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Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 14:53 UK

Westfield Shopping Centre

Brigid McFall
The Politics Show

Westfield Centre protestors
There are many voices to be heard against the development

With a recession looming, the opening of London's biggest shopping centre, the Westfield development in West London, may seem untimely. Its opening is bound to generate jobs and stimulate business but will it come at a cost to both the community and the environment?

Shepherds Bush Green sits at the centre of a largely residential area - a patchwork quilt of independent shops and market stalls.

But that sense of localism is threatened by the new shopping centre, set to be the third biggest shopping centre in the UK and costing an eye-watering 1.6bn.

It boasts around 265 shops, including upmarket boutiques, 50 restaurants and a 14 screen multiplex cinema.

Many locals are enthusiastic about the possible regeneration effect for the area that the centre will bring.

Job creation

The Westfield Group, a multinational Australian company which owns shopping centres in Australia, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, estimates that the centre will create 7,000 new jobs.

Westfield Centre
New development - new beginnings?

Transport developments include a new Hammersmith and City line station, a new overground station and a new bus station expected to open in November.

Westfield itself has contributed 170m to improving the transport infrastructure in the area.

Congestion and pollution

But some locals fear that the Westfield centre will add to further congestion and air pollution.

With an estimated 70,000 visitors per weekend and just 4,500 parking spaces in the centre, locals expect major parking problems and local shopkeepers are worried that their livelihoods will be threatened by the shopping centre.

Westfield Center
The Westfield Centre building prosperity?

And some residents believe that Westfield have been unsympathetic to their concerns.

So will the development have long-term economic benefits? Or does it risk destroying the very heart of this mainly residential area?

Conservative leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Stephen Greenhalgh and local Labour MP, Andrew Slaughter, will appear on the show to discuss the implications.

Watch the Politics Show on BBC One at 12:00 GMT on Sunday.

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