In the news

High street hits back with birdsong, fresh air and ethical shops in London West End trial

Tue 27 June 2017

The Times – Shopping may never be the same again. The next time you visit the high street you could be walking on pavements that emit birdsong, resting on benches that pump out filtered air, and browsing pop-up stalls covered in paint that purifies the air.

The New West End Company, which represents thousands of businesses, and Transport for London (TfL) have joined a group of technology companies to create what they claim is the world’s first “smart street” on Bird Street, near Selfridges department store. The rather overlooked side street off Oxford Street will be transformed into a traffic-free zone where shoppers can try out a host of emerging retail technology trends from Thursday.

They include pavements that generate electricity and gather data designed by the company Pavegen. They also emit bird sounds and lights to create ambience as well as providing information on numbers of visitors. Clean-air benches from Airlabs pump out filtered clean air and display up-to-the-minute details of air quality.

The street will also feature pop-up stalls covered with Airlite paint that claims to disinfect and sterilise the space around it, creating powerful protection against harmful bacteria and everyday infections.

Fashion, lifestyle and food businesses will be on the street in “origami- inspired” stalls from Harry Dobbs Design. They include High Mood Food, a café offering healthy food for the “brain and the gut”, Nina Ullrich, a leather designer, Cuemars, a lifestyle brand, and Ethical Stories Ethical Me selling homeware “for the conscious shopper”.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, said Bird Street would be transformed into a “blueprint for retail destinations of the future” at a time when high streets were struggling to survive.

A combination of changing shopping habits, the growth of internet retailing, rising business rates and other pressures has resulted in many high streets in the UK struggling to attract retailers and shoppers.

The British Retail Consortium has warned that the challenges facing the sector meant that many high streets, particularly those outside the southeast, could start losing jobs and local investment. Many retailers, councils and bodies such as the New West End Company are running trial initiatives to try to find ways to lure shoppers back to the high street.

Mr Tyrrell believed that the Bird Street initiative could “transform the future of retail as we know it” and was part of the wider planned transformation of Oxford Street, the capital’s most important shopping street, to “ensure it will be renowned as the world’s best outdoor shopping experience”.

Alex Williams, director of city planning at TfL, said: “It’s great to see an innovative ‘smart street’ scheme delivered on Bird Street, the concepts and ideas of which could easily be adapted across London.”

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London’s Oxford Street bus routes cut by 40%

Fri 21 April 2017

BBC News – Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive – This week Transport for London confirmed it will implement a number of changes to bus routes in central London, which will lead to a 40% reduction in buses on Oxford Street.

New West End Company welcomes the proposal, which will  help deliver essential traffic reduction ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth Line in 2018, which is expected to bring 60 million more visits to the West End annually. The changes, which will start being implemented this summer, will greatly help reduce congestion and improve air quality in the West End, helping to strengthen our position as a world-class retail destination.

Find out more about the route changes and read the full announcement here.

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West End prospers amid global change

Mon 13 March 2017

Property Week – Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive  Jace Tyrrell writes for Property Week’s Talking Shops: It would be an understatement to say last year presented the consumer market with significant change.

Across politics and markets – from financial, foreign exchange, retail and investment – the past 12 months have been centred around the ability to adapt. And, as the recent Mishcon de Reya pre-Mipim party proclaimed, 2017 is also set to be a year of change.

We should embrace and harness change and nowhere is this more true than in London’s West End, where the retail market never stands still. As the world’s leading retail destination, with more than £3.3bn spent by tourists each year alone, the

West End is influenced by global markets and consumer trends. In order to remain a global retail destination, it is necessary to adapt.

Read the full piece here

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Philip Hammond faces fresh criticism over business rates hardship fund

Mon 13 March 2017

Evening Standard – Sir Peter Rogers, Chairman – The business rates “hardship fund” unveiled in the Budget was dismissed as “peanuts” today after it emerged that the 10 worst-hit London boroughs will receive an average of just £2.1 million a year. The capital, which will have by far the biggest rises of any region in the country, will get a total of £124.3 million, or 41 per cent of the relief fund, over four years up to 2021.

Sir Peter Rogers, chairman of the New West End Company, said: “The fact the Government has had to come up with yet another transitional scheme to give some marginal help to a few companies just shows how broken the business rate system is. This does nothing to help the hundreds of thousands of London businesses about to receive massive business rate increases. And it will be a nightmare for local government to administer. Business rates might be easy for civil servants but they are bad for business and bad for local government.”

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Businesses accuse chancellor of ignoring rate concerns in budget

Thu 9 March 2017

Guardian – Sir Peter Rogers, Chairman – Business leaders have responded to the budget by accusing the chancellor of not listening to their concerns about business rates, despite Philip Hammond announcing a £435m relief package.

Sir Peter Rogers, the chairman of New West End Company, which represents businesses in the West End, said: “The short-term relief he announced will have no impact on the majority of the companies in London and the West End that will suffer massive tax increases on 1 April. This will mean closures and job losses.”

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Philip Hammond tackles business rates row with £435m Budget relief

Thu 9 March 2017

Financial Times – Sir Peter Rogers, Chairman – British companies facing a sudden rise in business rates have been offered a £435m package to soften the blow. 

In many regions, businesses will enjoy a decrease in business rates, or will see them stay flat. However, in London and the south-east of England, there will be an overall rise, with some companies facing up to a quadrupling of payments. But Philip Hammond said in his Spring Budget on Wednesday that the levy could not simply be abolished, as many campaigners had called for, because it raises £25bn a year for the Treasury.

Sir Peter Rogers, chairman of the New West End Company, which represents high-end retailers in central London facing some of the country’s highest business rates bills, said on Wednesday that he was “disappointed” by the chancellor’s announcement. “The short term relief he announced will have no impact on the majority of the companies in London and the West End which will suffer massive tax increases on April 1,” he said. “This will mean closures and job losses.”

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