Rugs, rats!

Leonard Nimoy: A solar eclipse. The cosmic ballet goes on.
Man: Does anyone want to switch seats?
- The Simpsons, Marge vs The Monorail

BC regular Max reports on the outcome of the campaign to save Hither Green cinema from being turned in to flats. The build was bagged by carpeters and will be the new home for the displaced Ladywell carpet shop that is being turned in to... flats! He writes:

The owner of the Carpet Corner of Ladywell Road (opposite the Playtower) bought it as its new premises. His current site is about to be redeveloped into residential and so he needed a new one, and here it is. He bought it for £475k, which is a bargain.

BC's not sure we'd be so chipper about the outcome, which seems almost as far from the campaigners' original hopes as flats would have been, but if he's happy, we're happy.

32 comments:

max said...

I have fond memories of Marge vs the Monorail.

It isn't cause for celebrations, but in the scheme of the possible outcomes it's not too bad, many feel relief that it's not gone to flats, because that's irreversible.
Yes it's as far from a cinema as flats are but at least it remains a commercial space and retains integrity of the building, which may come back on the market again in a few years time and who knows may achieve some higher purpose then.

Brockley Jon said...

I wonder how much the new owner was aware of the campaign, or even its former glory?

Anonymous said...

The area is being turned into a dormitory. Mini, mini flats one on top of each other. The tube to go and buy bread and the car to go to the doctor.

This is the clever plan for Lewisham.

Brockley Nick said...

Is this on the wrong thread? You are talking about an area without a tube and a project that doesn't involve flats.

Anonymous said...

He's right though. It seems there's little else being planned in Lewisham that doesn't involve flats, more flats or high-rise flats.

With all these developments, Lewisham will be just another sleepy commuter borough, except with added transport links for those that want to spend their money in Islington and Hackney.

Brockley Nick said...

Well, a) it's not true that the only plans for Lewisham involve only flats and b) more people means less sleepy, not more. How do we expect to have busy high streets and night spots if we don't have people to use them?

The regeneration projects underway or on the drawing board in the area include, among other things:

1. a new street in Brockley designed to attract small businesses

2. An upgraded market and railway station in Deptford

3. A new community library in Deptford

4. A major new mixed-use development in Deptford, including hotel, offices, apartments and waterfront.

5. A major new mixed use development in Loampit Vale, including leisure centre, offices and lots of new shops

5. Lewisham Gateway - even more new shops, as well as homes

6. Surrey Canal, which will have major new sports facilities and commmercial uses, as well as new homes

I could go on...

Topper said...

I suppose we could list a fair amount of flats/apartments that have been or going to be built in Lewisham too.
Cant believe they paid £475K to make it in to a carpet shop,probably bought it on the profit he made in Ladywell and hold out for another big wedge of money.

Anonymous said...

but we won't have any busy high streets or night spots because nothing is being done to develop them. as far as i can tell, all these new developments are accentuating travel times to other parts of london (the city, west end etc), which implies to me that they are trying to attract people that will sleep in lewisham but go out and spend money somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

@Topper
And your point is? What is wrong with a business making profits from moving premises? It's a good carpet shop, providing a valuable service. So good luck to the guy (or gal). And I hope they fill their boots again when the planning permission for the flats on the site comes through.

For those of you who want to see the place become a cinema. Well I'd start inventing that time machine now, because there is no way that the building will ever be returned to its original usage. (I've worked in cinemas, I know the economics.)

Brockley Nick said...

"but we won't have any busy high streets or night spots because nothing is being done to develop them."

Well not nothing, but yes, not enough attention is given to our high streets. That is a daily complaint of this blog - arguably BC's biggest bugbear.

"as far as i can tell, all these new developments are accentuating travel times to other parts of london"

All new residential developments anywhere in London always talk about their connectivity. That is a key selling point, wherever you're buying and access to other places is one of the ways that places become vibrant - traffic is two way.

"(the city, west end etc), which implies to me that they are trying to attract people that will sleep in lewisham but go out and spend money somewhere else."

It's mainly about commuter journeys of course, but I presume you like to be able to go out locally AND you like to be able to go to the West End, et al right? It's not one or the other.

Brockley Nick said...

"I suppose we could list a fair amount of flats/apartments that have been or going to be built in Lewisham too."

Yes. If someone had said "there are a lot of flats being built in Lewisham" I would have agreed.

I was taking issue with the assertion that only flats were being built in Lewisham, which is wrong.

Can you name a borough outside Westminster and the City where the majority of development isn't residential?

Anonymous said...

Sustained house prices and rising rentals suggest we need more housing. What's so wrong with giving people what the market says they clearly want; a roof.

I have yet to see a flat development locally that did not actually enhance what were in most cases, lets face it. fairly nondescript spaces before the development.

Some peoples dislike of change is a core principle of their identity. The BlockSoc, local lefties, greens, they all share essentially the same conservative world view.

Brockley Nick said...

Agree broadly with your point, but I have to take issue with this:

"I have yet to see a flat development locally that did not actually enhance what were in most cases, lets face it. fairly nondescript spaces before the development."

There are lots of examples of poorly done conversions that have ruined good buildings, most recently the terrible conversion of that pub on Friendly Street.

The other point worth making is that young people (or any of us) don't just want roofs over our heads, we want nice places to live. That means getting the balance right between residential and other uses that contribute to a good local environment.

That's one of the reasons I favour high-density, because it allows for more green spaces, public squares, more active street level developments, etc, etc.

mb said...

....The BlockSoc, local lefties, greens, they all share essentially the same conservative world view.....


As a local leftie I can confidently say that I'm the exception to your imaginary rule.

