Benefits for business
We understand how hard it has been for businesses over recent months, and that these challenges are not likely to get any easier in the near future. A new council webpage details all the support available to our local businesses, while we are already working to stimulate a green recovery to ensure our economy bounces back from the impacts of COVID-19 as quickly and boldly as possible.
We also understand that some businesses are likely to be nervous about aspects of our Streetspace programme that alter space that was mainly used for driving or parking to help our residents move around the borough by walking and cycling - and the last thing we want to do is add an additional challenge to running a profitable business. Fortunately, however, these Streetspace changes we are making in response to the pandemic are the types of measures that most evidence suggests will improve profitability rather than harm it. Indeed, research published by Transport for London (TfL) in 2018 showed that people walking, cycling and using public transport spend the most in their local shops, spending 40% more each month than car drivers.
We believe the changes we are making, from widening footways on our high streets to improving key cycling routes, will make it easier and safer for everyone to continue to shop locally. Creating additional public space with fewer cars also opens up the possibility of more street trading than would otherwise have been possible, and our transport team is working closely with our licencing colleagues to help facilitate this.
Despite these benefits, we know some doubts and concerns will remain, especially because the speed with which we were required to make these changes did not allow us the opportunity to first have an extensive dialogue with our business community. We also know research like that mentioned above only shows the overall picture, and that this is not a “one size fits all” situation. We have already modified some measures based on input from businesses, for example to ensure delivery access is maintained, and we welcome continued feedback via our Streetspace feedback consultation form.