The Tea Factory Gallery moves ahead

The last time we wrote about the gallery, the negotations that between Tea Leaf Arts (the community gallery enterprise), Lewisham Council (which drew up the S106 agreement which paved the way for the gallery) and the developer DPS, revolved around the developer being refused permission for the building to be occupied until one of three options to make the gallery viable was agreed:

1) An extension to the rent-free period by a minimum of 6 months
2) The payment by DPS to Tea Leaf Arts of the money needed to fit the unit out
3) The unit to be fitted out by DPS prior to occupancy

Of these, option 3 seemed the most sensible and the most likely to enable the gallery to open as soon as possible. We're pleased to be able to report that it's the option that's been agreed. During the recent Brockley Cross walkabout, Cllr Alexander agreed to find out what was going on with the gallery and here's the correspondence we received as a result:

"There have been ongoing discussions with the developer, Tea Leaf Arts (the 'Nominated Occupier') and the Council for some time now regarding the gallery space at 100-104 Endwell Road (also known as the TeaFactory). The Council has written to the developer confirming our position that until the unit is provided in a 'reasonable state' for occupation and the lease has been signed, the residential units within the scheme should not be occupied.

"The Developer has recently confirmed that they are willing to undertake a number of improvements to the existing shell that would enable Tea Leaf Arts to occupy and commence trading from the gallery unit. Tea Leaf Arts have been provided with a copy of the final lease and a request to sign the lease and send it back as soon as possible."

78 comments:

lb said...

I assume the last couple of paragraphs are a convoluted way of saying "they're arguing about the terms and the developer is applying pressure on TLA to sign the lease".

How good is the Council's leverage over the developers, legally speaking - anyone have any ideas?

Headhunter said...

It says that negotiations have revolved around the devloper being refused permission for the building tobe occupied until 1 of 3 options has been agreed. Does this pertain to the flats? Coz many of them already appear to be occupied or up for rent/sale

Brockley Nick said...

@hh - what makes you think any of them are occupied already? There is still a small amount of construction work going on, as far as I can see.

It's no problem them being up for sale / rent, but I think it means that the sale can't be completed (keys handed over) until the issue's sorted.

Headhunter said...

Oh really? I thought I could see furniture in 1 of them whilst I was waiting for a train. One of them is certainly on the rental market and is fully kitted out and ready to go as per posts here previously, but as you say they may not actually be occupied yet

The Brockley Telegraph said...

The bargaining power of the council will depend on the relative size of the developer.

Thankfully, I do not remember it to be a 'huge' developer therefore I think the council has a reasonable chance at holding its own.

Interestingly, this is one of the issues with globalisation - some companies will no doubt be larger than some governments in terms of economic clout in the future. Without an 'international governmental system' we are screwed. The other option is to stop companies getting so powerful - thats my preference.

tj said...

I'm glad that the council has taken such a strong position on this one - I'm pleasantly suprised - but like HH said - this must be refering to the retail units - as there are flats on the rental market.

lb said...

Looking again at what Alexander says -

"our position [is] that until the unit is provided in a 'reasonable state' for occupation and the lease has been signed, the residential units within the scheme should not be occupied."

I suspect they can't force the developer not to hand over keys. You'll note she uses the phrase "our position", which immediately suggests this is more of an opinion than a matter of legal fact (if I know anything of public-body legalese). Secondly, she uses the wording "should not be occupied", rather than something along the lines of "cannot be occupied". From this, I think it's highly likely they can't force the developer to stop the residential side of things until the Art Bunker is occupied, but this is just a guess.

Monkeyboy said...

Still quiet a big bargining chip though, and given the market I would have though that the developer is desperate to get the things shifted? I really can't see the fit out costing a lot compared to the job as a whole, given that they have contractors on site.

I expect the furnished flats are show flats.

But what about the big hole in the side? is that detined to be a balconey. Bit drafty if it's not getting some windows. I still think it looks OK, even with the great brick scandel.

Brockley Nick said...

@mb - I think you are trying to read too much between the lines. It says the shell will be improved, to provide a functional space that the gallery can move in to, so the question of whether the Council can force the developer to to do this work or not is moot. It will happen, subject to Tea Leaf Arts signing the agreement.

lb said...

