CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Camden Town landlords urged to offer up empty units

New project wants to offer ventures shops rent-free

12 February, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Camden Town

LANDLORDS have been urged to hand over empty units they can’t fill in Camden Town because of the pandemic to people trying to start new businesses.

The Camden High Street Regeneration Project has been thought up by Florence Schecter, the director of the Vagina Museum in Camden Market.

She said: “I’ve been walking up and down the high street, and even before then I worked in Chalk Farm, and I’ve just become so concerned about how many empty units there are.”

Her idea for empty units in Camden High Street and Chalk Farm is to let fledging ventures move in rent free on a temporary basis.

This she said would help revive the look of the flagging high street and encourage longer term commercial tenants to eventually move in – while also giving help to those struggling to get started.

She said a similar scheme had been a success in Brixton after the financial crash in 2009. “There’s no shortages of businesses who want to apply, but the challenge so far has been getting landlords on board,” she said.

Florence Schechter, Vagina Museum director

“The council has been trying, but simply getting hold of many of them is difficult. We’re hoping to get a lot of buzz going around the project and perhaps once they see how much the local community wants it they’ll want to get involved.

“It’s also about how good it will be for them too, to have long-term tenants rather than their units sitting empty.”

Ms Schechter and Camden Council had a meeting with large landholders Labtech last month to discuss the project.

She added: “I think what this pandemic has taught us is that a place should be built around its residents first, and tourists second.

“People living around this area are sick of every shop being a touristy shop or a chain.”

The proposal states it wants at least 50 percent of the units to go to businesses managed by Camden residents.

“This isn’t about gentrifying Camden Town, because people are worried about losing the last vestiges of what makes Camden – but about injecting some life into the local economy when it’s most needed.”

Council regeneration chief Councillor Danny Beales said he supported the “social action project” and that “new ideas” were needed to revive the high street.

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