Meanwhile Operator: Meanwhile Space CIC
Partnership: Brent Borough Council and Meanwhile Foundation
Like many high streets, Willesden Green was struggling, with some tenacious and enterprising shopkeepers hanging on during the recession. With a peppering of independent traders amongst the take-aways and bookies, how could Willesden Green find it’s mojo? How could this very long high street become a local destination? With an experiment.
Queens Parade is the experiment. An experiment which has worked. It blended components that most high streets have; empty space and enthused local people, to create something that most high streets could benefit from; small scale retail diversity, a range of activities for residents and visitors and.... vibrancy. Vibrancy is a by-product of this experiment, it arose organically as Queens Parade, a run of small empty retail units, were occupied by a changing rota of people trying to get their business or project off the ground.
The Parade opened in March 2012, as an Outer London Fund project, offering local entrepreneurs the chance to occupy and run their own shop on the High Street. After 2 months of opening its doors, Queens Parade was voted by Time Out readers as one of nine best shopping locations in London. Its initial success kept on attracting local interest, but lack of regular shoppers was threatening the project survival. Some uses worked and stayed, developing a local audience and establishing roots. Others learnt important lessons and decided to change direction. Sometimes it just didn’t work out, and participants were able to move on without accruing crippling liabilities along the way.
It has been important to make sure the Queens Parade shops complement, rather than compete with existing high street traders, to help Willesden Green become a better place to live, with more interesting and local activities. 3 years on, the project has exceeded expectations.
As the funding for the project was reduced and stopped, the project has managed to continue supporting start up businesses and community enterprise by offering an opportunity to try out their business idea.
The Foundation took on the project in early June 2016 to enable the project to continue and to stop the property from standing empty whilst it still awaits redevelopment. There are some fantastic start up businesses running from this space, and we are excited to be able to help keep this project continue it’s great work.