BUSINESS leaders in west London have thrown their backing behind Westfield's £1bn expansion plan.

It hopes to become the largest shopping centre in Europe with an extra 48,000sqm of retail space and 1,700 new homes on the Ariel Way site which is currently home to warehouses, a bus interchange depot and listed DIMCO buildings.

The extension would also include a new White City Green, the same size as Brook Green in Hammersmith, being built along with a supermarket and department store.

The proposals come after White City was named an Opportunity Area in London which will see thousands of new homes and jobs created in the area.

And Frank Wingate, West London Business chief executive, is convinced the scheme will be huge benefit to the Shepherd's Bush business community.

He said: “As the representative body for the business community in this part of London, we fully support Westfield's latest proposals within the WCOA.

“The plans will deliver 2,500 much-needed new jobs and further investment to west London, bringing more customers to other businesses in Hammersmith and Fulham.

“The presence of Westfield in Shepherd's Bush has already stimulated trade across the borough and set a new standard for retail facilities in west London. The new scheme will build on this and be hugely beneficial to the area.”

Westfield's housing plans would include 16 high-rise apartment blocks ranging between nine and 20 storeys in height and the whole project would be phased over 20 years.

Fears have been raised about a lack of social housing included in Westfield's plans and the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework (WCOAPF) document drawn up by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

And 600 residents attended a three-day public exhibition of Westfield's plans in July with the retail giant say the majority of responses have been positive.

Duncan Bower, Westfield director of development and asset management, said: “We are delighted with the number of people who attended our exhibitions and the support the proposals have received.

“This scheme will bring new employement opportunities, homes and community amenities to the area and create a vibrant link between White City and Shepherd's Bush town centre.”

Westfield is finalising their plans before sumbitting a planning application to Hammersmith and Fulham Council by Christmas with a view to start work in 2014.

You can view the plans in full at