Sadiq Khan hails results of scheme aimed at revitalising London high streets at night

London mayor Sadiq Khan has hailed the impact of his Night Time Enterprise Zones (PA)
London mayor Sadiq Khan has hailed the impact of his Night Time Enterprise Zones (PA)

Sadiq Khan has hailed his Night Time Enterprise Zones programme as having “dramatically” boosted high street spending in three London neighbourhoods.

The £500,000 scheme saw grants awarded to projects in Bromley, Greenwich and Lambeth boroughs - after more than half of London’s 32 councils applied. The benefitting high streets within those boroughs were in Bromley town centre, Vauxhall and Woolwich, with projects running throughout 2023.

A new City Hall report has found that spending between 6pm and 9pm in the zones increased by 70 per cent in Bromley, 31 per cent in Vauxhall and 63 per cent in Woolwich, compared with the same dates in 2022.

But City Hall Conservatives accused the mayor and his night czar Amy Lamé of “desperate spin” while London’s night-time economy “is on its knees”.

The scheme saw each of the successful councils given a £130,000 grant to host a wide variety of events, extend opening hours, support businesses and night workers, and increase safety.

The programme’s remaining £110,000 was used to provide support and guidance to the three boroughs while they developed their proposals.

As well as increased spend, the report also found that the zones attracted increased footfall. Compared with the week before, increases were seen between the hours of 6-9pm of 107 per cent in Bromley, and 25 per cent in Woolwich. In Vauxhall, footfall was up 13 per cent between 6pm and midnight.

In Bromley, a series of ‘BR1 Lates’ events were hosted, bringing music, a silent disco, street food, sports and interactive light displays to the high street and nearby spaces like Bromley library.

Vauxhall used the funding to put on its own range of ‘VauxhALL Night’ events, featuring cinema and karaoke, night food and art markets and Black History Month events. They also transformed arches, tunnels, disused streets and a city farm at night.

And in Woolwich, a series of ‘Woolwich Lates’ events were organised, including family friendly activities in General Gordon Square, open mic nights and sport during the school holidays, and a culture trail showcased new artworks hosted by local businesses.

The report adds that over 69 per cent of people surveyed said they felt safer in their town centre during the Night Time Enterprise Zone events.

Mr Khan said he was delighted the programme “has helped to boost high streets in Bromley, Vauxhall and Woolwich so dramatically”.

He added: “Our high streets are at the heart of our communities but they have been struggling due to the rising cost of doing business and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as the lasting impact of the pandemic. This programme shows that by taking a creative approach and offering more to local people after 6pm there can be far reaching benefits.”

According to City Hall, each of the three boroughs has committed to continuing to promote their high streets at night, with plans for new lighting schemes, night markets, artworks, safe havens and business forums to become permanent improvements.

Conservative London Assembly member Tony Devenish said however: “Ignore the desperate spin from Sadiq Khan and Amy Lamé. Industry experts tell us London’s night-time economy is on its knees.

“Many Londoners don’t feel safe going out at night anymore. Crime is skyrocketing. After eight years as London’s police and crime commissioner, Sadiq Khan is clearly out of ideas.

“Susan Hall has pledged £200m to improve policing and tackle crime. Sadiq Khan prefers to spend money on election gimmicks. Londoners will get to decide which approach they prefer in the mayoral election on May 2.”