Emergency measures needed to help local high streets says London Assembly

photo of site visit 14.9.12The London Assembly Economy Committee published a report this week calling on the Mayor and Government to take emergency action to save London’s high streets. Last September, local Labour London Assembly Member Joanne McCartney invited the committee to visit Green Lanes in Haringey to see first-hand the issues residents are facing.

The Economy Committee, of which Joanne McCartney is a member, visited retailers across the capital to gather proposals to help stimulate economic growth and promote our high streets. These include calling on the Mayor, Government and local boroughs to:

  • Changing planning rules so boroughs can address the rise in the number of pawnbrokers – of which there has been a 94.8 per cent increase since January 2010 – betting shops and payday loan shops.
  • London-wide support to renegotiate rents.
  • An expansion of small business rate relief paid for through a reduction in landlord’s rate relief on empty properties[4]
  • A new register of owners of vacant shops so landlords can be easily traced.
  • Pop-up and interim uses for empty shops.

Local Labour London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney, said:

“Having received complaints from residents about the increase in the number of betting shops and payday loan companies on Green Lanes, I was keen for fellow member of the London Assembly’s Economy Committee to come and see first-hand the lack of diversity of shops on our high street.

“We met local traders, residents and local councillors who told us their concerns. They want to see stronger local powers to control plans for betting shops, payday loan shops or pawnbrokers. In this part of Green Lanes, Harringay, there are eight betting shops, one of the highest proportions in the whole of London as well as numerous payday loan companies. Our proposals ask the Government to change planning rules so boroughs can address the rise in the number of pawnbrokers, betting shops and payday loan shops in areas such as Green Lanes.

“We want to boost high streets by improving accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and prioritising turnover of car park spaces over maximising income. We now need the Mayor, the Government and local boroughs to follow our recommendations to bring empty shops back into use and get our local high streets thriving again.”

Ends

Notes

  1. Joanne McCartney is the Labour London Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey and a Member of the London Assembly’s Economy Committee.
  2. Attached picture is available for use from the Economy Committee’s visit in September 2012. From left to right, Tom Copley AM, Cllr Nilgun Canver, Joanne McCartney AM, Mayor of Haringey Cllr David Browne, Andrew Dismore AM and Shefik Mehmet, Harringay Green Lanes Traders Association
  3. Read the report and Camden Town pop up shop case study.
  4. In 2000, a third of retail spending took place in out-of-town centres, or on the internet.  By 2011, this had risen to 42 per cent. Nationally, footfall to high streets has fallen by around 10 per cent between 2008 and 2011. See Understanding high street performance, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, December 2011.
  5. Currently landlords do not have to pay rates for the first three months a property is empty. The Committee recommends cutting this to two months to fund more small businesses rate relief.

 

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