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Jan 26 2013

Harrow’s Economy Goes from Strength to Strength

harrow_council_logoDilapidated vacant shops and empty town centres are an all too familiar scene across many of Britain’s recession-hit towns, but in Harrow the local economy has gone from strength-to-strength. The past twelve months in Harrow have seen:

  • Business growth rates outperforming the economic powerhouses of Westminster, Camden, and Islington
  • The number of empty shops in the Town Centre drop below the London and national average
  • Latest figures reveal the number of shoppers who visited the town centre during the festive holiday have  increased compared to last year – for the second successive year in a row

The growing list of economic success stories serve as a clear indication that Harrow Council’s efforts to stimulate the local economy are working. Since Mary Portas’s much talked about review of High Street shops, Harrow Council has put in place a raft of measures outlined by Ms Portas. The television retail Guru was asked by Government to compile a review on how best to revive the high street. Within the report, published in January last year, the retail expert outlined 28 recommendations. The report suggests that high streets should not just be characterised by shops, but should include a mix of commercial and cultural enterprises and meeting places, where people go to engage with other people within the community, where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities.

The Council followed a number of steps outlined by Ms Portas throughout 2012:

  • A food and dance festival in the town centre in March which drew crowds of 30,000 to the shops
  • Markets have been a regular feature on the calendar which has made the town centre an attractive place to open a business
  • A European Christmas Market provided shoppers with the perfect opportunity to buy unique gifts
  • An eye-catching light garden circled Katie’s Statue in the town centre as part of the Diwali and Christmas lights
  • X-Factor pop sensation, Kye Sones, live performance to hundreds of visitors at the light switch on

The events were paid for using money the Council secured from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund (OLF). The Council was awarded £1.8m which will be used to revitalise the Town Centre.

The Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund (OLF), launched by the Mayor in June 2011, is a three-year initiative dedicated to strengthening the vibrancy and growth of high streets. The funding will be used to pay for further events throughout the year as well major regeneration in the town centre park in Lowlands Road, by Harrow-on-the-Hill Station, and improvements to the main shopping area in St Ann’s Road.

Harrow Council Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Planning, Cllr Keith Ferry, said: “Supporting the Town Centre and local businesses is a top priority for the Council, they are the economic driving force behind the borough. This is fantastic news for Harrow and these latest figures show we are bucking the national trend. Having drawn inspiration from last year’s Mary Portas review, the plans we have put in place to bolster the local economy are clearly working. We are committed to developing the economic heart of Harrow and putting the borough on the map.”

As part of a package of support to give business growth a further boost Harrow Council launched its ‘How to Guide’ in October 2012. The How to Guide is a practical support booklet which offers advice on starting a business, and includes a Business Toolkit to help businesses get off the ground.

Source: Harrow Council

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