Regeneration plans could force small businesses to leave Streatham
8:10am Tuesday 3rd July 2012 in News
Plans to regenerate Streatham will need to be proved worthwhile in order to allay fears that a business scheme will drive small shops owners away, it is claimed.
Some traders in the town centre remain unconvinced by proposals for a Business Improvement District (BID), which will levy a one per cent charge on all businesses to raise cash for redevelopment projects.
Sandro Costa, owner of I Love Coffee on the High Road, said Streatham needed “major investment” for the plans to work, adding he had spoken to several shopkeepers who were reluctant to pay the tax on top of their monthly business rates.
He claimed Streatham’s town centre manager, Angelina Purcell, did not have the backing of senior officers at Lambeth Council to enact the changes the area needed.
He said: “When you own a business here, you realise how poor the council treats Streatham. It needs major investment.
“There should be more interaction with business owners. It’s been an ongoing problem for years.
“The BID has got its limitations - on the ground there are a lot of people who are not going to back it because they see it as another charge.”
The council claims the scheme, which was supported by just 57 per cent of local businesses, will raise £2.5million for the town centre over a five year period, but Mr Sandro said the money would not be enough to make a real difference to trading.
He said: “It will take a year to raise £400,000, but the central reservation redevelopment will cost at least £500,000 alone and the council still hasn’t done it.”
But Lee Alley, chairman of the Streatham Business Board, urged business owners to back the scheme, saying traders would regain control over activities on the High Road.He said: “Once we deliver results, the council and central government will start to push money and spending towards the BID as their delivery partner, so more money will come in addition to the levy.
“That’s when the big transformation will start.
“Brixton has always been the default for the council because it shouts loud, but the BID will provide us with a single, united voice to get results from the town hall.”