by Nigel Bakhai on 6 March, 2013
In response to a council survey in 2008, 68% of businesses thought that improving shop fronts would make Hanwell town centre a more attractive place to visit and 76% were interested in taking part in a shop front improvement scheme. However, there were still a number of businesses on the waiting list to apply for the scheme and parts of the town centre, particularly along Boston Road, that badly needed regeneration when the £1 million that the council invested at that time in upgrading Hanwell town centre ran out.
As a result of Cllr Nigel Bakhai, in 2011/12 the Elthorne ward forum agreed £30,000 of funding for shop front improvements to support local businesses and foster regeneration in Hanwell and West Ealing town centres. This scheme provides advice for applicants to help them through the planning process as well as contibuting grants upto 90% of the costs towards new shop signage. Five businesses have now completed their shop fronts, a further 3 are in the process of remodelling their shop fronts, 3 more are having their submissions assessed before implementation and another 5 are close to submitting their applications.
This scheme not only helps to improve the shopping environment to attract more shoppers, but it also acts as as a catalyst in encouraging other businesses to take more pride in their shop’s appearance and follow suit. Furthermore, it has led to more businesses starting up in the area, and in the last couple of years 17 new businesses have set up in Hanwell, most of them along the Boston Road. As of November 2011, the shop vacancy rate in Hanwell town centre was 8% and West Ealing stood at 4%, compared with a national average of 14%. This investment is now beginning to pay dividends for the council and, as I found out in response to my council question, business rates collected in Hanwell and West Ealing town centres have risen by a staggering £937,302 from £4,788,275 in 2010 to £5,725,577 in 2012.
This growth is all the more remarkable when you consider that it comes at a time when many high streets nationally have been struggling and shops shutting as more people shop online, at one of the major supermarkets or in the big shopping centres like Westfield. Nevertheless, while the signs look encouraging in Hanwell and West Ealing, many of the businesses in our town centres are small, independent traders who rely on local trade for their businesses to survive so it is vital that local people continue to shop and eat locally to support their local businesses.Leave a comment