Sunday, 13 May 2012

Census, or how the Hornsey Road nearly drowned.

Hornsey Road circa 2008

It was raining and I didn't want to look like a lost trainspotter clutching a notebook while the drizzle soaked through my clothes and rivulets of rain made their way under my collar, into my shoes and down my sleeves so I used Street View data (roughly three years out of date and with gaps where I couldn't see the shop fronts) to build this chart.

Three years ago was the depths of the recession before the one we're in now and the street was dying. Out of 210 shop fronts 52 were either empty or had been empty for so long that they'd be turned into flats while another 5 were bookmakers and most of the rest looked tired. It's funny, in the not funny at all sense of funny, that RBS not doing due diligence before buying ABN AMRO bankrupted little shops in North London.

I remember walking along the Hornsey Road for the first time about then and thinking 'bloody hell this is grim as fuck, I wouldn't want to live here'. My inner monologue swears too much, but it/I had a point and we hadn't even noticed the fake university, the two brothels masquerading as saunas and that some members' only clubs were really drug dens.

Things are, I think, slightly better now. The Hornsey Road will never be a conventional cloned high street but it is perhaps edging its way into becoming something interesting. You can rent a 711 sq ft (66 sq m) shop for £155 a week (or less - they've been on the market a while) while a flat that looks to be about the same size and is in the same area rents for £290 a week. My dream of a second hand bookshop or record shop moving in just might come true. That or we'll get another bookies.

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