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Old March 25th, 2012, 11:25 AM   #21
pmun
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But even once fully built out there will little reason to linger.

If it remains residential with local retail and restaurants, then the streets will remain quiet. With Canary wharf dominating, I can't see a proper high street developing.
That's really my point it isn't in the British DNA. Even high streets are mono-cultures of consumers - shopping, eating or drinking. Few people tend to hang around for the sake of it.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 11:55 AM   #22
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That's really my point it isn't in the British DNA. Even high streets are mono-cultures of consumers - shopping, eating or drinking. Few people tend to hang around for the sake of it.
No, we don't have the climate for one thing. It's nice when you are having a meal in Spanish square, where the local kids are playing with their friends as their parents hang around chatting. But there it's warm (by our standards) 8 months of the year. The early evening is nice when it starts to cool down, plus with siesta the evening is time to go out.

Also with our drinking culture, we don't have the culture of urban prominading that other countries do where a family may just walk together in the city centre looking at the window displays and maybe stopping at a cafe.

As for the Isle of Dogs, there is potential for a little retail cluster to form. It won't match Canary Wharf, but why would you want to. There will be enough well off people there to support some shops and restaurants.

What the area needs is an anchor. A small Marks & Spencer would act as a good core. I think that a smart small supermarket could work here.

The Wharf shopping area is a good 10 to 15 minute walk away and there is a substantial population to serve on Marsh Wall and to the South.

If I had my way, I'd encourage a proper High street, but with a high leisure component. I'd look for things that would attract restaurants. I new cinema would be a good idea. But there are a few nearby mutliplexs, maybe a 4 screen art cinema would work. A couple of small live music venues/jazz clubs and or comedy club. A little hub where people would want to spend an evening, rather than just sink a few after work would be nice. That would also attract local independent retailers. A good food retailer would attract a cluster of others such as a Boots, opticians, gift shop etc then maybe a few indepdent clothing stores etc.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 12:38 PM   #23
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Surely the structure of the streets has something to do with it as well. We don't have boulevards, and the wide pavements that you find on the continent. Nor the park like pedestrian areas you find in some of those separating the traffic. Then there are the narrow winding pedestrianised streets you find in Southern European cities. These are filled with hole in the wall type places, typically bars, but some convert from ice cream parlors in the day, to bars at night. I'm sure the climate has a large part to play, but surely the street structure has a part to play.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 02:17 PM   #24
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Surely the structure of the streets has something to do with it as well. We don't have boulevards, and the wide pavements that you find on the continent. Nor the park like pedestrian areas you find in some of those separating the traffic. Then there are the narrow winding pedestrianised streets you find in Southern European cities. These are filled with hole in the wall type places, typically bars, but some convert from ice cream parlors in the day, to bars at night. I'm sure the climate has a large part to play, but surely the street structure has a part to play.
I lived in Germany and there city centres were not much different to ours. But people do go out as a family to the city centre in evening. Not everyone but enough for it to feel completely different to a UK city centre.

Where I like to go on holiday in Majorca, the town can't have more than 20,000 people. While the streets are fairly narrow (for shading purposes) they all have cars on them apart from the central square.

Culture has a lot to do with how our cities are shaped and the climate has a role as well. In hot countries it's cooler to be outside in the evenings.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 03:04 PM   #25
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Perhaps more sheltered streets would help? I'm thinking like Liverpool One shopping centre, being both indoor and outdoor.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 03:28 PM   #26
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It's the paved squares that make the difference. I worked in the Netherlands for a bit and you'll see large squares in the centre of cities covered with outside table and chairs (pleins), not just for cafes but also pubs/bars. Often there is a one aimed more at families and one at late night drinking. It's the same in cities like Rome and Barcelona re. paved squares. London actually has lots of squares but they're overwhelmingly little parks like Russel Sq, Bloomsbury Sq, Lec Sq. etc. We ideally need paved ones which are flanked by drinking and eating outlets. Imo Leicester Square would be ideal for this, the green space is bit redundant and just causes congestion on the outer paved ring.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 06:32 PM   #27
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Weather and urban design are minor issues. It's mainly national habit. A language school took over a local school near where I live (Brighton) during the summer, and many of the students just sat there on the pavements even though there are plenty of parks and open spaces nearby. It really bought the street alive and cars had to slow down because people were spilling out onto the road.

