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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has today announced funding for innovative projects all across the capital aimed at ensuring London’s high streets can flourish and thrive as we emerge from

the pandemic. In partnership with councils, business groups and other local organisations 35 exemplar projects will be given seed funding by the Mayor of £20k each, to address issues such as bringing vacant buildings into use, protecting cultural spaces, boosting community business and supporting employment on the high street.

London’s high streets have been impacted hugely by the pandemic, with a loss of over £5 billion in retail sales just in central London as a result of COVID last year. Across the UK, The British Retail Consortium estimate there are around 5,000 fewer shops since the start of the pandemic, meaning one in seven shops now lie empty. 

In response, the ‘High Streets for All’ mission was one of nine missions approved by the London Recovery Board in September 2020 to respond to the challenge of building back London’s economy and society, with the Mayor working alongside working alongside London Councils, local authorities, the capital’s business partnerships and its diverse communities.*

While the longer-term impact of COVID on London’s high streets remains uncertain, the Mayor has today reiterated that the capital’s leaders will have to be ‘bold and innovative’ over the coming months to ensure high streets can survive as diverse bustling centres of London’s economy. 

Today’s announcement of £700,000 funding for 35 exemplar projects across the capital, includes -  

  • The Barking Town Centre Stakeholder Group seeks to transform a vacant council office building into a welcoming space and testbed model of hybrid workspace, delivering business space, jobs and event space - supporting the growth of the evening economy and community uses.
  • The Residents of Edmonton Angel Community Together group will take a community first approach to intensify the use of the Fore Street Living Room Library, to build capacity, invigorate local enterprise and develop a cultural programme which supports the night-time economy. 
  • A partnership led by Lewisham Council will build a partnership between the council, public services, land owners, businesses, cultural organisations, education providers and the local community to agree a shared vision for the future of Lewisham High Street. It will identify and deliver projects which will increase footfall within the town centre. 
  • The Somali Advice and Forum of Information (SAAFI)’s strategy for Church Road in Brent will promote a cyclical ecosystem for local people to create, develop and return goods to the community. This circular economy approach includes initiatives which will facilitate, promote and provide local employment opportunities, educational and skills training, locally produced food, resources, and goods and services. 
  • The Future Wood Green BID’s strategy will help test the potential for neighbourhood kitchens to support local food start-ups and catalyse high street revival. 
  • The council’s plans for Greenwich Town Centre will intensify the use of the Greenwich Town Centres market to create an inclusive evening/night time economy with regular night street eateries run by the Good Food in Greenwich network. 
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Youth Council will create an “Urban Youth Room” on Notting Hill Gate - a permanent premises on the high street that is a space to display work, create ideas, and deliver projects along the high street, and for the wider area. 


Through the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), overall £4m of funding will be provided from June 2021 and into 2022-23 to support local partnerships to respond to the challenges faced by London’s high streets and town centres.

In the autumn, City Hall will make available between £100,000 and £200,000 additional development funding to 10 to 12 of the exemplar projects, to help develop and deliver larger project proposals and strategies. A second round of exemplar projects will receive additional funding in 2022, and, subject to funding a third cohort the following year.

Working alongside London Councils and local businesses, the aim of the funding is to safeguard and directly deliver a diverse, resilient and thriving mix of high street and town centre activity within easy reach of all Londoners and at all times of day and night, supporting small businesses who have been hit so hard by the pandemic. 

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said  “The shops, cafes and other businesses on London’s local high streets have been the heartbeat of our economy, but they’ve been hit incredibly hard by the COVID pandemic. As we  start to recover, we need to be bold and innovative to ensure our high streets can survive as diverse, bustling centres of our capital’s economy.”

“I’m pleased to be able to announce new funding for projects all across the capital that are leading the way coming up with solutions for the future of our high streets. Whether it’s new ideas for shared working space, bringing old offices back into use or providing space for exciting cultural activities, these ideas will stimulate economic activity and also enrich social and cultural life in our local communities.

“I’m doing all I can to encourage Londoners to safely return to our high streets, but these ongoing partnerships with councils and businesses across the capital will be vital for guaranteeing their future growth and prosperity.” 

Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, London Councils’ Executive member for Business, Economy and Culture, said: 

“London boroughs continue to play a crucial role in regenerating and safeguarding the capital’s high streets by supporting much-loved businesses and the voluntary sector.  We are championing and determined to work with local high streets as we recover from the pandemic, not least in supporting the delivery of thousands of additional outdoor eating spaces.

“The pandemic shone a light on the unique importance of local high streets in delivering vital services for our communities. I am delighted that the funding announced today will boost a range of innovative partnership projects rooted in our local communities. This is a great step towards delivering an inclusive economic recovery for all Londoners.”

David Harley, Head of Regeneration, Be First, said: 

“We’re delighted to receive this funding.  We hope it will help us to transform Roycraft House from a Council office building into a vibrant work and event space which will add further excitement to Barking town centre and bring jobs and investment which will boost the local economy.  We’ll use the funding to engage with local residents and stakeholders, and to develop the design and proposals with our selected workspace provider.”  Photo by The Big Lunch, Wikimedia commons.