still a bit of a walk from there. Any bank that opens up in Tottenham Hale will have about 5,000-10,000 people who will be able to call it their local bank. Especially as there seem to be quite a few elderly people in the are, it would be a godsend to them to not have to get the bus to the high road.  Even people in nearby Blackhorse Rd would no doubt benefit. 

Another Pub - A few years ago, you had the Ferry Boat Inn, The Narrow Boat, and the White Hart. Now, we are down to 1, just the Ferry Boat Inn. Much as we love it (it's great value, warm & cosy and has a great history and architecture to it), it's a shame that it is the only pub in the whole area, and the area would be really improved by a second pub, so that you had a choice of the type of pub you wanted to visit. Having said that, about 10-15 mins walk away is the The Prince Arthur/Mannions pub, which is your best bet if you want to catch the football, and it is a nice enough old man's Irish pub, with cheap pints and a relaxed atmosphere. It's more in the Seven Sisters area though, but it is a place that is better than you would expect, and I am more than happy to recommend the place. A couple of bands who have rehearsed with us have also said that they put on live bands there, but as far as we know, they do not have their own PA system.

A live music venue! - There used to be one down the road in the Walthamstow standard, which was one of the most underrated venues in London (good sound system, nice size and directly opposite a tube station on the fast Victoria Line). But since that shut down to make way for a Turkish supermarket, there is a real lack of a community hub in the area. 90% of the population of the new development seem to be students, so a music venue/place to meet would have a captive market. The Fountain used to be based in Tottenham Green, and that doesn't have live bands any more, and these music venues that ave closed down have not been replaced. Plus, as  so many bands from Harlow, Ware, Cheshunt and the surrounding areas that come to us say that there are not too many music venues in these areas, and seeing as Tottenham Hale has direct links to Hertfordshire, it would be great for bands that are based in Hertfordshire who work or go to college in central London, and want to play a gig that both of their social circles can come to. To any naysayers who say that Tottenham would not be improved by a music venue, I would say to look at Brixton, Notting Hill and Brick Lane. All of these had flourishing music venues when they were less than prosperous, and the music venues doesn't seem to have stopped these places from improving dramatically in recent years.

A Post Office – The nearest one is in Tottenham Green, which is 15-20 mins walk, on Broad Lane, and you need to factor in a 15 mins wait there all the time, as it is so busy.
Independent shops – On the whole of the Tottenham Hale area, apart from a  couple of shops that are hidden behind a tall high rise residential block, I cannot think of any independant shops.  And I think that the area is much poorer for it.  It could drastically be improved by an independant record shop, boutique clothes shop, or even a delicatessan.   If you only have multinational chain stores within the area, then it sends out the strong message:  “If you want to conduct business in this area, you need multi million pound backing. If you do not have it, then don't bother, we don't want you”. 

And I just don't think that this is the way that it should be. Hale Village is at it's teething stage. Here is what I would suggest.  Set aside a shop, that measures about 1,500 - 2,000 square foot, and split it into different sections.  You wouldn't need to phyicially do this, even some paint or gaffer tape on the floor, could show the different sections. You could get about 40 sections of 30-50 square foot each, big enough for maybe a 8 x 6 foot slot.  That is big enough to have a table set up, selling excess clutter from around the home in a car boot sale style; big enough to set up a few stands for an artist to show off their artwork; for an old lady to sell some cakes she has made; or for someone who is skilled with a sewing machine to do alterations to clothes; even a tarot reader to give readings, or a massuse to give back rubs.   An indoor market, as it were.  There are literally hundreds of jobs that could be done.  40 units.  Charge them £5 per day each.  Lets say you had a 70% occupancy, which is the industry average, and the space would have £140 income per day.   Just for the empty space, as everyone would bring their own tables. No wages costs. All the businesses share the same electrical supply, the same light and heat, etc. We live in an age where people can set up a blog for free, or instead of buying hosting for their website, they can set up a Facebook page. From charging just £5 per day for each section, at 70% occupancy, that would be £980 per week. £50,960 per year. If you had it full, you could get £72,800 per year. More importantly, it would send out a great message to the people of Tottenham, that you can start a business with a £5 rent per day, a painters and decorators table from B&Q and some unused items lying around in the garage that someone might want, or a skill or talent that you have. 

