Monday, 11 October 2010

Save historic Goldhawk Road

Our Council wants to knock down a Victorian row of shops that have stood there since the 1890s.

The line of buildings, 30-52 Goldhawk Road, which were erected when Gladstone was Prime Minister and lend the Bush the sort of character that many of its residents love, are destined to be demolished by the Council's developers as they take forward the modernisation of Shepherd's Bush Market.

Although I've supported the need to modernise the market I have to say knocking down these buildings which have been there since the 19th century in the pursuit of more cash for the developers is unforgiveable. What on earth could replace them that would be better than a real life pie & mash shop which has stood there for over 100 years?

I assume the developer wants to replace them with luxury flats of some kind, as is the usual plan with this Council, but this in my view would fundamentally be ripping a piece of the Bush out in the pursuit of profit over the protection of a precious piece of our heritage.

I've reported here, here, here and here on the historic nature of Shepherd's Bush. St Stephen's villas, the row of houses creeping up the Uxbridge Road from the Green were built in 1874. Shepherd's Bush library was built by Victorian benefactor J Passmore Edwards in the 1890s with the founding stone being laid in 1895. And even the shop fronts themselves speak of times past - speaking of which how about this shop front, which a horse and cart crashed through in 1912?!

The Council in their planning brief says that their size “ no longer appropriate for this part of the Goldhawk Road townscape”. Well they're entitled to their view but personally I think that is a load of old, well, mash. They're exactly the right size and character for this part of our road and are all the more welcome for being there as a result.

Are we really saying that future generations don't really deserve to see these windows onto our past as well, that they'd be much better served by some modern new complex instead? The developers, Orion Land & Leisure Ltd are at least more upfront about the motives behind the development, describing the land as "an area of underperformance with the potential for substantial value growth" in their submission to the Council.

The proprietors of the shops themselves have started a facebook campaign to save themselves, and I strongly urge you to join it. The Council are also running a consultation here for local residents – please for goodness sakes use it. The deadline has been extended to Monday 18th October - Please register your objections by email at: or call Jackie Simkins in the Council’s Planning department on: 0208 753 3460.

The Council will also be discussing this at a Cabinet meeting this thursday, and there are rumours of some kind of protest outside the Town Hall. I'll be there and reporting back.

Listen here (scroll to 1hour 44 mins in) to a radio piece from BBC London Drivetime about the campaign. Council Leader Greenhalgh says "we really are listening" to the concerns of local stallholders and shop owners, which in fairness is encouraging. The problem though, as Andy Slaughter MP on the same radio programme points out, is the "utterly high handed way" in which the Council has gone about it which he says will be approved at the Cabinet meeting next thursday. The problem for this Council is that even if they're being genuine about consulting this time around, their track record points completely the other way - so people just don't believe them anymore.

That this Council tends to prioritise developers desires over residents opinions residents of another part of Goldhawk Road know to their cost. However it was recently forced to back down in response to a campaign by residents of Ashchurch Grove - so this might be the start of a long fought thing to save this unique part of Shepherd's Bush.


  1. and talking about 'the pursuit of profit' and 'developers desires' over other considerations (community, history, pracicality), there is a particularly strong groundswell of residential anger from Lime Grove about the councils plan to bulldoze the award winning Broadway Centre that cares for people with alcoholism - many homeless, many disabled - to make way for the market regeneration and move all of its residents with their attendant social problems into the middle of a densely populated residential street full of families and children. So much for 'Big Society'

  2. I like the market as it is - I don't want it replaced with some quasi-Camden tourist tat stop or a Borough Market imitation.

  3. One of the successes on Goldhawk Road is the specialist fabric outlets that occupy the buildings in question, so why target these and not the multiple ghastly chicken shacks of the area, as there is no doubt that the fabric businesses will not come out of the redevelopment better off.

  4. Putting sentiment aside the SepBush market is underperforming and something will have to be done to improve it. Years of missmangement by the council & London Underground has made a market that doesn't cater for all local residents. Subsequently there's not enough shopers and tradesmen aren't making enough money. Good markets such as portobello work because they are guided with a good vision, loved by the local residents, and allowed to grow organically according to the commercial needs of the community. All that has to be done is to create an enviroment that is suitable and inviting. Its better to develope gradually and protect even enhance existing jewels (such as the fabric shops). Will any of this be done? doubt it.

  5. Joaquim - even as we post, Portobello is in danger of being transformed into a nice little retail experience aka chain stores. I cannot make any claim to have a great plan for Shepherds Bush market but it does seem to be successful at what it is.

  6. Its only natural that big chain shops want a part of Portobello's success and they are willing to pay premium for shop space. Portobello may become a victim of its own success and market traders may lose out. Anyhow its clientel has changed and despite the tourist hords on Saturdays most visitors just dont have a need for the market stalls. Organically that market is developing. ShepBush Market in contrast has not changed its stagnent and there are just no visitors.

  7. And even in its present neglected state the market is worth so much more, socially, than the the soul-destroying Westfield you can't help thinking the developers have their eye on: something to produce a mass of passified zombies a la Romero. Is the decline of London's public space inexorable?

  8. Is it worth while looking into getting the row of shops listed? If it succeeds then the council will find it more difficult to push to have them demolished!