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Number of empty shops in Ilford more than doubles in just one year

PUBLISHED: 18:15 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:15 01 February 2019

There are lots of vacant shops in Ilford town centre. Photo: Ken Mears

There are lots of vacant shops in Ilford town centre. Photo: Ken Mears

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New figures reveal that the number of empty shops in Ilford more than doubled in just one year.

Barkingside high street. Photo: Ellie HoskinsBarkingside high street. Photo: Ellie Hoskins

The statistics, obtained by the GLA Conservatives, show that 78 shops in Ilford were empty in 2017/18 – up from 32 in 2016/17. The picture across the rest of the borough didn’t look much better and in Redbridge, the number of vacant shops increased by 46 in 2018 which is rise from 88 to 134.

The information was released as part of a new report called Helping our High Streets – which argues that more needs to be done to help “struggling town centres”.

In the document, Havering and Redbridge Assembly Member Keith Prince puts forward seven ways in which London’s high streets could be helped and states that many town centres have been hit by a growth in online shopping and a decade-long pay squeeze. “Our city’s high streets are vitally important; they help to drive economic growth, boost employment and help to strengthen London’s vibrant communities,” he said.

“It is no secret that high streets across the country are facing serious challenges as more and more people shop online.

“The sheer number of empty shops across the capital is simply too high, and action needs to be taken now to help retailers keep their head above water.

“This report sets out how the Mayor of London can invest money in a targeted way support the high street and make our shops more accessible to Londoners.

“By taking some simple steps Sadiq Khan could give our high streets the support they are crying out for.”

Geoff Hill, Redbridge Chamber of Commerce chairman, said the figures suggest there is not enough footfall to sustain retail outlets in the borough.

“There is a great lack of commercial premises in Redbridge and there is an assumption that retail will be the main provider of jobs - but obviously this is not the case - so we need more space for businesses to expand and move in the borough.

“I know that a business which has been in Redbridge for some time is moving to Newham over the lack of affordable space here.”

Some of the recommendations in the GLA Conservative’s report include bringing back a high street fund, resurrecting the outer London fund, making parking easier, developing more housing in town centres and encouraging local events.

The London Night Time Commission, which was appointed by the Mayor of London, said making the most of underused spaces with exhibitions, live performances or pop-up markets can boost high streets.

Kate Nicholls, chairwoman of the London Night Time Commission, added: “London at night is dynamic and diverse.-it’s a success story, with two-thirds of Londoners regularly active and 1.6million of us working.

“We believe the capital can be so much more at night – with more chances to shop, to rest, to explore, to innovate and to grow.

“We can extend the opening hours of our traditional cultural offerings to reach more Londoners and we can bring underused spaces to life at night and help tackle the decline of our high streets.

“To do this we must improve planning for the night and that’s why we want to see every borough, with the support of the mayor, set out a positive vision for their night-time economy, to drive forward improvements at all hours and retain the special character of each area.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London’s night-time economy is integral to our success as a city – employing 1.6m and contributing billions to our economy.

“It plays a huge role in the daily life of Londoners and is a big draw for visitors to our capital, but for too long it has been an afterthought.

“I’m determined that London is a city that works for all, 24 hours a day, and that’s why I’ve been working hard to champion the night-time economy.”

Ilford Business Improvement District (BID) were approached for comment

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