London’s night-time economy could help to save high street – report

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The London Night Time Commission said activities between 6pm and 6am should be at the heart of the capital’s policymaking.

Attracting more Londoners out of their homes to late-night events such as pop-up markets and exhibitions could play a major role in saving the struggling high street, a report has suggested.

Activities between 6pm and 6am should be placed at the heart of London policymaking, and parks, museums, libraries and town halls could all be used better to offer more at night, according to a report by the London Night Time Commission.

A “night rider” fare that enables passengers to switch between the London Underground, trains and buses at no extra cost should be introduced to boost the capital’s 24-hour economy, while expanding late-night activities with markets, exhibitions and cultural events in empty shops and public buildings could help to save the high street, the report recommends.

The city’s 33 boroughs should also be given advice on making more happen in their own town centres, while the report calls for improved safety and measures to tackle violence.

Research has found that 92% of councils in England believe that the night-time economy can be key in preventing the decline of high street retail, the report said.

A study by the commission found that 1.6 million 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.


Commission chairwoman Kate Nicholls 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.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who set up the commission in 2017, 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.”

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