Nov 26 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
harrow high street
TOWNS across the country are suffering from low occupancy rates, but Harrow is fighting back harder than others.
Harrow town centre’s vacant shop front figure is currently 10 per cent below the national average as many businesses have been forced to cut back or have folded completely.
The number of empty shops in the town centre has steadily decreased in the past six months with just four per cent of shops now empty, according to the latest figures released last week.
In London, the proportion of vacant shops is 10 per cent, with an average of just under 15 per cent of shops remaining empty across the UK.
However, the vacancy rate decrease in Harrow shows a drop from seven per cent in May and measures by the council to keep the area vibrant, such as working with traders and relaxing the planning laws, seem to be working.
Harrow Council has been encouraging shoppers to come to the area and portfolio holder for regeneration and planning, councillor Keith Ferry, said: “Supporting the town centre and local businesses is a top priority for the council, they are at the heart of communities and we want them to thrive.
“These figures reveal we are bucking the national trend and that the changes we have put in place to bolster the local economy are working.
“We want to keep the momentum going and with our fabulous Diwali lights that have been switched on, plus Christmas lights on December 1, as well as our three-day continental style festive market, Harrow is becoming a place where everyone wants to shop.”
The area was awarded £1.8million through the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund, which will be spent on attracting people to the town centre through festivals, events and markets and the creation of a new car park as well as improvements to St Ann’s Road.