'Too Many Estate Agents' On Chiswick Street

Turnham Green Terrace independent traders launch campaign


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Independent traders in Turnham Green Terrace have complained their street will turn into a “dead zone” because of the number of estate agents.

The traders have launched a campaign to highlight the need to protect the “traditional” shopping character of the street and say Hounslow Council planners are to blame for approving so many applications for a change of use from retail.

Turnham Green Terrace

Hounslow Council has defended itself, saying that approvals were given as a change of use was not considered detrimental to the character of the street, as there were still a large proportion of A1 retail units in the area.

The controversy erupts as estate agent Hamptons, prepares to open its latest premises.

According to a trading breakdown of Turnham Green Terrace, estate agents form the largest group of businesses with ten outlets fronting the street.

The trading mix breakdown shows there are six charity shops, five cafes/restaurants, four takeaway outlets, and the rest is a mixture of clothes shops, hairdressers, a butchers, fish shop, jeweller, travel agent, toyshop, chocolate shop, delicatessen, health food store and bathroom gift shop.

The independent traders blame Hounslow Council for approving successive change of use when a retail outlet closes. They say the Council is failing in its remit to protect the character of the area and is “out of touch” with the sentiment on the ground of shops, businesses, and the people of Chiswick.

Spokesman Dan Hunt, who runs the Natural Food Store said ; “We have nothing against estate agents per se but a lot of people feel that there are already too many on Turnham Green Terrace, which is a well loved traditional shopping street in Chiswick. Our problem is that Hounslow council's planning department have seen fit to approve the conversion of site after site to the A2 usage needed for estate agents instead of the traditional A1 usage for retailers, and with no prior consultation.

“The Terrace traders welcome any business that helps to generate foot traffic and adds to the character of the street but feel strongly that the Hounslow Council’s approval of too many A2 lease conversions for estate agents to open is in danger of destroying the character of the street.”

He added that while shops helped generate foot traffic and business, estate agents “feed off this passing traffic but do not help to generate it.”

They could also afford much higher rents than independent shops.

“Each estate agent that has opened over the last decade has replaced an actual retail shop. If the council continues to approve applications from new estate agents there will come a critical mass time very shortly and the remaining retailers will start to close very quickly.

“Turnham Green Terrace is one of a dwindling number of traditional shopping streets. It has a unique character created by its mix of shops of all different types - something planning departments are supposed to help protect. Estate agents are in danger of turning Turnham Green Terrace into a ‘dead zone’, “ he said.

The Turnham Green Terrace independent traders are now launching a campaign to highlight the difficulties faced by independent retailers in the current economic climate and to ‘Save the Terrace’ from being overtaken by estate agents.

“Local traders have a hard enough job trying to fight the big multiples and supermarkets without also having to fight their own council. We will be running a campaign to urge the council to fulfil their stated commitments to protecting local communities,” said Mr. Hunt.

A number of shops in Turnham Green Terrace have recently complained about high rents, and “greedy landlords” in Chiswick making it difficult for independents to survive in the recession.

Hounslow Council said ; " We do consult with neighbouring properties when an application for a change of use is received, and all the applications we receive are available to read on our website.

“Approval has been given as a change of use was not considered to be detrimental to the character of the street as there is still a large proportion of A1 retail units in the area.”

Chiswick estate agent Oliver Finn, who is not based on Turnham Green Terrace, said it was time for estate agents to realise that buyers rarely found a house by going into an agent's office first and most were using the internet.

It has been suggested that 97% of all buyers and tenants begin their search for a property on the interne,t using sites such as Google, Primelocation or Rightmove, he said.

"Estate agents shopfronts are a thing of the past and its about time they gave up their £60k per annum shopfronts and left the pretty shopping streets to the butcher, baker and candlestick maker", he commented.

November 9, 2012

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