HOARDINGS set to block the front entrance of Grays antiques centre in London’s West End for up to three years have already hit trade, say dealers.
But they are fighting back with a banner campaign to let people know that it's business as usual despite the extensive work disrupting the area as Crossrail redevelop Bond Street station.
The embattled dealers at Grays, who were originally told that the hoardings would be up for only six months, are having to deal with two further development projects in the area at the same time: Transport for London are renovating Bond Street underground station, while the nearby Hog in the Pound pub has been demolished to make way for a new luxury-brand shopping unit.
Crossrail have tried to address fears that no one would realise Grays was open by putting up directional signs to the centre around the hoardings, which went up in mid October, but the dealers say they are either in the wrong place or direct people the wrong way, and a site visit by ATG confirmed that what had been provided was far from satisfactory.
Now the dealers have had 15 horizontal banners designed which they intend to display in the vicinity with the consent of the centre's management.
Grays' management have also been in talks with Westminster Council, who agreed to the installation of additional banners, including on the site of the former pub facing Oxford Street.
This all follows the news that emerged last month that the grout shaft which is located immediately outside Grays' front entrance will need to be sealed off until at least 2015.
Crossrail announced in their most recent newsletter that, due to 'the potential for ground movement', engineers would require constant access to the shaft throughout the excavation work for the new tunnels and station so that they can pump in grout to compensate for any instability.
Work on removing surface worksites will only begin once the ground has fully settled over the next 12 months.
Crossrail told ATG that they were "very sensitive to the concerns of Grays" and had been working closely with them to minimise the impact of construction.
"We have recently installed improved signage for Grays around the exterior of our neighbouring worksite which includes Perspex hoardings that keep the antiques centre within view of potential customers," they said.
While Crossrail pointed out that they had also listed the names of all the individual dealers on an over-sized banner, this only can be seen by those who have already arrived at the centre's front entrance. With the pedestrian access on both sides of Davies Street greatly reduced, the route to Gray's from Oxford Street and the underground station is obscured by the hoardings for both the Crossrail and TfL projects.
A TfL spokesperson said: "London Underground's work on Davies Street is due to be completed next spring. We are in contact with Grays Antiques and we already have signs in place and a way-finding map to direct people to their centre. However we will look at erecting more signs."
By Alex Capon