More than 3,000 people have signed a petition against council plans to revamp Golborne Road due to fears of the plans promoting “backdoor gentrification” that will drive out independent businesses and steamroll the communities’ individuality.
The plans themselves involve an extensive program of civic improvements such as raising pavements, erecting more street lights and planting trees. The street’s market traders say the works themselves will halt business while they are being carried out.
The petition, which was presented to Kensington and Chelsea council on October 21st, is backed by the Golborne Association claims that the plans are the beginning of an attempt to remodel Golborne Road into an extension of the nearby Portobello Road. Once twinned with the tourism magnet the residents fear that rents would inevitably spike for both residents and businesses, rendering the street affordable only for typical high street stores.
“This is back door gentrification. It is all about making it harder for the traders to operate. They want to make the area like Portobello Road and it will end up just being a boring street with nothing special.” Stated Wendy Mandy, Vice Chairwoman of the Golborne Association. “we have a mix and that’s what makes this road great… none of the changes are necessary. The council are trying to destroy the tradition of the road and we will fight it.”
The community around the Portobello market area has long been fighting to prevent gentrification dating back to the unsuccessful 2010 campaign by local antique store owners to prevent the opening of a branch of AllSaints on the historic site of the Portobello antiques market. The council however has insisted that the plans are merely intended to enhance the area with Timothy Coleridge, Kensington and Chelsea’s Cabinet Member for Planning claiming that “We have been working with residents, market traders and businesses for some time on proposals to improve Golborne Road… we have a design that can successfully tackle the existing problems and make the area more attractive to residents, traders and visitors without compromising its unique character.”