Hampstead has become everything that is wrong with London. A few years ago there was uproar over the lease of a large shop being taken by William Hill. A premises that had been stood empty for a long time. The outcry was huge and listening to all the arguments I came to the conclusion it was simply a case of snobbery and it became an Estate Agent.
The rents here are so extortionate that they are unaffordable for most, so a chain like William Hill would have no problem affording it. Most businesses that can afford to be here are companies that are willing to take a loss on an individual shop, write off losses against their overall profits just to retain their visible presence on the high street. The individual independent shops have all but disappeared and the generic high street is alive and well and boring.
There are lots of unaffordable boutiques selling fur, art galleries, phone shops, and posh bakeries where you have to mortgage your soul to be able to afford a loaf of bread. That’s Hampstead, posh and unaffordable for the majority. In amongst the capitalist consumerism fest we have one grocery (expensive), one Tesco local (limited stock), and one hardware store (which is struggling to retain its place), and a newsagent (everyone needs a newsagent).
But really my issue is with the Estate agents. What is going on with all the ESTATE AGENTS they seem to be the NEW BANKERS !!!!!! I mean how many estate agents can you have in one street ? Or should I say how many estate agents do you need in one street? Well as of today we have 17 on Heath Street alone with a new one coming soon making 18.
That’s just in one street! Why do the same estate agents need more that one shop front? Surely there should be a limit ? Can we not complain to the monopolies commission or some other toothless watch dog about this? This is not the only influence the scourge of the Estate Agent has on us as locals they prey on us. Daily through our letter boxes we get delivered their crap environmentally damaging junk mail. “To the Occupier” “To the House owner” ” You will be pleased to know we have just sold a property just like yours for “Stupid amount”” Day after day these letters arrive sometimes in batches of 3 for each member of the household that is on the electoral register, So I have started sending them back and if they keep on coming I will be sending them back with some of my rubbish in it for them.
This is just an observation of their dominance of our high street but what it in fact we are seeing are Estate agents being fronts for investors in property, not people buying family homes, not property to rent out, just property to sell on for profit, a far safer investment scheme much much safer than that of anything offered in the current climate buy banks or stocks and shares, these alone play one of the major parts of the housing crisis but that’s another story so back to the high street. The government pay people like Mary Portas to save the High street. Well I can tell you how to save our High street. Firstly limit the number of Estate agents you can have there is no way on this planet they are not all in cahoots with each other. Secondly and more importantly is to have some control on rents on our high street. We have to be able to afford to shop where we live not all of Hampstead is rich and there is a large number of social housing properties. Families that can not afford to shop locally seems to be the norm here. There is such a high turn over of shops here, we watch their interiors being torn out and replaced only to see it close in a matter of months. We have shop premises sitting empty that surely that would better serve the high street if it had a community protect running or an independent shop but no the rents make sure that that will never happen.
Hampstead used to be quirky and arty and oh so red. But now it’s all consumer capitalists blue.
Sad it’s so lost it’s “je ne se qua”