BUSINESSES in Sipson and Harmondsworth are being offered a boost from a new initiative designed to breathe commercial life back into the villages.
Community development officer for the two villages, Kate Birch, whose post is funded by the Hillingdon Community Trust, has persuaded Heathrow airport to make a £30,000 cash pool available to be used to give shops in Sipson a makeover – and to provide help and support for those running businesses from their homes in both villages.
The project was formally launched at the King William IV pub, in Sipson, on Tuesday evening last week, with presentations from specialist consultants brought in to help with the makeovers.
Phill Hill, from design consultants International Visual, showed photographs of how his company had helped improve window and counter displays in other areas.
He said: “There are a whole raft of things that make a shop attractive – the outside look, the way window displays are arranged, lighting, music, internal displays, the costumes of the staff, etc.
If youget the ingredients right then the chances are that everything will work.”
A second firm, called Designed by Good People, will be responsible for improving the look of the outside of the shops, which could include repainting and providing new awnings and nameboards.
The next stage of the process will involve one-to-one consultations between the specialists and the individual businesses.
Gobinder Saini, whose family runs the post office in Sipson, said: “I’ll sign up for a one-to-one session with the consultants to hear what they have to say, but we’ll have to see what happens after that. Life is really difficult for our businesses
at the moment.”
Stephen Sharp, from Harmondsworth, started a bouncy castle business – called Abracadabra Inflatables – from his home in November 2011. He said: “I think this is a great idea – anything that helps businesses grow in these difficult times is certainly worth exploring.”
Ms Birch said: “The Sipson village centre regeneration is central to re-building community life. The project will focus on supporting local businesses, which are a crucial part of regenerating the community as a whole. Local services need to remain in the village. I hope that developing a centre in Sipson with a clear identity that ties into the wider scope of businesses, services, and community life, will build a renewed sense of village identity and pride.”
■ Businesses interested in taking advantage of the offer have until Friday, October 26, to register their interest by calling Kate Birch on 07726 694 342.