Portobello Road: iconic history and redevelopment

News at Astons London | 22/09/2015


London’s W2 is seen as one of the most attractive postcodes in central London for homeowners, investors and tenants, prompting a wave of redevelopment from Paddington in the East across to plush Notting Hill. During our 16 years in the W2 market, we have come to recognise the importance of history in a city that is in constant flux. To mark the 150th anniversary of Portobello Market in the prized property hotspot of Notting Hill, we shine the spotlight on the history of Portobello Road and its redevelopment that has everyone talking. We’ve also set up a great Portobello competition to mark the occasion, so get involved!  

History

The industrial revolution in London was beckoning when Portobello Road was founded. The once rural lane, connecting previous farmland (Portobello Farm) with Kensal Green and undeveloped land that was to become Notting Hill, was a primitive yet fundamental new route in the area before 1850.   

As residential developments in Paddington and Notting Hill replaced pig farms and clay soil during the later stages of the nineteenth century, the road became more of a prominent feature.

International residents moved into the area after World War Two, and after a heavy focus on investment, rapid housebuilding in the area reinvigorated its image to attract creative types and eventually business. During the 1980s, Portobello Road underwent a period of gentrification and quickly became a go-to market for buyers and investors, even attracting Hollywood’s elite in the Richard Curtis film, Notting Hill. 

The area today

The last 50 years has seen Portobello Road and Portobello Market – its most famous landmark – flourish into one of the most fashionable places to live in the capital. The market is a prominent tourist hotspot and boasts a variety of food and goods on offer, from bric-a-brac and antiques to food and drink and essentials. Young millennials have also influenced the number of fashion outlets at the market, with a growing number of vintage outlets and music stores. 

Portobello Road embodies the more vibrant and cosmopolitan side of Notting Hill, with its colourful Georgian townhouses overlooking a bustle of people below. Although Notting Hill is generally classed as a prestigious and luxurious neighbourhood in Kensington and Chelsea, with its garden squares and traditional white-stucco property features, Portobello Road has retained a distinct character and boutique charm that has attracted younger buyers into the market, alongside city professionals and families.

Changes ahead


Like many other historic areas in W2 – Paddington and Queensway to name just two – Portobello Road is set for redevelopment - likened to flashy Westfield. Westway Trust have been tasked with overseeing the modernisation of Portobello Green Arcade and Portobello Market Canopy, alongside Acklam Road car park and Acklam village. Boris Johnson has also pledge £140,000 towards the project that has divided opinion. The picture above is a representation of what the finished result could look like.

The proposal outlines a mixed-use area for the 50,000 sq ft space, which includes a shopping mall and restaurant at one end of the road. Vintage stalls could also be moved into modern units that mirror those inside Westfields and a new rooftop terrace could replace the original canopy.

Whatever your stance on the subject, the changes taking place in Portobello are part of a wider strategy in W2 to modernise the area as property markets continue to flourish. A step in the right direction or a step too far: we’ll let you decide.