Look at these two pedestrian bridges in London and Paris. The Millennium Bridge is used to get from one side to the other, while The Pont Des Arts is also a place to hang around (granted - the MB is narrower, but however wide it was - people still would not sit around like this, even on a hot day).


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Old March 26th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #28
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The Thames is also much wider and windier. Portsmouth has a paved square and it's always full of life.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 11:13 AM   #29
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its also warmer in those country's than here in the UK that may explain the reason for many to congregate in open spaces.

The french bridge is probably a good place to feel some breeze during the summer months but here in England the weather is not as predictable as the continent, which is why pubs evolved so well, they are our communal spaces, where once upon a time you would eat there as well as drink and some pubs have theatre activities above etc.....
It is a cultural issue....open spaces in many areas tend to be taken over by winos, and I would not to take my kids to an open space full of winos....nobody moves them on..once upon a time the park keeper would but who does so now ??? BUT communal areas are very important to the longevity and creation of a community.....cafe spilling onto the outside is great, but do you know how much LBTH charges for chairs and table to be placed outside your venue??? on a weekly basis.... try £80.00 per..PER chair and £120.00 per table...a table and x4 chairs has just cost that proprietor £440.00 almost £500.00 quid that you need to ensure you get back, multiply that by say x4, you've just added another another £2K per week......

Legislation should help out
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Old March 26th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #30
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The Netherlands has an identical climate virtually to the UK; it's windy, overcast, mild and prone to unpredictable drizzle. Plenty of people eat and drink outside because there is the opportunity to do so. The northern third of France is probably around 1c warmer than Southern England, it's hardly a huge leap (in fact London is warmer and drier during the summer than Lille). Also this idea of 'The Continent' as one thing and the UK another is nonsense, the Dutch are culturally and socially closer to Brits than to Greeks or Spaniards for example. They even mostly live in terracing rather than blocks of flats.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #31
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One of the things I love most about the Netherlands and Belgium are the public squares and being able to eat outside when the weather is good. It was great eating out in the open in Gent during October!!

Brits are funny when it comes to weather though. Any bit of sunshine and everybody's out in force thinking it's summer. Right now it isn't that warm but I'm seeing people with barely any clothes on outside, while I'm having to wear a jacket because the breeze is still quite cool.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 02:42 PM   #32
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Quote:
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The Netherlands has an identical climate virtually to the UK; it's windy, overcast, mild and prone to unpredictable drizzle. Plenty of people eat and drink outside because there is the opportunity to do so. The northern third of France is probably around 1c warmer than Southern England, it's hardly a huge leap (in fact London is warmer and drier during the summer than Lille). Ok I agree with you on this point


Also this idea of 'The Continent' as one thing and the UK another is nonsense, the Dutch are culturally and socially closer to Brits than to Greeks or Spaniards for example. They even mostly live in terracing rather than blocks of flats.
This point I must disagree with you....my dutch friends find it abhorrent to see people so very drunk in public. It is not considered good manners AND their police do move winos on from public spaces.... A traditional dutch family is strict with drink, just like Italian and french families, wine or beer may always be at the table, but you drink it alongside water, it is part of the flavours of a meal not simply as a thirst quencher...
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Old March 26th, 2012, 02:44 PM   #33
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One of the things I love most about the Netherlands and Belgium are the public squares and being able to eat outside when the weather is good. It was great eating out in the open in Gent during October!!

