After weeks of confusion over exactly where the traders stand, with the owners of the Pie & Mash Shop on Goldhawk Road having given a statement to the Council saying that they wanted to talk turkey and sell the joint to move somewhere else, they appear to have regrouped and decided what their line is.
Here is the text of a statement that they released on Sunday, which points out that Orion the developers would like to build seven floors of very high density housing on top of the Market:
"After months of misinformation, softening up and attempts to divide and confuse residents and traders, the proposals for redevelopment of the Market and surrounding area were unveiled last weekend. Nothing could disguise what is planned - a massive complex of high-rise flats by a developer hand-picked and aided at every step by the council. And of course the end of any viable Market in Shepherds Bush.
Contrary to the usual propaganda, neither the shopkeepers nor traders are happy. Not suprisingly. The scheme purports to safeguard the pitches and rents during the course of development, which they estimate will last 5-7 years. In reality I doubt the market will survive this length of disruption. Who will want to shop or trade on a building site? Meanwhile the 290 luxury flats/ mews houses will be shoehorned into a tiny space, hence the need to go up seven-and-a-half storeys, completely destroying another historic part of the borough and losing valuable social projects like Broadway - visited by a government minister only last week!
The developer intends to use monies paid as part of the legal agreement with the council (section 106 funds) to pay for refurbishment of the market site. This is another broken promise. Previously they tried to justify the overdevelopment because they needed to use the profits from the flats to subsidise the market renewal, consistent with the council's claim that this was about redevelopment of the market. Now it is just another high-rise luxury small flat scheme (1,2, and 3 bed flats on a 5:4:1 ratio) with extra profit for the developer. The 106 monies would usually have been used to make some of the flats affordable to local residents, but that is the last thing the council wants.
Even by recent standards, where planning consents are used as a tool of the council's development strategy rather than to protect resident and business interests, this stinks"At last. At long last the traders seem to be back on the same song sheet and many of the points they make are entirely valid. Not once during the exhibition that I attended and reported on here was the issue of affordable housing raised - there won't be any as far as I can gather.
The Market will become very much an indoor space for the majority of traders, being under the seven floors of housing units and therefore relying on artificial light throughout the day. Not quite the vision I think many people had when the plans for a revitalised Market were set out, but it's what makes the scheme very profitable for Orion, and that seems to be the main driver here.
And while you can hardly blame a private developer for wanting to make a shed load of cash, can you begin to imagine the shadow seven floors of flats would cast over the rest of the Bush?! There has to be a better way, but the write up from the Council's press office describes the Orion housing plans as "elegant" so the only hope for salvation seems to be in the courts.
Or does it? Don't forget that Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh gave a clear and unequivocal committment here at this meeting to those traders that if they didn't want the large third entrance on Goldhawk Road then the Council would not give permission for it. All they need to do, and it's a big ask, is stand united and call that committment in.