Revitalising Kensington High Street
Our High Street has already undergone several cycles of change. The department stores – Barkers, Derry and Toms and Pontins the High Street was once famous for have gone. So have the iconic fashion names of Biba, the Kensington Market and Hyper Hyper. A new focus on bespoke travel and outdoor clothing has emerged. We have the largest Whole Foods Market store in the world and the High Street survived the opening Westfield West London ten years ago, but lost a couple of important shops.
Since then the Design Museum has opened attracting over a million new design-conscious visitors to the High Street and most recently the third Japan House world-wide, promoting Japanese culture and technology, has opened. But at the same time some well-loved shops like Top Shop and Tesco have gone.
There is a lot of concern locally about the number of empty shops in the High Street. Whilst at 9% (2018) this vacancy level is in line with London and UK averages, some of the empty shops like Tesco and the corner opposite Whole Foods Market have been very noticeable and detract from the appearance of the High Street.
Another detraction has been the hoardings around the Lancer Square redevelopment and the former Odeon cinema, and the ones going up on the Boots building, together with scaffolding over Japan House to Marks & Spencer. Our High Street is not looking its best at the moment but this investment means that new opportunities will emerge.
Visualisations of Kensington High Street
The original Lancer Square development, particularly the courtyard retail was not very successful. It is being redeveloped to provide a mixed use development of four buildings ranging from four to seven storeys including retail, office and residential.
Former Post Office and Odeon Cinema
Planning permission for redevelopment of the cinema has been granted. A new application has been made for: a single prominent cinema entrance on the High Street, removing Earl’s Court Rd entrance; a single cinema operator rather than two separate operators; more private and affordable housing; public use of the retained cinema arch and increased restaurant provision.
Planning permission has been granted for alteration, refurbishment and extension of the Boots building and the office block behind, and demolition of the Café Nero pavilion. This will create a westward extension of High Street Kensington Mall.
The Boots store will remain open throughout the development.
201-207 Kensington High Street
Once Woolworth’s London flagship store and more recently Robert Dyas, planning permission was granted in 2016 for redevelopment of the site involving retention and restoration of front facade, erection of two additional storeys and alteration and extensions to rear first and second floor levels to provide flats, creation of an additional basement level for a gym, alteration of existing basement level to provide improved retail floorspace and provision of new shop fronts.