Major progress on a £1.7m spruce-up of Whitton High Street was marked by a visit to the local area by Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning.
Cllr Virginia Morris spoke to shopkeepers and residents to gauge their views on the improvement work that has so far been carried out in Whitton High Street since work began in April. The regeneration project is part of Richmond Council’s ‘Uplift’ programme which will see 15 shops in Whitton receive a ‘facelift’ by Autumn.
Uplift is the Council’s programme to rejuvenate the Whitton, Hampton North, Barnes, Mortlake and Ham areas of the Borough, which local people say are in need of improvement. The aim is to make every village within Richmond upon Thames a place which its residents can be proud to live in and which has a lively high street with thriving business.
The Uplift programme for each area is based on the results of the Council’s All in One survey which took place in December 2010. More than 13,700 residents from across Richmond upon Thames told the Council what they thought about where they lived. The work undertaken in Whitton includes new lighting, signage, and work to architectural features.
Cllr Morris said:
“Local Businesses are the lifeblood of this borough and we will do what we can to ensure they continue to go from strength-to-strength during these times of financial instability and recession. Whitton is a beautiful High Street and we are investing in this area to restore its former glory and secure its future.
“Residents once described Whitton as the forgotten part of the borough and I hope the community now realises that this is simply not the case and this work will put the village back on the map and attract shoppers from the local area and beyond.
“From the conversations I’ve had today with local shopkeepers and the community, it is clear that these improvement works are going down well and once it is finished I’m certain the results will speak for themselves.”
Cllr Gareth Elliott, Whitton's Conservative Councillor, said:
"The Conservatives promised in 2010 to reverse years of Liberal neglect if they were elected. I am proud that we are able to say that 3 years on we are delivering on that promise. Whitton is thriving and we have welcomed new shops such as Costa and Greggs, and will be looking forward to the opening of an artisan baker and a new Sainsbury's Local. While other high streets are struggling Whitton is attracting invetment and shoppers and is once again a place the residents of Whitton can be proud of."
Pano Constantinedes has worked in Whitton High Street for 30 years. The father-of-two worked his way up as a junior Hairdresser to Senior Hairdresser, Assistant Manager, Manager, then purchased the freehold of Pano Hair Design at 97 Whitton High Street in 1999.
Pano feels Richmond Council’s Uplift project has had an ‘amazing impact on the High Street’ which was in danger of becoming a ‘ghost town’ before the Council intervened. Pano, who lives in Hampton Road East, was one of the first businesses to benefit from new lighting and signage to his shop front.
“This programme has certainly uplifted the area, it’s given local residents and business people confidence in the High Street, it’s not derelict, it’s on the rise. Since the Council put in place the Uplift programme, footfall as in shopper visits, has noticeably risen, and more businesses have come to the area – before then vacant shop fronts were painfully noticeable,” he said.
“Richmond Council has made an amazing impact on the High Street, and we are very lucky to have a local authority which listens to the needs of the local community and responds in a positive way. I love this little town, adore it. Whitton residents are incredible people and they deserve a village which is safe and secure and Richmond Council has done exactly that!”
The majority of projects within the Uplift programme have been funded through the Council’s capital budget. However, some of the Uplift projects have also been possible through other funds, such as the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund.