D-Days for Brockley Road

Cllr Ute Michel reports on Green Ladywell that:

"The date has finally been set: the appeal against Lewisham Council's decision to turn down the betting shop licence application for the former Homeview video shop on Brockley Road will be heard at the Magistrates Court on 13-15 May."

So then, that's the day when we'll find out whether we'll continue to cram more and more bookies in to the same space as more and more centres for the vulnerable. Or whether, by rejecting the appeal, we will free up one of most important sites on Brockley Road for something more useful for the whole community and, by doing so, give the regeneration process that has started around the station a chance of spreading further (rather than strangling it at birth).

Decisions, decisions!

117 comments:

Tinsie said...

Funny how bookies proliferate in poor areas. I hope Lewisham Council stick to their guns on this one!

Richard Elliot said...

Here's hoping Portland loose their appeal to turn the place into a Bookies and they don't make it into a car lot to spite us all!

Monkeyboy said...

I'll give you 10/1 that they loose the appeal.

James said...

I'm against the idea of a bookies there as anyone else (although legally, I think their appeal will unfortunately be upheld), I have to question who will take up the unit. There was clearly little interest previously and the presence of 2 delis and an organic shop may even discourage anyone else to open a similar business. If their appeal is unsuccessful, who's to say Portland won't retain the shop as a vacant unit and grow fat off the (currently slowly) increasing land value? Vacant unit vs Bookies is a Devil-having-sex-with-his-mother equation but unfortunately one we might be staring down the barrel of come May 15h.

Anonymous said...

James, where's your evidence that there was little interest before? The place is owned by portland, so no one else can go for it. And they applied for a license more than a year ago, before the rise of the area around the station. The presence of more good shops makes it more likely that others will follow, not less. Good shops locate together, which is why it's important to break the cycle of bookies.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

speaking of good shops - i just spent £18 quid on about 5 items in the shop on the hill, does anyone else think it's abit over the top? (excuse the pun).

There was also a really snobby customer there who complained about having to wait to be served (i was being served and there were no other customers). She looked like she was wearing a fur coat, is this a sign of things to come in brockley? I'm all up for regeneration, but lets not lose the civility thats makes it an area nice to live in.

James said...

"Anon",

All I'm saying is that, if the Council had any indicators from retail appraisal surveys etc suggested that an A1 or even A3 use would prosper in that site, they wouldn't have been so crass as to grant a change of use. It would at best stand a 60/40 chance of success.

Whilst I agree that good shops try and locate together, the hub of Brockley's regeneration is very much around Coulgate Street, thus away from 329. Retail centre boundaries are ephemeral yet surprising fickle and although 329 is not exactly far away from the central pull of what is becoming the central core of the regeneration area. It is further than many businesses (especially those plying a similar trade to those already established) maybe willing to risk.

Put it like this: If someone asked you to pick-up some cheese on your way home, are you going to Degustation, or walk halfway to Crofton Park? Before anyone picks up; Yes, it depends on where you live, I'm trying to look spatially as opposed to personally.

However, all of this is broadly academic as you'll find out if you ring the planning department at Lewisham and ask if how many enquiries they've had regarding a change back to A1 on that location.

The guy I spoke to said they haven't had a serious enquiry regarding the site in over a year. I was pretty surprised by this especially considering the overwhelming pubic outcry. Working in a planning office myself, vacant site enquiries are one of the most common we get.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love something with a more character to move in (not a deli, we've got 2 and a half of those), all I'm saying is that we shouldn't get our hopes too high.

But what do I know...

The Good fairy said...

What do people think would work in that spot.

What would make YOU walk, bike, drive to that spot?

What does that area NEED?

If we can get some form of consensus, then I think something positive will happen...

Anonymous said...

It's a good question. What would be good there? My feeling is that it's a difficult location. As somebody has said the recent 'boom?' of regeneration has happened by the station. If i was to take on a new business I'd be looking around there or nowhere because you have a better chance of people popping in on their way in or out of the other shops. Also regenerating areas has a better chance of success if it's grouped together initially rather than isolating the shops over a wide distance.

Homeview could be a cafe because corner cafes can be very nice, but then cafe neu struggled in a similar location.

Part of the problem with that location is the way it looks (Tamsin take note). Coulgate street has a very unique look - the house down there remind me of the fisherman's cottages in St Ives- which work well for boutiques or cafes. Homeview is on a grubby main road with only Moonbows to lift the place.

On reflection I think a wine bar (one step up from Moonbows) would be best suited there. maybe Coulgate street could be the villagy part of Brockley and further down the road could be the nightlife area?

I'll now wait for the NIMBY's to hammer me.

Brockley Nick said...

I totally agree - a bar, which did a decent range of simple food (like tapas) would be perfect for the location and would complement Moonbows. We know the area needs a few more places to have an evening out and that would be an obvious choice.

The row is actually not unattractive - Moonbows adds a lot of charm, there's a florist, a bathroom shop, a hardware shop, a furntiture shop and a pharmacist. If Homeview was given a proper makeover, it would lift the feel of the whole area.

Anonymous said...

Yeah a tapas bar would be good.

Anonymous said...

James, the Council thought they were granting change of use to allow it to become an estate agent. They were mugs. And why would anyone speak to the Council about it? Everyone who knows it, knows that it's owned by the bookies, who are still trying to open up a betting shop.

Who says it has to be a cheese shop - that's not the only alternative to a bookies.

"Anon"

JPM said...

They will lose the Appeal. Following which they will immediately offload the property... (If they actually own it. Has anyone checked? You might be surprised to discover that an actual purchase was contigent on change of use being given. I'll check this and get back.)

Forget bookmakers... I favour a book shop.

Sue Luxton said...

In response to Tinsie: this is going to be a magistrate's decision, not the Council's - the Council's licensing committee already turned the application down, hence the owners are appealing.

