Over 1,000 of you took part in our latest Talking Points survey – a great response! This time around we wanted to understand more about how you experience your local high streets, and also how you coped with recent heat waves in the capital.
High streets are the heart of London’s communities and they have been a big focal point for City Hall’s Regeneration Unit, with the High Street Fund injecting £9 million in projects across London to make improvements.
70 per cent of you told us that you use your high street at least weekly to shop in chain stores or supermarkets, with a similar number using the high streets at least weekly for local transport services. However, it’s not just about functionality: 43 per cent of you visit your high street at least weekly to walk or spend time in a nice environment, with this growing to 64 per cent at least monthly. You also like to use your high street for visiting pubs or using cultural amenities, with 7 in 10 of you visiting your local high street for these at least once a month.
When asked to think about what your high streets most important services and amenities are, supermarkets and independent shops or cafes were most commonly mentioned. This reflects Londoners’ high usage of supermarkets on a weekly basis. This is counter to other recent research we’ve undertaken where supermarkets on high streets have tended to be a focus of Londoners’ frustration, which suggests that there a may be a disconnect between how important something and how much its liked. With regards to the look and feel of your high street, open spaces, landscaping and the quality of the environment generally were the most important things to you.
Over the last two years Londoners have seen an increase in the number of chain shops and restaurants in their local area (54%), while a third see more people using the high street, and 24 per cent note an increase in the number of street parties or events taking place. Despite this, a number of you have seen a decrease in your high street’s attractiveness (31%) and sense of community (27%). However, the majority of you think the number of cultural amenities, pubs and bars, places to spend time and quality of transport infrastructure has remained the same. Reflecting this, whilst one third of you think changes on your high street have had a positive impact, almost 50 per cent of you think they’ve had neither a positive nor negative impact on your experience and use of your local high street.
Your responses are a great starting point to help the team understand how best to invest in high streets over the next few years. You can continue the discussion about how best to invest in your high street.
High temperatures can be a big problem in London during the summer months. In particular this can adversely affect people with pre-existing health conditions, while also affecting many healthy people’s days too, if they can’t find ways to cool down. We wanted to explore how many people find high temperatures a problem, where this happens and the impact it has, along with the coping strategies that people do or don’t use.
Over two thirds of you say that high temperatures can be a problem in the summer. This is a particular problem on some modes of public transport, with 72 per cent of you experiencing uncomfortably high temperatures on the underground and 51 per cent on buses. Temperatures at home and on the street are a problem for many too, with around four in ten of you reporting this as having an impact on your lives.
Demonstrating just how important it is that to address high temperatures in London, your response showed us that hot weather is having a negative impact on many people’s daily lives – just under 6 in 10 of you say that your productivity at work falls while a similar number change public transport plans to avoid heat and almost 4 in 10 avoid doing activities they enjoy. The majority of Londoners take some basic actions to keep cool – 89 per cent dress appropriately, 83 per cent open windows while 69 per cent pull blinds/draw curtains. However, there are also a number of things that significant numbers of Londoners don’t do – 4 in 10 don’t take shaded routes or carry a drink at all times.
When asked specifically about how to keep cool in future episodes of hot weather, air conditioning and less crowding on public transport were the top two things that Talk Londoners most commonly mentioned, again reflecting the issue that is heat on public transport. More street trees to shade routes was also up there, and is something that might help people get out and about when it’s hot. 4 in 10 of you would like more information about what to do when heatwaves are on their way.
City Hall’s Environment Team will use your responses to help them develop plans to address the problems associated with episodes of high temperatures in the future. They are going to consider how to improve green infrastructure, such as more street trees for shade, and support better design or retrofitting of buildings to stop them overheating.