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How Healthy is Our High Street?

How Healthy is Our High Street? Over a fifth of businesses are closed.

High streets have been in the news for a while. Our High Street runs from the Woolwich Road flyover to Romney Road. 22% of the 170 business premises on the street were vacant at the end of

2014*. This is nearly three times the London average of around 9%. And this was before the recent closure of the cycle shop in Trafalgar or the earlier closure of the excellent Manchester’s florist.

What’s wrong with our High Street?

Perhaps a closer look at the headline figure may give some clues. “Only” 15% of old premises are vacant. That’s still twice the London average. A staggering 90% of new-build lies unused. Yet new-build has been added just off the High Street, in Greenwich Square, along Blackwall Lane and in new developments nearer the River. Will they be occupied? If so, when? And how will that affect existing businesses? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

Surprisingly, our Woolwich Road ‘old’ business premises are slightly better utilised than Trafalgar (14% compared to 16% vacancies). But then the Woolwich Road still retains a healthier mix of non-retail or eatery uses, such as printers, a yoga studio, even a political party office.

These are simple facts. What has caused the decline of our High Street is certainly more complex. We don’t need a Mary Portas to suggest ways to improve our important commercial artery. You can do that by commenting on this blog, or sending ideas by email or twitter to us.

Louise Blore, from a survey in late 2014

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