The new White City

Health warning (and apology): nothing to do with cricket, whatsoever, other than I work near Shepherds Bush and live nearby.

Michael Gutman, of Westfield London said: “You can come in the morning and get your groceries…go to the gym and have a workout, come back at lunchtime and do your shopping…then come back in the evening and see a movie, sit in a restaurant and have a drink until late.

And? Do people really want this? If I want to lead such a rigid lifestyle, and admittedly routine and society dictates we must, I really wouldn’t want to tick off my daily todo list all in the confines of one airconditioned centre. I see the benefits and the advantages for those “less abled”, but the sales pitch is utter dribble. Yet, despite my cynicism, I’m excited about the development; White City might as well be renamed White Shitty for all its lack of amenities.

It will bring revitalised transport to the area (much needed); thousands of jobs (always welcomed) and, apparently, revolutionise the “shopping experience” (more dribble). But they’re spending £1.6bn on an isolated shopping centre in what is, relative to the rest of the country, a prosperous area. What about the dozens of small, independent shops and businesses which close every week, trampled over by the giants? Why aren’t they better supported by the government? Why are we constantly driven like sheep into a pen of mediocrity and sameness? Am I the only one who enjoys shopping in smaller shops?

Sameness is so useful, though. Go to any town in Britain and you’ll find the same chain of shops. You can get your toothpaste from Boots; get money from any cash machine you choose; buy “organic” pears grown in Spain, even if you’re on holiday in Bolton. And if you’ve run out of tennis balls or CDs – or even a thong – Woolworths will provide them all, usually at bargain prices (if seemingly second-hand quality). This is all damn fine news for the give it to me now consumer, but it depresses and annoys me that we’re so helpless to stop the juggernaut retail giants from swallowing the market wherever the green land lies empty.

Here endeth the rant.

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