I know first hand how much it can turn around your life to have your own business. When the riots happened in 2011, many people said that it was because lots of young people had no hope. What better way to give people who are unemployed the opportunity to build a small business than to say that they can start their business, and it if goes to the wall after 1 month, and they do not even bring in a penny of income in the whole month, they will have lost just £150 if they operated 7 days a week.  And lets keep this in perspective, £150, in that sort of context, is nothing.  The educational aspects, and the lessons learned from the setback alone would be worth it. It would give locals an opportunity of improved financial independence, would prove to be a great learning curve, would bring people into the area, and would still generate £50-£70,000 per year.   Big businesses have amply opportunity to conduct business in Tottenham Hale, what about the small businessman?  These are the exactly the people that the local council should be investing in, and by doing so, Tottenham Hale can benefit in the same way that Camden Market has experienced massive growth around it's markets.

Also, from an economic point of view it makes great sense.   The vast majority of larger companies started off as small companies.   Recent success stories such as Innocent Smoothies, The Gadget Shop, Sports Direct and The Body Shop shows that if there is a way to get people into buisness in the first place, the company could become a huge employer and tax payer in the future.   It also makes sense to spread the risk, so that instead of 1 employer employing 1,000 people, 100 companies can employ 10 people, or we could even have 1,000 people that are self employed.  Big companies, whilst providing essential employment to many, are like big ships.  It takes them a lomng time to respond to market forces, and it is therefore hard for them to cut their cloth accordingly.  Levels of beurocracy need to be cut through, and change can be mortally slow. Companies like HMV, Jessops, Woolworths and Game are all examples of companies that didn't have the ability to change as quickly as they would have wanted or needed to.   When a big company goes into receivership, there are multiple people becoming unemployed simultaenously, big bailouts needed, men in suits to check over the figuires and work out how it went wrong, redundancies, newspaper headlines, and many times the staff are the last people to know about it, so they are the least prepared for it.  Whereas with small companies, the kind that are being neglected in Tottenham Hale at present,  when a company runs into problems,  the stall holder can pack up his foldable table, pack up all of his stock in to a box, and get a cab home with it all, with no massive fall out.  There they can lick their wounds, and plan their next step, and best of all, because they were the owners of the companies, they will probably know what it is that caused them to go out of business, so there will actually be a lesson learned. 

Tottenham Hale Industrial Areas - And then finally, you get to the industrial parks, the MillMead Industrial Park, and the Lockwood Industrial park. You get all of the usual businesses on them, like Cash & Carry's, manufacturing: (A steel factory, several clothing assembly plants), house removal firms, double glazing factories, fast food preparation, a few cafes , a few car repair shops, with a strong presence for Kosher/Jewish businesses, as well as Turkish/Cypriot businesses. There are about 20 different music recording studios, with us being the only rehearsal studios, a photography studio, a vinyl pressing plant, and even a studio that specialises in fire breathing, stilt walking and sword swallowing!! It's not the sort of place you'd walk though to see if anything took your fancy however, you'd need to have a place in mind to go there for.

One of the upsides of the estate having so many businesses on the estate though is that the crime is very low. In fact, in 8 years of us running the studios, and having had over 12,000 sessions with an average of 4 members for each of them, we have never ever had any reports of any victims of crime. One reason for this might be, as I learned from a business on the estate, was that there is a lot of CCTV in the area, simply because lorries carrying a full load from Turkey/Eastern Europe don't want to spend 3 days driving across Europe, only then to have a risk of having any of their stock stolen!

The Best Parts: 
Bally Studios, of course!!
The Walthamstow. fisheries
River Lee, Tottenham Marshes, The Paddock Nature Reserve
The Ferry Boat Inn
Being 15 mins from Liverpool Street and 18 mins from Oxford Street.

Room For Improvement 
Lack of pubs
Lack of independent Shops
The one-way system can be chaotic on a weekend, but thankfully works have started to fix this.

Link to Bally Studios extended guide to Tottenham Hale.