The commercial success of the district has positive knock-on effect for neighbouring shopping streets, nearby museums and cultural centres and, of course, residents. But a district with elements of declining commercial activity, deteriorating public realm, and management problems that result in streets that feel unclean, unsafe and with increasing anti-social behaviour becomes a less attractive place in which to live, visit and work.
Beyond the major stores the area does not have the look and feel of a world class district. It is unlikely, having been drawn to the them, that visitors will spend significant time in the surrounding areas. This is damaging to the long-term viability of the area and, if not addressed, the International Centre may find its attractiveness to visitors and investors falling behind its national and international competitors.
Nationally and globally retailing is facing structural changes, with evolving consumer trends, the growth of internet shopping and the rise of new international shopping destinations, all of which impact on the performance of Knightsbridge as an International Centre.
Consumers no longer see shopping as a monoculture activity. To compete with alternative locations and internet shopping, traditional retail districts have constantly to offer a wider and better experience to encourage consumers to visit, stay longer and return more often.
Globally, traditional competitor districts are investing heavily in public realm and infrastructure improvements. Paris, for example, is currently investing €500 million in enhancing the Champs Elysees. In addition, new competitors are now appearing, particularly in the Middle East and the Far East. The huge investment being made in shopping malls, such as Dubai, and the establishment of a presence by world leading museums, such as the Louvre and the Hermitage, to create a wider experience shows how some Middle Eastern countries are developing international retail as an alternative to their declining oil economies.
And more locally the opening of the Elizabeth Line stations in the West End in 2020, together with associated multi-million pound traffic reduction and public realm improvements schemes, will set a higher level of customer expectation to which the Knightsbridge International Centre must respond if it is to continue to attract domestic and international visitors and investment.
In short, at a time when The Brompton Road district cannot afford to stand still, the current lack of a coordinated vision and plan for the district risks its continued deterioration to the detriment of its landowners, businesses and residents.