|Just what Mill Hill Broadway needs|
If we have a decent High Street, then we develop a sense of civic pride in our surroundings. If there is litter blowing around, piles of rubbish, discarded takeaway food containers and ugly shopfronts, it is an eyesore and makes us feel bad. If our high street is clean, shopfronts are tasterful and waste is out of sight, we feel far more comfortable.
Back in 2010, Dr Matthew Offord MP told one resident who asked him what he'd like to see in Mill Hill, if he was elected, he said he'd like to see Mill Hill Broadway become the type of place where small traders open cheese shops. This is just about the only thing he promised us in Mill Hill and he's still to deliver. Whilst for many this has become a standing joke, for me it is a matter of true regret. Dr Offord was 100% right, that for Mill Hill Broadway to become a successful Town centre, it needs small independent retails such as cheese shops. These give a town personality and bring far more to the area than just cheese. I always judge the health of high street by the fact that there is a fishmonger. Mill Hill lost Nat Jacobs many years ago, and with it went much of the personality of the High Street.
Back in 2010, we featured a guest blog from Audrey Shaw, detailing how the Broadway had changed from 1958 to 2009. It is interesting to see the changes since 2009. Interestingly, quite a few restaurants have changed hands, including what was Hee's, Olive and Sapori Deli. Some of the shops which have gone are for services that have been overtaken by technology, such as Blockbuster video and Sarastem travel agents. We've lost a few independent niche shops such as Goodwood Pine and Norman James Hardware.
We've also lost the Bell pub. I was quite disappointed to see this go. Not because The Bell was great, it wasn't but it certainly could have been. Sadly like many outlets that are part of chains, it was catering more for what the chain perceived a pub to be rather than for what would have suited Mill Hill.
We have had some interesting and positive new shops. Many Mill Hill residents seem to like the new Tesco's Express. There is also the new gym where Mebe's garage used to be, I daresay any resident transported from 1958 when Audrey's list began would find Mill Hill Broadway totally alien now. Then there was no M1. The Sacred Heart Catholic chuch and the Union Church have both been rebuilt. The litter and overflowing bins is something that would have been totally alien. I am also sure that the sheer number of cars would be a shock.
The cafe culture in the Broadway is also something which a vistor from 1958 would be surprised by. Although a cup of coffeenow costs a weeks wages then, I am sure they'd be impressed. The Broadway is a far more relaxed place.
As I review the changes, I must conclude that I agree with the plans that the Mill Hill Neighbourhood forum are pushing. The idea of a Mill Hill Town square at the junction of Brockenhurst Gardens would be great. Some street furniture and plants to hide the shops bins and rubbish would be great. We have a decent butchers in Cooksleys. I'd like to see a fishmongers and an organic greengrocers. A deli would be great as well. As Audrey noted, Athene House used to be a cinema and a boutique cinema would be fantastic. I'd also love to see another pub, one which is more in character with the demographics of Mill Hill. With Iceland, M&S, Tescos and the independent convience stores, we are well catered for in the general retail dept. I'd love to see an independent record store. As Mill Hill has internationally famous music studios, it would be a great addition. And finally, yes, despite having a good snigger at Matthew Offords suggestion, it would be fantastic to see a good cheese shop.
The Mill Hill Neighbourhood forum have worked to improve Mill Hill Broadway. The French market is back in May (click on the banner at the top of the sidebar for details). Maybe there will be some tasty cheese on sale there. If there is, I may make Dr Offord a cheese sandwich.