As London’s population grows we will need even more shops to meet consumer demand. Estimates predict that spending levels in the capital will exceed retail capacity nearly two-fold by 2016. But what sort of shops do Londoners want? Can boutique sit side by side with bargain? Is high street threatened by out-of-town? And are the planners getting the balance right?
Shopping is often cited as one of our favourite pastimes. Of every £10 spent by Londoners, almost £4 goes to the retail sector. Recent stampedes at Primark’s new store in Oxford Street and major new developments planned and underway at White City, Brent Cross and Stratford City underline the fact that we increasingly love to shop.
But, with pleas from environmentalists to kerb shopping habits, the growth in online shopping, campaigns against cloned high streets in favour of local, specialist retailers and the growing interest in local produce – what is the future of shopping? Where will all the new shops go?
These are some of the questions that are being raised at SHOP, the major new exhibition and talks series at New London Architecture. Through case-studies, the exhibition examines successful commercial formulas, exploring how different approaches to retail in the Capital can sit alongside each other and work together to make London one of the major shopping destinations in the world. SHOP at NLA examines the way different shopping environments effect consumer behaviour, through a time-lapse film – visitors to the exhibition are transported to the contrasting experience of mall shopping at Jubilee Place in Canary Wharf and a leisurely stroll down Marylebone High Street.
Peter Murray, director of New London Architecture and curator of SHOP said:
“The threat for London is not local or national but international. We need the boutiques, the markets and the likes of Marylebone High Street to retain their cutting-edge just as much we need new retail developments at Wembley, Stratford and White City to meet demand. The challenge is for planners and developers to have the vision to be innovative and get the balance right between creating new retail destinations and investing in existing town and local centres. SHOP provides an opportunity to see new developments in the Capital and debate how London will cope with its consumer boom and maintain its position as one of the best shopping destinations in the world.”
Neil Mitchenall, co-founder of retail estate agency Lunson Mitchenall commented:
“There hasn’t been a serious debate on retail before and SHOP is the perfect platform for retailers, architects and planners to have their say on the future of shopping in the capital. There has been a major shift in the way retail is perceived in terms of new developments. I think architects looked down on retail as not being challenging enough. Now, they are more interested because it’s mixed use and an integral part of the plan.”
The exhibition showcases some of the new retail developments planned in and around London and highlights the unique retail offer of the capital, from Marylebone High Street and Dover Street Market to Westminster City Council and the New West End Company’s recently announced action plan for Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street.
Oxford Street without the stampedes: Oxford Street is at a critical stage in its life. Every Londoner has experienced it on a busy Saturday afternoon – and there is a need to improve the overall customer experience. The shopping environment is soon to be transformed with a new £40m action plan for Oxford, Regent, Old and New Bond led by Westminster City Council, the New West End Company and Transport for London. Key improvements in transport, public realm, lighting, signage, street furniture aim to create an international shopping destination that is a place for people.
Way out west: Westfield London in White City will deliver 1.6m sq ft of new space anchored by major UK retail names. Close to London’s major arterial routes – it is expected to play a pivotal role in encouraging further regeneration activity. To an extent west London’s high streets have to wait and see what impact such competition will have on trading levels. The west London market also waits to see what effect, if any, the extension of congestion charging will have on the viability of various retail centres.
Six day a week shopping in the city: The City of London has not traditionally done retail but gone are the days when retail was an after-thought – plugging ground floor space of offices as a necessary evil and leaving lots of occupiers trading from small, inadequate space. Today, the retail elements are an integral part of the plan and are afforded much more considered space allocations within what are still essentially office-led developments. The remodeling of Cheapside, the oldest high street in the City, new mix-use developments such as Jean Nouvel’s One New Change and Foster + Partners’ Walbrook Square are set to change how city boys and girls spend their lunchtimes and how local residents spend their weekends.
Marylebone High Street, often held up as an example of urban / village living is a lesson to all developers. The Howard de Walden Estate is renowned for its creative management techniques. It leases and manages the majority of the 92 acres of real estate in Marylebone, cutting out problems of management. The result is a well-managed high street with a diverse range of independent and high-end high street shops. In the last ten years the area has become highly desirable and it is a testament to these techniques that there are usually very few properties available to let on the Estate.
Another ‘village’ type environment has been created at The Brunswick Centre - the major refurbishment of one of London’s most recognisable and iconic buildings from the 1960’s. Developer Allied London aimed for a tenant mix that combined a handful of bigger high street operators with slightly smaller, niche traders – not found in every high street across the country. And when the main part of the scheme was completed it continued to hold back a collection of units in order to lease them to independent retailers.
Dover Street Market is the latest retail experiment by Comme des Garcons founder and designer Rei Kawakubo. Just down the road from the likes of Prada and Gucci on Bond Street, it turns the notion of the luxury fashion emporium on its head. It’s more like an indoor fashion bazaar with retail and studio space given over to young designers. The company acts like a mall operator, taking a percentage of sales from each stall to cover the costs of the 15-year lease.
SHOP will be supported by NLA’s popular series of free breakfast talks (held each Wednesday and some Thursday mornings) where you can hear leading figures in retail development and design further the discussion and prompt the debate. Speakers include leading retail practitioners, commentators and decision-makers including Danny Chalkley of Westminster City Council, Ken Greig of Greig + Stephenson - architects for Borough Market - and Mike Hussey of developer Land Securities.
9 May: Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street - An action plan for the retail streets
Gary Reeves, Chief Executive, New West End Company; Danny Chalkley, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Transport, Westminster City Council
16 May: Borough Market: Retail roots to renaissance
George Nicholson, Borough Market Trustee; Secretary, The National Retail Planning Forum; Ken Greig, Director, Greig + Stephenson Architects; John East, Head of Planning and Transport, Southwark Council
23 May: Cheapside is Changing
Linda Houston, Cheapside Area Retail Initiative, City of London
24 May: Connaught Village: Connecting with community
Rosemarie Carty, Asset Manager, Church Commissioners
30 May: Bringing Brent Cross into the heart of a new town centre
Jonathan Joseph, Development Director, Brent Cross Cricklewood Development Partners; Bruce Isles, Development Director, Hammerson
31 May: Raising the Bottom Line: Delivering retail projects which client value
Simon Rawlinson, Partner, Davis Langdon
6 June: Major Retail Regeneration Projects at Westfield London and Stratford City
Sebastian Greenall, Executive Architect, Westfield; David Leonard, Director, Leonard Design Architects
14 June: One New Change - Shops beneath offices, not offices above shops
Michael R Hussey, Managing Director, London Portfolio Land Securities
20 June: Retail at King's Cross
Roger Madelin, Joint Chief Executive, Argent Group Plc
Talks take place at 830am at New London Architecture, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT. Booking is essential by visiting www.newlondonarchitecture.org/talks or calling 020 7636 4044.
Notes to editors
• SHOP is sponsored by Davis Langdon and Lunson Mitchenall
• SHOP is at New London Architecture, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT from 3 May until 23 June. Opening times, Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm and Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Admission free. T: 020 7636 4044, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
• New London Architecture (NLA) at The Building Centre is an exhibition centre dedicated to the future of the built environment in London that is open to the public free of charge 6 days a week. The capital is undergoing a period of massive change and NLA is a place where everyone - professionals, politicians and the public - can find out and get involved in what is happening to the city. NLA has over 2500 visitors a week to the public exhibitions, events, talks and lectures that are organised to encourage constant debate, learning and networking across the profession and local communities - www.newlondonarchitecture.org