At the top of the former BBC headquarters in White City, interior designers have artfully arranged deck chairs around the rooftop pool of London’s newest members’ club.
Opening this spring, White City House, from global members’ club group Soho House, will offer 45 bedrooms, a gym, two swimming pools (one of which is on the rooftop), and a checklist of amenities catering to ‘creatives in media and the arts’.
The revamp, part of a larger regeneration of the White City area, hopes to attract the digital and creative talent that has largely ignored west London during the decade-long tech boom that saw plucky start-ups transform the low rent warehouses around east London into Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout.
‘White City will be the beating heart of a revitalised creative quarter,’ said Soho House founder Nick Jones, whose Midas touch and Shoreditch House helped transform east London’s Redchurch Street into a destination for the kind of flat white-sipping creatives W12 is now looking to seduce.
‘People think of west London as pretty well off, and of course mostly it is,’ says entrepreneur Rohan Silva, a former senior policy advisor to David Cameron who is largely credited with putting east London on the start-up map.
‘But there’s actually a huge shortage of places for creative people to work or creative businesses to be born. And a lot of cultural venues and institutions have closed or been forced out of that part of the city.’
Now, the government-led effort to build a west London counterweight to the east’s creative capital – officially dubbed ‘The White City Opportunity Area’ – has seen a spate of new developments.
Along with the £200m regeneration project that transformed the Television Centre into White City House, 950 apartments, restaurants and new offices, the last year has seen the opening of a new Imperial College London campus, the expansion of Westfield London into Europe’s largest shopping centre, and the creation of a ‘business district’ in the former BBC Media Village (rebranded as White City Place) – now home to trendy co-working space Huckletree and a retail tech hub from Net-a-Porter.
At Imperials’ White City Campus, an 18,000 sq ft incubator will provide state-of-the-art laboratories, office spaces and conferencing facilities, as well as an incubation programme to help start-up and spin-out companies grow and develop. White City Living, a 10-acre development next to Westfield Shopping Centre featuring 406 pavilion, mansion and skyline-style homes as well as 30-storey buildings, is set to open in late 2019.
Just down the road, at Old Oak Common, a £1.3bn crossrail station is slated to open in 2026, bringing a further 25,500 homes and 65,000 new jobs to the area.
With property experts now tipping cheaper west London to rise in price more than any other districts in the capital during the next five years, time will tell whether entrepreneurial Londoners are really ready to swap east for west.