A second major property development unveiled for Cork Street in Mayfair now means that over half of the galleries there face being forced out.
ATG reported in August that seven of
the 22 galleries on the street, in the heart of the West End's
commercial gallery district, were informed that their leases would
not be renewed next year because of redevelopment plans by a new
landlord, Native Land.
Now, five more galleries - Petley's,
Messum's, Bernard Jacobson, Hay Hill and Medici Gallery - are
facing relocation as landowner the Pollen Estate have announced
plans to redevelop numbers 5-9 Cork Street after the galleries'
leases expire in 2015.
Plans for both projects will be
submitted to Westminster Council in late October, with a decision
likely early next year. Both propose retail units at street level
and dealers expect that rents will rise sharply, leaving them
unable to compete with the fashion and luxury goods chains who
already dominate neighbouring Bond Street.
Native Land's proposal includes
replacing the current building with luxury apartment blocks, with
art galleries and restaurants at street level. Pollen Estate want
to demolish one 20th century building (number 7, now home to the
India Tourist Office) and knock down all but the facade of the
remaining buildings. The street level gallery space will then be
remodelled from six small units into four larger ones.
A spokesman from Pollen Estate told
ATG: "The proposals for 5-9 Cork Street will provide new office,
retail and art gallery space, enhancing the appearance of the
Mayfair Conservation Area and upgrading the quality of
accommodation available. The Estate is keen to preserve and build
on Cork Street's reputation as a gallery location by providing
higher quality space with an improved frontage that will be
completed late 2016/2017."
They continued: "Gallery owners
affected by the proposals are being consulted beforehand to give
them a first-hand opportunity to comment and for us to listen to
feedback on the design proposals. Finally, with development
completion still more than four years away, we will determine our
leasing policy nearer the time, and once we have secured planning
and any related consents."
Opponents of the Cork Street
redevelopment plans are many and an online petition has already
exceeded the target of 10,000 signatures needed to take the issue
One way that the businesses might be
protected is if the street was awarded Special Policy status,
protecting the art and antiques galleries deemed synonymous with
the area - as has happened with tailors on Savile Row and the
private clubs and art galleries in St James's.
Councillor Jonathan Glanz recently
gave his response on the issue on the petition site: "As ward
councillor I have had a number of meetings with those representing
the Arts businesses in the street and the area around it and am
aware of the pressures on smaller galleries in
"I believe there is a proposal being
formulated to seek to designate the area as one of Special Policy
on behalf of the arts and antique businesses in the same way that
Savile Row is the subject of a special policy that relates to
bespoke tailoring. This would seek to protect such uses under
"I believe the contribution that the
arts businesses, big and small, working alongside the major auction
houses make to the area is very important and support the
continuance of such occupiers which is part of what gives the West
End its unique character."
Gallery owners on both sites feel the
landlords are taking a shortsighted view, destroying the very
reason that visitors come to the area.
"They are gutting the whole street and
have priced us off the road," said Tom Dawnay of Medici Gallery,
one of the five Pollen Estate galleries facing relocation in 2015.
"They may as well roof over the whole of Mayfair and call it
Westfield Central. It's becoming so homogenised. We just hope that
by campaigning against it the council will be sympathetic to
Most of the dealers affected hope to
remain in Mayfair but are weighing up their next move. "It's the
million-dollar question - where do we move to? It's almost a
question of who moves where first," said Mr Dawnay.