Bringing the buzz back to Brentford
First published: Friday, 28 August 2015
Andrew Dakers, Chair of Brentford High Street Steering Group, on how the Mayor’s investment has helped bring new life to the area…
Since the Steering Group was established in 2006, regenerating Brentford really has been a ‘team effort’, and enjoyable too. Brentford used to be known as a quiet place that many seemed to ignore. It felt run-down, with no heart or identifiable centre to the town. The other issue with the high street is that it is used less at the weekend. In particular, it felt like a ghost town on a Sunday.
The High Street Steering Group applied in partnership with our local council for Round One and Round Two of the Mayor’s Outer London Fund to help create a more inviting and lively town centre. With the help of the Mayor and the local community here in Brentford, we made plans to regenerate Market Place. The aim was to create a beautiful space where people could gather and relax. We also wanted to bring people to the town centre, especially at weekends.
That’s why we decided to revive Brentford Market. It’s actually an ancient market place. In fact, there was first a market here in 1306. Just over two years ago, on Sunday 12 May 2013, a weekly market returned to Brentford. The focus is on affordable and high-quality food. I’m delighted to say it’s been a huge success. Now Sunday is the busiest day of the week in Brentford. Market Place is thriving. It’s so inspiring to see people of all ages gathering there. There’s a real buzz in the air and a village feel as friends and neighbours catch up with one another.
As well as the new market place, the Mayor’s investment has also helped us improve the public space between Brentford High Street and the Great West Road’s ‘Golden Mile’. Landscaping, new public art and lighting has really helped make the whole area more attractive and welcoming.
From start to finish, local people have been involved in the project. We couldn’t have got such great results – including a Civic Trust Award – without close collaboration between all the stakeholders involved. Led by Kinnear Landscape Architects the design process was set up to be wholly inclusive of the community. They drew on the local knowledge and expertise of Steering Group members to design a new Market Place that the local council could afford to maintain and would be a practical space in which to operate a Sunday market.
Of course, the Steering Group still has more plans for Brentford. We’re looking forward to making them a reality. With the lovely people of Brentford helping us, we’re sure we can make Brentford an even more desirable place to live in and visit.