I am concerned that there are now 4 empty retail properties in that little stretch - Homeview and 3 opposite. I know that in the past the police were looking for a shop around there to open a Safer Neighbourhood base for the Ladywell & Crofton Park teams , and one of the smaller units could be a good location for that, as long as it has a front counter for residents to report crime/raise concerns, rather than just being a closed shop like the SNT base on Lewisham Way. Given the Met are again proposing to close Brockley Police Station, I would hope that they are looking very carefully at buying/leasing one of the premises.

A decent bakers would be nice, but Homeview is too large for that. Prior to Shop on the Hill opening, I would have liked to see Homeview become an organic/wholefood shop, but that isn't so viable now. I like the idea of a combined cafe/ bookshop, perhaps called 'The Bookies'?! Anyway, let's see how the appeal goes before we get our hopes up, and in the event that we do end up with a bookies there, we need to see what we can do to encourage some good businesses to open opposite.

JPM said...

Yes... I've checked this. The owner of the property is a "Mr Anthony Banks", and not Portland Bookmakers. (It would be a hugely risky bet to acquire a property then apply for change of use.)

It seems likely that if the Portland bid fails, then the 'bet' between said landlord and Portland is off. (That's a standard.)

If that does happen... the landlord would be mad to leave the property empty. (Unless he's very wealthy and landbanks.) Also, if he does sell to someone else, community lobbying can influence what business may go there.

nicola name said...

it really concerns me how the very poorest people in society end up losing money they don't really have in betting ventures.

i can see why - winning 100 pounds is quite something if you're existing on the dole/similar but it is absolutely tragic.

and of course from time to time someone DOES win huge sums on the lottery/betting/whatever and the huge publicity encourages everyone else.

the other argument is -leave people alone to spend their money as they choose.

i can see both sides but i do think people with very little cash have an particular and understandable susceptibility to temptations like the 4.15.

betting companies make an awful lot of money. it's a shame and almost a regresssive tax.

spincat said...

It was be a fantastic site for a restaurant or bar. i love Sue's name for my dream bookshop/coffee shop combination.

NB: I would "walk halfway to Crofton Park" because I am already in it.

Anonymous said...

mmmmm......bakery.

Anonymous said...

There's that nice little parking fine shop on Rennell Street, ("Buying parking permits or paying fines will be easier than ever thanks to the new Parking Shop.") what about one of those in Brockley?

As the major of lewisham proudly boasted "Having seen it for myself am delighted with what we’ve achieved and I hope our residents and customers will notice a difference."

What could be better??

Graeme said...

Yeah, that parking shop on Rennell St. They got rid of the only motorcycle parking bay in Lewisham (in front of the shop) and replaced it with two car bays so that the managers (presumably) could park there. There's nothing like looking after number one.

Anonymous said...

I think a bar that was geared towards families in day, AND the those that like a drink in the evening would be good and would work. It would get plenty of passing trade.

Anonymous said...

not being funny but isn't moonbow jakes filling the 'friendly bar' quota for that block? i don't go there often, but judging from the quantity of buggies on a weekend afternoon, I'd say its family friendly during the day, and it does have a liquor license and occasionally puts on live music etc. But if its not capturing our imaginations (& I'm not a frequent visitor myself) - what's it doing wrong? (IMHO - the food could be much much better - even the simple, snack type things). Still, greatly improved since the smoking ban.

Kate said...

Something restaurant-y would be great. I love the idea of tapas, as that would bridge the bar-restaurant divide nicely - and I luuuuuuuuuuuuuurve tapas!!!

Anonymous said...

Moonbows chilled out ambience and shabby chic style have their place. Sadly frayed minimalism also seems to apply to their food. The standard seems to be based on what a student could knock together with minimal training. It is not the destination of choice for an evening meal. There is a distinct lack of local alternatives in that department.

Monkeyboy said...

maybe the question should be if it was YOUR money what would you open?

I'd like a Tapas bar but would I stake my mortgage on one at the moment?

Anonymous said...

Nick do a poll on this...pleeeeeeeeeease.

Anonymous said...

Bookies, off licenses,dodgy pubs, cheap take aways, cheap cafes.

All to be found in poor areas to address the needs consistent with addictive illnesses, crime and neglect.

So maybe something for the disadvantaged of Brockley rather than the monied property owners.

A drug rehab clinic or a brothel might be appropriate. Or maybe a video games emporium for the yoof.

Marisa said...

The three empty shops opposite Homeview are actually 2 empty shops because the fridge man uses one of the shops as storage which doesn't seem fair?

Regarding what was Marion House Books (the other vacant shop); the owner of Homeview Videos did enquire and was ready to sign a lease on the day for that but the church refused him as they had their own plans which have now materialised as a sale and now up for let. Shame!

Regarding who owns Homeview site; there are 4 directors of Portland Bookmakers so any one of them could have bought the freehold. We don't know all their names.

Serena said...

The council want our local parades to serve people without cars? (a green issue) so why was this A2 use granted? Two betting shops on our parade!
For the court hearing - I've had some legal experience and the magistrate can only decline the licence if she/he is presented with enough evidence for doing so. Fingers crossed that the barrister for the council upholds the resident's interests.
Does anyone know if we can speak in court as residents independent of the council's barrister and can we question witnesses for Portland Bookmakers?
I've also heard that Portland own the freehold at former "Homeview"
Big up to all the residents that only want one bookies on that parade!

Anonymous said...

Don't planning applications for restaurants require car parking space?

Anonymous said...

That site is perfect for a nice restaurant / bar. Moonbows is too cafe-esque, we need a lively bar with music etc...

Anonymous said...

How things change - I remember when Moonbows was the first decent thing to happen to the parade - now we are talking about it being too cafesque..

Anonymous said...

Bigger, better, faster, more, that's the way of the world. Moonbows is good, but there's nothing wrong with some slightly different on that same parade, they could complement each other.

tyrwhitt michael said...

