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London’s Night-Time Economy Can Help Save the High Street

Making the most of underused spaces with exhibitions, live performances or pop-up markets can boost high street, says London Night Time Commission

  • Commission makes 10 recommendations to build on London’s successful night-time economy

  • Mayor appointed commission to help London become one of the world’s most forward-thinking night-time cities

London’s successful night-time economy can play a major role in helping to save the capital’s struggling high streets, a new report by London’s Night Time Commission has revealed.

The Commission, which was appointed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has outlined opportunities to make the most of shops and public buildings, which are often empty at night, to tackle the decline in the high street.

London’s night-time economy employs 1.6m people and contributes billions to the economy, but the Commission has made it clear that even more can be done to build on this success and wants to see all activity between 6pm and 6am placed at the heart of London policymaking.

Research has shown that 92 per cent of councils in England believe that the night-time economy can be key in preventing the decline of high street retail*, and the Commission believes London can benefit by making better use of these spaces. This could include retail units or hotel lobbies hosting public art exhibitions, pop-up markets or performances. Parks, museums, libraries and town halls could also offer more at night, building on the success a number are already having by extending their opening hours.

The Commission calls for these available spaces to be utilised after 6pm, to help sustain London’s status as one of the most vibrant and attractive cities in the world.

The Commission was appointed by the Mayor in 2017 to help realise his vision for London as a 24-hour city. Its members have expertise in all aspects of London at night, including council leaders, business leaders, DJ and radio presenters, the Met, TfL, and hospitality leaders.

Sadiq asked the Commission to use their experience and consult with Londoners, workers, councils, businesses, community groups, public sector organisations and visitors to develop a true picture of London between the hours of 6pm and 6am.

Late last year, the Commission and City Hall published a world-first comprehensive data study into London at night to aid their research. This study found that 1.6m Londoners – a third of the capital’s workers – usually work evenings and nights, and jobs in the night-time industries are growing faster than the wider economy. It also found that two-thirds of Londoners are regularly active at night, including running errands and socialising and that there has been an increase in restaurants, cafes and takeaways open at night.

The Commission has today published its final report, detailing its recommendations on how London can become one of the world’s most forward-thinking night-time cities. ‘Think Night: London’s Neighbourhoods from 6pm to 6am’ outlines 10 recommendations to the Mayor, who will now consider them. The recommendations are:

*Place the night at the heart of policymaking by incorporating a night test for all new policies to rate their impact on culture, sociability, wellbeing and economy at night

*Produce guidance for boroughs to help them to develop night-time strategies with a clear vision for their town centres between 6pm and 6am

*Set up a night-time data hub including data on the economy, transport, licensing, infrastructure, safety and health, to aid boroughs

*Publish an annual report on London at night to measure progress and achieve the ambitions of the 24-hour vision

*Establish a night-time enterprise zone fund, for which boroughs can bid for funds to develop their night-time offer

*Carry out research to establish the case for longer opening hours

*Establish new partnerships across the capital to make London at night more welcoming

*Create guidance to help boroughs and land owners make welcoming, safe and vibrant night-time public spaces

*Set up a late-night transport working group to ensure night workers can get to and from work quickly and safely

*Promote London’s night-time offer to Londoners, highlighting the variety and affordable of events currently available

The Mayor has committed to ensuring that London’s night-time culture meets the needs of all Londoners, and has pledged to plan for life at night in the same way the city does for the day. His work has already included teaming up with local authorities and developers to help safeguard night-time economy and culture venues, including setting up a Night Time Borough Champions Network, chaired by his Night Czar. He also launched the Night Tube and Night Overground, and established the Women’s Night Safety Charter.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s night-time economy is integral to our success as a city – employing 1.6m and contributing billions to our economy. It plays a huge role in the daily life of Londoners and is a big draw for visitors to our capital, but for too long it has been an afterthought. I’m determined that London is a city that works for all, 24-hours a day, and that’s why I’ve been working hard to champion the night-time economy and asked the Night Time Commission to help realise our ambitions. I’d like to thank the Commission for their thorough and world-leading work, and will be considering their recommendations carefully.”

Kate Nicholls, Chair of the London Night Time Commission, said: “London at night is dynamic and diverse. It’s a success story, with two-thirds of Londoners regularly active and 1.6m of us working. But, like the Mayor, we believe the capital can be so much more at night – with more chances to shop, to rest, to explore, to innovate and to grow. We can extend the opening hours of our traditional cultural offerings to reach more Londoners and we can bring underused spaces to life at night and help tackle the decline of our high streets. To do this we must improve planning for the night and that’s why we want to see every borough, with the support of the Mayor, set out a positive vision for their night-time economy, to drive forward improvements at all hours and retain the special character of each area.”

Rommel Moseley, Deputy Chair of the London Night Time Commission, said: “The capital is one of the most vibrant cities in the world but if it is to retain its prominent position, policymakers must look ahead and innovate. That’s why the Mayor commissioned us to help realise his 24-hour vision for the capital and why we have looked at the wealth of activities and opportunities available to Londoners at all hours between 6pm and 6am. Never have we had such a clear view of our capital at night, yet there is still much to learn. That’s why we want to see even more work done to collect data on the night -time economy, as the Mayor and boroughs work together to expand the night-time economy in all corners of the capital.”

Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said: “Camden’s vibrant nightlife is central to our economy, our creative industries, and is important to our attractiveness to residents, businesses and visitors. As a Council we are committed to a diverse and successful evening and night time economy in Camden. We fully support the London Night Time Commission’s recommendations to the Mayor – we are currently developing our evening and night time economy (ENTE) framework and we look forward to working with the GLA and other boroughs to ensure that London is a safe, exciting, and accessible 24-hour city.”

Angela Harvey, Westminster City Council Chair of Licensing and Night Time Commission member, said: “We’re very pleased to welcome the Commission’s recommendation that broad holistic night time strategies should be set at borough level. As Westminster sits at the heart of evening and night time economy for London, we have seen enormous benefits making decisions locally, listening to and balancing the views and needs of visitors, businesses and residents alike. We also welcome the recommendation that the Mayor of London should develop central resources to assist boroughs who need more expertise to develop their evening and night time strategies. A successful city Like London is one that builds an evening and night time that lets people thrive, and we share this drive so that London’s continues to be the best in the world.”

Sharon Ament, Museum of London Director, said: “London is one of the greatest 24hr capitals in the world with the night-time economy adding significantly to the wider vibrancy and success of our city. As we look towards our new home in West Smithfield, Farringdon - a place that truly comes alive in the night-time where revellers, workers, market traders and visitors converge - we’re busy thinking about how we as a museum can do even more. We’re exploring everything from extending our opening hours and how to put on the city’s best late-night events to keeping parts of the museum open into the dark hours. Alongside the night tube, appointing Amy Lamé as London’s first night Czar and now this work from the Night Time Commission, great strides have already been made and we’re looking forward to working with the Mayor and his team on these exciting proposals.”

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