History of Westfield London
The development takes place on a large brownfield site, which was once the site of the Franco-British Exhibition in 1908. After clearing the site, the remaining exhibition halls were demolished (the name White City is derived from their cheap-to-build, white-painted blank facades). During demolition, considerable precautions were also taken in order to avoid finding unexploded bombs from World War II raids on munitions factories.
There was also a London Underground railway depot on the site, which had to remain in operation while a new depot was constructed underground to allow the new shopping centre to be built above both the new and old depots.
The initial plan for a shopping centre at this location was developed by a consortium, led by the UK division of Australian property company Multiplex. Multiplex, however, was forced to sell its stake to the Westfield Group due to heavy losses made in other ventures, including the new Wembley Stadium.
Westfield Construction, the developer's own construction arm, constructed the development on schedule. The structural engineers were Robert Bird Group. The roof was designed by Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering (Stuttgart, Germany). Over 8,000 people worked on the project over five years.
Opening of Westfield London
In a meeting attended by Mayor Boris Johnson and Frank Lowy, CEO of Westfield Group, the centre was opened on 30 October 2008 with a retail floor area of 1,600,000 sq ft (150,000 m2). Overtaking the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, it became London's largest covered shopping centre. Two million shoppers visited the centre within its first three weeks, despite the ongoing credit crunch.
Although the financial crisis of 2009 resulted in a sharp fall in shoppers and some shops were forced to close, some shops did not survive. While some commentators suspected Westfield London to fail during the economic gloom, the centre reported increased sales in 2010 after an unexpectedly large number of tourists visited.
A retail floor area of 2.6 million square feet (240,000 m2) is available. There are approximately 320 stores in the centre, including AllSaints, Apple, Bershka, Boots, Bose, Coast, Cotton On (including RUBI and Factorie), Dorothy Perkins, Dwell, Early Learning Centre, Ernest Jones, Gerry Weber, Hackett, Hollister Co, House of Fraser, H. Samuel, Jaeger, Kurt Geiger, Lego, Mamas & Papas, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Next, Nomination, Oakley, Reiss, River Island, Schluh, Starbucks Coffee, Tesla, Topshop, Uniqlo, Waitrose, Zara and Waitrose are just some of the many stores in the mall.
There is also a high-end retail area called The Village, which features Burberry, De Beers, Georg Jensen, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Mulberry, Myla, Tiffany & Co and Versace.
Transport Links to Westfield London
As part of its planning permission, Westfield Group contributed $170 million to local transport improvements, while Transport for London contributed another £30 million. These improvements now serve the shopping centre and the surrounding areas.
- The centre has two Underground stations - a newly built Wood Lane station on the western side, and a rebuilt Shepherd's Bush station on the southern side (Circle and Hammersmith & City lines). Two other stations are also close by; White City and Shepherd's Bush Market.
- London Overground/Southern: Shepherd's Bush is a newly constructed station on the West London Line. Located next to the Central line tube station on the southern side of the Westfield centre, the station opened on 28 September 2008. As a result of 18 inches of narrower platform width than required, the station's opening was delayed for several months.
- The Shepherd's Bush Interchange is located next to the Overground station and has a bus station and a taxi rank. The White City bus station is located on Ariel Way near Wood Lane tube station.