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Sunday, 13 March 2011

More plans for Portobello

Former RBKC Planning officer, Andrew Patterson, was responsible for the much hated redevelopment at 282 - 292 Westbourne Grove on the corner of Portobello Road. Without the management apparently noticing anything amiss, after 6 years of exertion, 300 antique dealers were evicted from the old Lipka's antiques arcade and replaced by spectacularly unsuccessful 10,000 sq ft clothing mega-store: All Saints.

Surmounting the edifice are 4 huge, apparently unsold apartments. The Council Officer then left the Council and has since been engaged by the architects of the same development: Michaelis Boyd. None of this mind Dear Reader is illegal, its perfectly allowable within the rules.

Acting now for the same architects & developers, Mr Patterson recently applied for planning permission to lift a condition on Portobello's remaining large antiques arcade: Admiral Vernon. 

In 1995 a forward-thinking RBKC permitted a basement to be dug - for an antiques market trading only on Fridays & Saturdays. RBKC thus protected dealers; Octavia Hill Housing Trust tenants above the arcade & residents of nearby Vernon's Yard. 

If now granted permission for 7 day trading; it will be compulsory for dealers - with massively higher rents. This will be unaffordable & impractical. Antique dealing requires searching for merchandise. Dealers will leave; creating an issue of critical mass. Portobello's century old Saturday focus will be gone. The developers will have a second huge, empty building awaiting another 'clone' mega-store - willing to pay eye-watering rent.

Those wishing to add their objection to such cultural vandalism, please contact the council plannkng department now,  quoting PP/11/00089.


  1. Excellent piece

  2. None of us dealers want to trade more than a day because there will be no more turnover but higher cost and the need for more presence. We already received a massive rent increase. What was the argument of the developer of Lipka's again? 'It was half empty so it wasn't viable anymore.' Now starting driving us slowly out is creating the facts for future development. If I hear 'I love the market' from WT again I will throw up.

  3. "Anyone who knows the Antiques market understands that it cannot operate 7 days of the week for the reasons you give and more. The admiral Vernon has planning permission to trade on the ground floor 7 a week and yet it is closed. Why? Because the antiques dealers cannot be there. The application is a clear attempt to drive the antiques dealers out whatever the developers say.

    Another sad fact is that the Octavia Hill Trust which owns the social housing above are not prepared to object yet their tenants will be affected more that anyone by the extra days tradings with all the noise and rubbish that will bring 7 days a week. They claim that they signed their rights away when they granted the lease to the ground floor and basement. A social housing provider who signed away their right to protect their own tenants. Rich, eh?"

  4. How can a tory council not listen to what its traders and residents say? Surely one of the tenets at heart of Big Society is to do just that.
    RBKC is being SO short sighted. It is being driven by what it seems is the value associated with footfall from tourists. Tourists visit on Fridays and Sats to visit something special - while they don't actually spend much money, they are of course welcomed and wanted at the weekend. What makes Portobello special for visitors is the antiques section with the old small shops and the remaining arcades and of course the stalls. What makes Portobello special for the RESIDENTS is that it offers the fruit and veg market, a range of shops , great places to eat etc but during the week! LOCALS who pay council tax etc don't want to live on a 7 day high street. They expect the hustle and bustle and atmosphere at the weekend but during the week, NO! We can go to Westfield or High Street Ken for large chains or even Kings Road. Locals tend to visit the market at start or end of Saturday to avoid the crush. THE MINUTE RBKC moves to 7 day week trading for antiques - they will leave, leaving prime retail space for development. GIven economic climate this seems stupid. As this progresses, tourists will stop coming, locals will stop shopping there and then what?
    RBKC - see sense, protect what is unique and good about the area and think about the longer term. If you had any sense you would encourage smaller independents to set up and flourish and continue the tradiion of the area being a vibrant eclectic residential area which offers something special at weekends

  5. Clecky said it all

  6. New 'clone' retailers All Saints & Kurt Geiger were 'conned' into taking expensive premises by the developers' seriously inflated footfall figures. For the last 150 years Portobello has been packed on Saturdays; pleasant Fridays & recently Sundays; but Monday to Thursday it's very quiet.

    RBKC has consistently misread the public's love for a unique place. Some change would be beneficial; but NOT turning quirky shopping into 7 day 'clone' retail. Hence the new stores' lack of success. Westfield has hundreds of 'clones;' Portobello has to be different in order to prosper.

    Antiques attract a wealthy international audience. RBKC allowed developers to destroy Antiquarius in King's Rd; replaced by 'clone' fashion. Yet the Royal Borough still hosts London's last remaining Antiques Market. It's duty to residents & visitors alike is to foster antiques as an an essential part of Portobello's tradition mix. RBKC would do well to send Trading Standards Officers 7 days a week to address the scandal of the mountains of fake designer merchandise in the Market. RBKC's neglect of this basic issue is an open invitation to every sort of lawbreaking.

  7. I like the old style traditional shopping, browsing at my own pace I don,t want to go to big crowed stores, I like the individuality of Portobello,

  8. As a tourist and a shopper I would have to say that anyone that changed the vibe and the atmosphere of the Portobello Markets is completely bonkers.
    I am from Australia and have travelled to London many times over the last 40 years, initially as a small child with my parents, and then as an adult.
    The only thing that brings me back to London time and time again is the character and the history. Surely without traditional yet bohemian institutions such as Portobello Road, Londons appeal to both travellers and trendsetters would flounder and die, turning it into a barren wasteland of clone shops that can be found anywhere in the world.
    In this day and age with computers and the internet, people can shop online for clone stuff. The whole point of the markets is to offer something different to the buyer, whether it be a specially sourced antique, an individually acquired outfit, or a quirky piece for the home.
    The set up and the vibe draws people into the street to soak up the atmosphere and the tradition of a market that has been going for hundreds of years.
    I love it and I wouldn't have it any other way. Please give me something to come back to London for...your prosperity depends on these destinations and they should if anything, be heritage listed.

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