Antiques dealers in the heart of central London who are suffering from being caught up in one of Europe’s largest construction projects are calling for some respite from the ongoing disruption.
l route linking the west and east of the
capital, and traders say footfall is down by 50-60% since the
extensive building programme began in 2010.
The closure to traffic of most of Davies
Street, which is the main road access for the Grays triangular site
off Bond Street, keeps on being renewed year after year and it has
just been extended to September 2013, with traders left in the dark
about when it will reopen.
They are urging Westminster council to
improve their support, and there has been some encouraging progress
in that area, such as individual dealers now being invited to
quarterly meetings held to discuss issues in the area. Dealer Robin
Haydock said traders were "very pleased" about the more individual
approach to consultation.
Dealers say rubbish on pavements, the
"complete eyesore" look to the Crossrail facilities, mud and dirt
in the area and the lack of car access for customers to be dropped
off are among the many problems.
Also, a grout shaft in front of Grays main
entrance "is no longer the small facility originally described" and
despite traders believing that this would be used for a short time
only, "the fenced area around the shaft has become a permanent camp
and has grown into a large, fenced storage facility".
There is some good news though, with a
Crossrail pledge that when work starts on the ticket hall on the
western side of Davies Street extra directional signs to Grays will
be provided, and dealers will be consulted on what form that should
take. But traders are disappointed that advertising at the front
entrance of the centre, where that grout shaft is sited, only comes
up to waist height and a Perspex screen covering the rest merely
shows the construction equipment behind.
Mr Haydock said that while directional
signage for people who want to visit the site was improving, "where
we feel we are all missing out is with new business - people who
don't know that we exist because what they see when they look up
and down Davies Street is a building site, not a high-class,
quality row of shops and businesses you would be interested in, and
that's for a long, long time".
Grays dealer Brian Murray-Smith, from The
Gilded Lily, said: "At present our passing trade has shrivelled to
nothing. From Oxford Street it is not visibly obvious that there
are any shops open in Davies Street or, indeed, that the road is
not completely closed.
"From within Mayfair, from the perspective
of Claridge's, from Berkeley Square or from any of the surrounding
luxurious streets it must appear that our sad little enclave is a
dirty and noisy location that should be circumvented by anyone in
Mr Murray-Smith is calling for Davies Street
to be reopened.
A spokesperson for Crossrail said:
"Crossrail currently has approval for Davies Street to remain
closed to general traffic until September next year but access for
local businesses is available on request.
"Vehicle access continues to be available
via neighbouring South Molton Lane. In early 2013, the main
construction contract for Bond Street station will be awarded and
there will be a further assessment concerning the need for a
continued closure of Davies Street.
"New solid timber hoardings will replace the
temporary fencing surrounding the site and a meeting has recently
been held with Grays antiques to understand how they would like the
new hoardings to look.
"Crossrail construction at Davies Street
remains on schedule with Crossrail services commencing through
central London in late 2018."