Yes, but hasn't the issue all along been that the developer and Teely Farts have defined "functional" rather differently?

It's probably from spending too much time at work poring over legal documents, but that request "to sign the lease and send it back as soon as possible" just makes me think that some solicitor or other is itching to get a stiffly-worded letter out there.

I guess the Council will quickly learn that if you want a commercial developer to build you a gallery, you'd better make sure the agreement specifies everything right down to the picture hooks.

Headhunter said...

I think some of those flats are most definitely already up for rent. One of them was featured in that Evening Standard article about renting over buying which someone posted here a while back. So they're definitely more than show flats. They were also on Gum Tree a while back - a couple of people here were marvelling at how expensive the rent was

Brockley Nick said...

yes, they are definitely up for rent, many have been sold and one of the commercial units has been let to a cafe apparently. but that is not the same as people having moved in and the developer taking an income from them. that is the key bargaining point.

drakefell debaser said...

I also thought some of the flats were occupied as there were quite a few people on one of the balconies having a few drinks the other week which i assumed was a house warming party. Obviously not then. If the buyers have completed on their purchase or if the tenants have signed tenancy agreements then i can't see how the council can stop people from moving in.

tj said...

I think LB has hit the nail on the head - the words are chosen carefully - and LB's reading of the statement rings true. However - if it has a result, all is good. Now I wonder if they'll be an opening night party

tj said...

there'll be - I hate what is happneing to my English - it must be age

fabhat said...

There is definitely at least one flat that is occupied - a friend is renting one, and is fully installed...

jon s said...

Yes, the legalease to me looks like a may issuse clause as opposed to a shall issue clause. Essentially non binding. Nice the council is acting but they did make it difficult for themselves with a loose contract. Hopefully they will learn their lesson for the future as they do have the power by approving (or not approving) developments.

(Apologies, grumbing about what I spend most of my day doing, albeit with production, business process and ICT suppliers to industry..)

There a still a fair few of the flats for sale and / or rent. My understanding is they are attempting to rent them out as no one will buy them. I expect to see the same on the renovation in UBR. As a potential buyer, I particularly like the one with the huge terrace but the prices are daft. I'd rather buy a house on the darkside or a dinky mews in conservation area for that price instead!

The Brockley Telegraph said...

abit worried about the extent of noise from the main road as the cafe has a fairly large outside area. I hope its going to be an interesting cafe: no starbucks PLs.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

jon, there are still quite a few bargains to be had in the darksid. Prices have not decreased at all on my road which is a good sign. A 3 bed house is for sale at 330k on revelon.

I generally avoid new builds as I worry about the quality.

tj said...

starbucks - I think that's a bit optomistic

Headhunter said...

At the risk of sparking a house price discussion, I had a quick butchers at Rightmove the other day, 1st time in ages, and noticed that asking prices don't seem to have falled much if at all.

Along Manor Ave there are even quite a few sold signs up, although I have a funny feeling that a few of those have been there for a while. We still get letters through the door from estate agents telling us that someone is specifically looking for a flat on Manor Ave etc etc.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that at least one of the flats is occupied as my mates live there....

Headhunter said...

I agree TJ, this typing thing gets more difficult as you get older... I mean "fallen", not "falled"

tj said...

Looks like things are taking longer to sell - and there are probably private discounts off the asking price - but the asking price is remaining the same. I only bought my place last year - and the price is still the same.

The Halifax and others have showed that the London drop is not as great as other areas - and they believe that the london market is already steadying.

Pass the claret...

tj said...

not showed but shown - I'm not going to correct myself any longer but just slip into senility

Headhunter said...

Yeah I saw that on the Evening Standard website - usually their headlines are so sensationalist re house prices, something along the lines of "House prices in 90% fall, buy a flat for 50p" sort of thing, but yesterday they said that the London market was flattening. Buy, buy, buy...

lb said...

The Standard has a good line in talking up the housing market, but I think things will steady out a bit (until someone actually dares to use the 'recession' word, anyway).

That aside, it seems that at least one, and possibly two, of the flats in the Tea Factory are already occupied - whither the Art Bunker now? Teely Farts had better hurry up and sign the lease before the developer whisks it from under their noses.

