The work will include the demolition of two empty shops, previously occupied by Thomas Cook and Millets, and the creation of a two-storey extension at the entrance of the Exchange to house a large new store for fashion retailers H&M. This is expected to open in spring 2014.
The stained glass feature at the front of the Exchange will be taken out for restoration, then returned to the centre of the new entrance.
The new-look Exchange is part of a package of improvements to the town centre aimed at improving shopping, cutting congestion and reducing pollution.
The pavement and road layout around the station in the High Street is being altered to improve traffic flow, and street clutter such as railings have been removed to reduce congestion for pedestrians. Network Rail is planning to remodel the station entrance to create more space and better passenger facilities, and the council has commissioned a feasibility study into creating a new station entrance in Oxford Road .
Putney is also one of the towns chosen by government housing minister Mark Prisk to join a pilot project to improve the UK ‘s Town Centres.
Putney will be a Town Team Partner, which means the Town Centre Partnership will be able to access a support package from the national Association of Town Centre Management, including advice from top retail experts, and a £10,000 government grant to put plans into action.
The government grant money will be held by the council, but how it is spent will be decided by the partnership. A range of possible projects are being discussed, aimed at making Putney more attractive to investors and shoppers.
The council’s business spokesman Cllr James Cousins said: “2013 will see a whole host of improvements to Putney and the new-look Exchange will be a fantastic addition to the town centre. We know times are challenging for local traders, and that pollution is a real problem, but local people can be assured we are taking real and positive steps to make their town even better.”