Construction workers take time to relax in front of a photgrapher after assembling the Hy-Pavilion.
Construction workers take time to relax in front of a photgrapher after assembling the Hy-Pavilion. Picture: Linus Rees

By News Reporters

A week of exhibitions, debates, and film screenings will take place around South Crescent and Store Street as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2010 in Fitzrovia. The event, We Love Store Street, will take place from Friday 25 June until Saturday 3 July.

We Love Store Street will see Store Street’s South Crescent closed to traffic and temporarily pedestrianised over three days of the Festival (Friday 25 June – Sunday 27 June), creating a physical manifestation of the Love Your Street theme. The event is organised by New London Architecture who have their offices in South Crescent.

South Crescent  will be turfed over and transformed into a temporary urban pocket park, creating a green public space. A temporary pavilion will provide a platform for talks, music, theatre and dance. Organisers say that “A series of  activities on Store Street itself will simply but significantly improve the streetscape and create temporary uses for un-used shop fronts, animating the street and inviting people to use and view it in a very different way.”

But will the full story of Store Street be told?

An exhibition in and around New London Architecture building will recognise community-led projects where improvements have been made to local streets and public spaces across London.  There will also be a report on a city-wide survey on the places people love and use, along with those they don’t, say the the organisers

Consulting engineers Price & Myers from Newman Street will construct a Hy-Pavilion on South Crescent to host the weekend’s activities. “The idea behind this pavilion was to create an interesting and useful structure out of the simplest possible element: a straight line. We wanted to make something dramatic, beautiful, elegant and imposing, for little cost, using few materials, and that was simple to make and build,” say Price & Myers.

Store Street, just off the busy Tottenham Court Road, in Fitzrovia was until recently a thriving neighbourhood street with a bookshop, cafes, pharmacy, a small hotel, a Korean supermarket and a service station. Now most of it is boarded up. And it’s not because to the state of the UK economy. Far from it.

Many of the tenants were forced out by rent increases by land owners the Bedford Estate. The City of London also own many empty properties in the street.  Only South Crescent thrives with its firms of designers and architects.

But this street is not un-loved by the many. It is unloved by the few who own it — The Bedford Estates and the City of London — and who have forced out the small shops and businesses that made it a special part of Fitzrovia. The shop fronts were not “un-used”. The shops were previously busy and thriving.

The irony of all this is further compounded by Camden Council who have named it a neighbourhood street for local people. Recently planning permission has been sought for change of use to provide two more restaurants on the street. Fitzrovia already has a huge amount of eateries and the change of use has been objected to by a local community group.

The Charlotte Street Association have said: “The south side of Store Street is a protected shopping frontage and already there are three cafes which are quasi A3 use [Restaurants are classed as A3 in planning terms].

“There are flats over the shops and there is need to protect the residential amenity [from] further intensification of restaurant use, the associated late night disturbance and often early morning deliveries.” The Charlotte Street Association are concerned that this local shopping street has seen a rapid decline over the last few years.

Despite objections and the policy of protecting neighbourhood shops, Camden Council’s planning officer has recommended the change of use to a restaurant be approved.

Residents now fear that the street has lost its residential  amenity and character and will become just another “clone town”. Is having a three-day festival called Love Store Street in good taste? Is this festival a playful post-modern irony? And will the real story of Store Street be told?

See film of boarded up premises.

We Love Store Street on London Festival of Architecture 2010 website

See previous reports……

Planning application proposal to change use of 30-31 Store Street.

One reply on “Fitzrovia – Street festival on South Crescent, Store Street”

  1. Bedford Estates have behaved shamelessly having forced out a number of seemingly profitable businesses on the north side of the street some years ago with no-one ever re-occupying those premises. They’ve now repeated the process on the South side forcing out some businesses that have been there for decades, they are ripping the heart out of the area.

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