The owners of West London independent Kew Bookshop have launched a petition to stop the planned demolition of its premises.
The landlords, CP Holdings and Burning Issue Ltd, have submitted a planning application to Richmond Council to demolish the “charming wooden building” which houses the bookshop and replace it with brick, building a new second level above the shop to double the retail space.
The petition asks signatories to say that they “strongly oppose Planning Application and any other plan” by the landlords that would change Kew Village “into a retail environment of chain stores and multi-national firms”. A deadline of 1st June has been given for signing the petition.
Isla Dawes, the owner of The Kew Bookshop, which turns over £300,000 a year, on top of its schools business, said: "The charm of these buildings is their wooden structure. They have stood for almost a century. If the shop was reclad, it would stand for another 100 years."
Dawes, who also owns bookshops in Sheen and Barnes, told The Bookseller: "If the planning application went through, I could not afford the rent on the new double-storey premises, so I would have to close that shop. The point I would like to make is that it is not long since we lost the Lion and Unicorn Bookshop nearby in Richmond due to landlord greed. How many more good independent bookshops are we going to lose because of this?"
Other objections already registered on Richmond Council’s website also include those from local resident Susan Bell, who said: “The Kew bookshop is a vital part of Kew village. It is the human face of an authentic community providing much more than just books. It is a source of rich information on the local landscape, a place for Kew residents to meet, share opinions and views, for children to experience the visual delights of reading and for us all to enjoy browsing and buying first hand.” Bell added: “Whilst I understand the commercial pressures, the possible encroachment of soulless chains and similar will undermine the very meaning of the term village. There is a saying - it takes a village to raise a child, which I take to mean that, alongside the family, our character is also formed by all the other groups and influences in our community -the shared values, experiences and wisdom. Kew bookshop has played its part in this respect for very many years and I hope for many more to come.”
Leigh Thompson, another resident, said the bookshop had been “part of the very fabric of Kew Village for many years” and argued that the redevelopment of that area would mean “increased rents would price out individual tenants” and “detracts from the character and heritage of this area.”
The local Liberal Democrat party has backed the campaign to save the bookshop. Kew Lib Dem campaigners Catrin Mogilner and Leon Sosnowski said: "This is a terrible threat to our wonderful Kew village. If this application were to go ahead, the bookshop would be lost. A small independent business like that could not afford what would be the massively increased rent for a luxury new development. It’s short-sighted, it’s cynical and it must not happen."
So far the petition has 65 signatures.