Seven-day trading in the basement at the Admiral Vernon Arcade has been given the green light despite fears it might sound the death knell for antiques in Portobello.
The Planning Inspectorate ruled in
favour of the appeal submitted by arcade owners Holland Park
Investments Ltd (HPI), who had refused to accept Kensington and
Chelsea Council's decision to continue restricting trading there to
Fridays and Saturdays.
The appeal followed a highly vocal
campaign by the Portobello Antique Dealers' Association (PADA), the
Save Portobello Facebook campaign and others against HPI's
The campaigners fear that antiques
dealers, who spend much of the week sourcing goods around the
country for sale in the arcade on Saturdays, would be squeezed out
in favour of other traders who would be prepared to open all week
if permission for seven-day trading was given.
They still fear that dealers may be
forced to choose between opening for seven days or quitting their
leases, going against the traditional spirit of Portobello and
creating a precedent that would spread to the rest of the
However, the planning inspector
believes their fears are unfounded: "It is by no means inevitable
that removal of the condition [restricting trading from the
basement to Fridays and Saturdays] would automatically lead to the
cessation of the antiques trade," paragraph 26 of his report
argued. It added: "In this eventuality it is said that the antiques
area would 'disintegrate' but the overall scale, diversity and
reputation of Portobello Road makes this seem unlikely."
Regardless of the risk, stated the
inspector, existing permissions did not restrict the use of the
basement or ground floors to antiques-related business
The inspector did restrict loading and
unloading times in the interests of people living nearby, and
banned deliveries from Vernon Yard, saying they should take place
only from Portobello Road itself.
PADA chairman Costas Kleanthous, who
played an active role in the appeal process, was grateful to the
inspector for giving opponents of the idea "every opportunity" to
put their case, but said the decision effectively gave developers
"carte blanche" to do what they wanted.
"We're examining our options based on
this decision, and we don't see this as the end," he told
"The inspector was fair and
even-handed, but his decision to award partial costs against the
council raises the question as to whether the council's handling of
the case was robust enough to protect local interests and
His statement referred to a separate
judgment by the inspector, in which he awarded HPI 30% of their
costs to be paid by the local authority.
The inspector ruled that the council
had acted unreasonably in refusing the original application,
because they had not provided sufficient evidence to show the
alleged damage they said the changes would cause and which
contributed to their grounds for refusal of the plans.