Westway Trust issues statement about Portobello plans

WDT1Westway Trust has asked us all to have a say in the next phase of the development under the Westway where the iconic roof is (above) and where the designers sell their wares. The first version of the new building for the area has been controversial, with a petition of over 500,000 against it, so the Westway23 group has formed to oppose the plans (pic right)  This is what the Westway Trust says, though it seems to be repeating itself:

‘Westway Trust is a registered charity and a social enterprise. We hold a one-mile stretch of land, beneath and around the Westway, in trust for the benefit of the community.  We have managed and developed this estate for the last 43 years and are hugely committed to and vested in this neighborhood.

We are absolutely committed to retaining the distinct character of the area around Portobello Road/Acklam Road, which we have successfully managed on behalf of the community.  Due to some concerns raised after our first public consultation event, we would like to make our intentions clear for the proposals for Portobello Village.

The vintage clothing market and the Portobello Road street market will continue to be supported by the Westway Trust; they are at the heart of what makes the area unique and will remain so.

We recognise however, that the area around the vintage market is not without its challenges, and if allowed to continue, these issues are likely to have a growing negative effect on the market, the community and local businesses:

The markets only operate for three days a week and, outside of those days, areas like the canopy space and Acklam Village do little to contribute to the local area.  Acklam Village is hoarded-off and is not accessible to the community from Monday to Friday.  This means that very few people are coming to the area on non-market days and this lack of activity contributes to a poor trading environment and to growing levels of anti-social behaviour.  In effect we currently have a three day-a-week economy.

Many of our tenants are struggling, so much so that many of them do not open on non-market days, further exacerbating the problems mentioned above.  The market managers tell us that their traders are suffering and struggling to make a living, as despite the fact that the area continues to attract a lot of tourists, the average spend per person is very low, with many people just coming to browse.  This is not good for the local economy and is not sustainable in terms of local employment and business opportunities.

The existing canopy is old and in need of replacement, and does not afford protection to the traders or allow other events to take place.  Our proposal is to replace the canopy with a purpose built market building which will  improve the trading environment for the market traders (better weather protection; toilet and storage facilities) as well as making that space suitable for other community and cultural events (pop-up cinema, festivals, other markets etc) on non-market days.

The areas under the motorway at Acklam are proposed as small (circa 20-25m2) business spaces for start-up or existing small businesses such as we see present in the local area now.  There is clear evidence that these small spaces are being lost from North Kensington, meaning small businesses have nowhere to trade. The new spaces are not aimed at high street multiples, quite the opposite.  We want to attract more small local business, and give them the right environment to prosper in.  That will keep the area distinct and of local character.

There are no proposals to build on Portobello Green, we simply want to open it up and make it more accessible to local people.  The Portobello Green area was recently the subject of a Police Dispersal Order. In October and November last year alone there were 72 dispersals and 13 arrests*. Encouraging more activity and making the green a more welcoming environment for the community will help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.  The space under the flyover at Acklam also suffers from rough sleepers and crime.

By keeping what is unique about the area, but addressing some of the issues it faces we want to secure the future for Portobello, as an authentic, fascinating and locally focused place.

We will continue to listen to the community’s feedback and reflect this in the next stage of the proposal’s design.  We are at the first stage of the consultation process and look forward to sharing updated plans and the next steps with the local community later in the spring.’

*Figures provided by the Metropolitan Police

Have your say here …  space.westway.org

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