I feel as if I should write a standard opening paragraph for all my blog posts which says ‘I have been meaning to blog about this for ages’. But that would be tedious in the extreme. I will just begin then by saying that as I get more (and more) stuck into this role I am finding that the ratio of things of which I think ‘Oh! I should blog about that!’ and things that I actually get around to blogging about is currently standing at about 10:1. Still. I read some wise words once about how you will always have more ideas than you will have time, and how that’s ok, and I keep coming back to those.
As I mentioned in my recent post about using planning by-laws to smarten up Woodgrange Road and Upton Lane, Seyi and I have been having lots of discussions with people about how to make some physical improvements to Forest Gate. When we held our drop-in session at Maryland, one of the things that people were quite interested in was whether empty shops could be used as temporary premises or ‘pop-ups’ for businesses or initiatives that are looking to find their feet, to use a space as ‘proof of concept’ or similar.
In Forest Gate, we want to do more work with local businesses generally, and officers from the Community Neighbourhood have been making contacts with local retailers, introducing themselves, planning for this year’s Small Business Saturday, and planning a local businesses networking event later in the year. We are keeping a record of empty premises, and want to start keeping alongside that a record of people and organisations who are looking for spaces, to see if we can do some linking up, and see if we can make something interesting or exciting happen.
So if you are a local business or a local organisation and this sounds interesting to you, could you please drop me a line and let me know? My email address is email@example.com and in your message it would be great to know a little bit about you, and what you hope to do. There are some local people who I already know and have had conversations with who are actively looking for retail space, but it occurred to me that our local networks (whilst excellent of course!) are not exhaustive, and it wouldn’t be fair to exclude anyone whom we don’t know, for whatever reason, hence this blog post.
I need to add that this is all highly caveated, and I wouldn’t want to raise any false hopes. All Council-owned retail properties in Forest Gate are currently let, so I would envisage doing some brokering, like an online dating service, putting you in touch with any landlords we can find who may express an interest. Which is to say, in essence, no promises! But if we don’t know who you are, then we can’t help, so please do get in contact if you are interested and let’s see if we can make it happen.