Plan for Sunday food market in Primrose Hill submitted ‘to boost high street’

Phil Cowan with Jo Barnett, owner of Prim nail & beauty salon, outside the shop which is opposite th

Phil Cowan with Jo Barnett, owner of Prim nail & beauty salon, outside the shop which is opposite the former Triyoga site. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The decision to allow a leading yoga studio popular with London’s celebrities to be turned into luxury housing has been criticised, as neighbouring shops complain that the past year has seen more than 900 people pushed out of the area.

Triyoga studio in Erskine Road, once popular with A-list stars like Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, was said to draw about 400 people a day to its studio in Primrose Hill, with neighbouring shops, cafés and restaurants benefitting from the increased footfall.

But some 14 years since opening, Triyoga found itself being turfed out when the building’s owner was granted planning permission to turn it into luxury housing.

According to figures provided by the Primrose Hill Town Team, a further 70 employees and 40 daily visitors in other businesses on the site have also been pushed out.

Utopia Village business centre, in Primrose Hill, has also seen 420 workers and visitors disappear from its premises over the past year as a plan to turn the building into high-priced housing continues to hang over it.

Warnings by retail guru and Primrose Hill resident Mary Portas that the loss of the two “anchor business sites” would cause a “spiral of decline” were dismissed by some councillors on the planning committee as “laughable”.

But since Triyoga’s move to Jamestown Road in Camden Town in December, many shops along Primrose Hill’s high street have found their footfall much lower than expected at this time of year.

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Goug Wilcox, 68, owner of Keturall Brown lingerie shop in Regent’s Park Road, said: “I was here before Triyoga arrived. It took me a while to realise that about half my customers were coming from there. Things have definitely been slower since it went. Triyoga played an important role in bringing people to the area.”

Jo Barnett, owner of Prim beauty salon, added: “We’re right opposite where Triyoga used to be so we saw the impact quite quickly. A lot of teachers and clients would come in before and after their classes. The whole village is suffering – losing Triyoga was a big thing for us.”

The Little One café in Regent’s Park Road was also a regular for those coming for their yoga.

By chance, Triyoga moved next to its second shop in Camden Town and the café says it’s seen a lot of its customers “switch from Primrose Hill to Camden Town”.

The situation has led to the Primrose Hill Town Team, set up by Mary Portas, and others to try new ways of bringing in business and to oppose more offices being turned into housing.

Many have pinned their hopes on the opening of a Sunday artisan food market on the railway bridge connecting Chalk Farm with Primrose Hill. An application for the market has been submitted to the council and is said to be supported by a petition signed by 180 locals.

It would see 10 stalls at first, on a trial basis.

Phil Cowan, member of the Primrose Hill Town Team, said: “The effects of Triyoga leaving and other factors are clearly not helping the retail vibrancy of the area.

“We are not likely to find a similar anchor business to replace what has gone so members of the town team and others have been working on other possible solutions to keeping our high street healthy.

“We will be launching a campaign in mid-March to publicise the fact that over 85 per cent of local businesses welcome well-behaved dogs into their premises. I think this must be unique in a London area and I hope it will be a useful marketing tool for the local economy.

“Our design shop Ruth Kaye has designed an eye-catching sticker “ Dog-Friendly Primrose Hill” which can be displayed in participating shops and on cars, bikes etc.

“We also fully support the concept of an artisan food market in the area which is certain to increase footfall for surrounding businesses as has been proved by other examples all over the city.

“And we recently launched the PHDeals priviledge card which is being taken up by retailers and cafes. It offers exclusive discounts and benefits to cardholders who can collect it free of charge from a number of outlets in Primrose Hill.

“We will continue to resist the loss of commercial space to flats through permitted development or otherwise as the loss of employees who use our local businesses is unacceptable and has already caused significant damage to footfall.

“I hope these projects will go some way to addressing the loss of Triyoga.”