The View, Adieu

The View at Hilly Fields was an ambitious plan to site a large cafe in Hilly Fields, at an alternative site to the one currently being considered by the Council. The proposal excited more reader comment than almost any other topic has done since the Gordonbrock controversy, but the team behind it have now notified us of the withdrawal of their plans.

The South London Press reports that four proposals for a cafe have been submitted by other bidders.

The View team write:

We apologise for the brief hiatus. Regarding our plans for a cafĂ©/bistro at Hilly Fields called The View…

Lewisham Council has now invited “expressions of interest” for the site at Hilly Fields. However, we have already outlined to you the reasons why we considered this to be totally unviable.

As we explained the ground is riddled with subsidence, due it seems to the saturation of clay and leaking drains, together with a badly designed block that the council was calling for us to totally rebuild - and at our cost. All on what Lewisham Council repeatedly claimed was ‘the same footprint‘. And with no added incentives. At least that is what we were constantly informed. These formed the reasons why we searched for a better site - and chanced upon the Old Refreshment House which had magnificent panoramic views.

We make no excuses for attempting to introduce something that was bold. Or that ‘swanky’ restaurant at mezzanine level, for which we make no apology.

We would though like to correct one additional assertion also given by Brockley Society... We have never attempted to mislead. We tried to engage with you openly and honestly as residents ourselves. We also presented to Brockley Central that which we presented to ‘Brocsoc‘, and we hope that you will draw your own conclusions on why it was presented in such a manner.

In fact, whilst the council claimed that it was inviting tenders for a rebuild, and on the same footprint (only), with a 20 year lease (only), we rightly assumed that this was “totally unviable”. However, it has now come to our attention that a different deal was being offered to competitors - reported in the Minutes of the Hilly Fields’ User Group ["

In return for initial investment the council could offer a long term lease with

an initial rent free period. This will be advertised in the first period to see if there are any objections. Should the council wish to progress then they will advertise for

expressions on their requirements. We were told there is no council money available for repairs and maintenance of the building or developing a Cafe." Friends of Hilly Fields. Minutes of meeting 8th June 2010].

Thank you to all for the input, and to Brockley Central for allowing us to occupy this platform, however brief.
Best wishes
John and Simon
Ex The View at Hilly Fields

53 comments:

Oh well said...

Hmmm, well much as I applaud their ambition and entrepeneurial chutzpah they were never going to get permission for their plans to build something in that spot from either residents or the council. Don't know about the toilet block site having subsidence or anything of that kind but it's a perfectly good location in other respects. God knows undeveloped land in London is rare enough and should be cherished. Having said that I would love a nice cafe up there.

Pete said...

Ditto with the above.

Osh said...

Make that three. Good to hear there are four other bidders too.

Anonymous said...

It was an ambitious project, but as already been said it was never going to be agreed on at that location.

Anonymous said...

I think you're missing the point... they would have never looked at 'that location' had they not been, how shall we say? - left out of the information chain with reagrds to the incentives offered.

John and Simon said...

Dear Nick,

We cant help but note you have censored us this time, the first time you have done so.

Presumably this is because we may have provided sensitive information about the outcome of the bidding process.

Many people reading this may wonder at this stage how we could know the outcome of the bid and we feel that had you not removed a very important paragraph this may have provided that answer.

We trust that you, like all fairminded readers here, would hope to see openness, tranparency and fairness in the bidding process. We hope you would start by naming those who have bid as they may chose to be informed that at least one party in the bid has received a testimonial from a council officer who forms part of the evaluations process, along with the extra incentives.

John and Simon

Brockley Nick said...

I don't know the names of those companies that have bid. I only know what Kate from SLP told me, which is that four companies have bid.

Brockley Nick said...

But I look forward to finding out the list of bidders and reporting it.

Westsider said...

@Anon - I can't tell what information you think they've not been privvy to. They were told there was a 20 year lease on offer. The only "additional" information is that the Council would consider offering a long-term lease. 20 years presumably IS a pretty long-lease.

Where does it say any more than 20 years is on offer?

Anonymous said...

Twenty years in NOT a long lease when you have to demolish and rebuild.

qbf said...

A 20 year lease isn't very long at all if you're bearing the capital cost of the building, which would seem to be the case here.

If there's been skulduggery then that's a shame, and it should be investigated and exposed.

However, personally I'm just glad the threat to the green bits of Hilly Fields has been removed, at least for the time being.

Mb said...

More dittos from me. Nothing preventing The View from working to the revised (?) criteria though is there?

