As she departed — for Eaton Square — Nigella Lawson famously cast Shepherd’s Bush aside, her home for many years, as “not especially nice”. A decade on, there are several good reasons for her to at least pay it a visit.
With the exit of the BBC from its giant Television Centre complex — the broadcaster’s home for 50 years — Shepherd’s Bush has unexpectedly begun getting warmer.
And with the arrival of Westfield, offering 40 acres of retail therapy and the upgrading of transport connections (a new West London line station connecting to the Central line) things are looking up. Hammersmith and Fulham council has spotted the opportunity and promised to turn the eight-acre “Green” at the heart of Shepherd’s Bush from an island in a sea of traffic into a proper neighbourhood hub.
The redevelopment of Shepherd’s Bush Market, which borders a railway viaduct and conservation areas, has outline planning permission for 199 apartments, 13 mews houses, a new market square with stalls and small independent retailers plus an “artisans’ quarter”, which together will preserve the existing market’s eclectic personality and provide a counterpoint to Westfield’s relentless chain stores and high-end fashion brands.
The ongoing relocation of the BBC (to renovated Broadcasting House in central London and to Salford, its new base in the North) creates an opportunity for thorough redevelopment of the Wood Lane site. Though listed Television Centre — the familiar doughnut building — will remain, it is due to be fully vacated by 2015 and the BBC is considering either an outright sale or partnership opportunities.
Already Imperial College has submitted plans for a new campus, part of the so-called White City Opportunity Area. These plans include a centre of excellence for medical and academic research plus postgraduate accommodation and key worker housing, while the wider master plan envisages up to 1,000 new homes and 4.5 million sq ft of office space on 43 acres of land surrounding Television Centre — potentially, a Canary Wharf-type complex right by the roaring A40.
Former BBC rehearsal rooms and wardrobe departments have been turned into The Costume Store, a block of 730 “suites”, mainly for students at the nearby London College of Fashion. Built by Berkeley First, a public art gallery is to be incorporated into the 18-storey tower. Rents start at £160 a week.
The squat Westfield shopping mall, which covers nine west London postcodes and is a cross between Bond Street and Bluewater, does not exude glamour but its presence has sprinkled some sparkle and boosted the local property market. Hamptons estate agent reports that prices around Shepherd’s Bush have jumped 11.6 per cent during the past year.
Residential developers are targeting young families and career professionals priced out of more expensive bordering areas such as Hammersmith, Holland Park and Notting Hill. Schemes are sprouting up either side of Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road, the two main drags sandwiching the Shepherd’s Bush heartland.
Lime Grove Mews is a gated development of townhouses and apartments being built on the site of a former council depot. St James, the developer, has carved a reputation for building family-friendly accommodation to suit modern lifestyles.
The 15 Regency-style five-bedroom town houses have open-plan ground-floor layouts that combine kitchen, dining and family spaces and open on to a garden, while at the top is a roof terrace with winter garden. Prices are from £1.6 million. Completion is due in 2013. Call 020 3002 9460.
An industrial estate off Goldhawk Road is being transformed into an open courtyard complex of 24 houses and 33 apartments, plus loft offices for creatives.
Londonewcastle, the developer, has opted for Modernist-style architecture — restrained, with cube-like brick elevations — that melds well with the gentrified Victorian terraces of Brackenbury Village on the Hammersmith side.
Since the Nineties, the latter has moved from up-and-coming to fashionable, with just-about-affordable, if small, family houses, a well-regarded local primary school, smart restaurants, gastro pubs and a park.
Londonewcastle’s Robert Soning compares this emerging pocket to parts of Islington. “A charming, tree-lined conservation area with neighbourhood amenities. We will bring something fresh — smart, contemporary-design homes in a secure, gated setting that is ideal for families.” Prices are yet to be announced. Call 020 7543 1888.
Yet more modern townhouses have been built at Napier, part of a redevelopment of a former Ministry of Pensions building on Bromyard Avenue. A short hop from Shepherd’s Bush, it offers an assortment of new homes, including live-work units, built behind the original Twenties façade. Lifestyle extras include a 24-hour concierge and car club. The four-storey houses with an integral basement garage are priced from £975,000. Call 020 8811 2336.
© Barry Phillips
“Late in the day, Shepherd’s Bush is gentrifying,” says Henrietta Redgrave, manager of the local Douglas & Gordon estate agent. Shepherd’s Bush was where people rented or bought a flat before moving on to find a family house and secondary schools.
“For these, the next stop was Chiswick or Ealing but over the past three years the area has become more for families,” says Redgrave. “Westfield has had a huge impact and the demographic changes have encouraged boutique and bistro pub owners to arrive with posh shop keepers such as the Ginger Pig butchers, who have branches in Marylebone and Borough.”