Liberal Democrat concern for second biggest shopping centre in Haringey

Local Liberal Democrats have challenged Haringey Council to help struggling retailers in Crouch End. High rents, Council parking schemes and, more recently, the effects of the economic downturn, have all contributed to very difficult trading conditions for Haringey’s second largest shopping centre.

Concerned by the threat to Crouch End’s unique independent shopping environment, Cllr David Winskill has written an open letter to Haringey Labour’s Lead Councillor for Regeneration calling for an urgent meeting to discuss possible action by Haringey Council to help local businesses.

Currently there are sixteen empty shop units and many businesses are reporting trading problems.

Cllr David Winskill, Crouch End, commented:

“I have lived here all my life and seen the effects that several recessions have had on the area. I have written to Cllr Amin to ask for help to see Crouch End through what is fast becoming a crisis. There are a lot of ideas we can discuss and I hope she agrees to treat this as a priority.”

Chris Freeman, of Crouch End Baker Dunns, added:

“The fundamental problem facing shopkeepers is the record levels of rents in the area. If they keep on rising, we are in danger of losing the very businesses that attract people to Crouch End in the first place.”

Andrew Thornton of Budgens, added:

“The Crouch End Project is trying hard to encourage local people to shop local – it’s good for the local economy as well as the environment. I hope Haringey recognise that we want to work in partnership with them and together we can come up with some creative solutions to the challenges all traders face.”

Text of open letter to the Lead Member for Regeneration:

I am sure that you will have picked up from press reports over the last few months that Crouch End (the second biggest shopping centre in the borough) is increasingly coming under severe pressure from the effects of enormous rent rises. The latest casualty, a retail glass and framing business established for over thirty years, has been forced to reduce its floor space by half as it could not afford to trade following a rent review.

When I became a councillor in 2002 it was common for individual shops to be paying £25k – £30k a year in rent. It has been reported that a shop near the Clock Tower is paying £70,000.

Sixteen businesses have already been lost including a travel agent, general store, delicatessen, restaurant, carpet shop, chemist, clothes shop, record store and various others. There are now more empty shop units that at any time in a generation.

The shops that have (eventually) been coming in are not replacing like with like. We are becoming over-provided with hairdressers, expensive fashion shops, financial services and coffee shops. There is also the phenomenon that small, independent, family owned businesses are being pushed out by large high street chains who are able to pay above market local rents to secure premises, thus putting more pressure on rentals as they are reviewed. As we lose independent and family shops, Crouch End loses some of its character and attractiveness.

I am concerned that the ability of Crouch End to offer a wide and diverse range of goods and services is becoming compromised. This will be exacerbated when the large Sainsbury’s on Hornsey High Street opens: I fear for the ability of our small family run grocers and green grocers to compete and survive.

Other negative factors affecting Crouch End include –

·The recently introduced Pay and Display which deters impulse buying and disadvantages small shops in relation to large supermarkets with free car parking.
·Wider economic factors which are increasingly starting to bite in peoples’ purses and reduce their spending power.

You will be aware of a self-help initiative run and paid for by our shopkeepers called the Crouch End Project. It sets out to encourage local people to value and use their local shops – completely in accord with the environmental aspirations of Haringey Council and supported by residents.

I would like to invite you to visit Crouch End and meet some traders so they can have the chance to tell you their stories and share their worries for the future.

Then we can perhaps discuss ways that the borough can offer help to this important shopping centre.

Please let me know what dates would be convenient.