Brits are funny when it comes to weather though. Any bit of sunshine and everybody's out in force thinking it's summer. Right now it isn't that warm but I'm seeing people with barely any clothes on outside, while I'm having to wear a jacket because the breeze is still quite cool.
so true.....the workmen are like penguins sunbathing along the canal bank here ..... I wouldn't mind but they don't all have 6 pack !!!
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Old March 26th, 2012, 02:48 PM   #34
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Perhaps the people of the UK just prefer to eat inside then outside? We're similar to the Dutch in many ways but we're an island and we've always done our own thing, good or bad.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 02:50 PM   #35
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In the Hague when it's sunny everyone seems to migrate to Scheveningen. I think most Northern Europeans obsess about the weather, or the sun at least, not just the Brits.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 03:00 PM   #36
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This point I must disagree with you....my dutch friends find it abhorrent to see people so very drunk in public. It is not considered good manners AND their police do move winos on from public spaces.... A traditional dutch family is strict with drink, just like Italian and french families, wine or beer may always be at the table, but you drink it alongside water, it is part of the flavours of a meal not simply as a thirst quencher...
I'm talking across the board not just one area. Re. drinking, you're less likely to see drunks clog up urban centres in Holland compared to here, that is true, but I don't think the eating and drinking habits are really similar to the French and Med cultures and there are definitely drunks and bums on the streets and 'lively' pubs/bars. Police on the street at night are far more common than here, one of the surprising things I noticed was the number of pairs of women officers around in the early hours, moving drunks at 2am.

Besides, central London and even some local going-out areas are quite different to many other British cities. You don't see most of the West End as a no-go area for non-drinkers. Even around Old Street to just north of Brick Lane you won't find a scene like that in Nottingham or the smaller towns in the commuter belt like Luton.

I've heard Swedes and Danes do love drinking, and then there are parts of Eastern Europe.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 04:15 PM   #37
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Besides, central London and even some local going-out areas are quite different to many other British cities. You don't see most of the West End as a no-go area for non-drinkers. Even around Old Street to just north of Brick Lane you won't find a scene like that in Nottingham or the smaller towns in the commuter belt like Luton.
This chimes with my experience. I feel much safer after a night in central London, than I ever did on a night out elsewhere. My family and friends have always put it down to the travelling you have to do in London to get to your preferred drinking location - if you have to go all that way you generally want to have a good time rather than cause trouble (plus there's that night bus you have to cope with on the way back).

Having said that, the only fight I've ever been involved in happened just off Regent Street. C'est la vie.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 04:26 PM   #38
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This chimes with my experience. I feel much safer after a night in central London, than I ever did on a night out elsewhere. My family and friends have always put it down to the travelling you have to do in London to get to your preferred drinking location - if you have to go all that way you generally want to have a good time rather than cause trouble (plus there's that night bus you have to cope with on the way back).

Having said that, the only fight I've ever been involved in happened just off Regent Street. C'est la vie.
The suburbs - be they in London, Liverpool, Nottingham, are always more dangerous places than the city centres if youre talking about getting caught up in a fight.
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Old March 26th, 2012, 09:06 PM   #39
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The suburbs - be they in London, Liverpool, Nottingham, are always more dangerous places than the city centres if youre talking about getting caught up in a fight.
Find that hard to believe
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Old March 27th, 2012, 12:00 PM   #40
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What some people are forgetting, is that people do sit outside in the UK, on beaches and in parks, often in the wind. We do have the weather for it, as we can see now.

The point that I'm trying to make is that we don't tend to sit or hang around in exclusively urban environments, unless it's in a cafe or pub or their are plenty of shops nearby - unless we are consuming. It may have something to do with an urban phobia, where people want to retreat to parks or suburbs and pretend they are in the countryside (witness the conservationist argument about the problem of seeing buildings poke over the trees in Hyde Park!)

The notion of the flaneur is very French - someone who just wanders and witnesses urbanity - not consumes it.
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