I look forward to Val chaining herself to the loo in protest, just make sure the BDS are not lurking in the bushes though.

Any idea of timescales? Presumably not this year?

Anonymous said...

So has somebody won the bid or are there 4 bidders on table and no decision made yet?

Sue said...

One lot of the bidders came and spoke at the Friends of Hilly Fields meeting last week, and personally I thought their proposals sounded really good. Using the existing building, putting a glass conservatory bit on the side facing the stone circle, incorporating a green roof, keeping toilets pretty much where they are but tidying them up.

They are linked to the people who run Pistachios in Manor House Gardens - the man is a builder and would do most of the construction work himself, then run it with his wife. They made clear that their bid was tentative subject to building surveys etc.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Any lease of 20 years would carry a right to renewal with it so in effect it is a long lease.

And who is Val?

Anonymous said...

Sad, but unsurprising. Anyone trying to truly innovate in this area will be shouted down by unelected nimbies and blocked by the bureaucratic monolith of the council.

If this was China they would be building it by now.

Still the burger van will be back soon.

Lou Baker said...

I like my idea of a Hobbit house cafe. Stick it in a prime location but bury it.

Hippies can still sit on the grass roof and enjoy their inner peace with a good view.

The rest of us can enjoy a nice cup of coffee in an ideal location to laugh at the sandal brigade.

drakefell debaser said...

Or, maybe the rest of us will all be staring at the lunatic in the corner who wears Ugg boots in summer, and mutters about bureaucrats and train timetables.

Tamsin said...

At one point there was some semi-serious thoughts given to turning the stunningly tiled Victorian loos in the now demolished island where Queen's Road and New Cross Road join into some sort of cafe. The fire reg.s would have proved a bit of a bummer, though, and so nothing came of the notion and they have now been filled in, I believe, for future archeologists to excavate and wonder at.

Have been to a literally underground bar in France in one of those areas where there are various "habitations trogladytiques" marked on the map. Cool, dark and very, very quiet.

Anonymous said...

The most boring bloggers of the year.

We do not care about you silly idea for a bar.

drakefell debaser said...

Hang on just a minute, it's only March for god's sake.

Besides, have you read Robert Peston's blog, anon?

Headhunter said...

I don't see why fire regs should have stopped the loos in New X being converted into a bar, there are other ex-toilet bars in London, I went to 1 at the northern end of Waterloo Bridge just before Christmas. It had about 40 people in it including a singer and piano player at 1 end...

Tamsin said...

It would have been totally underground, so not even a hobbit house, and the only access and exits would have been two quite steep (and I think spiral) staircases. But it was an idea floated by Jess Steele, she who transcribed the Booth notebooks for this area and wrote "Turning the Tide", and she had quite a lot on at the time so it was not pursued very far.

Monkeyboy said...

If we were in china this blog would be blocked and you'd be run over by a tank so not really sure what your point is.

Q said...

QBF. It will...
http://tinyurl.com/4zgyp84

LT1954 said...

Thrwhitt Michael I had a lease of a shop for twenty years not so long ago. When it came to an end the landlord took back the premises I was not entitled to a new one. Perhaps you are mistaken?

LT1954 said...

Thrwhitt Michael I had a lease of a shop for twenty years not so long ago. When it came to an end the landlord took back the premises I was not entitled to a new one. Perhaps you are mistaken?

Mb said...

A council officer praising a local business is not unheard off, why on earth shouldn't they? Are they to exclude themselves from the evaluation process because they have seen evidence of a successful example elsewhere?

Is anyone suggesting that a sly kit kat may be slid across the counter as a reward?

Q said...

The reference was to a council officer providing a testimonial : in other words showing favour; which they are not allowed to do. Incidentally , neither are councillors.

Tamsin said...

@ LT1954 - that seems really odd. Were the provisions of the Act specifically excluded as does quite often happen? Or did one of the exceptions apply where the Landlord can give a counter-notice about wanting to redevelop the whole block, building or whatever? In which case I beleive the displaced tentant is entitled to get compensation.

Mark you, entitlement to renew does not necessarily mean entitlement to renew on terms you can afford!

Mb said...

Not exactly watergate is it? Still, if the deal is "totally unviable" the winner will be out of business in no time.

Put in a formal complaint if you think the process is flawed. I'm not convinced that the comment proves that the person will not look at all bids based on their merits. A new entrant will always be at a disadvantage compared to a proven operator. The View tried to change the conditions of the brief, good luck to them. They didn't mange, they can either work within its limits or move on.

Q said...

