Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Centre 'will bring traffic chaos'

Westfield shopping centre
Westfield is billed as third biggest shopping centre in the UK

A giant shopping centre will create traffic "gridlock" when it opens in west London this week, an MP and residents have said.

Westfield centre aims to bring 60,000 visitors per day to Shepherds Bush but it only has 4,500 parking spaces.

Labour MP Andrew Slaughter said: "It's grown massively without the additional infrastructure to support it."

But Hammersmith Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh said it was taking steps to improve road capacity and traffic flow.

Westfield is due to open on 30 October, containing about 265 shops, 50 restaurants and a multiplex cinema.

The 1.6bn development is billed as the third biggest shopping centre in the UK.

'Good news'

But people living in the largely residential area fear it will create major traffic problems.

Resident James While said: "If I leave the house in the morning I won't be able to park up until 3.30pm at night, such is the congestion caused just at the moment by contractors' vans."

He added: "How it will be once the centre is occupied, god only knows. It will be a disaster."

Mr Slaughter, the MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush, told BBC One's Politics Show: "The whole area is likely to be in gridlock by the end of this week."

But Mr Greenhalgh, leader of Conservative-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council, described the shopping centre as "a huge good news story".

"There's no doubt that something of this magnitude isn't going to come without pain but there is a huge economic benefit for the area and also social regeneration for local people," he said.

Stephen Greenhalgh
We are in strong negotiations with (Westfield) to ensure the local streets are not a car park for Westfield shoppers
Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh

Developer Westfield Group said the centre would create 7,000 jobs. Mr Greenhalgh said up to 1,000 of these would go to local residents.

A Westfield Group spokesman said: "We are working closely with local councils and training and skills agencies to ensure that as many local people as possible gain employment at the centre."

The developer has also contributed 170m to improve transport links in the area.

Mr Greenhalgh added that there was "no doubt" the council needed to improve the road capacity.

"We are trying to increase road capacity, improve traffic flow, look at traffic light phasing," he said.

"This is something that's going to happen over time."

He added: "We are in strong negotiations with (Westfield) to ensure the local streets are not a car park for Westfield shoppers."


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