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SHAFTESBURY WORKS WITH CAMDEN COUNCIL AND OTHER LANDLORDS TO TACKLE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS
Camden Council has convened a working group of landlords in the Borough to share best practice and co-ordinate opportunities to provide further support for retailers, food and drink and leisure operators as well as office occupiers across Camden. The group, which has met twice already in sessions chaired by the council, is also reviewing individual responses to coronavirus to ensure a consistency of approach.
The working group, chaired by Councillor Danny Beales, Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities and an Inclusive Economy, comprises of representatives from Shaftesbury, British Land, LabTech, Derwent, The Office Group, Lazari, Bedford Estates, Argent and Landsec, working alongside council officers.
The group has agreed a set of priorities to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on businesses, acting collectively to influence policy-makers regionally and nationally. Key priorities include:
- Making representations to the government to raise the £51,000 business rates threshold for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant fund, a move that would benefit many businesses in the borough
- Ensuring quick and easy access to the support packages announced by the government, including the discretionary £617m package of funding for tenants that do not pay business rates directly
- Reviewing licensing to allow food and drink operators to more easily implement outside seating to accommodate social distancing as the lockdown eases
- Reviewing planning policies to allow streets to be temporarily closed to traffic to create more space for pedestrians to move freely while maintaining social distancing
- Co-ordinating individual measures of support, such as the provision of space and the creation of funds to support the community, working in conjunction with the Council to ensure money is used where it is most needed
The participating landlords have also reiterated their desire to support their tenants, working with them to find solutions to the challenges being faced on a case-by-case basis.
Councillor Danny Beales, Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities and an Inclusive Economy, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented impact across all areas of daily life, including for Camden based businesses. This is why we are coming together with our landlord community to support our businesses through this crisis to the best of our ability.
“Lots of businesses are contacting us to talk about the impact of the lock down on them, and it is vital that we address these in partnership with landlords, for the benefit of all. As landlords ourselves, we are taking the time to speak to tenants to work out the best solution for each business. We urge other Camden Landlords to do the same.
“It has been great to see landlords working to support Camden’s businesses and communities through a range of measures including rent deferrals and waivers, reducing service charges, creating new community and business funds, offering car parking and storage spaces, welfare and apartments to NHS staff as well as pay cuts for their own directors. The landlords we are working with are also keen to provide longer-term support, such as helping businesses restart and supporting cycling and walking to work."
Charles Owen, Portfolio Executive at Shaftesbury, added: “Shaftesbury welcomes the Council’s work to come together with landlords and BIDs to devise a collective, effective response to both the immediate issues faced by all businesses as a result of Covid-19, as well as how we co-ordinate recovery plans so everyone benefits. Like many landlords, we are supporting our local businesses and the wider community through this pandemic. We have provided assistance to the NHS, financial assistance to our occupiers and in addition to our normal charity funding launched a community fund providing assistance to those most affected by Covid-19.
“The Camden community, its businesses and its leadership are facing a unique set of challenges, the solution to which is collaboration and mutual support.”
As well as addressing the immediate issues, the council is working with landlords to explore how best to work in partnership together to support business renewal as the lockdown is eased.
Shaftesbury owns and manages a 15.1-acre property portfolio in the liveliest parts of London’s West End. Focused on restaurants, leisure and retail in the highly popular, sought-after and prosperous locations of Carnaby, Seven Dials and Chinatown, it also includes substantial ownership in East and West Covent Garden, Soho and Fitzrovia. The portfolio comprises 599 shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs extending to 1.1 million sq. ft., 599 apartments and 0.5 million sq. ft. of offices. We focus on the sustainable reuse of existing buildings and aim to minimise the environmental impact of our operations across the business.
We are committed to engaging and working with the community in which we operate. We align our activities and support with organisations which are active in the West End, including those which support the arts, community groups, schools and charities, and those which focus on local social issues and environmental changes.