Investors have been told the London Borough of Bromley is “open for business” after the launch of a £1bn action plan in its town centre.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson attended the Invest Bromley summit and said it is important that town centres did not lose out to retail parks and large shopping centres.
Bob Neill, the local government minister and Bromley and Chislehurst MP, joined council leader Stephen Carr to tell potential investors in the retail, leisure and housing industries that the area is the ideal location to do business.
Twelve key sites around the south-east London borough are included in the Area Action Plan. Bromley North station is being redeveloped, The Churchill Theatre will be refurbished and a 100-bedroom hotel and an eight-screen cinema are planned for Westmorland Road.
“Bromley is open for business,” said Neill. “Private sector enterprise and investment is critical. We have to make sure that Bromley is the place to do business in London.”
He said councils could be helped in their quest to attract investors by loosening planning regulations and allowing authorities to set their own business rates.
Johnson addressed a crowd consisting of potential business investors, town planners and retailers at Bromley Civic Centre and told them it was crucial “suburban bliss” was preserved.
“We’ve got to balance the protection of great spaces and the things that make them special and continue to put the village back into cities,” he said. “In villages you don’t have young people storming the local shop because they know the shopkeeper by name. The way forward is bringing people together.”
The mayor said Thameslink would offer improvements to south London’s transport system and help make Bromley a success.
Praising the role of town centres, Johnson said: “Like many boroughs, Bromley’s town centres are facing ever increasing competition from the mega mall and out of town retail park.
“I am determined to see off that challenge and delighted that they are not just holding their own but planning for a bright future with the commitment of business and politicians working closely together.”
Johnson also used the visit to see how a £308,000 grant from the Outer London Fund would help Bromley town centre. It will be used to improve shop fronts and links between the high street and the green areas of Church House Gardens.
He said: “It is vital we support our town centres and that is why I set up the Outer London Fund, to help create jobs, boost opportunities for new business and improve the hearts of the boroughs many high street centres and communities where people live, work, rest and relax.”