Hounslow: Market and restaurant opening on top floor of former Debenhams
Market stalls selling handmade products and a restaurant serving meals curated by refugees are part of a major redesign of the former top floor of Debenhams in Hounslow.
The floor within the Treaty Centre will offer retail space for local businesses to encourage them back to the “high street”, and eventually health and immigration services.
The first phase of the redevelopment will launch on February 13, with the full project to be completed by late April, stakeholders announced on Thursday.
It’s hoped the multi-purpose hub, called The Loft, will be a solution to the struggling high street with a dwindling number of independent businesses, and provide competition for nearby shopping destinations such as Kingston and Richmond.
While the residential population in Hounslow has grown - due to it being a Mayoral Housing Zone - footfall in the town centre in February 2022 was down 26 per cent compared to pre lock-down figures.
In May 2021, the Treaty Centre lost its main anchor tenant, the three-floor Debenhams.
Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, said: “We know from listening to businesses and communities that there is a lack of truly affordable space for startups, yet as a result of the pandemic and cost of living crisis an increase in vacant spaces across the borough.
“As a Council we are committing to unlocking these vacant retail spaces and helping to create places like the Loft that enhances the local community and provides a boost to the local economy.”
The Loft is a collaborative project aimed at increasing footfall in the area, with stakeholders including the local council, Greater London Authority and the Hounslow Arts Centre.
From next month, shoppers will be able to peruse an open-plan collection of market stalls at the entrance of the space, with crafts and products by independent makers on sale.
All products will be bought via a central till system, with weekly sales reports provided to each vendor, and total sales deposited to their account monthly.
The marketplace will be staffed by The Loft employees and there will be no obligation for retailers to be onsite, opening physical retail up to those who would not usually be able to commit.
There will be space for around 64 makers with stall hire prices starting from £80 per month, plus commission.
The Loft’s hospitality offering, The Kitchen, is a restaurant and bar that will serve coffee, brunch and lunch during the day before serving dinner meals created by refugees.
Each refugee will have a three-month restaurant residency, with all proceeds going towards their legal fees. The first curated menu will be El Jarochito, a taco restaurant curated by Mexican refugees.
Other areas within the space include a quiet zone where visitors can work, a refugee advice service, and therapy rooms for physio, osteopath and chiropractor businesses within the former Debenham fitting rooms.
There will also be office space for a collective of mental health organisations and charities.
The Loft is supported by the London Borough of Hounslow, the Mayor of London’s High Streets for All Challenge Fund, Treaty Shopping Centre, and The Arts Centre, Hounslow.