Is it only me that finds it rather hypocritical that the same people who object to a bookies are now suggesting the building would make an ideal bar/restaurant. Correct me if I am wrong but the main objection to a bookies was the proximity of a hostel or centre for people recovering from addictions. Gambling or Alcoholic?

I have yet to hear a concrete argument (unless you count nimbyism) against it becoming a bookies. A bookies would at least provide 3 or 4 jobs and perhaps kick start some commercial regeneration.

(head down TM prepares himself for tirade of abuse)

Anonymous said...

Yep. It's only you. You've forgotten the key difference between the two businesses. The 'Vulnerable people' won't be allowed into the new bar because they'll put me off drinking my Mojito and I'll get the guy on the door to eject them. Whereas they'll be welcomed to spend all day sitting in or around a bookies.

Marisa said...

Not this old chestnut again from TM.
The grounds of objection under the old law was demand which we've managed to prove there wasn't and the grounds under the new objection is vulnerable people which needs to be proved. Inorder to object you need to work out what the criteria is. If the grounds of objection was that it is going to be too smelly then we'll have to somehow prove that! GET IT!

Pete said...

Actually I believe Michael is correct that one of the arguments put up against the bookmakers was indeed that it would endanger the addicts at the hostel. A bar would have the same problem.

Anonymous said...

Really - they are going to go in to a bar/restaurant (hypothetical) and spend x amount on an imported drink when there's a Tesco Express on Lewisham way?

Graeme said...

I wasn't aware that there is a correlation between alcoholism and gambling addiction. If the guys in the half-way house on Adelaide want to place a bet, they only have to pop over to Corals the Bookmaker (on the 'fridge' parade) roughly 150 yards from their front door. Similarly, if they temporarily fall off the wagon, they can get cheap booze in the Spar next to Sid's, or go to Moonbow's, or schlep down to the Jack if they can afford it. So, I don't see the temptation argument as valid.

A sizeable proportion of the guys who pass through the house are also
noticeably middle class (there have been a couple of ex-MD's iirc) and are as likely or unlikely to visit a bookies as the next person. They're not all sporting 'number one's' and tattoos. But then again some of them are.....

I'll canvas their opinion when I next see them, though

JP said...

Sue Luxton... how to kill a high street. Brockley will never get anywhere with a dayglo sign saying 'safer neighborhoods team'. Please do not listen to Ms Luxton! (Albeit do read between the lines. Why is she suggesting such a move?)

A campaign should be started to KEEP the police station where it is, open at responsible hours, and staffed by police. Leave our high street to positive regeneration.

Anonymous said...

..but we could have a crack team of bicycle cops poised like a coiled spring sally forth and apprehend miscreants.

Gangs of fast food addicted pavement cyclists and cigarette cadgers would risk having their collars felt.

Brockley could sleep more peacefully.

Anonymous said...

To: tyrwhitt michael,
It’s not only you that finds it all a little hypocritical.

One of the main social problems high on the agenda is under age drinking. How was it that the internet cafe opposite the betting shop site managed a drinks license without a single objection? Who frequents internet cafes?

As far as the betting shop is concerned.....why would you oppose a local, independently run business offering the kind of service and facilities not currently on offer ANYWHERE in the Brockley area? Corals on the 'fridge parade' took over the last independent (John Humphries) and quickly took away the concessions and facilities that were on offer. Large chains now monopolise the area with Corals at the forefront.

I agree those that frequent a betting shop are in the minority but that is not to say the minority are not entitled to a decent service in comfortable surroundings. If that were the case then all those that liked chicken would be stuck with KFC and Nando's would never get a look in.

JPM said...

"How was it that the internet cafe opposite the betting shop site managed a drinks license without a single objection?"

If it had a drinks license it was never used whilst it was open. The majority of people who used the facilities were Thirties up.

Anonymous said...

"Anon" please credit us with some intelligence and just say you're from portland. There's always one of your posts whenever this comes up and they are always anonymous but sound the same.

Love
Anon

max said...

Drink and blog! It's the latest crazy fashion amongst the middle aged of Brockley, they get high on Chardonnay and then write inconsequential comments all over the local blogs.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't hard to work out and I certainly don't intend hiding the fact.

We (Portland) dedicated our website to the residents of Brockley. We invited you to our one and only shop in Abbey Wood which is without doubt the most popular bookmakers within a 2 mile radius. You were invited to see how our business was run and how we differed from the 'large chains'. We also asked for your comments and questions via email. Both proved a wasted of time (although one resident did visit Abbey Wood and that in itself was an experience for us both).

This web site (and others) is very informative and I wished to contribute.

Apologies if I am unwelcome.

Best regards,
Anon

JPM said...

It is most unprofessional that you should remain anonymous. Please declare your name.

Serena said...

I wonder how many bookies are within walking distance of the house of the Portland contributor to this blog? Who sounds most affronted by an honest and frank comment from Anon. No I'm sorry there are facts which show bookies drain resources from an area and as we are trying to look after ours perhaps Portland would consider selling their shop to something that serves the community. i'm also sorry you're not opening one in your own back yard ie. where you live
Serena

max said...

"We (Portland) dedicated our website to the residents of Brockley."

Out of curiosity I checked the website, it's empty!
http://www.portlandbookmakers.co.uk/

There's no content with the exception of a link to the multimap location for your Abbey Wood shop.

What do you mean by saying that you dedicated it to the residents of Brockley?

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the regulations regarding betting shops were liberalised and various companies are steaming into this market with a new approach to this business?

Trying to broaden their appeal, attract a different type of customer?

Hasn't Internet gambling put pay to this idea?

Marisa said...

