Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced funding for innovative projects across the capital aimed at ensuring London’s high streets can ‘flourish and thrive’ as we emerge from the pandemic.
In partnership with councils, business groups and other local organisations, 35 projects will be given seed funding by the Mayor of £20,000 each, to address issues such as bringing vacant buildings into use, protecting cultural spaces, boosting community business and supporting employment on the high street.
London’s high streets have been impacted hugely by the pandemic, with a loss of over £5 billion in retail sales just in central London as a result of COVID last year. Across the UK, The British Retail Consortium estimate there are around 5,000 fewer shops since the start of the pandemic, meaning one in seven shops now lie empty.
In response, the ‘High Streets for All’ mission was one of nine missions approved by the London Recovery Board in September 2020 to respond to the challenge of building back London’s economy and society, with the Mayor working alongside London Councils, local authorities, the capital’s business partnerships and its diverse communities.
While the longer-term impact of COVID on London’s high streets remains uncertain, the Mayor has today reiterated that the capital’s leaders will have to be ‘bold and innovative’ over the coming months to ensure high streets can survive as diverse bustling centres of London’s economy.
Through the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), overall £4 million of funding will be provided from June 2021 and into 2022-23 to support local partnerships to respond to the challenges faced by London’s high streets and town centres.
In the autumn, City Hall will make available between £100,000 and £200,000 additional development funding to 10-12 of the exemplar projects, to help develop and deliver larger project proposals and strategies. A second round of exemplar projects will receive additional funding in 2022, and, subject to funding a third cohort the following year.
Working alongside London Councils and local businesses, the aim of the funding is to safeguard and directly deliver a diverse, resilient and thriving mix of high street and town centre activity within easy reach of all Londoners and at all times of day and night, supporting small businesses who have been hit so hard by the pandemic.
“The shops, cafes and other businesses on London’s local high streets have been the heartbeat of our economy, but they’ve been hit incredibly hard by the COVID pandemic,” said Khan. “As we start to recover, we need to be bold and innovative to ensure our high streets can survive as diverse, bustling centres of our capital’s economy.”
“I’m pleased to be able to announce new funding for projects all across the capital that are leading the way coming up with solutions for the future of our high streets. Whether it’s new ideas for shared working space, bringing old offices back into use or providing space for exciting cultural activities, these ideas will stimulate economic activity and also enrich social and cultural life in our local communities.
“I’m doing all I can to encourage Londoners to safely return to our high streets, but these ongoing partnerships with councils and businesses across the capital will be vital for guaranteeing their future growth and prosperity.”
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