St John’s Wood antiques dealers face being ‘wiped out’ by rent hikes of up to 85 per cent
- Credit: Archant
Antiques dealers in St John’s Wood claim “aggressive” rent hikes of up to 85 per cent could soon make the treasured antiques district a thing of the past.
Traders in Church Street have warned Westminster Council that proposed rent rises are threatening to ‘wipe out’ more than 100 antique dealers in the district.
The business owners claim they could be forced to shut up shop by the increase which will add thousands of pounds to their rent.
The antiques, fine arts and furniture dealers are set to deliver a petition calling on their council landlords to stop the “wholesale destruction” of their district which has drawn crowds from around the globe for more than 50 years.
The rent increases ranging from 30 to 85 per cent have been proposed by property agents GVA who have been appointed by the council.
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Leon Young, manager of Young & Son, who has launched the petition on behalf of Church Street Antiques Dealers group, said: “These overly aggressive rent rises are madness. Rents are going up from £20,000 to £30,000, it’s untenable and it really is a cruise missile for the area.”
The petition states that seven businesses are currently under threat from rent reviews, with dozens more proprietors telling the Wood&Vale they will be forced out of business if rates rise substantially.
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Darren Hudson a dealer at Tara Antiques, which has been at the heart of the antiques community for 32 years, will be closing his doors and relocating in September after he was hit with a 67 per cent rent hike.
He said: “It was a difficult decision to make but we couldn’t deal with the cost, margins for sole traders here are genuinely squeezed.”
Callum Andrews, an employee at Kiki Furniture, which has traded in Church Street for 40 years, claims managers were asked for an 85 per cent increase in a rent review meeting with GVA on Monday, which could put staff jobs and the future of the business on the line.
Stuart Shuster who has run Church Street Antiques for 32 years has written to the council warning a “crazy” proposed hike in rent to £33,500 from his current £20,000 bill would see him shutting up shop for good.
He said: “I’m just fed up with it. If four or five of us go, that’s the nail in the coffin, we’re all finished.”
Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for housing, regeneration, business and economic development, said: “Rents have not increased by 50-80% in the last year for these premises. As with any landlord periodic, contractual rent reviews are included in all commercial leases and are specific to each business. The council is working with these businesses, as certain rent reviews have become due, to conclude the review appropriately and ensure the unique characteristics of Church Street, to which the businesses contribute so positively, are maintained.”