Well done Portland for realising you're not welcome! After 1200 signatures, 300 letters, schools writing in, vulnerable people writing in all objecting to this betting shop. A betting shop who admitted in court to making hundreds of thousands of pounds profits annually from the poorest people of our community who can't feed themselves let alone heat their homes. Who dragged witnesses out of the woodwork claiming to make loads of profit from gambling! And yet couldn't find one person in the whole of Brockley prepared to stand up in court wanting a betting shop! Well Done.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe some of the comments on this website. If only some of you were as informed as you think you are.
MAX-We spent time and effort updating our website for several months up to and after the court and council hearings. You obviously missed the 24 posters on the application site advertising this last year?
SERENA-Again, if you actually came to Abbey Wood you'd find another bookmakers about 20 yards away on the other side of the road. Customers vote with their feet hence our popularity. Also, I was born in Greenwich and moved to Abbey Wood at the age of 8. I now live less than a mile up the road so I would say that I have opened one up in my own back yard.

In addition, we do support local charities as well as the local community centre and OAP club.
Regards,
Portland

Anonymous said...

Yes I did miss the '24' posters. At the time I asked in Homeview what the application was for and no mention of a betting shop was made. If it your application for change of use had been clear at the outset then I'm certain many local people would have objected and saved us all a lot of time and effort.
Kind regards
Local resident

Anonymous said...

Portland, Brockley does not NEED another Bookies and especially not there.

Bookmakers are niche establishments, they cater to a very small section of society, mostly men, and men of certain age, like my father, they survive despite such a small client base because the clients they do have are ADDICTED.
You will bring unhappiness to many people.

Bookmakers have their place but we have ENOUGH.

We want something different, something better that will uplift the area and enhance people's lives.

JPM said...

Is it really worth having a dialogue with an individual (or individuals) who claim to represent a 'reputable' company but does so anonymously? Any firm connected to such a deception reveals a need to play its hand with a stacked deck. A point that should give any gambler or community concern.

JPM said...

It's also worth also stating that Portland does not appear to own this building. It has simply taken an 'option' to pay a certain price if all the criteria - change of use etc - are met. It would be worth having a word with the owner of the building and calling on his public spirit. (You never know...)

max said...

You might have spent time and effort but that has not made your website less empty.
Honestly it looks like you've got nothing to say apart from the rather silly claim that you dedicated an empty website to Brockley.

I am not against betting in principle, but I believe that it is an equally liberal position that of respecting the wishees of a local community if those wishes are expressed as in this case.
They have put forward a case against betting shops, that was good for the planning committee at Council but may not be enough in court but this doesn't make your persuing of a betting shop in an area that doesn't want you any better and your vacuous claims of offering a different service less ridiculous.

"Customers vote with their feet hence our popularity."

We're all grown up here, betting shops make a lot of money and they can afford higher rents, it is quite likely that in depressed areas, where other commercial offers can't make enough income they give way to businesses like yours, you don't need a thriving economic environment to prosper, on the contrary, by pricing out other businesses and draining finances from the residents one can see why people don't want shops like yours in their neighbourhood.

Glenda said...

Poor old Portland that seem to have a very short memory. Not welcome in Brockley? but this isn't about being welcome it's about making vast amounts of money. I was in court when you told the Magistrate (and everyone else just how much you do make!) You're really creaming it in in Abbey Wood and
I love little pussy
Her coat is so warm
And if i don't gamble
There'll be no fat cats owning bookies in brockley

Portland it's pointless saying to Serena that you live down the road in abbey Wood because Mr Catchiside is a director of Portland living in Bromley who was very proud of the fact that he doesn't live in Brockley.
Don't rain betting shops on our parade!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Max, but our website WAS complete with our company background, photographs, reasons for choosing Brockley etc etc but it was all a waste of time. We had ONE resident visit us at Abbey Wood and she also appeared at the court and council hearings. I only wish she would make her self heard on this website. It would be interesting for us all.

Anonymous said...

Mr Catchesides a Director of Portland? Glenda, not sure where you get your information but once again misinformed.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article providing a bit of context to this.

The Gambling Act that came into force last September has led to a huge expansion in betting shop applications. Especially by the smaller chains who see this as their big chance. Bigger operators cannot object if there they have a shop nearby and objections on moral grounds are excluded. There are hundreds of new betting shop applications going through.

The money spinner in the new shops are the fixed odds blackjack and roulette machines which each make a couple of thousand a week and are proving to be highly addictive.

They can now open from 7am until 10pm all year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/jan/12/consumeraffairs

I am not sure what the reason for this liberalisation is. But I suspect that the Treasury cast an envious glance at the Australian gambling industry which generates large amounts in taxes.

Presumably the social harm this causes is offset by the prominent positioning of a helpline telephone number.

It appears to be an utterly cynical excercise in revenue generation for the benefit of the Exchequer and the betting industry at the expense of compulsive gamblers and will no doubt lead to considerable financial distress for their families and dependents.

I don't know how they can live with themselves.

max said...

I hope that your application is rejected so that some better commercial outlet could occupy the same retail space.

That said, I drop off this thread because I really don't need to argue with you as you can shoot yourself in the foot so well.

Sue Luxton said...

JP: just read your comment re the police station. I discussed this in more details on my blog last week and it might be best to discuss it further there as this thread is more about the betting shop:
http://greenladywell.blogspot.com/
2008/02/brockley-police-station-
to-close.html.

If you do want to object to plans to close Brockley Police station, then you need to do so fast, as the deadline for the police's pitiful attempt at consultation is today. Link to consultation on my blog.

JPM said...

Sue Luxton..On the contrary, I think this is the perfect venue to discuss a proposal to turn my high street into an advertising hoarding for a 'crime hot spot'. I don't live in Ladywell so a visit to your blog isn't much help. However, on that subject, don't you know of any brilliant shops in Ladywell that might do?

Pete said...

JPM, do you object to the presence of police stations in an area as they will mark it out as a crime hotspot?

If the answer is no, and Brockley Police station is going to close how can you object to an empty shop being used to house the safer neighbourhoods team? Or is the only suitable location for the police a purpose built victorian building?

If you think that having police based on that stretch of street will make people feel less safe you must be mad. In my opinion.

Pete said...