Mb... you make it sound all so easy. The deal obviously isn't "unviable" - to some. Unviable was the old deal, not the new (secret) one that the View Team didn't know about - and which then forced them, in your words, 'to change the brief'. Why do you think they did that? Can they now change the brief knowing that they are dealing with a council that had a secret brief and favour... for a franchise? Of course not, it would be a waste of finances and times chaps. And that may not be Watergate but it is somewhere near... Brockleygate springs to mind.

Mb said...

Blimey, fthe news shopper will be all over that.

Anonymous said...

It was the flawed bit that had me floored! I rolled about with laughter! Belongs up there with a momentary lapse of judgement (taking a bribe or weird sex), deeply regret (getting caught bang at it), economical with the truth (got caught being a cheating liar), and all the other crap pr types spout!

Anonymous said...

Mb... you make it sound all so easy. The deal obviously isn't "unviable" - to some. Unviable was the old deal, not the new (secret) one that the View Team didn't know about - and which then forced them, in your words, 'to change the brief'. Why do you think they did that? Can they now change the brief knowing that they are dealing with a council that had a secret brief and favour... for a franchise? Of course not, it would be a waste of finances and times chaps. And that may not be Watergate but it is somewhere near... Brockleygate springs to mind.

Exactly! THey weren't dealing on a a level playing field and, as usual, the council taxpayers lose out while someone somewhere benefits nicely.....

THe papers should get ahold of this...
THE cOUNCIL

Tressilliana said...

Maybe I'm being a bit dense but that link seems to be to the Pistachios website, where satisfied customers of the Manor House Gardens cafe are quoted. One of them is an MP, one of them is a councillor. How is that in any way skulduggery in respect of the bid for the Hilly Fields cafe?

Also, the minutes of the Hilly Fields User Group from last summer aren't a council document, are they?

Mb said...

This is just getting weird now. Had the council suddenly decided to allow The View no doubt the conspiracy theorists would have us believe that lewisham led the other four up the garden path.

Who ever wins, good luck. I'll be buying tea and cake, not feasting on sour grapes. I can live with that.

Mb said...

This is just getting weird now. Had the council suddenly decided to allow The View no doubt the conspiracy theorists would have us believe that lewisham led the other four up the garden path.

Who ever wins, good luck. I'll be buying tea and cake, not feasting on sour grapes. I can live with that.

Anonymous said...

Mb check the history the history of the Lewisham Police station and Ladywell Leisure Centre.

In that case, a company that did not have the contract to build the new station made an application to build it at the Ladywell Leisure Centre site.

Without warning the council immediately issued eviction notices to allotment holders next to the proposed site.

Why would a council do that for for someone who didn't have the contract with the police, the police had no involvement and were unaware of the application.

A senior councillor wrote nonsense to the press and without explaination stated they were 'legally bound' to serve the notices to quit.

To me it looked like the council using its powers to facilitate the police station being at Ladywell and clearing the path ahead for the applicant.

mb said...

So nothing to do with The View simply not making a strong case for an alternative?

Really, take it up with the powers that be, unless you think they're all in it together. Perhaps I'm part of the tea muffin complex? who knows ;-)

You win some, you lose some.

Anonymous said...

I believe the View wanted it where they proposed or they are not interested.

Anonymous said...

Lame excuse, the whole of Brockley is "riddled" with subsidence.

Anonymous said...

That's good news. The residents of Brockley will be happy that Hilly Fields Park is free from the threat of pointless exploitation for the sake of a cup of tea!!

Anonymous said...

This resident of Brockley wants to be exploited, just not on the site proposed by The View.

Danja said...

I see someone ate some of the sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

@Danja. Would you care to expand on your sour grapes statement. It has me stumped.

Danja said...

Some sour grapes were posted, but then disappeared from the fruit bowl that is Brockley Central shortly after.

aero-static said...

Is the John from the View formerly of Moonbow Jakes?

Brockley Nick said...

No.

Tamsin said...

But it was that John, wasn't it, who organised the Up the Line event for the last couple of years? He's looking for survey responses to assist in applying for funding for something similar (although probably not, if I understand it right, in Brockley).
here

musketeer said...

I'm only getting a reading of 1 on the relevance meter here, Tamsin

Tamsin said...

True, but in the past he has contibuted a lot to Brockley and to this blog so it seemed worth grabbing at the mention of his name to flag up again his recent request.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Sorry for the late reply LT 1954 but I was assuming that the Lease would have some security of tenure as provided for by the relevant Landlord and Tenant Act the 1954 one I think.

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