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by Paul Wright
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Hampstead traders have pleaded for more help from the council, after warning that Camden’s landlords have become the scourge of the borough’s high streets.
Members of the Hampstead Shops Campaign Town Team issued a stark warning on Monday, saying the wishes of residents about what is in their high street are being trumped by powerful landlords who “do not care” about the surrounding community.
They urged Camden Council to help them fight against shops left empty, exorbitant rents and damaging planning applications.
Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who spearheads the Town Team, said: “Landlords are a problem. They rent to the highest bidder with little care for the requirements and wishes of the community.
“On Hampstead High Street I engaged with a landlord of an empty premise, asking them if they would look at housing a shop the community wanted, but which might mean they would charge less rent. They emphatically said they were not interested.
“When I asked [a big landlord] to engage with the community on what kind of shop went into an empty space, they replied that they had no wish to engage. They then brought what was at the time the seventh mobile phone shop to the high street.’’
The Town Team urged councillors to pass a number of motions. These included inviting councillors to undergo training in “high street issues” and to ensure no more shops become offices. The plea comes as a petition signed by 4,000 people to prevent Sainsbury’s from opening in South End Green was handed to the council.
Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “I do think something has gone wrong.’’
“Sadly we live in one of the most centralised countries in the world – so unfortunately the council has less power than it should over many of these issues.”