More than 50 traders, supporters and residents packed out the meeting room of Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall on the evening of April 19 as the council's planning committee voted unanimously against a proposal to allow seven-day trading in the basement of the Admiral Vernon, one of the road's flagship antiques arcades.
In the latest of a long line of publicly-contested planning applications, campaigners turned up wearing 'Save Portobello' rosettes and large cheers greeted the final verdict which had hung in the balance until the closing moments of the hour-long meeting.
Before the meeting began, the dealers present had not been entirely hopeful. It was generally expected that the application would be accepted, as a recommendation to approve it had been made in advance by the council's executive planning officer.
The application itself, which was made by The Portobello Group, the owners of the premises, sought to overturn a restriction limiting trading to Fridays and Saturdays which was applied in 1995 when the Admiral Vernon basement was dug out to provide additional space for the antiques arcade.
Speaking at the meeting, Portobello Antique Dealers' Association chairman Costas Kleanthous said that if planning permission was granted, this would allow the landlords to bring in alternative tenants as had happened with the former Lipka's Antiques Arcade which is now an All Saints clothing store.
The representative of The Portobello Group at the meeting said that company owner Warren Todd "had no intention of turning the arcade into a retail store" and pointed out that "he has had the opportunity to convert the ground floor to a retail store for some time but has not done so".
Speaking to ATG after the meeting, the representative said it was too early to say whether an appeal would be lodged.
However, Mr Kleanthous said that any appeal by the owners would now be difficult since the reasons for rejecting the application were down to "solid and official planning reasons".
In the end, the decision of the five-member committee came down to the potential impact of the application on local residents and amenities.
The condition enacted in 1995 limiting trading to Fridays and Saturdays was applied "due to the intensive nature of the proposal [to use the lower ground floor as an antiques market] and its proximity to residential properties".
It was highlighted at the meeting that since more residents now live in the immediate vicinity – many of the upper floors of shops and arcades in Portobello which were formerly used for storage or as workshops have since been converted into flats – there was now even more need to have this restriction in place than was originally the case to restrict the movement of goods during the week and avoid disturbances.
Significantly, 25 written objections from local residents were lodged seemingly at the very last minute. They had been collected by Councillor Dez O'Neill who visited residents personally after they had apparently failed to receive notification about the planning application. These objections, which were only submitted the day before the meeting, came in addition to more than 50 objections from dealers and campaigners which were made during the consultation period for the application.
In a statement sent to ATG, a council spokesman said: "All adjoining properties were consulted" and "24 letters were sent to residents prior to the meeting".
Costas Kleanthous described the Admiral Vernon as "the largest and most important arcade in Portobello" and disputed the applicant's suggestion that removing the trading restriction "would help market traders extend their appeal to a wider customer base by enabling them to trade on extra days of the week".
While the representative of The Portobello Group pointed to a survey conducted by The Retail Group showing 51 per cent of dealers would welcome the opportunity to trade on more than just one day a week, its findings are disputed by those who say that genuine antiques dealers would be reluctant to break their cycle of standing at Portobello's Saturday market and then spending the rest of the week sourcing antiques at auctions, fairs and other outlets around the country.
At the meeting, Mr Kleanthous also referred to the Local Development Framework document, which was ratified by the council in December. Policy CP7 states: 'The council will ensure the long-term success of Portobello Road, with its antiques and street market.'
After the committee rejected this latest planning proposal Mr Kleanthous said: "I am glad the councillors have tonight showed their stated support for the famous antiques market by declining this application."