Alfies
The dealers and owner of Alfies Antiques Market on Church Street are part of the group that is planning a new street event this summer to promote the area as a hub for the sale of art, antiques, vintage and design-related goods.

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As part of £1.2bn investment plans for the area, rent reviews have been settled to keep rents manageable over the next 10 years, while the council says it will favour art and antiques tenants over other users when new shops come up for lease.

A Sunday street event is being planned to attract new customers to the area.

Improved relations

The relationship between the council and the 40 or so members of the Church Street Decorative Arts Dealers’ Group has markedly improved in the past year.

Tensions mounted between dealers and the council in 2015 when rents soared by up to 80%. The association launched a petition to “retain the character and reputation” of the street and to stop tenants being priced out of the area altogether.

Many streets in London have experienced the break-up of art and antiques hubs as rents and rates priced out the traditional tenants following the growth of luxury fashion brands.

Westminster council is in a position to make a difference in Church Street. As the owner of around 80% of the road’s buildings, it can exert its control on tenant mix and rent levels.

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London’s Church Street has had rent reviews aimed to keep rents manageable, while the council says it will favour art and antiques tenants over other users when new shops come up for lease.

Dale Thomson, senior project manager at Westminster council, said: “Yes, there are financial objectives in terms of rent, but we have to balance this with the need to support the local economy.

“We are very clear that we don’t want to exclude any part of the community and consider the antiques quarter to be a vital element of our regeneration plans.”

The street comprises a general food and clothing market at the Edgware Road end with the art and antiques hub occupying the Lisson Grove end.

The dealers of Alfies Antique Market on the street back the project.

Owner Bennie Gray told ATG: “The east end of Church Street is now finally being recognised as a destination for the buying and selling of art, antiques, high design and decorative objects. That is fantastic. 

"We’re happy that the council are listening to our thoughts and ideas on the street and are collaborating with us on our desire to hold special events and particularly an artisan street market, to really put the area on the map."

Dealer Leon Young, who has run Young & Son in Church Street for the past 17 years, said: “Following a difficult period when there were losses on the street, we have now turned a corner. Westminster has responded to the dealers and listened.”

“We need to balance financial objectives in terms of rent with the need to support the local economy

A provisional date of June 18 has been approved by the council for a shopping event that will see the street go traffic-free to host 100 dealers along the thoroughfare.

“This event is a pilot and if it is a success it could become a regular event,” said Young.

“The intention is to re-establish the area with the wealthy communities nearby, including Regent’s Park, Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Maida Vale. We want to bring these people into the area.”