Monday 10 December 2012

More business space needed

What is Camden Council doing to help new business around West Hampstead? Empty retail and business units have been allowed to stay empty for years, enquiries are rebuffed, premises are not marketed and then put up for auction. The former Housing Office on West End Lane is likely to stay empty for a year and the only dedicated industrial site on Liddell Road is being earmarked for a new school and housing. There is a woeful lack of available business premises in the area and units and sites are still being allowed to change from commercial to residential use. Residents moan about the poor range retail offerings in West End Lane but this will not change until the area supports more businesses and employment that will boost the weekday trading.

Over the past year several local entrepreneurs have sought my help to locate suitable business premises in West Hampstead and I am told that all enquiries about Camden properties get nowhere. Premises are advertised on the Camden website for many months but are not available to view. I have asked the Council for help to secure temporary tenants in the retail units currently being vacated on the 187-199 West End Lane site, to prevent the area to becoming blighted prior to development, but resources are not available.

Why does the Council allow buildings to remain empty and not allow tenants to pay rent and business rents to generate income for the Council to support local services? Other boroughs have innovative schemes to boost small business and support local entrepreneurs so why cannot Camden do the same? The new West Hampstead Farmers Market has sparked much new interest from local entrepreneurs so there is definite commitment to start businesses but affordable premises are needed to do so. We have a Labour Administration that cannot be bothered to manage its assets to generate income and appears as inept as the last Labour Government in managing its economy. Whilst it takes the easy option of mothballing and then selling off every available site, the local business community and entrepreneurial spirit that could boost the local economy and create jobs, is being neglected.

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