Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Shepherd's Bush "a Dystopian Vision of Kebab Shops", says the FT

Shepherd's Bush Green: "a dystopian vision...a windswept traffic island ringed by kebab joints"
According to an article in May in The Financial Times, Shepherd’s Bush is "not one of London’s lovelier districts". Apparently we are "sandwiched between the elegant suburbs of Holland Park and Chiswick", and our architecture is "for the most part a tangle of unprepossessing Victorian streets clustered around a dystopian vision of the traditional village green", which the FT memorably describes as "a windswept traffic island ringed by kebab joints and mobile phone shops". A pretty harsh assessment - but is it a fair one? 

Shepherd's Bush Green: Four busy lanes of traffic. Photo: Wikipedia
The Bush has changed a great deal in the four years since I moved here in the summer of 2010. The Green itself has been hugely tarted up, with a shiny new playground, which is almost always busy, despite being ringed by four lanes of traffic.

Gone are the drunks who used to flash their members at my wife as she walked home from the tube station at night, and most of the vicious dogs that used to patrol the Common seem to have moved on too.
Shepherd's Bush Pavilion - before its transformation
Other upgrades include the complete refurbishment of the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion, an old movie theatre turned Bingo hall, now a posh new hotel, run by the Asian-based Dorsett (Why the second "t"?) Regency Hotel Group.  I put some visitors there this past summer and they left with glowing reports.

Even the West Twelve shopping Centre, a depressing 1970s development on the south side of The Green, has recently had a complete facelift, with a shiny new Ibis mid-market hotel which opened in 2013.

The Bush Theatre - our newest temple of culture
Best of all, in 2012 The Bush Theatre moved to its new home on the Uxbridge Road, the Passmore Edwards Public Library, empty for years since the modern new library opened next door to the Westfield Centre in 2008.

Passmore Edwards was a wealthy Victorian philanthropist who believed in education for the working man (think Andrew Carnegie, but in the UK) - and he would surely approve of the excellent work being done by the Bush Theatre in encouraging rising talent. Plus, the coffee's great, and they have free WiFi.

Westfield expansion - how it will look

There is plenty more where this came from. Shepherd's Bush Market is being redeveloped - albeit controversially, and Westfield is expanding north, bringing with it that holy of middle-class holies - a John Lewis department store.

The more squalid bits of the Uxbridge road are getting a makeover in the spring of 2015, and the BBC TV Centre is being redeveloped, which will (supposedly) bring a Soho House and a rooftop pool to Wood Lane.

The UGLI buildings north of Westfield are being redeveloped to create - you guessed it - luxury flats, but with the added attraction of a new park, which you can see in the image above.
Play Football plans for Hammersmith Park

Most controversially, around a third of Hammersmith Park is being handed over to Play Football to create floodlit astroturf football pitches, a development which was granted planning permission by the outgoing Conservative Council, but which seems to be supported by few local residents.

In short, within five years parts of Shepherd's Bush will be completely unrecognisable.  So whatever Shepherd's Bush has been in the past, it will be quite different in future.  Maybe not better, but certainly different.

To read the full account by the FT of the changes currently taking place in The Bush, follow this link.

The Bush Telegraph offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. Read about the Campaign to Save Hammersmith Park, find out about our new Farmer's Market, see what's on at The Bush Theatre,  find out the latest news on the future of Shepherd's Bush Market,  and the Council's plans to upgrade the Goldhawk Road and the Uxbridge Road. If you would like to contribute a story about our neighbourhood, email us at

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