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Victory for the Save the Portobello campaign

In a remarkable change of tack, the RCKC gave a  sounding victory to the Save the Portobello Road Market campaign. 

In a truly unexpected move the councillors decided unanimously to vote against the  lifting of a previously imposed 2 day only trading condition on the basement area of the Admiral Vernon. Such a change would have open up the way for the site to trade seven days per week without restriction and ultimately for the  space to be rented to yet another Clone Retail Outlet. 

The Council's Planning Department had made a recommendation to grant the change but instead the vote stood on the side of the residents and to the submitted 53 Objection Letters. 

Opposing  the change were Mr Costas Kleanthous  - representing the dealers - and Councillor Deaz O'Neil for the residents. Their main argument was that the restriction originally set up in 95 to protect residents, had more reason to remain  today given the huge increase in activity that would take place with 7 days trading. The officer for the Planning Department argued that this would be solely with “loading” (of goods), an argument dismissed by all. 

Councillor Deaz O'Neil realised that the notice for the planing application had disappeared from the area, so he decided to knock on residents doors to find out what they felt about the proposed change in trading. Most residents were unaware that an application had been made at all but all enquired felt that a change would greatly diminish their quality of life. One can only assume that the public notices were blown by the wind, given the recent weather conditions....

The role of the Local Development Framework (LDF) remains somewhat unclear in its ability to influence any decision making. Councillors had different views on how much of it should be taken into consideration. Some clearly believed it should, while others claimed that  the LDF can not be seen strictly as planning law (which of course it isn't – it's more like an intent).

In the end an unanimous decision was taken whereby the proposed change was refused. This is undoubtedly a major success for the campaign. In the words of Deaz O'Neil “ this is a real victory for the Portobello community and the protection of our world famous antiques arcades and market”. 

The implications are many-fold: firstly it would appear that the Council is finally aligning itself with the anxieties of everyone who is concerned with the fate of the Portobello Market. Secondly, by denying the 7 days trading, they are in effect protecting the space from being taken over by yet another giant clone store that would destroy irreparably the character of the area. It's worthwhile pointing out that all elected political colours were voting at the committee. Thirdly, the history of the applicant who seems to have lost some of his former influence within the Planning committee. As one Councillor pointed out for all to hear: “ Going on by what happened with All Saints, we can not trust a word of what Warren Todd says” (despite all assurances to traders, he managed to plant a mega clone store in the former Lipka Antiques Arcade). Thirdly, the refusal is based on the expressed opposition of the residents. This puts any appeal in very difficult water. 

Overall, this is a great victory for the campaign and a very welcomed move by the councillors. We hope that this is the first of many that will reassure traders, residents and visitors, that the Council is serious about protecting the Portobello Market.  This is an ongoing process with many battles still ahead. In the end, the cohesion from all involved managed to sway the argument towards a happier outcome. Let's hope that a similar model can be made to work again.  

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