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Savile Row's character protected by new planning rules

Famous tailoring district Savile Row is among five historic London addresses that have been given special planning protection by Westminster Council.

Abercrombie & Fitch Kids Savile Row

Abercrombie & Fitch Kids Savile Row

Abercrombie & Fitch Kids moved onto Savile Row in 2012

The five areas - Savile Row, Harley Street, Mayfair, St James’s and Portland Place - have been designated “special policy areas” (SPAs).

SPA regulations do not dictate if a particular business can rent a property; instead they prevent a developer or lease holder from changing its use, for example, transforming a shop into a residential property.

The rules will make it harder for developers and landlords to dilute each area’s distinctive character by allowing chain stores to force out smaller independent businesses.

Each SPA is protected by its own set of rules. For example, the Savile Row SPA will encourage retail “that is unique, bespoke, limited edition or one of a kind”. The St James’s SPA seeks to protect its reputation for niche luxury and specialist retail, such as shirtmaking on Jermyn Street.

There has been a long-running debate about how to protect such areas, which gained momentum after US chain Abercrombie & Fitch controversially opened a kidswear store on Savile Row in 2012.

William Skinner, chairman of the Savile Row Bespoke Association and managing director of Dege & Skinner, a bespoke tailor and shirtmaker located at number 10 Savile Row, said: “For our customers, who often travel thousands of miles, [the SPA] reinforces Savile Row as their preferred destination for the highest quality bespoke tailoring, a unique street in a vibrant capital city, with a global reputation for making elegant tailoring for men.

“For us as a family-owned business, it gives us renewed confidence to continue to invest in our team who hand-make the bespoke clothes in the workshop underneath the Savile Row shop. We can continue to train and invest in apprentices as they learn how to make tailored clothes of the highest quality, suitable to be called ‘Savile Row Bespoke’.”

Robert Davis, Westminster City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for the built environment, said: “Our historic tailors and art traders are coming under intense pressure from other disparate uses eager to rent in the area. We are using our powers to protect some of the capital’s most valuable assets and create environment where specialist traders can thrive.

“Special Policy Areas will ensure we retain and nurture the world leading expertise that made these areas famous in the first place.”

 

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