London Assembly’s Economy Committee has suggested a number ideas to reverse the decline in London’s high streets, including renegotiating rents and slowing the spread of pawnbrokers and betting shops.
The Assembly said that in 2000, a third of retail spending took place in out of town centres or on the Internet. By 2011 this had increased to 42% – and the number of empty shops in London has increased in the last two years by 5% to 3,400. The report also warns the vacancy increase is contributing to the decline, discouraging shoppers and leading to the closure of other retailers who might otherwise have survived.
The Committee has called for London-wide support to renegotiate rents, a new register of owners of vacant shops so landlords can be easily traced and pop up and interim uses for empty shops.
Andrew Dismore, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: “Our traditionally diverse and interesting high streets are blighted by the number of empty shops which are a deterrent to customers, discourage further investment, and create an air of decline.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said more than £250m was being invested to help bring vacant properties back into use, revitalise shop fronts and to support trade and generate jobs.
“The Mayor welcomes this report and will continue to work with the boroughs, government and business groups to help unlock the economic potential of London’s high streets,” added the spokesperson.
Charity workers have been amazed at the level of donations for a new pop up charity shop. The Opportunity Box – located in St John’s Street, Coleford – is supporting the work of the Children’s Opportunity Centre.
The shop’s organizer, Georgina Ford, said: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed at the support we’ve had. There has been so many donations – anything you could imagine someone wanting to donate, we’ve got it.”
The shop has been donated for free for the month by a generous local landlord.
If you are in the area, pop in and take a look.
Bristol based Parsons Bakery has revealed that their temporary site in Bedminster, which opened on 15th December, has been trading at a profit and the company now wants to continue operating the shop.
Parsons Bakery is a family-run chain of 34 retail stores. They were originally approached by Community Regeneration Group Way Out West to open the pop up.
Nick Parsons, Managing Director at Parsons Bakery, said: “The Group surveyed the surrounding residents to see which stores they valued the most and would like to see reopen on their high street, and a local bakery came in at the top of their list. So the Community Group asked any local landlords who had empty properties if they would be interested in letting for a pop-up shop.” He added that his company could not justify spending its normal new store refurbishment costs of £70,000, but set a £5,000 budget to transform the 250 sq ft shop.
Parsons explained: “The store has a limited product range which features all of the normal bakery classics…but has just a few options in each category so we can offer all our ‘best sellers’ and also minimise any waste. We were clear and honest from the outset that this pop up had to generate a profit and was not a charity cause. We have been delighted with the results. The store trades profitably and above our initial expectations, and we are exploring all options for continuing at the site after the three month period runs out. The local residents love having a baker back on their street and have been very supportive – at the end of the day if they use it, it will stay trading.”
We hear a lot about support for startup companies wanting to trade from a pop up store. This is a great reminder that established businesses can benefit from the pop up model and play a really important part in regenerating our high streets in doing so.
Samantha Burak’s world fell apart when she discovered her mum had terminal cancer, but the 21 year old student vowed to honour her mum by fund-raising in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Samantha and six of her fellow students are now set to open up a pop up shop to drum up cash for the charity and famous faces have donated clothes, bags and accessories for the shop.
Fearne Cotton, Gok Wan and model Zara Martin have all donated items and the pop up shop opens for one day only on 2nd March at the Pavillions Shopping Mall in Birmingham.
The students, who have organised the event as part of their degrees in Fashion Retail Management, will be also raising money to help fund the university’s Graduate Fashion Week.
Samantha, who splits her time between her studies and travelling to stay at her mum’s hospital bedside in Hertfordshire, says: “When we were told to think up a charity to benefit from the event, Cancer Research UK was really a no-brainer as all of us had been affected by the illness in some kind of way. My mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer four years ago and she got the all-clear, but then it spread to her bowel. We were then told that the cancer was incurable. Words can’t describe how devastating that was.”
For more information, follow @popupforcancer on Twitter.
An initiative to promote wellbeing is being held in Altrincham. Using music, arts and crafts to promote positive health messages, the pop up is located at 59 George Street, Altrincham from 23rd February until 2nd March.
The pop up space will offer a range of activities, including music from BOOMbox volunteers and Seed Studios, health assessments carried out by Trafford Community Leisure Trust and complementary therapies. The activities are focused around the findings of the Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008), which found that for good mental health and wellbeing the ‘5-a-day’ should be ‘Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
Trafford Council, NHS Trafford and the Health and Wellbeing Board have helped the group to develop the pop up project and successfully bid for Big Lottery Funding to support it. Julie Howarth of SCILightARTS said: “If the event is successful we will be looking to work with partners to deliver the event in other town centres across Trafford later on in the year.”
99 Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds will host a pop up shop offering advice on how to keep warm in winter and how to get help if you are struggling to pay your energy bills. Visitors will be able to find out if they are eligible for some of the free help on offer including insulation, draught proofing or assistance with paying fuel bills or the loan of a heater. The ‘Warm Homes Healthy People’ scheme also offers home energy surveys and can help owners or tenants with a private landlord.
30th March sees the launch of a temporary cake shop called ‘Sacred Tarts’, featuring creations from Nicola Shipley of Tattoo Cakes. The shop will feature cake Popes, cake truffle eyeballs on a plate and a representation of St Lucy. Other contributors include Francesca Mattea and Laura Edwards of Mama Jamma Cakes.
Carla Connolly, Assistant Technical Curator at the museum and creator of the Sacred Tarts event, said: “Easter eggs are always well received, but are pretty boring when you know you’re going to get them every year. The Sacred Tarts team will be busy over the next six weeks coming up with some pretty exciting alternatives – from crystal sugar crowns of thorns to butterscotch crucifixes and edible saints.”
Designed to highlight ‘the darker side of religion’, the show is free to enter, open from 11am to 6pm and located in Barts Pathology Museum in the Robin Brook Centre, West Smithfield, London.