Happy New Year everyone!
Before making our predictions for 2008, we looked back at one of our earliest articles, when we set out a modest wish list for the area. With the new Tesco (and its cash machine) and the planned upgrade of The Talbot next year, all three items have a tick against them. However, in the exchange with Sue Luxton that followed, we poured cold water on her vision of a Brockley which could support good local food shops, which just goes to show that we know nothing. So it is against that backdrop that we look forward to the next twelve months.
The property market is bearish and several properties near BC HQ remain unsold after months on the market but we believe that the East London Line and the improvements around Brockley Cross will create relatively stable house prices while continuing to draw-in young people, which will drive the success of local businesses and shape the character of the area.
Here are our four hostages to fortune...
In 2007, all of the good new businesses steered clear of Brockley's shabby high street, taking advantage of the blank canvass offered by the new shops created on the side streets. However, in recent months one or two shopfronts have been improved and the introduction of new trees to the ugliest parts of Brockley Road could help matters further. In 2008, we predict that at least one good new business will try its luck on Brockley Road, either in the stretch opposite the Barge or at Homeview.
One of our long-standing gripes has been the extraordinary number of car-based businesses hogging Brockley's pavements. We predict that, in 2008, at least one will bite the dust. Sadly, we suspect the first to go will be one of the MOT garages, which mostly offer a good local service, rather than one of the car lots, which simply suck-up pavement space for the benefit of non-existent customers.
The Council have already rejected at least two applications to convert car businesses in to alternative commercial and residential developments. 'Unsympathetic design' and lack of car parking provision have been the main stumbling blocks on these occasions, but we expect at least one of the developers to come back with a better proposal in 2008 and, if so, we hope the Council gives them the go-ahead, as we struggle to think of anything more unsympathetic to Brockley's streets than grotty forecourts.
The Gallery at the Tea Factory will create so many new possibilities for local artists and community groups, that we won't know how we did without it before. Assuming completion of the development isn't delayed too much, it should be up and running by the summer. This isn't really much of a prediction, except to say that it will surprise a lot of people with the impact that it has on Brockley - it's something to get very excited about.
This is our biggest punt, given that this project's been stuck in limbo for many years. We predict that, in 2008, we will finally get an agreement on that site, with a developer keen to capitalise on the arrival of the East London Line in 2010.
What are your predictions for 2008?