The Shepherd’s Bush area of W12 is the place to go for shopping and there’s no getting away from it. On one side of the road is West 12 – albeit rather modest with a mere 30 shops, a cinema and a handful of bars and restaurants – and on the other side is Westfield. When it was built, Westfield was the second largest shopping centre in Europe (topped only by Newcastle’s Metro-Centre), but now it doesn’t even feature in the European list and is only 6th in the UK league.
I started on the south side of the Uxbridge Road, gathering a few streets that bordered W14. It may be a cliché to snap supermarket trolleys, but they were hard to ignore – particularly those parked in people’s gardens ready for that next outing to the shopping centre. I suppose if you can get one for a pound, it’s cheaper than a conventional two-wheeler and probably holds a lot more.
Hopping over to the north side of the road, my first stop was Shepherds Bush Place, an attractive row of terraced cottages, which would not look out of place in a small, rural village – if one could ignore the ubiquitous Westfield Centre, that is. Next on the list were Bourbon Lane, Burgundy Place and a handful of other French sounding streets (named as the result of an Anglo-French architectural competition, rather than a lazy glance at the cocktail cabinet). These were clustered together in an award-winning estate, and given that the architects had to work in the foothills of Westfield, they’ve done an excellent job – although there is no getting away from those large grey walls. But at least they’re not topped with razor wire.
I was particularly taken with the communal areas for keeping prams, pushchairs and the like. These hallways were immaculately kept and no abandoned fast-food cartons here, although I couldn’t help but notice amongst the buggies, a couple of shopping trolleys fuelled and ready to go.
I didn’t venture into Westfield – I’m not a fan of shopping centres, preferring the boutique and individual approach to retailing. Without further research, I have no idea of the economic impact of the centre locally, but if the erstwhile Duke of Edinburgh is anything to go by, it hasn’t all been positive.