West London is buzzing again as exciting new developments like White City Place lure a new generation of fashionistas, creatives and foodies back to Notting Hill over hipster haunts like Shoreditch
Words: Hannah Lawrence
When the BBC Television Centre in White City closed its doors in March 2013 it seemed like the sun was setting on west London and the eastward shift was full steam ahead. But now, five years later, the studios have reopened as part of a huge redevelopment, bringing with them flats, offices and a new branch of renowned member’s club, Soho House.
Dubbed White City’s ‘media village’, the development is symbolic of the fact that, with east London having reached ‘peak hipster’, west London has got its mojo back and the sun is shining once more.
Arthur Lintell of Knight Frank explains that the creative aspect of the area really draws people in. ‘With east London, people went there because it was up and coming,’ he says. ‘It was very cool, there were a lot of creatives there, and people flocked to it because it was a new thing and slightly untouched.’
But, he says, it has become a victim of its own success: ‘As soon as it becomes cool, it’s no longer cool.’
At the centre of west London’s new lease of life is Notting Hill. Once the hotspot for creatives, years of history in the arts and even its own cult romantic comedy blockbuster, its appeal has come full circle, and a new generation of fashionistas, trailblazers and foodies are moving in.
‘People are coming back to this area because Notting Hill has heritage,’ says Lintell. Established franchises that had previously concentrated on east London have begun staking a claim in and around the Hill too.
Patty & Bun opened its first west London branch on Pembridge Road in April last year. ‘There definitely seems to be a bit of an evolution in Notting Hill for sure, which is great,’ owner Joe Grossman tells me. ‘For ages, it’s been the same thing on offer, but now there’s a wave of new restaurant openings, which is generating a new energy into the area.
People are coming back to this area because Notting Hill has heritage
’In October, co-working space Second Home opened its first west London location in Holland Park. As Iselin Skogli, Senior Press Manager for Second Home, explains it was very much the heritage that led them to the area.
‘We decided to set up in Holland Park first of all because of the building that we have, it has a really rich creative history,’ she says. The impressive open-plan space was the studio for famous fashion photographer John Cowan in the 1960s as well as being one of the locations for Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blow-Up. In the 1980s it became home to Richard Roger’s architectural studio.
With Second Home’s emphasis on connecting creatives not just locally but across the world, its establishment in Holland Park is a sign that west London is back on the map.
One interesting element of Notting Hill’s new identity is a focus on the Australian lifestyle, with Aussie-influenced entrepreneurs bringing a slice of the sunshine coast to W11. Aytan Mehdiyeva and Zumrud Mammadova opened trendy Australian concept store The Dayrooms on Westbourne Grove in 2016 to bring a laid-back Australian vibe to the area. The store has won over the likes of ‘it girls’ Lottie Moss, Renee Stewart and Amber Le Bon.
Mehdiyeva and Mammadova have been joined in their quest by renowned Australian personal trainer James Duigan, who opened his Bodyism gym on Westbourne Grove in 2016. The first London branch of the international franchise, it aims to help people achieve their optimum health and the brand counts Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Holly Valance among its fans. These new Antipodean openings sit well alongside relative stalwart Granger and Co, set up by renowned Australian chef Bill Granger in 2011.
The cheap rents of east London were a big part of its initial appeal, but the price gap is starting to even out. In fact, the average price of a one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill is £449 per week, compared to £463 per week in Shoreditch
For many startups, young people and creatives, the cheap rents of east London were a big part of its initial appeal, but the price gap is starting to even out. In fact, the average price of a one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill is £449 per week, compared to £463 per week in Shoreditch, according to Foxtons.
Varun Bhanot, HR manager at Hubble, an online marketplace for finding and renting office space, notes that they’ve witnessed a decrease in people searching for spaces in east London, and the cost of hot desks in is also starting to even out, with the average price of a hot desk in west London £229, compared to £200 in east.
‘What we’ve found over the past few years is that about three-quarters of businesses on our platform are no longer searching within Shoreditch and east London, but are focusing on Soho, Clerkenwell and more on the west of London,’ Bhanot explains.
It seems this focus on west London is set to continue with the redevelopment of Queensway as well. But with commercial developments on the horizon, does Notting Hill’s resurgence risk becoming a victim of its own success?
‘I think it comes down to the local community,’ says Lintell. ‘As a local myself, and having grown up in the area, people are immensely proud to live here.’ Plus, he explains, change is completely natural and, in many ways, welcomed.’
‘I think all areas change, it’s a natural evolution, but I think Notting Hill is set to go on well into the future, and I think its heart will always be very creative. It’s a fun place to be.’