Duke of Westminster gives Pimlico small shopkeepers the boot to make way for large stores and luxury flats

The Duke of Westminster's property firm, Grosvenor Estate, wants to bulldoze six independent shops in Pimlico Road to make way for large stores and luxury flats.
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The Duke of Westminster, Britain’s richest landowner, has given a string of independent shop owners in a much-loved Pimlico street notice to quit by Christmas.

Protesters say the six shops in SW1’s Pimlico Road have helped give the street an international reputation as an interior design hub. They claim the mix of galleries, antiques shops and homeware stores creates a special atmosphere found nowhere else in London.
They say the Duke’s property firm, Grosvenor Estate, wants to bulldoze six small shops and a neighbouring Victorian timber yard to make way for large stores and luxury flats.
Grosvenor Estate says its plans would enhance the street.
The timber yard is currently run by Travis Perkins and includes a large covered space that would be divided under redevelopment plans.
Most of the six businesses given notice to quit by the end of the year are galleries that would disappear under the proposals expected to go before planners in the autumn.
Grosvenor wants to create a modern development of eight apartments plus three large shops.


“It is a tragedy and feelings are running very, very high,” says businesswoman and interior designer Joanna Wood, who chairs the Pimlico Road Association. “Ousting independents like this will take away the eccentricity and charm of the area.”

David Humphrey, director of Humphrey-Carrasco antiques, has been based in Pimlico Road for 20 years. His gallery is one of the six which face closure.
“The plan is to punch through the rear of the galleries into the historic 175-year-old Travis Perkins timber yard to create three 10,000sq ft mega units, dissecting the cathedral-like structure of the timber yard into three completely separate parts,” he says.
“It is the last surviving timber yard from the early Victorian period in the country, and still in use today for its original purpose.
“I believe Grosvenor’s plan is incongruous to the area, this scale of unit solely appeals to large multinational retailers. It is my view that the Grosvenor Estate, in search of higher profits, is laying the foundations to lose forever the unique character of the Pimlico Road.”
The other businesses affected are understood to include Carlton Hobbs antiques, Blenheim Carpets, Sanaiy Carpets, Benchmarx Kitchens, and Coote & Bernardi interior designers.
Mark Boyce, chairman of the Pimlico Road Design District, fears Grosvenor’s scheme will turn the area into another “clone town” high street. 
“Most [independent traders] require 1,000 to 2,000sq ft of space — 10,000sq ft spaces are only going to appeal to huge international brand names.
“All the buildings have thriving businesses paying substantial rents and rates as they are.”
Anna Farnes, project director at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, says the proposals would enhance Pimlico Road’s reputation and that local residents and traders would be consulted about the new businesses invited into the area. “Any new retailers will complement those already here, building on the area’s heritage of high-quality design and craftsmanship,” she adds.
“We have a long-term, constructive relationship with our retailers and residents, many of whom have given our initial proposals positive feedback.
“Interestingly, 80 per cent of retailers on our estate in South Belgravia are independently owned, which shows our support for a diverse retail community with real character.”
A previous attempt to redevelop the same site as apartments in 2001 was scuppered after scores of objections were lodged by local residents, including the milliner Philip Treacy.
The plight of Pimlico Road is not an isolated one as traditional areas fight to retain their character.
In central London, a number of art galleries in Cork Street and Dover Street and bespoke tailors’ workshops and menswear shops in Savile Row and Jermyn Street have been lost, as landowners convert their premises into more profitable lateral apartment developments, or let them to chain stores.

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