HAYES Town’s high street is slowly being transformed, as small traders start installing new shopfronts paid for by council grants.
Last October, business owners in Coldharbour Lane and Station Road were invited to apply for grants of up to £4,800, being offered through the council’s Town Centre Improvements Scheme, with the support by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund.
Businesses had to front up a minimum of 20 per cent of the total cost.
Thirty businesses eventually signed up, and work at the stores is now at different stages of completion, with some just applying the finishing touches. The paving along Coldharbour Lane is also about to be re-laid.
The uptake was slow, however, and the December deadline for applications was pushed back twice to accommodate late-comers.
Ajaib Puar spent £10,000 on a new look for his store, Puar Fashion and Travel. Mr Puar, chairman of the Hayes Town Business Forum, said there was a lack of interest in the grants at first.
“My shop looks stunning, and now that some traders have seen what a difference it makes, they are asking what they can do, and I am having to tell them that they are too late.
“I think people didn’t believe it would help bring in customers. It was disappointing that more people didn’t come forward.”
The majority of applications were made by store owners in Coldharbour Lane, with just two shopkeepers in Station Road taking up the offer.
The project is now being rolled out in Ruislip Manor. Business owners have been receiving free visual merchandising advice, and they can start applying for shopfront grant money next month.
Somalian eatery Jasiira Village, a family-run business owned by Mohammed Ismail, was the pilot for the Hayes project.
The restaurant has undergone a huge revamp, with new windows and a handpainted gold-leaf mural on an Islamic tile pattern.
Mr Ismail said: “It looks fantastic, and while we need to make a few finishing touches, we are really pleased.
“This scheme is a good thing for Hayes, which often plays second fiddle to Uxbridge.”
David Beale, who has run Hayes Florists in Coldharbour Lane for the past ten years, was sceptical of the long term benefits.
“It’s fine for the odd shop to get a new front, but the whole street needs them so I don’t think it will make much of a difference.
“A lot of people were moaning that nothing was being done, and when the opportunity came along, no one took it up.
“If there was enough money for everyone, why didn’t more people do it?”
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