2012 saw the 7th mobile phone shop open and 4 independent shops close in Hampstead – over the last decade we have witnessed countless new businesses spring up and disappear within two years. The time to act is now.
The Hampstead Shops Campaign (HSC) understands both the social and financial value of a diverse and interesting shopping experience in Hampstead, one which recaptures its individuality and reflects its unique heritage. The Hampstead Shops Campaign is led by Jessica Learmond-Criqui, a local resident and employment solicitor.
The HSC has the talent and the vision, the sheer grit and tenacity required to make a difference. Our fighting fund will kick-start what is long overdue: a genuine working partnership of all the stakeholders committed to building a future for Hampstead High Street.
We are not now asking you for funds, but wish to start a conversation about the ideas in this proposal to use your views to hone and perfect the vision and strategy.
What we'll deliver:
- Short term goals - over the next 12 months
- Set up and run a community investment company which will manage the funds donated or otherwise
- Identify and engage with the landlords to articulate our vision and get their buy in
- Identify and engage with potential independent shop tenants to bring diversity back to Hampstead
- Develop a flexible business model that can respond to and address the different needs of the stakeholders
- Persuading landlords with empty shop fronts to accept lower rents to attract independent shops which serve the community
- Seed fund and pilot new ideas e.g. encouraging traders to offer work experience to local secondary schools
- Matchmaking traders with mentors or running courses in marketing for small businesses
- Work with Camden and other local groups to ensure signage to traders is appropriate for their trade
- Once we have done the above, we will move on the following (our long term end goal):
- Research why upper Heath Street has been so difficult for traders to survive and take action to bring shoppers back
- Scope out a design for the look of Hampstead shops
- Generate excitement in the community around the design ideas
- Get community feedback to develop and adapt the ideas
- Once a design is developed, work with Camden planners to pre-approve the plan to save time and cost for new businesses
- Take the design idea to traders and incoming businesses to inform their own design
- Consider routes to additional public funding for further development of the shopping experience in Hampstead
- Work with the community on funding ideas from both the private and public sectors to further our mission
- Build a brilliant website to act as an online hub for local businesses, residents and shoppers
- Study the parking problem
- Work with Camden Council to develop intelligent enforcement measures helpful to traders, their customers and residents
- Develop sustainable ideas which are beneficial to the community - beauty, economy and a “village” feel being key factors
- Use the fighting fund to subsidise a new independent shop for a year while it builds its loyalty base and brand
- Continue to lobby the government for reduced business rates for independent traders on our high streets
- Work with Camden on reducing business rates for independent traders on our high street
- Develop and implement ideas to make the ponds by Jack Straws castle a destination for residents and shoppers
Why it's a great idea:
Clone towns are a short-term fix – ever increasing shop rents and high tenant churn is just not sustainable whether you are a landlord, chain store or independent trader. Homogenous high streets don’t draw footfall for shops (big or small), nor do they boost house prices or respond to local needs.
Our independent residents’ survey (praised in a Ham&High editorial as “a consultation in the truest sense”) found 1 in 3 rated Hampstead a “poor” area to shop. The survey findings called for a better trading environment for the independent and smaller businesses who help bring value, interest and character back into Hampstead.
We are all stakeholders in the future of our high streets and nowhere is the invasion of the clone towns more starkly evident than in Hampstead, NW3.
Steps to get it done:
- Work with regeneration experts to refine our strategy and strengthen our business model
- Develope a model for landlords for cost sharing to reduce the rent at one site to attract a sustainable tenant/shop
- Work with an urban developer/architect to develop the design for the “Hampstead” look
- Work with professionals who understand how to access public funding streams
- Raise money from the community
- Use a town centre manager for focus and drive to get things done – mitigating the risk of a volunteer only project
- Work with Camden, access their knowhow in this space and obtain their support
NOT ON OUR WATCH
We are motivated by frustration at years of inaction, poor strategy and lack of ambition on the part of the community and its businesses to revive the high street. We’ve been heartened by the enormous encouragement from all sides and are determined to take positive action together so we can stand by the battle cry that the clonification of Hampstead was NOT ON OUR WATCH.
Please raise your aspirations for Hampstead’s future and pledge your support for the Hampstead Shops Campaign.