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My letter to Westway Development Trust:
The proposed development of the Portobello Green area is wrong for a number of reasons:
While the area is somewhat shabby and requiring some money spent on it It does not suit a development of the nature proposed. The anti-social behaviour problems cited as one reason for this 'improvement' is caused mainly by weak policing by WDT and by a lack of interest on RBKC's part in the needs of the local community. Sadly, street drinking and sleeping, angry dog ownership in order to demonstrate resentment and vandalism is endemic in our cities and will ever be so until more thought is put into how to address the problems. Building this development will not put an end to anti social behaviour; at best it will force it elsewhere in the area.
The tented market is, along with Portobello Road as a whole, quite rightly world famous. It is world famous because it is unique. It is world famous (and loved) because it allows individual traders to market their wares with affordable overheads. And believe it or not it is world famous because of its shabby originality and integrity. The proposal will destroy this uniqueness and a once vibrant thoroughfare will become just another soulless city street.
We do not need a 'fine dining restaurant' in place of the tent. The term fine dining says it all; it will not be for the benefit of the local community but of benefit to the well heeled incomers, who on the whole, from my experience, resent the local community and consider us to be rather 'infra dig'. There is enough fine dining to be had elsewhere in the area.
We do not need Westfield type shops. There are more than enough in Westfield itself.
It is horrific that the residential part of the proposal will be 'high end'. If any residential development takes place it should surely be affordable housing for the locals. Westway after all manages the land on behalf of the community and therefore I find the idea of them carrying out private developments on this land unacceptable. It wouldn't surprise me if it was illegal too.
On a personal level, as a resident of Cambridge Gardens (directly opposite the 'tent') I would like you to explain how building your shoe box on stilts and blocking our sunlight for a large part of the day, benefits us. I would also like to know how having a public balcony directly overlooking us benefits us in any way.
By all means spend some money on the area but do it in such a way that retains the dignity and the soul of one of Londons great assets.