West London

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Image:London Landsat.jpg
Satellite image of the inner part of West London

West London is the area of Greater London to the west of the central area. Although it is only ambiguously defined, it is one of the most economically active areas of London outside of the centre, containing significant amounts of office space along with Heathrow Airport and many of its associated businesses.

Contents

[edit] Definition

Definitions of this area are generally unofficial and can vary considerably, but generally include districts around the M4 motorway corridor. The inner London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the outer London boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow are most commonly associated with West London, as are Kingston, Richmond and Hillingdon.

For strategic purposes such as planning, the more northerly boroughs of Brent and Harrow may also be included, although in everyday usage they would probably be considered either as part of North London or as a distinct sector, North West London.

London planning documents such as the London Plan refer to a strategic area called the "Western Wedge", which is intended to include West London and the Thames Valley beyond. The Western Wedge is considered to begin around Paddington and to fan along the M4/A4, A40/M40 and A316/M3 routes.<ref>London Plan technical reports: Western Wedge www.london.gov.uk (PDF)</ref>

[edit] Geography & districts

West London is close to the River Thames and is therefore generally flat, except at its northern edges. As with most parts of London, it is punctuated by numerous local centres of varying sizes, which evolved from older towns and villages connected to London by new railways before becoming absorbed by the expanding urban area.

[edit] Inner West London

Image:Shepherd's bush.jpg
Shepherd's Bush, a local centre in inner West London

Close to central London is the traditionally fashionable and expensive residential area of Notting Hill, made better known in 1999 by a film of the same name starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event here led by members of the Caribbean community, many of whom have lived in the area since the 1950s. The carnival attracts up to 1.5 million people, making it the largest street festival in the world. Also within the area is the famous antique market at Portobello Road.

Sometimes considered part of central London, the areas of Kensington and Chelsea are the most expensive places to live in the country. The area is also famous for the Kings Road, a distinguished and attractive shopping street and thoroughfare.

Slightly further out than Notting Hill and Kensington is the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, which is a mixture of employment with high-density residential areas, and is well-served by the London Underground. Within the borough are the local centres of Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith and Fulham. Near to Shepherd's Bush is White City, the location of the principal operating centre for the BBC, and the site of a vast new shopping complex due to open in 2007. Hammersmith has become an important office location in recent years, whilst Fulham is home to both Chelsea and Fulham football clubs and Shepherd's Bush is home to Q.P.R.

[edit] Outer West London

Moving further out, the density drops slightly in well-off suburban areas such as Richmond and Chiswick. The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames straddles the river and may therefore be considered more southwest than west. Within the borough, Richmond is a key local centre surrounded by attractive residential districts and home to Europe's largest park, Richmond Park. As a leafy riverside centre, Richmond is popular in summer with university rowing teams and tourists strolling along the bankside. Twickenham, also within the borough, is another attractive suburban area which also houses Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby union. The borough is also home to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

To The South of Richmond lies the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. It is mainly North Kingston which can be considered to be in West London. This is the KT2 area which borders Richmond. Kingston has a very busy shopping centre which is surrounded by suburbs. Kingston riverside is also very busy during the summer. Kingston is said to have a much more inner city feel to that of its neighbour London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and is home to the infamous Cambridge estate.

Further north, Acton is a poorer residential area and Park Royal is a key light-industrual employment district.

Moving westwards still, many offices have located near the M4 in Brentford, whilst Ealing is a popular residential suburb to the west, home to well-established Irish and Polish communities.<ref>London: Every race, colour, nation and religion on earth (21 Jan 2005) www.guardian.co.uk</ref> Wembley is a poorer area to the north and home to England's national football (soccer) stadium.

Image:Heathrow.view.arp.jpg
Heathrow Airport on the edge of the urban area

Nearly at the edge of the built-up area are the districts of Southall populated with a large Indian and Somali population, as well as the recent influx of polish in the area , Hounslow and Greenford. On the edge of the urban area are Heathrow Airport, which dominates employment in the area, Hillingdon and Uxbridge.

[edit] Transport

Three strategic radial road routes cross West London - the A40 Western Avenue in the north serving Park Royal, Wembley and Uxbridge; the A4/M4 across the centre serving Hammersmith, Brentford and Heathrow; and the A316 across the south serving Richmond and feeding into the M3 motorway. All of these routes carry significant volumes of commuter traffic as well as freight. The Uxbridge Road (A4020) through Shepherd's Bush, Acton, Ealing, Southall and Uxbridge is also important for local traffic and public transport.

Although much local traffic around West London (particularly the outer areas) is dominated by car, flows to and from central London are primarily made by public transport. The main public transport links are the Central line, District line and Piccadilly line of London Underground, and the suburban rail services of First Great Western into Paddington station and South West Trains into Waterloo station. Ealing, Kingston, Richmond and Hammersmith are probably the key public transport hubs, each being served by many buses and a number of different Underground or rail lines.

Given a high level of demand for public transport in West London, two main schemes have been proposed to address these - Crossrail, a new cross-London railway service serving Ealing and Southall, and the West London Tram, an on-street light rail line along the Uxbridge Road.


Informal divisions of London

North West | North | North East

West | West End | Central | East End | East

South West | South | South East

West London

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