Local business leaders, entrepreneurs and residents have flocked to the town hall for a discussion about getting empty shops back into use.
A packed audience discussed ideas with experts Elisicia Moore, founder of local retail business incubator Petit Miracles, and Nick Russell, from WeArePopUp, which connects brands and businesses in short-term retail commercial space.
“With so many local entrepreneurs looking for pop-ups or long-term premises, the question is how best the council can help,” said Cllr Ben Coleman, H&F Council’s Local Business Champion, after the January 28 meeting of the Policy and Advisory Committee on Economic Regeneration, Housing and the Arts.
“As a start, besides tackling the empty properties the council owns, we are asking residents to help us put together a database of the far greater number of privately-owned premises in the borough which are lying empty.”
Lots of people at the meeting volunteered to join an Empty Shops Working Party to develop a longer-term plan. “One thing we will look at will be how to tackle the problem of landlords keeping shops empty while budding retailers need cheap, start-up premises,” Cllr Coleman added.
Elisicia Moore explained that Petit Miracles offers local entrepreneurs affordable retail space in the West12 shopping centre, with meeting rooms, wifi, marketing support and advice from experts. “It’s the only model of its kind. No one else combines business incubation with access to the retail market like this,” Moore said. Fifteen spaces have been earmarked for start-ups, with weekly rents as low as £100.
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Retail vacancies within the borough
|Area||No. of premises||No. of vacant outlets||Vacancy rate (%)||Retail vacancy rate (%)|
|North End Road||289||31||10.7||11.3|
|Fulham town centre||332||34||10.9||11.4|
|Hammersmith town centre||317||25||8.5||10.0|
|Shepherds Bush town centre||736||39||5.0||5.9|
|Hammersmith & Fulham||3,996||350||8.8||9.8|
Source: Local Data Company, January 2015