31 January 2011

Primark threatens Hanway Street

I have just heard that Hanway Street, that handy cut-through from TottCtRd to Oxford Street, is under threat from a retail giant.
It seems Primark, the makers of mass-produced throw-away tat, sorry, clothes, are moving into the old Virgin Megastore and this narrow street at the back isn't wide enough for their delivery trucks. They have made proposals to Camden Council which will include widening the loading bays and altering the street to include designer boutiques. Mind you, it's been widened before (see below).
So Hanway Street, with its quirly mix of bars (mainly Spanish bars where I have spent many a late drunken night over the years), restaurants, record shops, offices and homes, may end up looking like Neal Street.
And I can clearly remember Neal Street when it had real shops in it... and Camden Passage... and Camden 's Chalk Farm Road... and Upper Street... and charing Cross Road... and... and...


  1. Thanks for covering this story. Residents groups have now raised objections with Westminster City Council and asked for deliveries to start later.

  2. What kind of arrogant logic dictates that mass demolition is acceptable just to allow truckloads of cheap produce to be streamed into yet another branch of Primark. No consideration seems to have been given to local residents or to those likely to have their livelihoods destroyed as a result of this proposal............and another thing do we really want Oxford St to be topped and tailed by this retailer and it's hordes of bag toting camp followers, I think not. The eastern end of this important shopping street needs a responsible, quality retailer, who is prepared to adapt to the geography rather than tear down the world around it for its own needs. As a bonus, this would certainly to lead the rejuvenation of that stretch of the street because Crossrail certainly isn't going to do it.

    The following comment, made by Sally Humphreys of the New West End Company, was quite telling. "We support Primark as they are a member of our organisation and our job as the New West End Company is to support our members. We are not in the business of criticising our members. We represent our members’ interests"....................Really?............irrespective of how outrageous or disruptive those interests are? It's not something that would sit comfortably with me.

    We can still hope that common sense will prevail, but the older I get the more it seems that common sense is a very rare commodity indeed.

  3. Couldn't have said it better, Malcolm. This is outrageous. (Altho I have to confess I quite like primark knickers. In defence of Hanway St I'll have to go back to M&S.)

  4. This should be the last nail in the coffin of Oxford Street, now a continuous traffic jam of buses, shoppers and indifferent shops, Hanway Street was one of the only roads of note - even if it was almost impossible to drive through in my cab. Primark should fit intothat end of Oxford Street with its dodgy shops and burger bars

  5. It's a shame that this end of Oxford Street gets such bad press. At the moment it's suffering due to the big holes caused by the construction of Crossrail. I doubt tourists who come here to go shopping in Oxford Stret are very impressed at that.
    I think this stretch of road got 'worse' when B&H shut down in the 80s – around that time lots of empty shops along there were used as temporary stalls by those fellas selling dodgy goods using a microphone to lure in the shoppers.
    But at least the eastern end has always been interesting with it's proximity to Soho and Fitzrovia... I always thought that the far end, west of Selfridges was really dull in comparison.

  6. Sad thing is that the oldest buildings in Oxford Street are at this eastern end.
    Well, that's a good thing I suppose.
    Had the big boys moved in earlier perhaps they wouldn't be there any more.

  7. What is also as sad is the continued decline of the building Primark are moving into - the exterior only hints at what was once the opulent interior of the Lyons Oxford Corner House - all stripped out into a featureless barn.

  8. Hi Jane,

    I am glad that someone authoritative in the London blogosphere has taken this cause to heart, and decided to write about it. I am a builder in London, and although it is my livelihood, I totally and utterly support any initiative which aims to stop the current trend of modernizing each and every old charming neighbourhood that we have got left. I am sick and tired of seeing the small gems of London disappearing as a result of corporate greed. As if we didn't have enough Primark's, Starbuck's and Jane Norman's around. Hopefully the resident's group will be successful in objecting against the development, but having worked with the council's for years, I must admit that I fearful that their objections may come to nothing.

    Best Wishes,



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Thanks, Jane