How do people feel about the changes that have taken place on Portobello road over the last few years?
The changes that have affected Portobello road in the last decade have a had a great impact on the local community along with the future proposals which have been outlined for the area by the council in order to improve the area. For the purpose of the investigation it is useful to understand how the local community view these changes and proposals, and to gain an insight into the conflict that is arousing from the proposed changes and developments. A secondary source presented as an article from the Notting Hill Action Group, which is an organisation campaign involved in fighting local issues.
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In this article local residents are protesting against the eviction orders that have been served on Elgin books, a bookstore which has been on the road for more than 20 years, one of the reasons for this protest is that the rent has increased so much the bookstore can no longer afford to pay substantial amounts of money on rent. The local residents are also furious about the fact that breaches against planning consent rules i. e. ‘the Fluid juice bar shop front being put up without planning’, are allowed to go unchecked by the council, even though actions like these are ‘considered an offence to the streets character’.
Although these protests are creating an unhappy atmosphere in and around Portobello road, it is useful to understand why the residents feel what they do, one of the reasons may be down to the fact that residents don’t want to ruin Portobello’s individual character. However this is very difficult to overcome the conflict between residents and planners because many ‘greedy people in the area are using Notting hill’s celebrity as a way of forcing up rents and forcing out businesses, which have been in the area for more than 30 years.
An article labelled ‘Planning rage’ which is slightly different to the 1st 1 although still sharing the same subject matter of ‘planning orders’. In this article (which is written by NAG) the Unitary development Plan is being criticized by many residents along with the Notting Hill Action Group itself! This is extremely relevant to the investigation because the future proposals stated in question 4 are based on the Unitary Development Plan, therefore it is useful to understand how the residents view these changes.
The article starts off with the fact that ‘ owners of small family-run businesses say that they will be squeezed out by the unitary development Plan which is proposing to open the floodgates to huge chain stores. ‘ And it also states that ‘the recent arrival of chain stores such as GAP and Starbucks has fuelled their fears. ‘ It is evident from these 2 lines, that the people of Portobello road ‘don’t want the small businesses (which make the area so unique) be swallowed up by chain stores that will make the area look like any where else. Especially a resident in particular called Mr Walton who lives in Arundel Gdns, who says: “we are concerned that developments should not harm the character of the area. ” The council have responded to this argument by saying: “we’re trying to react to what people want, and to do it within the powers we are granted. ” It obvious that this is a complicated issue, because there is a balanced argument between both the councillors and the residents, therefore it is difficult to determine who is right in what is being said.
Another article displays a variety of articles, one of which is to do with the division between the rich and the poor on Portobello road. This article is stating that there is a ‘widening gap between the rich and the poor in the UK and this is marked in the Notting hill area, which has multi million pound house prices while Goldbourne ward (northern section) is in the fifth poorest ward in inner London. ‘ Therefore many of the residents of the Goldbourne ward have organised a pilgrimage, which is a powerful reminder to everyone to challenge the status quo, and to work energetically for a fairer, more balanced society.
Many of the people who are involved in this protest are trying to convince the council to give in to their requirements by organising these sorts of campaigns. However it is not easy for the council to equalise the 2 parts of the road because the census data on page shows that there is a high unemployment and low home ownership rate which means that most of the population live in rented houses, therefore it would take the council a long time to match up to the employment and home ownership rates which are 3 times higher in the Pembridge ward.
Although the newspaper article is outlining resident views, it is still a secondary resource and so its reliability could be questioned, we cannot be sure that there is a division between the rich and the poor in the 2 wards, as the article is written by a person who may well be biased. However the primary data in the form of a shopping, environmental and residential house surveys show that the Pembridge ward is far better off than the Goldbourne ward in terms of house prices and quality.
Even though most people situated in Portobello road such as the residents in the 1st NAG article are criticising the future proposals that have been made by the council (stated in question 4) there are also others who are in favour of these improvements i. e traders. In the article named ‘Portobello 2000’ Anne swift is an antiques dealer who talks about the future of Portobello road, and also mentions the importance of ‘Portobello having the opportunity to establish itself as the worlds leading centre for antiques and a leading market for general commodities.
Anne sees the ‘over commercialisation’ of Portobello road as a good thing as this would encourage trade from tourism, however the people in the ‘planning rage’ article see this as gentrification steam roller, and as a threat to small businesses. Therefore this is causing a growing conflict between traders and residents. Anne swift suggest some of her own proposals which are in line with those stated in question 4, she believes that all traders have to offer high quality goods, by displaying better merchandise. She also states that improving the environment will create a more clean and spacious environment for everyone, especially tourists.
Lastly she suggests the need for friendly and efficient service in order to satisfy customers. A questionnaire which was conducted on all parts of Portobello road in order to find out information about the residents and tourists who shop there. The results of the questionnaire were then converted in to a graph, which helped to analyse the relationships between the figures. From question 1 on the graph its evident that the majority of people questioned were residents (58%) and the remaining were either tourists or workers (42%).
This proves that Portobello road attracts quite a lot of tourists and therefore has a large sphere of influence, as the figures are nearly similar to that of the residents. Out of the 58% of the residents questioned, 33% of them have lived in the area between 11-20 years, which showed that they knew the area well and were aware of the changes that have taken place over the last decade. Many of the residents questioned felt that the area had changed in terms of housing which is now of a better quality and residents, as new people are being attracted to the area everyday. 2% of the residents felt that the changes had made the area better, while 29% of the people felt that the changes were quite good for the area, however there were only 7% of residents who felt that the area had declined.
This shows that Portobello road has made a great improvement since the last decade. The remaining results showed that 40%of the people questioned have visited Portobello road more than 10 times mostly for Antiques and general food shopping. Again, this shows that tourism is an important factor, which affects Portobello road everyday and has maximised its function.