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Chain reaction: Rising rent ‘will kill the village’

10 January, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Janet Burgess, owner of Village Flowers in High­gate High Street

SHUTTERS on empty shops have sparked questions among business owners in Highgate Village about the future of the high street.

It comes after the unit once home to the Strada restaurant remained empty more than a year after the business moved out.

Zizzi and Dim-T have also moved out of Highgate, while Café Rouge closed its Highgate Village branch after more than 20 years in November.

Michael Goodwin, owner of the Highgate Bookshop since 1990, said: “Since Strada and Café Rouge closed people are saying we need more independent shops. But people can’t afford to keep shops open. I’m not just talking about business rates but also the landlords putting up prices. It is a worry.”

Janet Burgess, owner of Village Flowers in High­gate High Street, said: “The high street desper­ately needs something as it is looking awful as it is. It would be nice to have something different in the village otherwise the village loses its identity. We want people to come to Highgate Village because it is a different experience.”

The debate comes on the heels of a consultation survey which took place last February about a new Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) running from High­­gate High Street, Pond Square and down to Dart­mouth Park Hill. The CPZ would require dri­vers to pay for parking between 8.30am and 6.30pm where in the past charges were levied between 10am and noon only.

Dee Connolly, from Greens of Highgate, said: “The high street will die [if the new CPZ is brought in]. The council needs to consider a lot of customers who are elderly and can’t get here without a car.”

Camden cabinet councillor Danny Beales, said: “The 2018 retail survey shows only a 3 per cent vacancy rate on Highgate High Street, which sees it performing well against the national average of 11 per cent.

“While business rates are set by national government, we remain committed to using the powers that are available to us to provide business rate relief to small business and we will also continue to push for business rate reforms as part of our drive to deliver an inclusive and mixed economy in Camden.”

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