'Urgent action needed' for Beckenham High Street
PUBLISHED: 16:57 22 December 2011
Shopping guru Mary Portas has inspired a group of residents into reviewing their own high street in a bid to boost the local economy.
Portas was commissioned by the government to report on the state of Britain’s high streets and make recommendations to revive them. She published her findings last week.
Now Beckenham Civic Society (BCS) has published a report urging Bromley Council to secure the High Street’s future. Its main aim is to re-establish Beckenham’s village character to attract more shoppers.
BCS Chairman, David Wood, said: “We want the council to adopt proactive planning and marketing measures to promote Beckenham as a vibrant village-style high street, like Wimbledon Village and Dulwich Village.
“Visual appeal is vital, so there are many practical recommendations for improving the High Street’s appearance and cleanliness.
“Urgent action is needed to tidy up empty shops and retailers need more support through reduced business rates, especially for start-up enterprises.
“Short-term parking also needs to be cheaper and easier, with free parking on perhaps one more day per week, to encourage shoppers.”
Mary Portas, seen as the leading light on UK retail, turned around the fortunes of the failing Save the Children charity shop in Orpington High Street in 2009 when it featured in her BBC2 programme Mary Queen of Shops.
BCS member Paula McWaters added: “In light of the Portas Review being published we thought people would be interested to see what is going on at a local level.”
The society has submitted their plans to the council who are considering the ideas.
Cllr Peter Morgan, for recreation and renewal, said: “Beckenham has an exciting future, regardless of any schemes proposed and remains competitive nationally, with low vacancy rates.
“We are listening to all the imaginative and exciting proposals that have been aired. Some of these may not be practical, but we are keen to take all views on board.
“We have reconvened the town centre working party to examine the future of Beckenham who will report back in early 2012.
“We also intend to submit a bid to Transport for London for town centre improvements in September 2012.”