Upper Street the ‘high street of the nation’

Business guru aims to revitalise Angel as it recovers from pandemic

Friday, 6th May — By Charlotte Chambers

Ben Stephenson IMG_4254

Ben Stephenson: ‘I’ve seen a lot of high streets in the post-pandemic era and Angel has a special quality that makes it the nation’s high street’

A BUSINESS guru who has been hired to revitalise Upper Street has called it the “high street of the nation”.

Ben Stephenson is a member of a government taskforce sent to shopping areas across the country struggling to recover from the Covid crisis.

Now he has taken up a new role as chief execu­tive of angel.london, the business improvement district (BID) for the Angel area.

Mr Stephenson said: “I’ve seen a lot of high streets in the post-pandemic era and Angel has a special quality that makes it the nation’s high street – much more than any other I’ve seen.

“It’s got everything. It meets every budget and has lots of events and culture, lots of shops and a great community and day time office and evening economy.”

He added that a “multifunctionality” in high streets helped them survive.

“It needs to have lots on offer for lots of different kinds of people,” Mr Stephenson said.

“Although there’s a way to go I think Upper Street has been very resilient.

“There’s lots to do because we’re still in the post-pandemic recovery phase, but I’m excited about seeing where it goes next.”

Mr Stephenson started to work for Angel BID in November and is based in the office above the restaurant Frederick’s in Camden Passage.

He lives in Bristol and commutes to London part time. But Mr Stephenson knows the road well having once lived in a flat in Upper Street above Jessops camera shop.

Previously he ran the Waterloo and South Bank BID – introducing a food market – and before that was responsible for the Finsbury Park Business Forum.

Among the new ideas he’s bringing to the table include “getting people out from behind their desks” with lunchtime yoga, wine tasting and backstage theatre tours planned to kick off from July.

Part of the strategy is also to tempt people back to work after more than two years of working from home.

He said: “We want to see people enjoying Angel a bit more.”

As part of making people feel safer at night, and in response to business concerns, angel.london has employed a security patrolman with another planned. They are also in the process of hiring business ambassadors to advise members of the public with their queries.

There are also plans under way to carry out a “conversation” with the people working in the area about how they see it – “from Chapel Market to high-end restaurants”.

“We want to show what Angel stands for and its values. We want to engage people in a conversation about that,” he added.

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