Cash Boost for Acton High Street

Ealing Council's unexpected windfall from the Mayor


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You know when you're rummaging behind your sofa's cushions and you find a shiny (or not so shiny) £1 coin you never knew you had? It's a lovely feeling. Well, just imagine how good the council must feel since that's just happened to them half a million times over. You'd have thought that they'd have noticed their sofa was so lumpy.

The council has unexpectedly been awarded £500,000 from the Mayor's £50m Outer London Fund, and the money is expressly intended to help spruce up the "town centre" - which basically means the High Street and the Mount - and give it a "buzz". Hopefully not by installing bee hives on all the lamp posts.

In response to actually having some cash to spend, the council has scrambled some proposals into place, which include:

• Public space and environmental improvements to make it easier to travel to and around the
town centre by foot and create a more attractive visitor destination;
• Public art installation projects, involving the local community, working with quality artists;
• Feature lighting to key buildings and structures of architectural interest and importance to
improve the image of the town centre;
• Support to local independent retailers to improve their shop displays and customer service
through a Visual Merchandise programme;
• Community and cultural events to promote the town centre, encourage greater footfall and
raise community spirit and pride;
• Establishing a traders group to encourage and empower local businesses to work together
on events, marketing campaigns and to lobby for improvements to their local area.

So basically - fancy environmental improvements like lights, signs and roundabouts, some art installations and community events, and grants for local shops and businesses so that they can improve their shopfronts.

Interestingly, all of this money has to be spent by March of next year, which means we should actually see these improvements pretty soon. Of course, the time constraint also belies the true purpose of this money - the Mayor and the GLA want to sweep the dust under the carpet a bit to impress the hordes of visitors London is expecting for the Olympics next year, even if most of the focus is on East London.

Still, it would be rather churlish to complain about a surprise half-a-million pounds!

NB: The beauty of the internet is that there's no space restrictions, so here's a copy-and-paste of the entire list of council proposals for your reading pleasure:

Outer London Fund Theme: ‘Adjusting Places’
Proposals: Public space and environmental improvements:
Complementing work that has already been delivered to date, including the Acton Town Square
project and recent regeneration streetscape works, and also building on the planned LIP Uxbridge Road Corridor Scheme:
• Converting the Church Road/High Street junction to a mini-roundabout on a raised table to
reduce traffic speeds and improve traffic flow
• Amending the Oldham Terrace entry treatments to provide better access and crossing
• Footway buildouts to create more space for pedestrians
• Creation of inset bays to assist local businesses and customers with loading and shopping
• Bus stop relocations to improve accessibility and reduce conflict
• Winchester Street raised table to improve pedestrian safety and crossing
• Signing and lining to improve movement
• Converting the Acton Lane/High Street junction to a mini-roundabout on a raised table to
reduce traffic speeds and improve traffic flow
• Removal of an existing and redundant bus gate to improve traffic flow and reduce visual
• Relocation of an existing Pelican crossing to a better and more accessible alternative
crossing point
• Introduction of a new Toucan crossing to aid safe pedestrian and cycle crossing of the High
• Removal of unnecessary guardrail to reduce visual clutter
• Provision of additional cycle parking and extension of existing cycle lanes

Outer London Fund Theme: ‘Nurturing Street Life’
Pedestrian wayfinding signage: Introducing Legible London signage at the four stations
surrounding the town centre (Acton Town, South Acton, Acton Central and Acton Mainline) and
one in the town centre at the town square.

Acton Market Square improvements: Including:
• Repair of the kiosk that is used for market stall storage and launch a community art project
to paint a mural onto the unattractive structure.
• Improving St Mary's Church garden that is adjacent to the square and currently fosters anti-
social behaviour activity
• A public art project, for example mosaic structures or a dramatic sculpture, to brighten up
and increase the attraction of the Mount
• Continuation of a business support training and grants programme encouraging local
entrepreneurs to start up through Acton Market
• Three market events including a Food Festival, Christmas Fair and a Spring/Olympics
themed event

Outer London Fund Theme: ‘Dressing Up’
Acton Vale Bridge: Delivering a community art project to enhance and improve the environment
under the railway bridge, by Acton Central Station, that will complement recent overbridge painting and anti-graffiti measures and transform it to a high quality “gateway” from the east.

Feature Uplighting: To key structures and buildings of architectural interest, including Acton Hill
Church, The Old Fire Station and the Gala Bingo Hall, as mentioned and recommended by in
the Acton Town Centre: Integrated Design for a Vibrant High Street, 2011 document attached at Appendix 2.

Re-dressing the High Street: Introducing:
• New Christmas lights, to replace the fittings that have been installed over the last 10 festive
seasons, to bring a fresh sparkle and festive spirit to the area
• Olympics theme bunting to celebrate the 2012 games and complement the Spring Market
event in March 2012.

Outer London Fund Theme: ‘Shop Front Surgeries’
Visual Merchandising: Building on the highly success programme previously launched in Acton
Town Centre. Providing support to a further 25 independent retailers to improve their shop displays and customer service skills.

Outer London Fund Theme: ‘Working Together’
Traders Group: Establishing a traders group for Acton to encourage and empower local
businesses to work together on events, for example a town centre ‘clean up day’, a Christmas
event and ‘Best Dressed Window’ competition, design and launch a town centre website,
marketing campaigns and to lobby for improvements to their local area.

Community and cultural events: Working with local community groups to develop activities in
the High Street and on the town square. For example: local arts groups showcasing their work,
childrens' craft workshops and celebrating Acton’s ethnic community, to create a more exciting and interesting shopping environment, encourage greater footfall and raise community spirit and pride.

October 26, 2011


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