Last week a breakthrough occurred in the fight against AllSaints by the Friends of Portobello Market.
The background of the case is that AllSaints applied for retrograde planning permission to develop 2 units of a site on Portobello Road and 6 units on Westbourne Grove. The site happens to be a picturesque, conservation street whose character gives the area its charm. It has also housed the famous Portobello antiques market since 1930’s.
The store that opened on the site is enormous, with flashing lights and a fascia that, against the rest of the street, has been deemed an eyesore. This was much to the dismay of the locals and the, 30,000 strong and growing, Facebook campaigners.
At a local council hearing last week, AllSaints were instructed to change their fascia to one that is in keeping with the rest of the area. A small battle won, in a much larger war.
When other fashion brands began to enter the area, for example Ted Baker, there were some critics. However you cannot deny that their resulting store was designed in an aesthetically, sympathetic way and won over many locals in the process. Paul Smith is another example of a brand that fitted in well.
The AllSaints cookie-cutter approach has displayed a sad lack of respect for Portobello and its residents. They would argue that they were legally allowed to go ahead, which then highlights an even bigger culprit in the guise of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council, who without public consultation, gave a developer free reign with planning permission for the site.
How strange and contradictory of the council, whose supposed commitment is to maintaining the market, to allow the property developers a license to erode the values that make the area so unique. Especially as there are other AllSaints branches down the road in Westfield and on Kensington High Street.
What next for AllSaints? A sub-chain of AllSaints Locals perhaps or AllSaints Express? Quite often, on the way home from work, I feel the urge to top up my wardrobe with an overpriced, crumpled vest. Lets hope they open a branch near where I live, I know a beautiful, historic building that the locals love……
For more information on the campaign visit -