Council approves proposals to make borough’s high streets into community hubs

Merton Council has announced proposals to turn the borough’s high streets into community hubs where residents can socialise as well as shop. 

High street regeneration forms a key priority in the council’s Merton 2030 programme, which will include investment to boost the economy in all areas of the borough. 

A recent report, Re-purposing the high street, confirmed residents’ desire for their local high streets to be a destination where they can socialise close to home with a good range of shops and hospitality.   

Merton’s high streets each have their own specific cultural links to historical figures and events and there is potential to do more. The report recommends research be carried out to make sure individual high streets meet the needs of residents, as well as attracting new pop-ups, micro businesses and start-up enterprises to the area.  

Proposals so far include: 

  • Introducing town centre managers to design the services and businesses available on high streets 
  • Merton Local, a new e-commerce app currently in development, to connect residents with local businesses, including discounts and offers for shopping locally 
  • Creating opportunities to connect green spaces to high streets, enabling safe and attractive walking and cycling routes and combatting air pollution  
  • Widening pavements and increasing street lighting to allow businesses to expand outside their premises to make use of outdoor spaces   
  • Promoting arts and culture and events across the borough. 

Councillor Owen Pritchard, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance, Recovery and the Local Economy, said: “Since the start of the pandemic and the first lockdown, people have been spending more time at home and in their local community. As part of the Your Merton consultation, residents have told us that they want their high streets to be pleasant places to meet friends and family to socialise as well as to shop. 

“For too long we’ve tolerated the decline of our high streets and we must take this opportunity to restart the economic growth of the borough.  

“By improving the look and atmosphere of high streets, we will encourage people to come along and support local businesses, which were hit so hard by the pandemic.”