London’s big ‘great estates’ are waging a war against chain shops and gradually remodelling many upmarket areas of the capital in a bid to maintain property prices by attracting wealthy home buyers to their streets, it has been claimed.
Caspar Harvard-Walls of home search firm Black Brick says prime examples of this are the Portman Estate, Cadogan Estate and Grosvenor Estate which he claims are working to remodel areas into new ‘villages’ to feature more independent shops and boutiques rather than the big retail and food chains.
“It is a trend – buyers looking for homes in these areas want shops, services and food outlets that feel part of an area and connected to it, rather than being run by anonymous corporations,” he says.
Harvard-Walls (left) also suggests that wealthy buyers don’t want areas to look like every other high street with the same brands huddled side by side, even if it is a kind of social engineering that is only possible when an area’s planning and licensing are directly controlled by one organisation.
“If they can achieve the kind of high street they want to, then they know people will pay more for properties, which they benefit from when leaseholds are extended.”
Many of the big land owners in London wield enormous retail power because they can offer non-commercial leases to independent shops and even estate agents in a bid to keep out ‘vulgar’ chains such as Nero and Costa.
Harvard-Walls identifies three of the new villages where chains are increasingly scarce. These are Marylebone High Street, Pavilion Road in Knightsbridge and North Audley Street in Mayfair, although he says new developers are taking the same attitude.
This includes the former BBC White City site redevelopment in Shepherd’s Bush which the developer has aligned with private members club Soho House, and the huge estate springing up within the former Battersea Power Station site.