Oct 9 2012 By Robert Cumber
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BIG name stores are queuing up to come to Hounslow town centre, according to a new survey.
There is demand for an estimated 10,000 square metres of extra retail floor space in and around the high street, council research suggests.
The findings, which have yet to be published, support the case for a new shopping centre, previously opposed by Hounslow Chamber of Commerce.
The group, which represents hundreds of businesses across Hounslow, has said there is a greater need for housing and leisure facilities than new shops in the town centre.
It has called for fresh consultation about proposals to regenerate the area, outlined in the council's Hounslow Town Centre Master Plan.
However, Julia Worboys, Hounslow Council's planning policy team leader, this week told the Chronicle a number of well-known chains had expressed an interest in coming to the town centre.
"Our retail demand study shows there is demand for up to 10,000 sqm of extra retail floor space from familiar high street names," she said. "People have asked whether there is the demand for extra retail space in the current economic climate but this suggests if extra space is made available it would be filled."
New shops, along with a cinema, are expected to be included in plans to develop the car park opposite ASDA being drawn up by Blenheim Centre owners Legal & General Property.
Meanwhile, town centre manager Patricia Huertas claimed early efforts to revitalise Hounslow town centre, using money from the Mayor of London's Outer London Fund (OLF), were paying off.
She said more than 19,000 people were estimated to have attended a series of events, including a Christmas and Diwali lights switch-on, between summer 2011 and March this year.
However, she admitted attendance at some events, like a drive-in film screening, could have been better had the deadline for spending the money been extended to allow more time for marketing.
The council is spending £2 million from the second round of the OLF, along with £750,000 of its own money, to improve seating, lighting and other facilities along the pedestrianised section of the high street.
It hopes to secure further funding from Transport for London to help regenerate the rest of the high street and roads connecting it with the tube, train and bus stations.
It has also applied for an £800,000 grant to fund a series concerts and performances in the town centre by local people over three years.
The council is due to launch a Hounslow Town Centre Business Partnership, intended to give local firms a greater say about developments in the area, on November 1.
This year's combined Diwali and Christmas lights switch-on, meanwhile, will take place on Friday, November 16.