Anonymous said...

Things are still bad in the first time buyer market. A lot of people, including me, who've had their properties on for a while cannot be arsed/are too proud/think it's mad to slash their asking price by £30k in order to secure an even worse offer. Hence the asking prices have stayed the same for many. They've just given up on selling.

Headhunter said...

The ES has been constantly talkingf down the market for ages now. Every day there's a new "shock, horror house price crash spectacular" type of article. They've also been using the word "recession" for months now, even though we haven't even entered a period of negative growth yet, let alone recession. I guess "yet" being the operative word, but they are jumping the gun a bit.

I think the fact that sellers don't want to slash their prices and then just give up on selling completely is key. Supply is therefore very limited and at the moment, people are not being forced to sell having lost their job etc etc

Ed said...

My understanding, as a buyer, is that completions are all held up until the council signs off on the s106. Completion is over 6 months late so far...

Monkeyboy said...

Ed, are you a buyer in the T-Factory? You must be a bit p**t off it the developer/council are holding you up?

Sian said...

Sorry we've not been in touch for a while but, as you can probably imagine, things are a little hectic around here at the moment.
The situation at present is:

We estimated the shell unit needed £12k+ of work doing in order to function as useable space. This money included glazing, lighting, electricity, plumbing, plastering, etc.

After negotiation with DPS Properties, the have undertaken around £8k of the work that needed doing prior to signing the lease, and have also agreed an extension to the period of the rent/rate free occupancy by 3 months, making 27 months in total.

We have raised a further £2k through private fundraising (thank you, Creative Process Lewisham) and have been notified this week of a successful application to the One-Off Grants Fund of Lewisham Arts (many thanks to Carmel Langstaff)

This leaves up in a position where we an sign the lease, which was sent to our solicitors last week, likely in the week beginning August 25th.

We do then need to get some fixtures and fittings in the place, which we're hoping to obtain the money through lottery funding for, and should be ready for the grand opening in (we hope) mid-October.

We will be holding an open day on or around the 13th September, so anybody curious or wanting to find out more about the gallery, can come along. I will email Nick with further details when they are more concrete.

See you all then!

Sian said...

Just looking back through the comments, the flats are not yet occupied: the show flat is kitted out and they have been showing people round, but there is still work ongoing as far as I know. I believe out of the 13 flats, 5 have sold, and the remainder are out to rent by the developer, given the current state of the market.

None of the flats can be occupied until the lease has been signed under the section 106 - negotiations have certainly been cranked up in the last 4 weeks.

I've been told the other retail units are a cafe and a florist, and an office space. These units are also supplied as shells, so it is likely to be a few months before they are up and running.

Anonymous said...

DPS give Tea Leaf Arts the money now.

Headhunter said...

Strange. Some people here seem to think they have friends who have already moved in, lock and stock.

Sian said...

As far as I know (and I've not been involved in anyway with the ongoing battle between the council and the developer) there is a legal team at the council making sure that the units are not yet occupied. They're certainly not supposed to be.

It seems unlikely that the developer would risk being taken to court by the council over a couple of grand in rent, but like I say, nothing to do with me...

Hugh said...

Anyone see that luvies' party on the Teely Farts balcony the other week?

drakefell debaser said...

yeah i did hence thinking it was a house warming and that people were in. If people have apparently moved in yet are not meant to have moved in then it looks as though the discombobulation continues to some extent. Fair play to those like Ed that have waited 6 months for a completion though

Monkeyboy said...

Probably just posh squatters. Pedigree pooches on silk strings, eating scraps out of only the best bins - that kind of thing.

I need some art for my house, I like those photos of a cute kitten in a boot. Will you have any of those?

The Brockley Telegraph said...

I can make one for you.

Ed said...

At the risk of alienating everybody before I move in I can tell you I am currently staying in Manhattan but I will admit the ongoing delays have been annoying. Still looking forward to making leafy Brcokley my home soon though.

Anonymous said...

umm interesting what does the arts service say just another funding loophole! to gain another short term funded event with no long term objective support for the arts in lewisham

The Cat Man said...

