October 23 2014 Latest news:
Freddy Mayhew, Reporter
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Shopkeepers are campaigning to safeguard their livelihoods amid fears a multi-billion pound regeneration project could see them lose their businesses.
The group of more than 20 traders are concerned they will lose out in the redevelopment of a parade of shops and flats along Freemasons Road, part of the £3.7billion transformation of Canning Town and Custom House, where many have been based for decades.
They said they fear paying higher rent once the development is complete or being forced to relocate without sufficient compensation and away from loyal customers if there are not enough retail outlets built.
The People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (Peach), working with the traders, said negotiations were ongoing with councillors to draw up a “shopkeeper’s charter” which would impose conditions safeguarding the local economy on developers.
A Newham Council spokesman confirmed this and said it undertook an extensive consultation on the masterplan for the area in 2007.
He added: “We are transforming the area to deliver 10,000 homes and 5,000 jobs which will maximise opportunities for existing residents and traders who live and work here.
“We are working closely with local traders so businesses that wish to remain in the area have every opportunity to do so.”
Tariq Khan, who has run Sam’s Dry Cleaners for more than 30 years, said: “We actually work with the community and we know each of our customers more or less on a first name basis.
“We want to carry on doing that and our customers want us to as well.”
Norman Law’s Golden Sands Chinese take-away has been in the area for more than 35 years. He lives above his shop above his shop which is expected to be among the first to be demolished in August next year.
He said: “We are a successful business. I hope the council recognises that local independent businesses can be a valuable part of the new local economy. Good regeneration should build on what already works, not wipe it away.”
The campaign launched on Friday, February 28, and was backed by local residents, with more than 180 leaving messages of support.