Also with regards Portland. Of course they don't see anything wrong with their application and they believe that they offer a different service to that of Corals. However people are objecting on the basis of the impact that the increased availability of gambling will have on Brockley and also the loss of that site.

If you ask the people who object to your application they would most likely want to see the Coral bookies close too.

sjw said...

I think I must be the only gambler who reads this blog. I have certainly enjoyed the self-righteous rants over the last year about gambling. Though I think I can take it or leave it over another bookies in Brockley if I wanted to get properly addicted I can just phone my horseracing bets in. The fixed odds betting terminals are the main problem as identified, you mentioned Australia anon. The Aussie government has just changed the tax on terminals in Australia to ensure that in 5-10 years they will not longer be economically viable and will have to be phased out. Alternatively Betting on Horse Racing is an excellent leisure activity (in my view)and the more opportunities to do it the better in my view - just stop the Terminals

PaddyOD said...

Portland : On top of the numerous reasons mentioned above(enough gambling places / addicts living nearby etc...), I think the good people of Brockley wouldnt mind so much about you opening your 'boutique' sounding betting shop on the high street if the area already offered basic general shopping facilities. However as it stands the high street of the town (village/suburb, whatever) completely lacks basic shopping and recreational facilities compared to many other areas and does not come close to meeting the needs of its residents.

At present, residents have little to choose from apart from numerous VERY poorly stocked "supermarket" type places; numerous estate agents; numerous fried chicken shops; numerous funeral parlours surrounded by numerous empty outlets. There is a nice florist, a couple of nice delis and cafes and a good chemist which are beacons of light on an otherwise desolate oasis of a high street.

I think that the residents of Brockley are tired of walking past all of these stores which are of little use to them and want the high street to get something which will actually be valuable to their daily lives. This, I believe, is partly why many people are making it clear that Portland (or any bookies) is not welcome on such a prominent site. Certainly not until we at least get a passable supermarket, a bar or two, maybe a couple restaurants.

I dont think its OTT for residents to expect somewhere where they can go after work to buy fresh groceries to cook for their families/selves; somewhere where they can go for a nice meal with their partner/friends in the evening; somewhere they can socialize, have a drink and maybe even and meet their neighbours at the weekends... Whilst of course there are a few great places already attempting to meet some of these needs, I think the selection falls miserably short of meeting many peoples expectations. This drives them to places like Lewisham to shop or Greenwich/New Cross to socialize rather than attract people to Brockley to do anything.

Lets face it, like it or not, due to the gentrification of the the area the population of young couples and professionals has swelled yet the basic retail/recreation provision has failed to keep up with this change and until this changes the opposition to your new store which you have experienced will probably always exist.

JPM said...

Great way to put it, PaddyOD. I'm concerned that little information is forthcoming about this outfit, save to have serveral supporters 'emerge' writing about the positives under pseudonyms. I'll report on this later.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Paddy, I think the key couple of words in your comment is 'surrounded by numerous empty outlets'.

If that is the case, then clearly there is surplus supply of retail units to meet any local demand for other type of shops and the whole basis of your comment does not hold any weight.

I would rather see all retail units occupied otherwise there carrys a cost to the local economy. would you really pay higher council tax to maintain an empty commercial unit? alot of people would say no....

Anonymous said...

I find it very curious that with so many empty shops around, none have become the home of one of the various charities that sell second hand stuff. They would do well around here, many of us have a lot of stuff that could be recycled to a better home.

Is it because the commercial landlords hereabouts are not so disposed?

I get a little suspicious of several shops in a row being vacant. Same landlord looking to sell the whole lot as a freehold?

Are the rents on these properties too high? Or is there an advantage to leaving the property empty....

Aha! The rules are about to change in at the end of the month. I wonder if paying full business rates will provide the stimulus needed to bring these properties back into use?

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/Business/BusinessRates/ReductionsAndRelief/ChangesToEmptyPropertyRates.htm

Sue Luxton said...

Anon: I certainly hope that the end of business rate exemption from April will prompt some landlords to bring premises back into use.

JPM (I responded to JP initially as that's what it said): I took the time to explain the situation and my views re Brockley Police Station on my blog; if you can't be bothered to go there and read it, fine, but I'm not about to repeat it all again here! I will also post up there the response the Green cllrs make to the consultation.

Ladywell ward also covers parts of what is geographically Brockley, including Howson Road where the police station is, Brockley Road from Adelaide Avenue down to St Andrew's, Arabin, Braxfield, Kneller, parts of Foxberry, Tressillian, Breakspears, Chalsey, Montague, and Hilly Fields Crescent etc, so a fair number of the things I post on my blog as Ladywell ward cllr are actually about the Brockley parts of the ward.

PaddyOD said...

Andy Pandy Pudding & Pie : The gentrification of Brockley has only recently intensified leading to significant changes to the areas demographic.

Many of the vacant units in the area have been vacant for years and are not recent casualties of lack of custom.

The vacant units on our high street are not the remains of failed supermarkets, restaurants or bars, so their presence does not show that there is no local demand for these types of businesses.

The demographic of this area has changed massively in the last 5 to 10 years and the retail provision hasnt. However as you will have noticed, 2 new delis and a health food shop opened in the last 12 months here, all 3 from former vacant shops. This shows that there is a demand here and that all we need is for this trend to continue and other businesses to open in the other vacant units around town.

In relation to your comment about us having to 'pay higher council tax to maintain an empty commercial unit' - I am confused? After 3 months of vacancy landords must pay 50% business rates regardless of whether the unit is occupied or not. As 'anonymous' points out above, this 50% tax increases to 100% business rates in a months time. It doesnt affect the tax payer unless the Council owns the vacant unit.

JPM said...

Sue (Luxton)... fair enough. I hadn't realised you covered that part too. I'll take a look at your site.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the owner gets a bigger business rates bill as of April. Whether this will be enough to make the terms more amenable to businesses is another matter.

I don't understand why the landlords don't just lower the rent or extend the leases. Makes me think it is part of someones cunning plan.

