Chiswick Flower Market chosen by national High Streets Task Force as an example of how to regenerate high roads

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market, November 2020; photograph by Anna Kunst, annakunstphotography.com

The Chiswick Flower Market has been chosen by the national High Streets Task Force as an example of the kind of community project which is revitalising its local high road.

“We’re delighted” say the organisers of the Chiswick Flower Market, “because revitalising the High Rd economy is exactly what we set out to do. We are really pleased to be able to share with others what we have learned.”

The High Streets Task Force was commissioned by Government in 2019 as part of its Plan for the High Street, to redefine High roads in the era of online shopping.

It has chosen the Chiswick Flower Market as a case study as it is a community led project set up by a group of local residents on an entirely voluntary basis, with no public funding and it has been successful in bringing business to Chiswick High Rd.

The market is the first new flower market to have opened in London for 150 years. The organisers (of whom the editor of The Chiswick Calendar is one) held their first public meeting in the back of George IV in February 2020 to gauge local support and have developed the idea from there.

It has been supported from the outset by Hounslow Council. Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran said:

“This is a fantastic achievement by Chiswick Flower Market to be recognised by the National High Streets Task Force as an example of best practice. It’s a credit to everyone involved and a great example of what can be achieved by working together for the benefit of our communities”.

Chiswick Flower Market has now held three markets, in September, November and December. Together, despite the ever-evolving Covid restrictions, the markets attracted 18,500 visitors, many of them from outside the area.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market, November 2020; photograph by Anna Kunst, annakunstphotography.com

Local established businesses on the High Rd and adjacent streets have reported a corresponding increase in trade. The 7,500 visitors to the September market boosted trade to the shops and restaurants by between 50% and 100% their normal levels. A survey of the closest shops surveyed after the December market revealed that 15 out of 22 were either ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’; six were neutral, either because they were closed on Sundays or they saw no increase in trade.

Anette Megyaszai, owner of nearby café Chateau said:

“It’s great to see the High Rd so vibrant and buzzy.”

Cecile Brinkmann, manager of the women’s fashion boutique Wild Swans in Devonshire Rd said after the first market:

“We are very happy. We had the best Sunday we’ve had this year; we doubled our sales from last Sunday”.

After the September market, the next one was extended around the corner from the Old Market Place on the High Rd, down Devonshire Rd, at the request of local traders, to draw people through to their shops and cafés.

Even businesses further away, such as Pizza Treat on Turnham Green Terrace and Gourmet Burger Kitchen on the High Rd noticed a clear increase in trade on market days and local commercial agents have begun advertising property as ‘near the new Flower Market’.

Part of the changing landscape of High street retail is the realisation that a shopping location has to offer something that makes it a ‘destination’ not just somewhere where consumers could buy things that they could equally well buy online.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market, November 2020; photograph by Anna Kunst, annakunstphotography.com

The High Streets Task Force team say:

‘Strong citizen participation created a distinct place with a unique offer for locals and brought new visitors to Chiswick from outside the immediate catchment area’.

The Task Force provides information, advice and training and offers expert knowledge with the goal of delivering innovative and positive change to town centres.

‘The case study provides insights into citizen participation, unique offers, and digital place marketing, that other places could draw learnings from’ they say.

The Chiswick Flower Market is planning to open again on the first Sunday of April, Covid permitting. Among the traders on the Easter weekend will be Hardy’s Cottage Garden plants, who have won no fewer than 24 gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show.

Arit Anderson, presenter of BBC TV’s Gardeners World, who lives in west London, came to the autumn markets and said:

“It’s really exciting. And what’s really lovely is that the local community can come down here once a month … there’s cut flowers, there’s bedding, there’s indoor plants, there’s outdoor plants, bulbs, you name it, and it’s a really really lovely thing”.

See the Chiswick Flower Market case study on the High Streets Task Force website here.

A review of the Chiswick Flower Market in 2020 and the teams plans for 2021 are available here.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market, November 2020; photograph by Anna Kunst, annakunstphotography.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Gardeners World presenter Arit Anderson visits Chiswick Flower Market

See also: Chiswick Flower Market November gallery

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