That they have prioritised education, health and safety over the arts - how dare they!!!!!!

lb said...

Lottery funding for fixtures and fittings? Can't they just get a trolleyful of Ikea clip-frames like everyone else?

I have some acquaintances who work in the gallery business, and even they admit that's it's basically a matter of a room with some hooks in it.

[monkeyboy] Personally I was hoping for some of those paintings featuring card-playing dogs. Or possibly Wings of Love.

Headhunter said...

Education, health and safety are important, yes, but not at the total and complete expense of everything else in the borough.

I love the way that the artist of "Wings of Love" lists his inluences as Caravaggio and Turner! I can't really see it myself.

lb said...

That painting will have a particular resonance for fans of Mike Leigh.

I found a copy of it in a charity shop once, but it had gone when I came back with a fiver.

Anonymous said...

Oh god, how naff.

jon s said...

Great Societies sponsor the arts.....

Ancient Greece was the time of Euripides, Elizabethan England was the time of Shakespeare, The Medici's reign in Florence was the time of Caravaggio.

Bring on Tea Leaf arts and many other galleries like it! Mugs like me work on the hard nosed stuff, growing exports, incrasing wealth and making the global economy more efficient.

Anonymous said...

Boasting is cool.

Headhunter said...

Exactly Jon S. It would be a sad, boring world if every last penny was poured into social housing, health, crime prevention and education.

died for your si(g)ns said...

jon s, earlier

http://members.aol.com/sue4jesus24/Crucifiction2.jpg

lb said...

Well, I'd say that historically speaking it was the wealthy classes of great societies who sponsored the arts - the visual arts in particular. Every great noble household had a few artists hanging about. They were just another crafstman, like a cabinet-maker or stonemason.

Art has always been about patronage and status, as much as about aesthetics; it's only in the past century or so that artists have tried to claim otherwise. Not that things are that much different; nowadays you have corporate (and occasionally state) sponsorship replacing the patronage of a wealthy family or the Church.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there could be a commision to design a new sign for Speedycars. And then maybe someone could complain about that too.

lb said...

...on the other hand, look at what aesthetics throws up in its purest form - in popular art, where patronage and status aren't an issue and you get....Wings of Love.

It'll be interesting to see what Feely Ta..pardon me, Teely Farts choose to stick in the gallery.

Brockley Nick said...

@lb - I'll wager you'll declare its contents "mundane" at the earliest opportunity ;)

jon s said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lb said...

Perhaps, but I'm sure they'll survive it. Even if we are Brockley's Opinion Makers.

jon s said...

Hopefully it will get content similar to the Catto Gallery in Hampstead. :-)

The arts and artists are just as important to society as everything else including wealth creation and public services. Art helps bind us together, makes the world pretty, and finds ways for us all to relax.

Fair enough, all wealth cascades down from those who create it through direct or indirect patronage, but creating wealth would not be possible without the support the arts provide.

Ergo arrogance from anyone who creates wealth is misplaced and naive.

Amanda said...

Yay! Good to hear that things are moving forward.

How fab, it will be to have our own homegrown gallery.


Speaking of arts patronage, you can help the gallery by becoming a "friend". It has a range of tea themed memberships, Assam, Oolong
and get this for the relatively modest sum of 75 quid 'Darjeeling' -Platinum memberhsip you can get your name on a plaque.
see here
Tea Leaf Arts supporters

lb said...

What kind of self-important person would be drawn in by the thought of getting their name on a plaque?

I'm not sure I like the idea of a price-banded 'hierarchical' membership - this is a community gallery, supposedly, not the Dennis the Menace Fan Club. Wouldn't it be better, and more community-spirited, just to charge a fixed fee for the magazine and invitations to viewings, and then leave it up to the discretion of the individual to make donations over and above that amount?

fabhat said...

Lb - price banded membership/donations are used by almost ever arts institution these days - it's a good way to lure people in to spend more by giving them more back. The dennis the menace club was all one price as far as I remember, but still out of my childhood reach. Oh how I wanted one of those gnasher badges with bristles.

Brockley Nick said...