That parade of shops is about to sprout some further For Sale signs.

Apparently St Cyprians Hall, the shop next door and the undertakers are up for sale.

MineofUselessInformation said...

Ah! St Cyprian's Hall. Where Spike Milligan (ex of this parish - almost) played his first ever gig. I never tire of telling people that.

Bea said...

"28 February 2007
A furious group of campaigners in Brockley have launched a campaign to prevent a church hall from being sold.

Catholic bosses plan to sell St Cyprians Hall which is in Brockley Road. They say the money is needed for work in the parish of St Mary Magdalen's.

It is thought that there will be a large profit from the said site, which includes many buildings.

Campaigners include , Catholic parishioners, a Church of England vicar and various community groups

The Campaign group are furious about the sale of the hall, saying that the congregation of St Mary Magdalen's had helped in raising funds to initially buy the hall, and the building is protected by a covenant."

http://www.thebestof.co.uk/lewisham/news/33162

Anonymous said...

Apparently the CofE sold it to the Catholic church some years ago on the understanding it would be used for Church purposes.

The Catholic Church is now consolidating its assets and wants the money raised by a sale to spend elsewhere.

If it is sold, who will buy it and what will their plans be for the site? Lots of questions.

Anonymous said...

Can't we club together, form a co-operative and buy the plot? Let's build a business by the community for the community.

JPM said...

I'd be game on for that... it would need a lot on input though. Perhaps we might even get public funding to clean it up. I don't think that particular plot would be that expensive due to the restrictions by Planning, it's costly to decontaminate, but it's done all the time.

Anonymous said...

If we're only allowed to to use it for 'church purposes' could we start our own religion?

Brockleyism....Guilt, sexual repression, fire & brimstone, a bit of singing and overpriced wholefoods.

Only those on £45k or above allowed in. should keep the lower orders out.

JPM said...

Moving attention from Upper Brockley... I have looked into the site opposite Moonbow Jakes in Lower Brockley.

It seems to have a convoluted history. It is owned by the Church, which appears to be in dispute with itself.

Why should the Brockley community be victims in a debate (or non debate) on thie area's future?

Sue Luxton has suggested that two of these units be moved over to the fight against crime? As this forms a gateway to Brockley, I feel something more positive is needed to welcome people to or through our community. A sale perhaps.

I propose we lobby the Church to offload this shoddy portfolio. It's only then, when we have seen off the likes of Portland (with its garish and tacky marquee), that we can rejuvinate Lower Brockley in line with Coulgate Street.

Anonymous said...

I would really like to know what stops businesses from opening. Why we have so many empty shops. If the commercial property market was working properly, the rents would fall to a level where businesses become viable.

Rents seem to be kept high and I have heard rent increases are frequent, making businesses unprofitable. So we have a constant churn of barely viable businesses and vacant properties.

It would be nice to know what is really going on. Why Brockley looks the way it does. What is the future? Is every shop destined to wind up as flats?

Sue Luxton said...

JPM - what is it about having a Safer Neighbourhood Base and counter service in one of the shops that you disagree with? It seems like potentially an improvement to me to have a more visible and easily accessible police presence on the main street, rather than in a building that is tucked away on a residential street away from the main thoroughfare. I don't mean to sound aggressive, but I genuinely don't understand your concern. Now that each ward in London has its own dedicated police team, surely we want them to be part of that community and get to know people within it?

My main concerns with the police proposals would be a) that the SNT base/front counter is open and accessible, not permanently closed and just used as office space and b) that presuming the police want to sell off the station in Howson Road, there is a sensitive conversion of the existing Victorian building, retaining the main architectural features, rather than demolishing it and squeezing as many flats as possible onto the space.

I would agree that the front counter should be open for longer hours than the current hours. Brockley Police station counter is staffed entirely by volunteers, whereas Sydenham Police Station, for example, has a paid civilian member of staff there 9-5. Arguably the police are short-changing local people here and over-relying on the goodwill of volunteers to keep things going.

Anonymous said...

All depends on how it is done. Lewishams brutal corporate style does not fit well with an approachable organisation with the safety of the community at heart. Poverty and council offices seem to go together, sad to say.

I have found the local police to be helpful but contact with them is hindered by the centralised call centre at Lewisham. A local office would be much better.

jpm said...

Sue Luxton, it's me that doesn't understand your position.

Why do you take the stance that a 'safer neighborhoods unit' should take a high visible position in a neighborhood that needs to establish itelf free of crime?

Brockley is not a town centre, like Lewisham, it's a village. We need police out of cars and on the streets, not in crime units acting like Dayglow signs in the 'fight against crime'. We also need every available shop unit to entice shopping and entertainment growth, not an excuse for the Met to say we've got rid of that but we replaced it with this because this is a high crime area. Please, if this is your agenda for (new)Brockley, reconsider. (I can't believe there isn't anyone else out there concerned about this agenda.)

JPM said...

Sue Luxton's site gives some indication of the motivation in this fight against crime. It reads:

"The consultation document does give assurance that Brockley Police Station will not be closed until an alternative front counter facility is up and running in the area."

Sue informs us before this that the consultation document for public opinion was nothing of the sort. There was no consultation. However, the Met cannot close the building wihout the provision mentioned above... which is quite useful, to Sue and Ladywell, Crofton Park, and Telegraph Hill wards (but not Brockley itself ?). Becasue it appears to be the above wards that have the benfit of such a unit.

Whilst Brockley promotes its association as a high crime area in need of a visible police presence, not so the wards mentioned above. Wow!

Welcome to Brockley... Opinions please on a postcard.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

This is typical. I wouldn't put it past Sue to actually think the closure of a commumnity police station would be a good thing for Brockley.

Anyone who actively seeks to bring down the WTO (without realising that it actually has some benefit to poor countries as well as cost) cleary shows absolutely no grasp of economnics and community relations. I understand Sue is a green councillor? How does high visibility police units promote the brockley environment? does it make brockley a more desirable place to live in? Will it not attract more concern amougst the residents, thus discouraging the delicate regeneration?

