Three new businesses have won a council-run competition to receive a year’s free rent in freshly refurbished shops on Portland Road, South Norwood.
More than 50 entries were submitted to the competition, which will see budding entrepreneurs benefit not only from free rent, but also from business support provided by the council’s regeneration team.
The competition for the new shops, which will be at 10, 14 and 16 Portland Road and focus on art and fashion, are part of the council’s wider investment plans to regenerate and boost business in the area around South Norwood High Street. The shops are to be handed over to the competition winners in the comping weeks, once renovation work currently being undertaken is complete.
Elizabeth James is to launch her contemporary art gallery on 7 December. It will host exhibitions showcasing the best of Croydon’s young talent to raise their profile as upcoming artists, alongside Elizabeth’s own work. Local primary and secondary schools and colleges will also be invited to attend educational visits and workshops at the gallery.
Miss James said: “I have never won anything in my life, so I am over the moon to have been selected as one of the three winners. Having the space for a year gives me a base to work from, will allow me to take my business to the next level and hopefully create something that SE25 can be part of and proud of.
“South Norwood has a very special place in my heart because I was born and raised there; having lived in a flat above a shop at 21 Portland Road from the age of three weeks until I was 21 years old, those shops were the backdrop to my childhood.”
Gamma will be run by Rob Swain. He will host regular art exhibitions and book launches, as well as offering original artwork, prints, clothing, books and records, alongside artisan coffee.
Eva Cammarata produces fashion collections with a focus on knitwear. She will offer in-house customised knitwear, alteration services, gifts and corporate merchandising, and machine knitting. Her business will also offer professional courses in knitting, sewing, and craft clubs and will stock and sell haberdashery products.
The three shop winners were chosen from a shortlist of 12 by a panel including councillors Paul Scott and Mark Watson.
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for economy and jobs
“The physical improvements the council is making to the local neighbourhood are only part of the jigsaw. For South Norwood to thrive we need to see new businesses coming into the area to attract new customers. This will also benefit existing traders and property owners.”
Councillor Paul Scott is one of the local ward members and a leading figure in community regeneration efforts. He added: “We are 100% committed to seeing the area around the High Street and Portland Road thrive. There are so many people living around here who are crying out for a wider selection of quality shops and businesses, and this project will really help in starting to make that happen.”
The scheme has been developed in partnership with the owner of the three shops, Christopher Gordon. He said: “I’ve been delighted to be involved with this scheme. It’s great for the businesses who have won the competition and I’m really pleased that this part of Portland Road will be given a huge boost once they become established.”