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Aberfeldy Street paving the way for retail revival


3 new businesses will be moving into rent-free retail units on Aberfeldy Street as part of a new business development scheme, START HERE.

Out of over 60 applicants, 3 new businesses have been chosen to enter the vacant retail units, based on their innovative ideas and meeting the needs of the existing local community. The START HERE scheme is offering these retail spaces rent-free, for a one-year trial period with business support, to ensure the street remains a vibrant community, social and commercial hub.

The three chosen businesses are:

  • Aberfeldy Front Room – a social, event and incubation space to spark local connections and activity
  • More Life Home – creating employment and volunteering opportunities through upcycling of pre-loved furniture
  • DigiBarber – starting off as an app that allows customers to book haircuts and be efficient with their time, DigiBarber is now branching out to open their first flagship barber shop that will offer training opportunities and a space for freelance hairdressers

Aberfeldy Front Room is an initiative from Aberfeldy Big Local: a group of residents creating lasting change in the community with a £1m investment from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The space will offer a social hub for local residents, hosting regular events such as skill sharing workshops, youth hang outs and community meals. The Front Room will also act as a means to channel greater investment into the local community with an enterprise incubation programme, to uncover local people’s skills, strengths and interests.

More Home Life is a re-use shop which provides low cost pre-loved, refurbished and recycled clothes and homeware items for sale and supplies free and heavily discounted furniture to those in need of extra help.

DigiBarber will open their flagship barber shop that will exist alongside the DigiBarber app which allows customers to book appointments and barbers to be efficient with their time and maximise business. The space will run as a traditional barber shop with one full time barber and self-employed barbers on a rota. They will also run free courses for young people in the community teaching them hairdressing skills and offering career advice.

Aberfeldy Street is currently home to a mix of retail outlets, including a grocer, tailor, arts hub, a pub, and a youth boxing club. The START HERE scheme is led by High Street Works, a multi- disciplinary collaboration between Meanwhile Space CIC and Jan Kattein Architects  and was commissioned by Aberfeldy LLP, a joint venture between developer EcoWorld London and Poplar HARCA.

The physical improvements on the street include large scale, colourful murals along both sides of the high street, resulting in a bold patchwork aesthetic. The architect developed the designs for the murals through conversations with local traders and residents, such as a local tailor who has been trading on Aberfeldy Street for over 40 years. Textiles and patterns were donated and scaled up into different brightly coloured artworks that are unique to each individual unit on the high street.

Leon Herbert, Sales Director at DigiBarber says:

“The chance to inspire youth, create a path and design a future has finally been realised. Not only will we be giving the residents the friendly neighbourhood barber service, we will be creating the next generation of barbers from within our own community. The Start Here programme has given us the chance to pass this on to others.”

Matt Townend, Chief Operating Officer at EcoWorld London says:

“High streets are vital spaces that bring communities together, and now more than ever it is important that we are supporting new, local businesses that are the heart and soul of the high street. The new businesses and completed murals in Aberfeldy Street mark the start of the revitalization and reflect our approach in embracing the local identity and wider community as we continue with our redevelopment plans on our project.”

Steve Stride, our Chief Executive, says:

“We want Aberfeldy Street to meet the long term needs of the diverse, local community and for it to support local, independent trade.  The START HERE business support programme and rent free period offered by the LLP for existing and new enterprises are important building blocks in developing a High Street that can flourish in the short and longer term, building into the new development.  We look forward to seeing these businesses become part of Aberfeldy’s close and diverse community for years to come.”

Emily Berwyn, Executive Director of Meanwhile Space CIC says:

“Our ethos is to realise the meanwhile potential in empty spaces, and in particular to ensure those spaces provide opportunities within the communities in which they sit. With the current crisis facing us, providing these opportunities that will help to rebuild communities is more important than ever.”


Photo credit: Luke Fullalove

Photo, from L-R: Natalie Dinsmore, More Life Home, Liam Harvey, Aberfeldy Big Local, Joshua Martin, DigiBarber, Leon Herbert, DigiBarber.

ITV News reports on Aberfeldy Street’s eye-catching makeoverAberfeldy Street