What we need is solid investment. Not council gimmics. Sue if you read this, please think again. Failing that, resign your post so we can get a decent councillor in who actually makes sense and who knows what constitutes a good proposal.

JPM said...

But the point made in my post, APP&P, and it should not be lost in the deluge that may follow. It's Ladywell, Crofton Park, and Telegraph Hill (only) that will be serviced by this "Ouptost In The Fight Against Crime".

And what fight...?

This will not be a reactive unit. (If you want a cop call 999.) It will be for the mundane paperwork that the Met doles out to civilians, paid or unpaid, and an advertising hoarding for crime... in Brockley only. (Can't emphasise that enough, as the wards mentioned above will have no crime marquee. Great, huh?)

JPM said...

Pete... you asked me a question at 06 March 2008 16:27 and I have only just seen it. Apologies if it appeared like I was ignoring you.

You asked "JPM, do you object to the presence of police stations in an area as they will mark it out as a crime hotspot?"

YES. But this is not a police station. And my objection is subject to seeing the area develop, before the need to 'hotspot' it with crime. What happens later is for later.

"If the answer is no, and Brockley Police station is going to close how can you object to an empty shop being used to house the safer neighbourhoods team? Or is the only suitable location for the police a purpose built victorian building?"

Well, the answer was yes, but I'll try to answer anyway. The Brockley police station cannot close without proper consultation. However, it was never in fact open, for a while now it has been open part time and staffed by civilians. Recently I visited it to fill our accident forms, but these were then forwarded to Lewisham and the staff at brockley needed advice from the latter. (It actually slowed the process.)

The fact that this is a Victiorian building is neither here nor there for me, save to say that it remains a quaint reminder of our past and should be preserved if possible. The Met would do well to sell it.

"If you think that having police based on that stretch of street will make people feel less safe you must be mad. In my opinion."

It certainly goes to show that you have not read up on a subject you promote. It is the perception of crime that is the successful villain, and many learned people have written on this. (The Met senior police too.) In fact, it is you who must be mad if you think that a shop on a high street is going to lower crime. (Perhaps not mad then but delusional.) It won't.

Marisa said...

Why don't we make the old Brockley Police station into a Museum?
It could be a Museum for the History of...........?

JPM said...

Marisa... what a brillian idea. But how?

Also, is it such a bad thing that these properties are being wrestled out of the hands of the Church in Brockley road? They are nothing more than slums, and, had these been in any other ownership the terms 'Rachman' and 'slum landlord' would be applied. Pass them to those who can do most with it adn regenerate Brockley. The Church gets a nice pay day. Everyone wins.

Marisa said...

JPM,I'm sure we can apply for some lottery funding to make it into a Museum. The Museum would have to have a more National appeal so could be a "Museum of Britishness" like they want to build in the Docklands but instead they could build it here.

I noticed that Mary Evans picture library occupy that lovely old building in Blackheath Village which makes great use of that space.

JPM said...

Marisa... I hate to pop your balloon but I can't see that working... competing against Docklands for Britishness, on a national scale...? Surely, given the size of Brockley in comparison, we should exploit its rich history... which is ancient. (More to come on this later, hopefully.)

Tom said...

JPM, respectfully I think you are being needlessly aggressive.

You may have a point about a police operation on the main road being a poor advert for Brockley but your assertion that this will in itself cause crime appears a logical extension too far.

And then to use this dubious logic to call for her resignation appears needlessly hyperbolic.

It is Sue, I'll remind you, that has actually done a great deal for that area of Brockley, working to clear that exact precinct of street clutter and the like.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

It was me who asked for her resignation, not JPM.

Sue maybe very good at green issues but when it comes to the wider economic questions I don't think she much knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Look, if you want to draw people into arguments about the WTO, could you do it on a site that is more appropriate than this blog.

I am not sure what you to are on, but I suggest you stop taking so much of it.

Pete said...

Why on earth should she resign? Just because an anonymous poster on a blog disagrees with her views (and the views of her party) on the WTO.

Perhaps any Tory councillors should resign too because their views are to the right of my own?

JPM said...

Tom, I think that you should report accurately what is written.

This is not a Tupperware Party but a discussion on the future of a community, and it is not just for the Knit Your Own Yoghurt Brigade. That said, I really don't care what you term 'needlessly' agressive.

However, I do think I should revisit what both you and I have said, for the record, and with respect...

"...your assertion that this will in itself cause crime appears a logical extension too far."

Please display where I have suggested that it will 'cause crime'. It is perception I am concerned with.

"And then to use this dubious logic to call for her resignation appears needlessly hyperbolic."

Resignation? Perhaps I fail to recall my own posts, but if you could direct me it would be appreciated. I'm usually amongst that small band who rarely call for a resignation, and know of no reason why I should do so here. (I support the Lib-Dems locally actually, but perhaps I have erred at the point of needless aggression on this.)

I'll end with your party political broadcast on behalf of the Lib-Dem Party:

"It is Sue, I'll remind you, that has actually done a great deal for that area of Brockley, working to clear that exact precinct of street clutter and the like."

I do now wish to diminish a worth (Sue is not my councillor), but isn't it a councillor's job to 'do'? And don't mand do? Or is it just Sue? I feel certain that the councillor needs no champion in you to promote her cause to me. However, with respect, need I remind you that there are others who work outside of politics, and what they submit should not be distorted. With respect, needlessly.

JPM said...

I meant to say I do 'not' wish to diminish, and 'many' do. And APP&P thanks for owning up to that one, as checking Tom's accuracy is needlessly needless.

JPM said...

It's totally aburd! Completely bonkers! Paranoia gone to extremes!

I don't usually use exclamation marks, but there's three in quick succession. Why?

