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Shepherds Bush Market Gentrification Threat Intensifies

By Archie Thomas, BA Politics and International Relations

 ‘We will continue to fight this application and the rampant gentrification it represents.’

On the 20th of December, Hammersmith and Fulham council voted, by three votes to two, to approve the redevelopment of Shepherd’s Bush Market in what campaigners have called “a shameful decision to side with corporate greed.” 

The planned development includes a nine-story building including offices, flats, and a life sciences incubator for Imperial College London, in addition to the refurbishment of existing market stalls. Yoo Capital, the majority owners of the market, said, “We are very pleased that plans for Shepherd’s Bush Market have been approved. This begins an important new chapter for the traders and market stallholders who have served the community, residents, tourists, and visitors for generations. The approved vision combines the efforts of local stakeholders, the community, and Yoo Capital, to create a long-term and successful future for all.”

Community campaign group Protest Shepherds Bush Market condemned the decision in a statement on X, writing: “The council have sided with the developer and ignored community and trader concerns for 18 months. Tonight just 3 councillors voted to approve an application that will push out traders and destroy the market’s diversity and character. We will continue to fight this application and the rampant gentrification it represents.”

In addition, more than 30 traders from the West London market have written to the council to express concern about the proposed development. The Hammersmith and Fulham Planning and Development Control Committee disclosed that 126 objections have been made to the proposal and 103 submissions in support. 

A previous meeting of the planning committee was forced to be abandoned when 20 campaigners protested claiming the council had not engaged with the community and that: “The planning process [was] devoid of democracy and [the] decision [had] been rigged from the start.” Many traders were also refused entry to the public meeting.

These campaigns are now focused on urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ‘call in’ the planning decision and block the development from proceeding. The Mayor has the power to review and block all major developments in the capital. 

In July last year, Sadiq Khan reviewed plans to build a tower block over Brixton Market in South London after pressure from local campaign group Fight the Tower. Developer Hondo Enterprises subsequently withdrew their planning application.

The UK Government’s heritage advisor Historic England has also expressed concerns that the development would be “visually dominant” and harmful to the character of the Shepherd’s Bush Conservation Area.  

Speaking to The SOAS Spirit, campaigner Jake Simms explained that the concern for Protect Shepherd’s Bush Market is that the “reason behind attempts to redevelop is to increase the value of the market as an asset and the main mechanism to do that is to massively increase rents for traders.” Yoo Capital says they have offered traders rent freezes till 2031. Simms told us there would be no guarantee of protected leases or affordable rents after this and that this “would completely transform the character of the market. There would still be a market but it would be massively gentrified.”

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