London is being steathily taken over by clones, a report has warned.
The report, published by the New Economics Foundation, cautions that the spread of chain stores and franchises are turning Britain into a nation of "clone towns" where locally owned shops have given way to retail behemoths and everything looks the same.
It ranked Britain's high streets on a variety of criteria, and assigned them a score between 1 and 60, where one is a town saturated by branches of the Gap and Starbucks, and 60 is ... I don't know, Royston Vasey or somewhere.
Based on their scores, the high streets were split into three groups: clone towns which have succumbed already ("Jooooooooin usssssss"), border towns which are at risk ("Oh, I notice an Argos has opened where that butcher's used to be"), and home towns, which retain their individuality ("I would kill for a Frappuccino, but there's only some tea rooms").
Outside our beloved capital, Exeter was the cloniest clone, and Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire the most individual town.
In London, the situation looks quite grim:
The foundation also assessed 27 high streets across London and found 13 were clones, nine were home towns that retained their identity, and five were border towns. Wimbledon, Hammersmith and Clapham Junction were the most extreme of the clones, while Shepherd's Bush, Deptford and Bethnal Green scored highest for individuality.
Deptford, eh? Who'd have thunk it.
The New Economics Foundation, which believes in "economics as if people and the planet mattered", first brought this matter to the country's attention last year when the study was launched. Since then, Londonist's magpie-like eye has been diverted by several stories that seem to be symptoms of the problem.
Inparticular, there was the case of Muswell Hill's answer to Antonio Gaudi. Love it or hate it, this flamboyant shopfront was at least distinctive, an improvement on what went before, and popular with the locals. But the council said it was installed illegally and had to be torn down. The battle was on to save it as late as January, bu there seems to be no news on its fate after that - does anyone know?