Looking out of my window I have just noticed a yellow (Dayglo) sign. It reads: "THEY WANT YOUR POD". (Initially, due to my sight, I thought that last word was 'poo'. There's been a spate of dog poo in the street.)

The sign has two silhouettes on it, a huge one looking down on a skinny 'victim'. Beneath their feet is the word BEWARE. They are on various lamposts down the street.

The Safer Neighbourhoods Team said it's not them. The Council didn't know either. Apparently it's an initiative by the Met itelf. Strewth! (I think that exclamation mark says it all.)

Tom said...

Apologies for the error re resignations - I read the posts in succession and conflated them.

Respectfully JPM I still think half of your argument is a crock of poo ;o) and if you want to tackle my point feel free. (Though I'm out of the office now until Thursday so this is likely to be my last word on the matter.)

Sue has done some work improving that precinct, and I thought that worth pointing out given the attack upon her.

And for the record - I have no party affiliations, and as a journalist, have no intention of acquiring any.

JPM said...

Tom.. apology half and most graciously accepted.
However, it's a shame you're out of the office as I'm not sure what your point is, given that you were mistaken on both counts.

Tom said...

*sneaks back in* - that while a visible police presence isn't wonderful advertising it won't actually cause crime to rise.

(And yes, after being in poor parts of Liverpool and Chatham over the weekend, it is striking how these town centres are filled with public sector organisations.)

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

what are you doing in chatham? my main client is based there..!

And whats a crock of poo? a collection of steaming hot faeces demonstrating unique colours and characteristics? you should see my cats - that would get you excited.

JPM said...

Tom... perhaps someone could assist you in making your point about what I said, or help me unserstand it. I am seriously lost.

(By the way, I was born in the poorest section of Liverpool, Toxteth, so I'm well aware of crime and how it was fought there. Still I don't get your point. Perhaps when your back you can take th time to go over it in more depth.)

Pete said...

I think the point that JPM (correct me if I'm wrong) is making is that the presence of police makes people feel less safe rather than more safe as the perception that there is a crime problem increases with their presence.

I personally find it comforting to occassionally see the police and think that their presence acts to discourage criminals. JPM has alluded that this is not the case and that rather than being worried about actual crime we should worried about the perception of crime.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I think JPM has a point here. The perception of crime will be increasingly important in Brockley. As the regeneration gathers pace, we will undoutedly see a larger influx of people in the area. If they are believe this to be a lower crime area then the last thing we need is a significant presence of high visability police.

For those of us who already live in brockley, and have an idea of the crime level, then an increase in high visability will indeed help reassure us.

The problem is, is that we have already committed to the area, newcomers havn't and will always look elsewhere if put off.

Anonymous said...

Pete

Sorry, I just caught your post inbetween rants.

It's that exactly.

To give an example I recently posted about the 'crime' signs that have today just been placed along Manor Avenue... they stigmatise the area, nd are ludicrous.

Please visit, and laugh, or explain their use. (I'll make tea for everyone and we can have a photoshoot next to them.)

Headhunter said...

Yeah JPM I noticed the big yellow signs at the end of Manor Ave shouting "They want your i-pod". Not exactly a great advert for the area. Has Manor Ave or Geoffrey Rd suffered particularly from i pod crime recently?

JPM said...

Pete... I meant to put my name to that, but, like the man on the telly who used to balance many plates, occasionally one crashes. Which is not a bad thing because in agreeing with you so readily I have shot myself in the little toe.

It is the presence of the paraphernalia (Nick get spell check, please)in the fight against crime that is becoming a wart on communities themselves. In fact, the current trend to advertise loudly, has the opposite reaction. And the perception of losing the battle to crime, not merely the attentions of police officers themselves, can be seen in this. That's why I reacted so strongly to Councillor Huxton's suggestion.(In Toxteth we had lots of police around. Look what happened there. It's the community working in tandem with the police that gets the job done.)

I hope there's no more plates to balance as I must get some work done.

Anonymous said...

Those signs seem to be on Tressillian Rd as well. Except they say the villains want to nick your SatNav.

Brockley has episodes of streetcrime. The local teenages mainly, robbing lone pedestrians at night. Students walking around with hundreds of pounds worth of technology - ipods, laptops, phones and a complete lack of awareness, they set themselves up.

We have episodes of car crime as well and sat navs are the new car radio.

The signs are there to try to warn potential victims that there is a danger.

They really should festoon Goldsmiths with these signs rather than the streets.

They can be counter productive - worry unduly about their personal saftey, this fear can blight peoples lives.

I think it would be a good idea if the police and council explained their approach to safer neighbourhoods in a public forum. Engage in a dialogue with the community rather than just launching these intiatives. After all, we are paying for it.

JPM said...

Anonymous, what sense you speak. Please councillors visit these steets immediately and see what these crime-fighting initiatives are doing. Surely it's a joke, and should have been launched on the 1st April?

jen77 said...

Everyone is trying to make Brockley a better place and these Yellow signs go up all over the place. Its a mad world.

Sue Luxton said...

Dean (Cllr Dean Walton, Brockley ward) is trying to find out who put the signs there, as neither the Brockley or Ladywell SNTs seem to know who put them there. I agree they are ugly and unduly alarmist, and they certainly weren't put there at our request.

BTW, as promised, I've posted the response to the police consultation from Brockley and Ladywell ward cllrs on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/3yzjw6.

Headhunter said...

Yes it would be very good to get to the bottom of these bright yellow signs. Glad I'm not trying to sell my flat at the moment - I doubt they would exactly entice buyers, and they have literally been splattered everywhere across the conservation area. I hope local residents start to remove them themselves... Let's have proper crime fighting rather than stupid bright yellow signs. Let's have the police station opened up properly and a few more police on the beat if these streets are so crime ridden...!

Anonymous said...

Marissa, anti gambling,poor old poor people,need a museum hold on NATIONAL LOTTERY will pay for that
slightly hypocritical sometimes people let the side right down.CONFUSED

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