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Six independent galleries and a Victorian timber yard are threatened by plans announced by Grosvenor Estates to replace the existing structures at the Newson's Yard site with three large commercial units and eight luxury flats.

David Humphrey of Humphrey-Carrasco, who have traded on the street for over 20 years, has called on members of the antiques trade to sign a petition against the plans. With over 740 current signatures, the petition needs 1500 for consideration by Westminster Council.

"I think the petition and letters of objection will be a powerful argument when it comes to planning because right now this is a David and Goliath situation - little old me fighting Grosvenor, the largest and wealthiest land owner in London," Humphrey says.

Grosvenor Estates, who own the property, announced their plans to remodel the site in June 2015, although the final planning application, due to be submitted during the autumn, has yet to be filed in the face of a negative response from members of the Pimlico Road community. 

Though the proposals would leave the façades of the Victorian buildings untouched, the cavernous Travis Perkins timber yard (the oldest continuously functioning yard in the UK) would be transformed to accommodate several flats and additional retail space. 

Site History

A similar bid for Pimlico Road's redevelopment was overturned as a result of public objection in 2001. Humphrey pointed out that though the original stance of Grosvenor was a bid for regeneration, the proposals for the timber yard space suggest predominantly commercial interests.

"If it was really about regeneration, and Travis Perkins had to go, a much more sympathetic approach to preserving the architecture would be to create a series of small independent galleries inside the space."

This idea was discarded during a 'retail in the community' workshop organised by Grosvenor in November, on the basis that rent couldn't be charged on the central walkway formed between the units. "So it's not about regeneration, it's about the money," Humphrey adds.

"Historic and Unique Building"

Carlton Hobbs, whose gallery also stands to be redeveloped, described the timber yard as "a historic and unique 19th century industrial building that has been declared by an expert to be a 'cathedral-like space'."

He adds: "Grosvenor hope to gain increased rental income for the entire street having now set benchmark rents from the development. Dealers will be forced to leave the road as a result," even if their properties are not structurally affected.

A Grosvenor Estates spokesman told ATG that the previous designs for the street's architecture were being revised following community feedback.

"There's been a lot of consultation on the make-up of the street. Nothing's set in stone. We haven't lodged the application."

The petition can be found at home.38degrees.org.uk

ATG Comment

Redevelopment plans in prime central London locations rarely work out well for the art and antiques trade.

Islington, Cork Street, Bond Street and Portobello - areas brought to life by art and antiques for generations - have all suffered.

The rents long paid by the trade to sell from these prime locations are dwarfed by the eye-watering sums tolerated by fashion brands and watch retailers.

Pimlico Road, home of the alternative and the design-conscious since the post-war years, could now follow suit.