Thursday, 13 September 2012

Chatsworth Road inspection by GLA's economy committee

As part of its investigation into empty shops the Greater London Authority's Economy Committee will be taking a look at Chatsworth Road today - Friday 14 September.

The investigation is looking for solutions and Chatsworth Road may have some and more.

But it is also looking at other problems:

"In recent years empty high street units have increasingly been filled by certain types of business. For instance betting shops, payday loan stores, pawnbrokers and fast food takeaways have increased in number. This has led to concerns about a lack of diversity on the high street."

And asks: "Does London need to control the spread of certain types of shop, and if so how can this be done?"

Not so long ago these betting shops and pawnbrokers and fried chicken shops were springing up all over Hackney and they are still there on Chatsworth Road and Lower Clapton Road.

That trend may have been overtaken by the coffee shops, bars and hair salons but should the betting shops, pawn shops and massage parlours be written-off?

What it was like...

Back in 2006 Hackney Downs resident and the FT's Undercover Economist Tim Harford gave a flavour of how things were in a blog post called Fried chicken versus fresh air: "Family Harford is now safely installed in one of the grimmest parts of Hackney. Just outside the back door is a “massage parlour”, a kebab shop, a jerk chicken joint and a betting shop, not to mention flowers for the young man who was recently shot dead outside a local nightclub. At the front is a row of abandoned cars, courtesy of the garage just across the road and the other one just round the corner. Delis are there none."

He changed his tune a bit in 2010, particularly on Chatsworth Road.

But has this problem gone away?

 In 2010 Diane Abbott's website (25 March 2010) said: "Hackney currently has 69 betting shops which is three times the national average. “Applications like this are turning Hackney into a mini Las Vegas.” (It was also a key issue in the 2010 election)

Also, in 2011 and 2012, in the wake of the riots, a number of pawnbrokers opened up in Hackney Central.

Anyway, the issues will be explored further on 19 September when the committee will question experts about the scale and causes of shop vacancies and possible solutions which will be webcast. Shopkeepers with views can email the committee at and there are more details here:


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