Limbo shop watch

Brockley is cursed with far too many limbo shops: shops which are neither open nor closed, but somewhere in-between.

Limbo shops offer no goods or services, but they do a very effective job of stopping anyone else from coming along and opening something more useful.

To the casual observer, a limbo shop will appear as though it's just shut for five minutes while the manager's popped out for lunch. But the manager never returns.

In fact, they can often appear that they are just weeks away from a grand opening, with building work in progress and people coming and going. Lights go on behind shutters, shadows play across empty window displays.

Sometimes we like to play the game 'guess the business plan', where we try to work out how the owner ever expected to make a living. Was it supposed to be an internet cafe? A money changer? A newsagent? An office? A restaurant? All of the above?

Ask Toes is one of the most obvious examples, but there are many more scattered along the likes of Brockley Road and Lewisham Way.

Happily, we've recently been able to strike one from the list. Yana, on Geoffrey Road, is an Afro-Caribbean beauty salon that was for months nothing more than a sign in the window, inviting people to come upstairs (an invitation which few seemed willing to accept), while the actual shop bit lay dormant. Now, it's open and actually looks pretty good - with staff, equipment and furniture, it's a proper shop.

Together with a decent dry-cleaner and a nice florist, it has the makings of a functional parade of shops. Although inevitably Yana's neighbours still include a fast-food place that has been shut for a year, while builders intermittently come and go, installing and un-installing the same counter-top, teasing prospective customers with the prospect of food, but denying them for eternity as the Harpies robbed Phineas.

We'd like to compile the definitive list of Brockley's limbo shops, so please post your nominations below...

31 comments:

Richard Elliot said...

How about the empty unit next to Meze Mangal? There was a big push to do it up - but as per an earlier blog planning permission for Meze Mangal to expand was refused. It has sadly been empty for 3 years.

leenewham said...

Does anyone have any idea why Lewisham council would block the extension of what is a local asset?
I don't understand their planning department, on one hand they seem to say yes to any old takeaway, never enforce anything in the conservation area or even reply to queries and then block genuine businesses that people really want.

Anonymous said...

On a completely different note there are big changes ahead at the Brockley Jack (is this Brockley or Crofton park?)A new manager has taken over and the brewery are looking to change things. The theater will be moving upstairs, the kitchen moved back along with the toilets and lots of old leather sofas being moved in. Work apparently is going to start in January and the pub will be closed for 5 weeks.
This info comes from my dad who drinks there every wednesday and is concerned that prices will go up considerably and he and his band of elderly drinking companions may have to venture to the next nearest normal pub, the Chandos.

Anonymous said...

As a local resident looking to upgrade my flat to a house I have been looking at various properties to take the plunge. I was looking at the house on the corner of Geoffrey Rd and Upper Brockley road and according to the estate agent Peter James, what appears to be the very sizable garden at the rear is not included in the price. Apparently the owner of the the house owns this slice of land but is not selling it with the house.

Could anybody tell me if this has planning permission to build on it because I'm weary to buy somewhere with a large disconnected piece of land to the rear, whose future is yet to be resolved. I am aware that this is probably not what the forum is for but if anyone has any info it would be appreciated.

Jan Hammerton

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Why would the owner want to keep the land even if he didnt have any immediate plans to build? There are other properties in the conservation area where consent has already been given to build on their rear gardens, if he has no plans now, I would hedge my bets that he certainly does in the future. Often this also happens when the house itself, it actually a liability. I would certainly get something written in the contract to buy the house.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice. What do you mean by the house becomes a liability?

Anonymous said...

you ask how various buisnesses plan to make money, and specifically money changers, well the one next to Moonbows in Brockley currentlt has a poster in the window offering cash advances at an interest rate of over 500% pa, yes that is 5 hundred percent. there was a time when usery was a crime.......

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Sometimes if the house requires cost to maintain etc, major works or even normal works a seller may not want the 'liability' of having to spend money/time to sort this out when they could make more profit from keeping the land (where there is no maintainance costs).

In the accounting world, freehold land is one of the few things that does not depreciate over time.

Anonymous said...

One less in the land of limbo...

Happened to be walking through Brockley Cross today and there was a lot of work being done on the shop next to Tony's Fish Plaice on Malpas Road. Before anyone gets too excited, there are no plans to make it into a local butchers, fishmongers or petite patisserie.
From what the guys said, it is going to be let to an estate agency. Not as good as the above but a lot better than a closed shop.

Although, I don't know how many houses they will be selling in the new year...
James

Anonymous said...

Re Meze Mangal, I can't see how the large rotting sea container, which has been there for years. is good for trade.

Near the Flower of Kent there used to be an all night barbers that has closed along with some other shops. Does anyone know if the site is to be redeveloped?

Anonymous said...

Meze Mangal: Expansion might have been blocked because they annoyed the neighbours by chucking rubbish in the back garden. And neighbours get consulted about planning applications...

leenewham said...

