‘Pedestrian-friendly’ Hackney Central street is killing off business, say stores

Maya Price, a staff member at Lookers, Ayub Shaikh, proprietor at Lookers and Pawan Chawla, of Desi

Maya Price, a staff member at Lookers, Ayub Shaikh, proprietor at Lookers and Pawan Chawla, of Designer Baby are opposed to pedestrianisation of the Narrow Way - Credit: Archant

Traders say they do not support the pedestrianisation of one of Hackney’s main thoroughfares – almost three months after the trial started.

The Narrow Way has been closed to buses and bus stops have been relocated following the pedestrianis

The Narrow Way has been closed to buses and bus stops have been relocated following the pedestrianisation of Narrow Way - Credit: Archant

Many believe it is killing off trade in the Narrow Way, at the top end of Mare Street, which was closed to through traffic in September as part of a trial to make the area pedestrian friendly.

A decision on whether to keep it permanently pedestrianised will be taken by the council later this month.

Ayub Shaikh, owner of ladies clothes wear shop Lookers in Narrow Way, Hackney Central believed the council was actively trying to gentrify the area, which is home to shops that attract some of Hackney’s poorest residents.

He said: “The main issue is that they are not listening to shop owners. It feels like they want to shut us down in order to gentrify the area.

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“The same thing happened in Chatsworth Road and Broadway Market.

“What I find is it’s social cleansing. They want more shops that cater to the middle rather than working classes. We have got four shops in the Narrow Way shutting down by Christmas. The Chinese herbalist shop is shutting down as their rent has been increased from £30,000 a year to £40,000.”

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Mr Shaikh says he has amassed 5,500 thousand signatures from people opposed to the pedestrianisation.

Salahi Salahi, 40, proprietor of Mermaid Fabrics, said: “We would like to have the buses return as business has been badly affected by the pedestrianisation.”

Narrow Way was temporarily reopened last week to buses after Amhurst Road was closed due an emergency demolition – and Mr Salahi said it was “almost like Christmas” for the traders.

But Gary Herman, proprietor of nearby C&C Decor said the pedestrianisation hadn’t affected his business.

He added: “I prefer it when the buses come down but from a trade point of view it has not really affected us.”

Meanwhile Imran Perviz, 37, proprietor of Discount Appliance Centre in Amhurst Road said he was benefitting from the increased bus traffic on the street.

He said: “I love it. It’s given me more business than before as there are more people on the roads.”

Neighbour Turgay Altun, 43, owner of Mess Cafe, said: “There are more buses but less business. Customers have found it difficult to find a parking space since the changeover.”

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “We are awaiting a full analysis of the surveys conducted during the trial pedestrianism of the Narrow Way before proposing any permanent changes.

“Reaction leading up to the closure of Amhurst Road has been overwhelmingly positive from local residents, customers and visitors.

“It is still too early to say whether the changes themselves have had an impact on local businesses but we have been monitoring the figures closely.”

He added: “The council expects to be able to comment further when the trial period comes to an end in January 2014.”

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