Mayor of London Boris Johnson has pledged £9m of funding for improvements to town centres across the capital to exploit the “hidden space” around London’s high streets.
Small businesses will be able to apply for grants to be used to smarten up shop fronts, improve public spaces or to hold mini festivals. The cash will be available from October.
It has not yet been decided how big the individual grants will be or whether they will be paid in one go or in smaller tranches, but a prospectus outlining the funding options will be made available in October.
The funding is part of the ‘Mayor’s Action for High Streets’ plan. Its goal is to help high streets compete with etailers and out-of-town retailers.
Johnson said: “Our high streets have been under great pressure from the rapid growth of retail parks and internet shopping. But their great strength is that they offer so much more than simply shopping. They are where Londoners come together to work, relax, meet and play. We are delivering a comprehensive plan that will do everything possible to protect and support their incredible vibrancy.”
The Mayor’s plan focuses on “the hidden space for development” on the roofs of supermarkets and health centres, behind railway stations and on top of car parks.
The document, published today (July 17), noted: “London’s high streets have always evolved to take on new challenges. Sensitively managed, these locations can reinvent themselves to find ways of accommodating new types of housing, retail and enterprise space in a way that supports their heritage and character.”
London’s high streets are home to 175,000 businesses and employ almost 1.5m people.