Fabhat, I know that pain all too well. The gnasher badge and the nat west piggy bank family were two holes in my childhood that can never be filled.

fabhat said...

the natwest piggies! I'd forgotten about that pain...On the positive side I did have a Lloyds black horse's head piggy bank (plastic and broken quickly), and even better a chunk of chocolate mug from Cadbury's, which still survives. The don't make "send off 50 tokens and your weight in second class stamps" giveaways the same anymore...

lb said...

Fabhat: I'm aware of this. It makes sense, perhaps, for a larger organisation that might put on big events. I don't think it's appropriate for a small community gallery, though; it's a bit divisive. And the benefit offered by the most expensive membership, if one leaves aside the 10% discount anyway, reeks of egotism.

lb said...

I did, however, have the Lloyds horse-head money box, which was good value if you ever wanted to do a junior version of the Godfather.

Monkeyboy said...

God damn the unholy alliance of marketing consultancies and the banks!

(I nearly choked myself on cheap bubble gum just to get the stickers, and don't even START on Top Trumps)

fabhat said...

Lb - at risk of getting a junior godfather horses head - I think that if local egotism gets the gallery more money - good on it. The egotists/philanthropists get their name on a wall and you can know who's got a big ego locally...
There was a good Curb your Enthusiasm episode all about this - especially the smugness of "anonymous donations", that everyone knows about.

The Cat Man said...

I used to have a gnasher badge!

Does anyone remember the story when he ran away and came back with puppies???

Anonymous said...

LB practically everything we purchase can be said to have a whiff of egotism.

Headhunter said...

Those Nat West piggy banks are very colectable these days and trade for surprising amounts, especially the ones you had to have £100 or more in your account or whatever, to get

Matt said...

I know exactly how LB feels I was on free dinners at school and I couldn't afford stuff that the other kids could. I felt resentful too and felt that they were show offs, egoists. This is what drove me to study and now well I am not rich but I can afford stuff and my girlfriend and I shall be helping at the Tea Factory and I wouldn't mind having my name up there. It'll be nice for my kid, so daddy wasn't just an oik, he patronising the arts too.

The Cat Man said...

I fine patronising things makes the day go quicker :o)

Matt said...

We call that trolling the internet mate.

tj said...

I'm not so driven by having my name up on the wall - but do like the idea of attending the private viewings - as more of a social thing than anything else. However I get LBs point - most private galleries - ie. the ones that sell the paintings - don't charge to attend the private viewings. In my experience, it's being a customer that gets you the invite to the next event - as they hope you'll drop a few more quid.

lb said...

[fabhat]: Yeah, I'm sure it's a way of getting money. At the risk of sounding repetitive, though, it's supposed to be a community project, according to the website. Personally, I don't see that restricting access to the private viewings to those able to fork out 50 quid on a PG Tips Membership, or whatever it's called, is especially community-spirited (even the bog-standard Friends don't get a look-in on those things). Do they want to give the impression of a real community project, or of a self-selected group of people playing at having their very own art gallery? Doesn't automatically namechecking those who've spent 75 quid and over, irrespective of whether they've actually done anything, rather act against any sense of inclusivity or universal relevance? There's public money being put into this thing, after all.

Anon@17:51 - Yes, which is exactly why it would be nice if it wasn't replicated in areas where it didn't need to be. I see no reason to artificially introduce any divide between the 'patrons' and the, um, patronised.

The Cat Man said...

I think its a great idea, a good way to generate additional revenue. The public funding 'support' by way of the s16 agreement was only a one off so they need to generate an inflow of private money to carry on.

Do you really want to stop the gallery becoming self-funding?

In order to become self-funding, you need to give people what they want. Charging a fee for a named membership is a way of attracting private money which has historically been case-tried and proved successful.

If they didn't have such scheme, we would not have a gallery in the medium term.

lb said...

I somehow don't think that the amount of extra multiples of 25 quid they'll garner through this scheme will make that much of a difference. As I said, why not a single fee, for those who want to become 'Friends'?

(And even if they did get 1,000 such memberships, 1,000 little plaques would cover the entire wall of the Art Bunker. It'd be like walking into a catacomb or something...)

Anonymous said...

I've been living there since the beginning of August, still have bits that need finishing though.

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