Sydenham, Kirkdale and Forest Hill have been successful in their bid for up to £100,000 of government funding to revitalise the high street, allocated as a result of an independent review carried out last year by retail guru Mary Portas.
Following the Portas Review in December 2011 towns from across the UK were invited to bid for the funding, with an initial 12 successful towns being announced in May this year. A second round of Town Teams were announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government in July with £1.5m funding being made available for a total of 15 towns, £300,000 of which was allocated by the Greater London Authority (GLA) for 3 London towns.
Having narrowly missed out in the first round, the initial bid made by Sydenham Kirkdale and Forest Hill for approximately £80,000 Portas Pilot funding was fine tuned and enhanced by £100,000 of matched funding towards town centre improvements for Sydenham and Forest Hill from the Phase Two development of Bell Green and a further £15,000 from Lewisham.
The winning bid comprised of three main elements:
Jack and Jill
Two high street shops (one in Sydenham, the other in Forest Hill) will be renovated for creative community engagement via exhibitions, showcasing local products, business workshops, pop up events and use as a Town Team base. They will be used to engender a sense of place and gather details of people’s current shopping habits and their ambitions for the High Street.
The Shop Revolution
A high impact project with lasting sustainable benefits, The Shop Revolution will introduce landlords and leaseholders to the concept of ‘meanwhile’ use – short term leases which keep the unit in use between tenants. Up to 12 vacant units will be refurbished and let to an eclectic mix of businesses and organisations on a pop up or trial basis giving new businesses the chance to test their business skills.
More than a market, this will build on the lessons from Forest Hill Food Fair and the pilot community car boot sale in Girton Road car park to rotate the offer of similar markets between the three areas and encourage greater use of the public and private space. Existing traders will be encouraged expand onto their shop forecourt whilst the new market spaces will provide the opportunity to test demand for their offering and develop their business plan which may lead to a long term lease as part of The Shop Revolution.
- joining the Town Team
- opening a market stall
- testing your business on the high street or promote it with a pop-up shop
- hosting a workshop
- volunteering and learning new skills
- offering an empty shop for ‘meanwhile use’
- helping to shape the high streets in Sydenham, Kirkdale and Forest Hill
The bid team, which includes councillors from both wards, Council officers and those leading the various initiatives, are currently sorting out the basics (such as governance, website and social media). Their first priority will be building a broader Town Team to deliver the pilot. The team is made up of a number of partners, which include: the Forest Hill Society, the Sydenham Society, Horniman Museum & Gardens, Sydenham Town Centre Steering Group, Kirkdale Village Traders & Community Association and Forest Hill Trader’s Association. The bid was supported by Lewisham Council and the Council is taking responsibility for managing the fund.
Town Team member, Louise Brooks from marketing consultancy Bake Consulting Ltd, said: “We want everyone who believes they have an idea to make a real difference to our shopping areas to come forward and get involved. The event on 23 August will be a chance for people to show their support and find out more.”
Updates and opportunities afforded by the Portas Pilot will also be discussed at future meetings of the Sydenham, Forest Hill and Perry Vale local assemblies.
A website has been created which is a work in progress at http://www.see3.co.uk/. Please check for regular updates on progress. And if you’d like to talk to someone or learn more you can drop us an email at email@example.com.