Traditionally the economic powerhouse of the capital, west London has, in recent years, been eclipsed by the development activity on the city’s eastern edge, particularly around Canary Wharf and Stratford.
But west London is now fighting back with its own showpiece projects and the biggest retail precinct in Europe.
Westfield London, a giant 1.6 million sq ft shopping complex, is part of the Shepherd’s Bush and White City regeneration zone and opens on 30 October. Experts say it will tilt London’s centre of gravity a little farther west.
With top-brand names such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany already signed up, it will give Bond Street and Knightsbridge a run for their money as a luxury retail destination. More than 7,000 jobs will be created at 300-plus stores and improved public transport, including a new Tube station at Wood Lane, will ferry in workers and shoppers.
'The shopping centre opening coincides with published plans for a new "creative hub" right next door - a mega development of up to 1,000 new homes'
The shopping centre opening coincides with published plans for a mega development right next door - a new "creative hub" with up to 1,000 new homes and 4.5 million sq ft of office space on 43 acres of land surrounding BBC Television Centre. Together, the two schemes will create a low-rise Canary Wharf right by the roaring A40.
Already, this is sparking neighbourhood regeneration, including boutique flats in previously neglected pockets. Rising in the angle between the busy Westway and West Cross Route dual carriageways is Notting Hill Village, a campus-style development of offices, studio-style workspaces and apartments.
Fashion group Monsoon occupies dashing new headquarters called The Yellow Building. Other creative-sector companies in the area include Chrysalis Records, Designers Guild and the Louise T Blouin Institute, an art gallery and exhibition venue.
A bridge over the West Cross Route will connect Notting Hill Village to Westfield shopping centre and White City.
Ladbroke Grove is the spine of this area, touching the gilt-edged properties of Holland Park at the southern end and running under the Westway to reach Harrow Road at the gritty northern end, officially Kensal Town.
Portobello Dock is a complex of buildings, including a Victorian warehouse that straddles the Grand Union Canal at Ladbroke Grove.
Derwent London, the developer, is creating a new waterfront community, including factory-style lofts now available for rent through estate agent Winkworth. Two-bedroom flats cost from £740 a week. Call 020 7792 5000.
© Glen Copus
'The ripple of development is also spreading to areas west of Shepherd’s Bush'
Coming soon are 57 new-build flats at the nearby Ink Building on Barlby Road, a scheme by developer Londonewcastle, working with designer Tom Dixon.
Places for People, a developer that has roots in the housing association movement and focuses on affordable homes, is demolishing the dilapidated Seventies St Thomas’ primary school at Appleford Road and building 69 flats above a state-of-the-art modern school on the same site.
Fifty-five of the flats will be sold on the open market, funding the £14 million new community school. Construction is under way and the launch is due in October. Prices will be from £235,000. Call 020 8814 3918.
The ripple of development is also spreading to areas west of Shepherd’s Bush. In Acton, a former Ministry of Pensions building dating from the Thirties has been turned into 350 flats grouped around five landscaped courtyards. Prices at Bromyard House start at £265,000. Call 020 8811 2336.
Interior designer Cinzia Moretti, 30, was attracted by the mix of heritage architecture and fresh, contemporary design. She paid £320,000 for a two-bedroom flat and says: “I was surprised to discover a new home that I was happy to move into straight away. There was nothing I wanted to change. It has an open-plan kitchen and high ceilings and feels very robust.”
© Berkeley Homes
Though the Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines run through the heart of west London, the area is poorly served by internal transport, which is a constraint on business.
Leading local employers, such as GlaxoSmithKline and the BBC, are lobbying for a new line, the West London Orbital, that would link Brent Cross in the north with Kingston in the south, passing through Wembley, Ealing, Brentford and Richmond. Every Orbital station would be less than 15 minutes from the planned Crossrail station at Ealing Broadway, thereby opening up these areas to more commuters and homebuyers.
West Drayton, also on the Crossrail route, is already coming under the development spotlight. The area’s biggest new scheme is Parkwest, 574 homes on the site of a former RAF radar station, less than 15 minutes’ drive from Heathrow and even closer to Stockley Park, an award-winning, eco-friendly business estate where 7,000 people work.
Apartments are priced at the lower end of the scale and are aimed at first-time buyers and buy-to-let landlords (Brunel University campus is close by).
Low-rise blocks are grouped around landscaped squares and fit unobtrusively into the suburban setting. There is a residents’ gym, concierge and car club. Prices start at £194,950. For more information, call developer St George on 01895 449009.
Hammersmith to Heathrow is a well-worn route for Londoners - a familiar trek for airport travellers and a busy commuter corridor noted for blue-chip company headquarters sprinkled along the M4.
Heathrow Quarter is a new name for a loosely defined commercial area taking in Isleworth, Osterly, Chiswick, Staines, Hounslow and Feltham - places now getting a residential boost because of town centre upgrades.
Regeneration also extends to redundant industrial and office sites such as the old GlaxoSmithKline complex in Brentford, which Barratt is transforming into a 13-acre, 773-home precinct called Great West Quarter.