High streets

Forum launches consultation on future of village centres

The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is launching on 15 April 2021 a survey of local opinions on the future of our village centres. The initiative is prompted by the rapid pace of change in our high street areas since the onset of the Covid pandemic. Lockdowns have altered how we live, work and shop.

In Hampstead village and South End Green, about 20 shops and restaurants have gone out of business since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020. The arrival of a steady stream of new businesses shows that commercial premises remain in demand. However, the rate of change has accelerated considerably, as it has on high streets across the UK.

The Forum is holding this consultation to encourage discussion about these developments and to improve Hampstead’s understanding of how our centres are being used, and how they could be used in the future. We invite the views of everyone involved in Hampstead life.

It is vital that Hampstead retains a vibrant economic life and that our village centres remain a hub for residents and visitors alike. The shifts to working at home and online shopping have raised questions: what will we need in future in our urban centres? What will help them thrive? How can we as residents influence outcomes?

The government’s proposed removal of many planning controls would reduce ability of the Borough of Camden, as well as Hampstead residents, to influence change. So we ask whether the Hampstead community should devise a strategy for the future of our high streets. The aim would be to work with all interested parties and foster close cooperation between residents, businesses, local Councillors, Camden and, if possible, the landlords who own our retail centres. We invite you to start the discussion by completing the questionnaire.

What are your thoughts? Please take the survey. The deadline for responses is 29 April 2021.

Read a background note

What is new future of high streets? — a column by Stephen Taylor, Forum chair, in the Ham & High.

Alex Nicoll, Forum vice chair, introduced the project at the Forum’s AGM on 9 March 2021.