Can you imagine what Primrose Hill might look like in 2040?
Transition Primrose Hill organised a meeting last month showcasing alternative economic ideas. This is the visualisation that was shared with those present:
Imagine you are at the top of Primrose Hill…
What can you see, hear and smell?
You see tall buildings, they are all green, with vertical planting on all surfaces.
There is a glitter of solar panels on every south-facing roof, and community-owned panels on our local public buildings, churches, the Thames Water reservoir at the side of the park.
You hear the whirr of a super-efficient wind turbine at the top of the hill, almost drowned out by birdsong, as a large part of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill is given over to luxuriant, colourful, permaculture fruit and veg growing.
You hear children laughing and working in the allotments and the primary schools, learning practical skills for self-sufficiency and appreciating food.
You walk down the hill to our shopping street: what do you see, hear and smell?
Fresh air and no roar of traffic, no parked cars. Driverless cars, electric bikes and bike taxis have made private car ownership a thing of the past.
HS2 never happened and instead, there was a huge investment in electrified local links all over the country. Primrose Hill station on the bridge has reopened, connecting us east and west. Lots of goods come in by the canal and are delivered the last mile by cargo bikes.
You breathe in the fresh air. The street has seating, fruit and nut trees, personalised ‘parklets’ created by local artists in the old parking spaces. You hear songs from a bandstand for the local community choir and other musicians who perform every lunchtime.
Our cafes sound different … because fully half the people in there with babies in buggies are men! The three-day working week means that we all have more time with those we love, older people as well as our children. Our senior citizens’ housing, Oldfield, has a children’s nursery on the ground floor and you see elders telling the little ones stories of how it used to be.
You smell newly baked bread from the community-owned bakery, and see a repair shop where the lads who used to steal our mobile phones are teaching each other how to mend them. Sew Much Fun, our sewing centre, has taken over two shops and is full from morning to night. Yeoman’s, our greengrocer, sells really local produce from the allotments. You pay for things and services with the “Camden Crown”’, [a local currency] – either paper or digital.
The Community Library runs a Tool Lending Service, so there only need to be three electric drills in the whole of Primrose Hill.
You see lots of multi-generational families on the street and in the parks, because there is plenty of properly affordable housing, so kids don’t have to move away. The housing bubble has gently burst and community land trusts own lots of property.
In this future vision, Primrose Hill is linked to a growing network of low-carbon local communities where, instead of the consumer rat race, there is a fairer sharing of work and income and time to grow vegetables and enjoy family and community. These are felt as life’s riches.
Take a moment to imagine your own ideal future … then open your eyes and come back to the present.
One of our speakers was Christian Spencer-Davies, a member of the group working to make the Camley Street district into a ‘Community Land Trust’ creating genuinely affordable homes for rent and hands-on workspaces. Email [email protected] for more details or visit transitionprimrosehill.org