Must fly, I'm plotting a tea break.

Anonymous said...

Remember to have herbal tea, because all proper tea is theft.

(the old ones, are as they say, the oldest.)

max said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
max said...

@ Anon 12:56
"@Topper
And your point is? What is wrong with a business making profits from moving premises? It's a good carpet shop, providing a valuable service. So good luck to the guy (or gal). And I hope they fill their boots again when the planning permission for the flats on the site comes through.

For those of you who want to see the place become a cinema. Well I'd start inventing that time machine now, because there is no way that the building will ever be returned to its original usage. (I've worked in cinemas, I know the economics.)"


I also don't mind someone selling carpets, really best of luck to them.
But I do not wish that after a period they transform the place into flats, it's a true landmark for Hither Green Lane and an important element of the shopping parade, as such I hope the new owner will want to retain it in its commercial purpose and prefer to make a profit over the long term rather than the quick buck that a few flats can bring.

Reguarding the maths around a cinema, we have developed a business plan with the help of a cinema owner so not unrealistic figures, and they show that you can make a profit there.
There are small cinemas that do well.

Anonymous said...

I'm in two minds about this. It would be great to convert the old cinema into a community space (am I right in thinking this is the place next to the old hospital in Hither Green) On the other hand decent housing in the borough is in very short supply and completely out of the price range but for wealthy people.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the last guy pull out because he couldn't get planning permission.

max said...

Almost.
He didn't get planning permission for demolition and replacement with 9 flats. The building has planning consent for conversion into 6 flats preserving the existing walls.
Following rejection of the planning application he first opened a 99p store that unlike its peers was awfully understocked and didn't sell anything useful.
After that he converted it into a language school that never opened.
The building was now put on sale because the bank wanted the money back.

Anonymous said...

"Reguarding the maths around a cinema, we have developed a business plan with the help of a cinema owner so not unrealistic figures, and they show that you can make a profit there.
There are small cinemas that do well."

PURE FANTASY!!!
You wouldn't even make enough to cover the interest charges on the 0.5 million you need to buy the place.

max said...

I can assure you that small cinemas that do well are tangible.
But hey, the Pope took a few centuries to convince that the earth is not flat so fine for me if you want to believe that they don't.

Anonymous said...

Basic maths is not your thing I see. Doubtless your 'business plan' involved a large wedge from the taxpayer. The economics of your fantasy are unfeasible unless you pull in a winning Euromillions lottery ticket.

Not sure what the Pope has to do with it?

Anonymous said...

Brockley Nick 11:58
please can you say more about number 4. Do you have a web link?

max said...

For the record (and because it's fun to prove a "doubtless" wrong), let me tell you that we made a business plan with a possible cash-flow derived from real life cinema operations and used it to try to find private investors.
It was developed by an accountant and an accountant/cinema owner.

For further record, following our approach a medium sized cinema chain seriously considered bidding for the building. At the end they decided against but it could have happened.
Because there are indeed a few small cinemas that turn a profit in London.
In fact the business case was developed with one of them.

(I'm not going to try to explain you the Pope thing, it's written in English, if you can't understand it eat more oily fish or something)

Brockley Nick said...

Anon, just click on the Convoys Wharf tag in the label cloud at the bottom of the home page.

Anonymous said...

@Max

Did you get private investors?
Err....No.
Nuff said.

Lets face it, it was probably the invention of the TV made this place unviable as a cinema. Small cinemas can work ofcourse, but not in this isolated and unattractive location. Your cinematic folly would only work with major public sector subsidy; fortunately we now live in financially lucid days when such wasteful ideas no longer get house room.

By the way, given the date why don't you let us all see your 'business plan'. Really I could do with a good laugh.

max said...

Nuff said what? You hate people that try to make things better?
What a twisted mentality.

The business plan has never been a secret, in fact it's always been available to download from our website hithergreenhall.org where it still is.

As for your "Small cinemas can work ofcourse, but not in this isolated and unattractive location."
I really think it's a thoroughly stupid comment and completely divorced from reality.
That stretch of Hither Green Lane is quite pretty actually, literally next door is Edwin Hall Place, an exquisite Art Nouveau group of buildings designed by Edwin T Hall, the same architect that designed Liberty department store. The former cinema building could be made to look very attractive with not much effort.
Hither Green Lane itself is well connected and in walking distance of both Lewisham and Catford town centres, and there isn't a cinema around.

But don't let these considerations stop you from rubbishing people for trying.

Anonymous said...

Id rather it a cinema than a carpet shop or flats.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link. If I meet anyone with a spare £3 million they need to put into a black hole for tax reasons I'll point them towards your business plan. But full marks for "trying".

The fact, as you helpfully point out in the first paragraph of your pitch, that the area doesn't have a single restaurant or even a boozer, probably tells any sassy investor everything they need to know.

max said...

One of things it tells is that there's an opportunity to bump up the revenue of a cinema business with a companion one like a restaurant.

There are three new cafes just opened and all doing well, one is a cafe/art gallery, that's doing well by selling art(!) to the locals, why shouldn't there be other businesses oriented towards disposable income?

Of course we could stop seeing these as opportunities, stop trying, moan with self-loathing about the world going to the dogs and witness this self-fulfilling prophecy come true.

max said...

By the way, the pitch specifies that it's Hither Green Lane that doesn't have pubs or restaurants (but has three cafes) - there are a few pubs and restaurants elsewhere in the area, only not on the main lane.
And one of the reasons for this is that much of the area was built by a Archibald Cameron Corbett, who had a strong opinion against alcohol and imposed a covenant on the buildings he built forbidding them from being used for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, and that limitation still stands.

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