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Traders have do-it-yourself solution for Archway

PUBLISHED: 18:13 07 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:55 07 September 2010

By Ben McPartland A GROUP of people fed up with seeing their high street go down the pan have taken up the battle on behalf of small traders. The Archway Retail Commu-nity Interest Company (ARCIC) has been created to help regenerate the area. The communit

By Ben McPartland

A GROUP of people fed up with seeing their high street go down the pan have taken up the battle on behalf of small traders.

The Archway Retail Commu-nity Interest Company (ARCIC) has been created to help regenerate the area.

The community-owned business will be a not-for-profit company and has vowed to improve the range of quality and shops in Archway by buying vacant stores and then renting them out to traders of their choice.

The organisation claims to be the first in the country to take such a step to save a high street.

Norman Beddington, one of the residents behind the scheme, said: "As residents know, the quality of local shops has been falling for some time.

"We've lost key businesses like a butcher and a bookshop. Replacements are largely mini-markets selling the same range of branded goods. But in some cases, the replacement isn't even a shop at all.

"This is why, with the aim of helping regenerate Archway, ARCIC has been set up to offer what is in effect social housing for independent retailers.

"It will buy freehold retail properties, which will be rented to key shops, not just the highest bidder or lowest risk business. The aim is to buy three or four properties over the next few years."

The group has drawn on research by the New Economics Foundation which stresses the importance of small shops for a thriving community.

Funding will be available for 75 per cent of the cost of purchasing a property but the other 25 per cent will have to be raised through contributions.

ARCIC is asking local people to contribute about £500 each to the scheme, which would effectively give them shares in the company.

Mr Beddington said: "We know that people have done this in rural communities - buying their pub or village shop. But as far as we know, doing this in an urban community is a first. Archway could become a model for others to follow.

"While this isn't an investment in the conventional sense of the word, it's about investing in where you live and the community which lives there - the dividend is less in cash and more in the warm glow that comes from positive action."

Gordon Forbes, chairman of the Highgate Society, said "We would be very interested in any initiative that would seek to preserve the variety of shops available in Highgate.

"We do have branches of the major food retailers and we do not discriminate against them. But we would very strongly oppose any future encroachment of mass retail organisations as opposed to local entrepreneurs."

o If you would like to contribute or find out more about the scheme, email nb@ecodev.co.uk.

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk

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