A guest post from Richard Owen
I just read the piece by Harry Phibbs about the streetscene improvement works in Goldhawk Road, which includes pavement widening. Clearly there there are a number of real benefits, both practical and aesthetic from these schemes, though you are right to draw attention to the potential costs from increased congestion, especially as London continues to struggle to achieve satisfactory clean air standards.
I am concerned that we are failing to take a holistic and fully imaginative approach to upgrading the ambiance of streets like Goldhawk Road. What I always notice when travelling from Holland Park into Shepherds Bush is the sudden proliferation of security shutters in front of shops, and satellite dishes covering frontages – classic indicators of blight and underperformance.
On a Sunday morning the eastern section of Goldhawk Road can feel like a conflict zone in post-curfew lockdown. Ugly metal shutters cover more than half of business premises, and satellite dishes bubble and pustulate from the front faces of what were once attractive historic buildings.
Relocating satellite dishes to more sensitive sites on a building is not that expensive. Neither is removing an external security shutter or replacing it with a much less obtrusive open-linked internal grill.
The challenge lies in the fact that these are usually on private property where the council lacks powers. But if we are spending nearly £4 million on new paving and street trees, surely it is worth spending a little more to achieve a genuinely good result. In fact I would argue that the first tranche of any street improvement budget should always be spent trying to remove satellite dishes and security shutters, via grants or access to pre-funded council contractors.
You’re partly missing the point here.
A lot of the shutters are on empty shops. last count (2 weeks ago) between Askew Road and Goldhawk Road station there were 25 empty shops. another 20-odd retail units are presently being built!
This is idiocy. What this council must do is reverse the previous council policy of allowing/encouraging/insisting on retail elements to every new development. When we opposed the retail element of the Augustus Close development a few years back we were told Goldhawk Road was an unsuitable environment for residential use at ground floor level; a curious view for planning officers to take in a road which still has mainly residential at ground floor level including the house I have lived in since 1987!
Needless too say the retail units fronting Augustus Close have never been in use for long with a procession of traders in short order. If the council can see sense and grant change of use for e.g. 105 Goldhawk Road, it could have done the same for Town House Studios, Carpetright, the Harvest petrol station and other developments.
Thanks Paul, I agree 100%. There is excess retail space all over Hammersmith around me, empty units along King Street and in Kings Mall and yet as you rightly observe more is robotically added at every time a new development goes up. Council planners are wrong to rule out residential at ground level. With some design attention around privacy and security, it can work fine for many people, and would bring a welcome mix of tone and activity to a street.