By Marcus Leach

Traders in London’s high streets and town centres have been given a much welcome boost ahead of the Christmas shopping season thanks to a large investment from the Mayor’s £50m Outer London Fund.

Set up in June to unlock the economic potential of the capital’s high streets and town centres that are not directly benefitting from major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail or the London 2012 Games, 20 boroughs were awarded £10m for 30 separate projects in the first round of funding announced in August.

Given immediate access to the funds to improve the attractiveness and economic competitiveness of their town centres ahead of the Christmas and New Year period, boroughs were able to:

• Light up 19 high streets, including Bromley Town Centre, Orpington Town Centre and Wood Street, for the Festive season with some traders in Bromley seeing a 33 per cent uplift in sales on the day of the switch on while in Orpington footfall through the Walnuts area of the town centre was up by 17 per cent.

• Hold 20 seasonal events to boost local trading including the Molten Festival in Barking, the Snow Queen Trail in Kingston and A Festive Feast in West Norwood and New Windows on Willesden which has seen the high street turned into an urban Advent Calendar and led to Brent Council taking on six trainees and creating 23 temporary designer posts.

• Set up several ‘Shop Local’ campaigns encouraging more shoppers on to their high street. Includes Shop/Eat North Harrow, Shop Local Wandsworth, and This is Archway.

• Revamp shopfronts in 20 high streets and making public realm improvements in 22 which will continue well into next year.

• Expand the Green Lanes Food Festival in Haringey leading to a 10 per cent increase in footfall at local eateries, 42 new jobs in the area and a 50 per cent reduction in the number of vacant shops on Green Lanes.

• Offer reduced rent for market traders in Wood Street, begin work on pop up galleries and studios in vacant shops in town centres along the A1010 and start planning a major new Food Festival in Streatham for Spring 2012.
In Wood Street Waltham Forest, which the Mayor visited today, Christmas lights and new planting in Wood Street Plaza are some of the immediate benefits of £310,000 of funding from the Outer London Fund. Waltham Forest Council are also using the funding to make 16 units in the local market available for a reduced rent in the New Year in order to boost trading, set up a business forum and removed graffiti.

“London’s town centres and high streets have a hugely important part to play in the capital’s economy so its vital we pull out all the stops to make them attractive places to visit, work and do business," the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.

"New lights, better shop fronts and spectacular Festive Fayres have delivered immediate returns, boosting trading for the Christmas season but there is much more to do and with £40m left in the Outer London Fund major regeneration will be spreading across the capital throughout 2012.”

Applications for the second round of Outer London Funding, which will see the allocation of up to £40m of funding to develop longer-term projects to regenerate and rejuvenate areas ranging from a small parade of shops to town centres, closed on November 14th. Successful applicants will be announced in the New Year.

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