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Artwork by Patrick DolanMore Information

Reclaiming the streets

Imagine it. A Sunday morning. A street in a city suburb lined with shops. Sun streaming down. Coffee shops open, restaurants open, a large market of local craft, vintage and produce open.

No traffic.

No noise.

No, it’s not 28 Days Later, it’s Chilwell High Road! I headed down there on Sunday to get to NOT the Camden Market/ NOT the Hay Festival and was completely unaware that it was shut to traffic for the tram works. (We’ve got our finger on the pulse here at Creative Towers.) But my goodness me, it was lovely! I doubt very much that any of the businesses there think the same so if that’s the case I apologise to you all.

I’m an urban person. I like the bustle and noise of the city. I find the countryside oppressive, mainly because of the silence. This was different though. People were walking down the street, pushing pushchairs and wheelchairs down the middle of the road. You could hear them talking, laughing, browsing, clutching paper bags, coffee and plants from the market as they chatted in the sun. Birds sang. Passers by marvelled at the yarn bombed lamppost outside Yarn (lovely combination of crochet and knitting techniques – well done all, what a showcase of talent). In short, it felt modern, cosmopolitan and very civilised. Tres European, you might say.

You may have seen our post a few weeks back about empty spaces and the death of the high street (if not, read it here) What alternatives are there to the out of town retail parks? Surely it’s this. Clearly in a few weeks time the traffic and noise (and soon, trams) will return to Chilwell Road but the loveliness of that Sunday morning will not. I don’t want to inconvenience people but all public spaces these days seem preoccupied with commerce. Let’s try combining the old and new, get smaller, get local, and celebrate the atmosphere that occurs if you ban cars (perhaps just for a day a week?) and if we have to buy something, at least then it will be something of quality.

OK rant over.