Meze mengal should just have extended and not botthered to tell the council as they wouln't have done anythign about it anyway!

Out of interest, whats' happening th the house that burn't down behind the garade at the end of Upper Brockley Road that currently is an advert for the art of scaffolding? With that much scaffold, how can anyone actually renovate it?!

Anonymous said...

surely the eyesore at the corner of tyrwhitt road and lewsiham way / loampit vale qualifies.

there's a dotty old man constantly rearranging bits of wood and boards across its front doors, but no sign of the shop actually returning to use.

Marisa said...

There are a couple of Limbo shops next door to each other opposite Moonbow Jakes. One used to be Marian House Books (which is up for sale) and the other is storage for the second hand fridge man. Rent must be cheap to use as storage, ah.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we overly endowed with funeral parlours? Some (happily) don't seem to be very busy. And in the 8 years i've lived here the one next to the brockley kitchen has seemed permanently in limbo. does anyone know anything about it?

tyrwhitt michael said...

I would second anon's nomination of the shop on the corner of Tyrwhitt Road. This was a greengrocers when I moved into the area but the guy running it - Glen I think it was - fell out with the landlord and it shut. This was well over ten years ago. The landlord, said dotty old man referred to above above seems happy to keep it empty and as a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish, rather similar to the garden of no8 Tyrwhitt Road the house he also owns.....

There came a glimmer of hope recently when a new roof was put on the building but this was apparently done by the council as it was deemed a dangerous structure!

Still along with the junk yard opposite it all adds charm to the area...........

Hugh said...

'Charm' is an interesting way of spelling it.

UBRLover said...

Can I nominate the plumbers (Goldcrest?) next to Supercuts at The Parade, top of UBR. Never see anyone going in or coming out, or at least certainly not plumber looking people carrying pipes and suchlike.

Also, 'Lee's Discount Appliances' on Lewisham Way before the Flower of Kent. It's sort of joined onto the shop next door to it, and just seems to be a dumping ground for old fridges. In its favour, the sign is a nice hand painted one, but that's about as far as the niceness goes.

Actually the sign now just reads 'Discount Appliances' - I assume Lee had enoug! LeeNewham, was that your side project? :)

leenewham said...

Nothing to do with me, I might have to sue!

tyrwhitt michael said...

OK not charm.......

colour??

Brockley Jon said...

Shock news everybody, when coming back from the Xmas market I saw three rather sheepish young men skulking into Toes Ask (Ask Toes?)... so someone clearly uses it for something! :-O

Anonymous said...

Two things. First -What kind of shop is Toes Ask?

Second. What news of this new whole foods shop 'The Shop On The Hill' next to Chez Ecosium.

What the hell is happening in Brockley - we're the new Notting Hill!!!

Paul. J

Brockley Nick said...

But Jon, that is the very definition of a limbo shop. People come and go and building work seems to be going on, but to no good effect. There have been people milling around in its doorway for months!

Monkeyboy said...

It should be a LOCAL shop for LOCAL people. A bit like Duke's which only opens when night owls and the dispossesed of Brockley come out to play.

Went in their once while drunk trying to buy paracetomol for the next days splitting headache, think it was about midnight.

JPM said...

To Jan Hammerton

Jan Ive only just seen your post, so I have no way of knowing if you have gone ahead with this purchase and so apolgies. If not, my advice is DON'T. The owner is going after the icing on the bloated cake. (This is greed in its purest form.) Brockley has seen huge price gains since s/he purchased that house (and divided the land for more gain), so even if you check what was paid for it even though you're paying more you're getting less.

No doubt planning permission will soon be given for a block of flats, 50% of which may be described as 'Social'. This may mean that some (though not all) of the people in there will have differnt sleeping times to you.)

If you have bought it then I wish you well. (Though a mortgage company may question the carving up of the asset in this way and be cautious on lending.)

Anonymous said...

JPM - Thanks for the advice - thankfully I didn't go for it in the end (and I think it's still on the market). I was very suspicious about that garden issue and couldn't resolve it. Buyer beware!

JPM said...

You're welcome. It's terrrible to go all the way to the wire on a purchase then have to pull out - it's happened to me a few times. Hopefully it will work out for you in the end. (It can get rather busy with traffic round there anyway so it may not be all bad.)

Brockley Nick said...

If it's the house I'm thinking of, I think it's likely that the car dealership next door will be redeveloped at some point in the near future. Which could be a plus for the area, but could be a problem if you're the person who backs on to it.

JPM said...

I think Nick's right on that one. It's probably a case of the apple not falling very far from the tree. Whoever owns the car dealership site also (owns) needs that garden. It's a land grab with lotto figures. (I predict a seven story building with the usual London brick and boring flat fronted facade, with social provision to the rear. And no car useage of course.)

Ben Pearce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HighStreetBen said...

I think we need to update this list - there are a few more limbo ones that have popped up. And we need to put pressure on Network Rail for 'Ask-Toes' and the state of their site next to the Tea Factory

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