The pandemic had a devastating effect on the capital as businesses and cultural venues faced months of closures and restrictions, but the new Night Time Enterprise Zones will enable boroughs to encourage more people to use their high streets after 6pm and boost the economy.
The funding, in partnership with the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), will create at least three zones across the capital where boroughs will work with businesses and local communities to develop ideas to make their high streets more accessible, inclusive and welcoming at night.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “High streets are the lifeblood of our communities and have a key role to play in our economic recovery from the pandemic.
“Our Night Time Enterprise Zone pilot showed what is possible for our town centres at night and by expanding the zones to more areas we will help local authorities and businesses make their high streets more welcoming and inclusive after 6pm. It’s another example of how we are working to build a better London for everyone after the pandemic.”
They will be supported to develop ideas like extending opening hours or holding special events, taking measures to improve women’s safety and supporting good work standards for those working at night.
This follows the success of a Night Time Enterprise Zone pilot in Waltham Forest in 2019 where extended opening times, events, increased promotion and repurposing council-owned buildings helped increase footfall on Walthamstow High Street by 22%, improved safety perceptions and widened local participation.
The Night Time Enterprise Zone programme supports the Mayor’s ambition to make London a 24-hour city and work to drive the capital’s economic recovery. It builds on the Mayor’s wider work to support the capital at night, including the Women’s Night Safety Charter for councils, a Night Time Data Observatory and the High Streets for All Challenge Fund.
“Our city is incredibly active at night, but too often our high streets shut down from 6pm, offering no reason for people to be there,” said London night czar Amy Lamé.
She continued: “We have an opportunity to work in partnership to boost local businesses, communities and the wellbeing of night workers across the capital.
“Through our Night Time Enterprise Zone programme we want to help reimagine our high streets with innovative ideas and help councils, communities and businesses to pioneer better ways of living, working and doing business.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls was “delighted” by the Mayor’s announcement. She said: “A diverse and vibrant night time offer, rooted in the local community, is something the Commission recognised as being essential in ensuring our high streets are seen as attractive destinations for everyone after 6pm.
“This is true now more than ever as we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic and look at the exciting and emerging ways we are using our high streets and town centres around the clock.”