CLOSED: Harrow Road loses another trader

HARROW Road has been dealt a devastating blow by the departure of the biggest shop on the street

Susanna Wilkey

HARROW Road has been dealt a devastating blow by the departure of the biggest shop on the street.

Major retail chain Shoe Express is quitting its premises leaving another empty shop on the high street and plunging it further into decline.

Traders and residents are angry and disappointed that there are now 12 empty shops on the parade and worry for the future of the area.

Paul Walsh, owner of Four Corners Framing, said: "I think it is terrible that Shoe Express has gone.

"It was a big shop on the Harrow Road and now it is just another empty shop, which is really something we do not need.

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"We need the council to get together with traders and find out who owns the empty shops and try to get them on the market.

"Otherwise when potential businesses come to look at premises they are not going to come here because there are so many empty shops.

"It is a real kick in the teeth that Shoe Express is going."

Manager of Quality Meats Ltd Mark Johns said: "It is not very good for us at all. It is another blow for the Harrow Road - just another nail in the coffin, but there is nothing we can do.

"Over the last couple of years the road has gone to pot - it has become a ghost town and the council needs to do more to help it. And we also are really worried the post office will go soon."

Chairman of the Harrow Road Traders' Association, Mohammed Afzal, thinks markets should be brought into the area to attract shoppers who would then use the existing shops as well.

"More and more shops are closing and it is pretty harsh for Harrow Road," he said.

"Not enough is being done practically for the street - there is too much emphasis on the Prince of Wales junction but the road needs to be tackled as a whole.

"If the post office closes soon then I think the whole area will just close down."

Harrow Road Councillor Guthrie McKie says the area has suffered decades of neglect by Westminster Council.

"Harrow Road is beginning to look as if a major disaster has hit it," he said.

"There are nearly 12 empty retail units -some have been empty for years. The council has received massive funding from the Labour Government for regeneration in areas like Harrow Road. It would seem as though the council has given up any serious attempt to revitalise this community.

"It is time for the Mayor of London or the government to intervene and restore hope to the residents and businesses of Harrow Road."

Westminster Council is working on regeneration projects at Prince of Wales junction, and other areas along the road.

Economic development boss Cllr Danny Chalkley said: "The council is working hard with both the police and local businesses to make Harrow Road more appealing to shoppers.

"We have several schemes underway to reduce crime and disorder and improve the street environment and economic regeneration in Harrow Road, and everybody can do their bit to help their local area.

"We are aiming to encourage local people to shop locally, which not only helps the environment but fosters a sense of community spirit and encourages businesses to develop.

"There are dramatic improvements being made to the Harrow Road, with £2.6million either already invested, or earmarked, for projects both last year and the year ahead."