Cork Street art dealers oppose development plans
Artists and residents in central London have joined together to protest over plans to develop Cork Street, an internationally renowned art street.
Developer Native Land plans to replace "obsolete" office space above the galleries with apartments.
It said the proposal would increase the overall amount of gallery space.
Protesters say seven of the Mayfair galleries would need to leave their premises for up to four years.
'Epicentre for art'
Simon Tarrant, chairman of the Save Cork Street committee, who runs Alpha Gallery, said it would be "catastrophic for business" with over half the galleries having to leave for three to four years while the development took place.
He called the street "an epicentre for international contemporary art".
"There isn't another cluster of art galleries like this in such a concentrated space," he said.
"This little street is the heart and soul of the contemporary art scene."
Mr Tarrant questioned where the art galleries would go for the interim period and how they would be able to afford the rent of the new proposed gallery space.
Native Land said: "Enhancing a substantial gallery offer is a fundamental part of our development's ethos, helping to preserve the character of the area and adding significant appeal to the residential space above."
A spokesman said the property had to be redeveloped because it was a 1980s refurbishment of a 1920s concrete frame building and at the "end of its physical life".
He added that rents for the new galleries would reflect levels on "comparable gallery space" in the Mayfair area.
A consultation will begin next month, the spokesman added.
Twenty-one independent art dealers operate from Cork Street.
The careers of prominent British artists. including Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Lynn Chadwick. have been closely related to the street.