Wasted space, Greenford Flyover

Yesterday’s post was about the people who avoid this space, the area under Greenford Flyover, at the centre of the roundabout. It is accessed through subways at each corner of the junction of Greenford Road and the A40.

This space has such potential yet it is avoided, ignored or abused by some of the less helpful members of our community. I believe that, to make everyone feel safe here, it has to be in use 24 hours a day. One way to do this would be to put in an autonomous structure, powered by solar panels or a wind turbine, that could house a 24 hour community internet cafe, a small police post, an “out of hours” GP surgery and a local radio station. There is enough space underneath the Flyover to fit something that could be seen by passing traffic. The CCTV that has been installed is helpful but it is the Mark I eyeball that really counts – we need to populate this space. It is a potential village square, with room for lots of market stalls, and it is crying out to be used for a large art installation. There is already a lot of activity down here, the weeds, shrubs and trees attract bees from local hives and it is home to lots of birds. Until someone surveys it properly we won’t know what wildlife uses it.

Why are we wasting this opportunity? This video shows what it’s like to walk through the space.

Images and text ©Albertina McNeill 2012. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved. Do not add any of these images to Pinterest or similar sites as this will be regarded as a violation of copyright.

This entry was published on June 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm. It’s filed under Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Wasted space, Greenford Flyover

  1. carole on said:

    i am surprised at the amount of space under the flyover, i haven’t been down there nor have i ever wanted to go down there, seems a bit remote for my liking, even with CCTV cameras as a deterrent, the fear of an attack keeps me above ground. a person can be robbed , stabbed and beaten even with cameras looking. but i agree a waste of space, but i cant see a market taking off, transportation of goods and stalls and customers would struggle to park, the public complained loud and clear by not visiting the farmers market that was put in the grounds of the Motorcycle museum. too far to walk from the broadway and uphill walk leaving, was the census of opinion. my 2 pen’orth for what its worth, maybe a skate park, basketball pitch, or five aside foorball?

    • The problem with things like skate parks is that they only appeal to a minority for a part of the day. What about the rest of the 24 hours and all the other people who are part of the community? We need something that can be there for everyone from schoolkids passing through on the way home from school (bearing in mind that the William Perkins school will be close by) to elderly pensioners who want someone to talk to at 2am because they can’t sleep and feel lonely. From personal experience I can tell you that many stall holders at craft markets carry everything there themselves on public transport so lack of access isn’t a good reason for not doing it. As for the farmers market, the fact is that a lot of people in Greenford are hard up and can’t afford that kind of thing, plus it was very poorly promoted. The space under the Flyover is close to bus stops and the station. It just needs some imagination to get something going but there’s such a negative attitude to everything that gets proposed in Greenford that it’s hardly surprising people like me give up in the end.

  2. I wonder if future generations will use these like we use railway arches – for shops, warehouses, etc?/

    • I spoke to an architect who was working on a hotel under a much larger but similar space and I’ve seen them used as climbing centres and sports venues. I think a lot depends on how long these structures will last. Remember the recent problems in Hammersmith? That’s why I think a building that can be installed and then removed when necessary would be perfect. The interesting thing is that railway arches began to be used quite early on whereas the potential of transport structures like flyovers is only just being discovered. I recommend a book called “Convivial Urban Spaces” by Henry Shaftoe who I spoke to along with Chris Vallance, a Radio 4 producer, about Greenford Flyover in 2009 after the murder there. They were quite keen on my idea but I think we all felt that it needed the community behind it and I doubt if that will ever happen in Greenford. Whatever happens with the space, it needs to be something that encourages people to feel safe in it because the fundamental problem is that pedestrians and cyclists are risking their lives in order to avoid it.

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