Westfield London
Westfield London is a shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The centre was developed by the Westfield Group, run by Frank Lowy, at a cost of £1.6bn, on a site bounded by the West Cross Route ( A3220), the Westway ( A40) and Wood Lane ( A219), and opened on 30 October 2008. The site is part of the White City district, where several other large scale development projects are under way or in the planning stages. The development is on a large brownfield site part of which was once the location of the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition; the initial site clearance demolished the set of halls still remaining from the exhibition (their cheap-to-build white-painted blank facades said to be the origin of the name "White City"). Much of the site was however in use by a railway depot, which remains, excavated to a lower level and built over. The centre is noted for its size: with a retail floor area of 150,000m² (1.615m ft²), the equivalent of about 30 football pitches. At the time of its opening it was reported to be the third largest shopping centre in the United Kingdom. The nearest London Underground stations are Wood Lane, White City, Shepherd's Bush and Shepherd's Bush Market. The nearest London Overground station is Shepherd's Bush. This station is also served by longer distance Southern services between Milton Keynes Central and East Croydon.

Construction
The development was built by Westfield Construction, the developer's own construction arm and was delivered on schedule. Robert Bird Group were the structural engineers for the job . The final iconic roof was designed by Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering (Stuttgart, Germany). The project took five years to build, employing 8000 people. The Project Director was John Roberts. There was a structural/organisational challenge relating to the White City depot of the Central Line ( Underground) railway. It covered a large proportion of the site, and had to be kept fully operational while being excavated beneath and relocated bit by bit at a lower level to allow the shopping centre to make use of its previous location. There were also considerable precautions needed due to the expectation of finding unexploded bombs from raids on a local munitions factory during the World War II blitz.

Retail area
The centre opened to the public on 30 October 2008 and has a retail floor area of 150,000m² (1.615m ft²). The completed centre features around 255 stores, including All Saints, Apple, Bershka, Boots, Bose, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Coast , Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins, Dwell, Early Learning Centre, French Connection, Geox, Gerry Weber , Habitat, Hackett, HMV, Hollister Co., House of Fraser, Jaeger, Kurt Geiger, LEGO, Mamas & Papas, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Mulberry, Next, Nomination, Reiss, River Island, Topshop, Uniqlo, the multiplex cinema Vue, Waitrose and Zara. An unusual aspect of the development is the new high-end retail area called The Village. Building on experience in attracting high-end retailers to its Australian malls, developer Westfield attracted black label brands unheard of in the London shopping mall market. These include Versace, Burberry, De Beers, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Mulberry, and Tiffany & Co - arguably establishing The Village at Westfield London as London's third biggest luxury retailing centre after the West End and Knightsbridge retail destinations.

Vue Digital Cinema
The Vue cinemas company opened a 14 screen cinema on Friday 12 February 2010 consisting of 14 screens and including five 3-D-enabled screens, with a seating capacity of almost 3,000.

Transport connections
The Westfield centre opening coincided with the completion of several major London transport infrastructure projects which now serve the centre and the surrounding area:
  • London Underground: two Underground stations serve the centre - Wood Lane station ( Circle and Hammersmith & City lines) on the western side and the rebuilt Shepherd's Bush station ( Central Line). There are also two other stations close by; White City and Shepherd's Bush Market.
  • London Overground/ Southern: Shepherd's Bush railway station is a new station which has been constructed on the West London Line and opened on 28 September 2008. It is located on the southern side of the development, immediately next to the Central Line tube station. The opening of the station was delayed by several months when the finished platform was found to be 18 inches narrower than the required width.
  • Bus and taxi: the Shepherd's Bush Interchange is located to the south of the centre next to the Overground station and includes a bus station and a taxi rank. Close to Wood Lane tube station is the White City Interchange on Ariel Way; the bus station here is housed in the redeveloped Dimco Buildings (1898), Grade II listed red brick buildings which were originally built in 1898 as a shed for a London Underground power station. The Dimco buildings were used as a filming location for the ‘Acme Factory’ in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
  • Cycle routes: the development includes some new cycle routes, but advocates consider them woefully inadequate
  • Road links: a grade-separated junction connects to the West Cross Route ( A3220) which runs alongside the development site.


Criticism
The arrival of such a substantial new development however has not been without criticism. The full impact Westfield London will have is not yet understood but it is anticipated that the mall will attract trade which otherwise might have gone to the West End and may have a strong negative impact on nearby Kensington High Street. The development has also pushed up rents in the Shepherds Bush area which is expected to impact on the value retail offer in the area with many businesses as well as the Shepherds Bush Market expected to suffer. Others have criticised the mall's "clone stores".

Building Activity

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