BrocSoc opposes loss of Lewisham Way retail

The Brockley Society is lobbying Lewisham Council not to allow planning permission to be renewed for the conversion of 243 Lewisham Way from retail to residential. The unit is two doors up the road from Meze Mangal and the application is for:

The renewal of planning permission dated 8 April 2009 for the change of use of the ground floor and basement, the construction of an extension to the rear at first floor level and conversion of 243 Lewisham Way SE4, together with the construction of a basement light well to the front and alterations to the front and rear elevations, to provide 2 one bedroom and 3 two bedroom self-contained flats and the provision of bicycle stands and bin stores in the front garden area.

BrocSoc argue that:

This stretch of road along Lewisham Way has great potential as a good quality retail and restaurant stretch. It already houses one of the most successful restaurants in the area, Meze Mangal, who have plans to extend into the next door property. 

The forecourt in front of the shops would be ideal for outside dining – so this retail unit could be perfect for another new local restaurant. I have spoken to a number of people who have expressed an interest in developing such a business proposal in this area. 

It was a real shame that the application for a change of use for this unit from retail to residential was granted in 2009. It goes without saying, that the persistent change of use from retail to residential has the potential to hamper local business enterprise. We are running out of retail units in prime locations, and there is great demand. Things have changed since 2009, a collection of local restaurants and shops have opened that have demonstrated ambition and achieved local success. And Brockley market, near to this site, has created a new focus for this part of Lewisham Way.

We agree with BrocSoc that things have moved on since 2009, with an increasing number of businesses looking to locate in the area. We also think it is wrong to allow this parade to be broken up further and support their opposition to this planning application.

However, it must also be said that Lewisham Way does not seem to be in as much demand (at this time) as commercial property around Brockley Station. While Brockley Market certainly proves that new businesses can work on Lewisham Way, it's too far from this location to deliver much in terms of increased footfall. And while it would be great if Meze Mangal follow through with their plans to expand next door, until they move that sea container parked outside their property, it's not going to become an al fresco hotspot.

69 comments:

Brockley Jon said...

It's not too far from the market - a decent cafe (here we go) would do well on market day.

Also, a place that did good coffee in the morning could serve the St Johns commuters well.

Anonymous said...

Too far? Google maps says it's 0.2miles away.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they could move the container to the Market and turn it into a cafe.

Richard Elliot said...

Lewisham Way is a frustrating strip of shops.

However, with the upswing in Brockley, Deptford, New Cross, Lewisham and Greenwich pushing outwards I think it is only a mater of time before it improves.

Hopefully the council will reject the plans and give retail more of a chance.

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting this is the same site where people say that the Wickham Arms is too far from Brockley Station. I wonder what their grandads would have thought about that.

Brockley Nick said...

It's not that it's "too far" to walk, it's that the presence of the market next to Lewisham College has not had any significant effect on footfall at this spot. If you doubt that, go and see how many people walk past it on their way to the market each Saturday morning. In any case, the market is only one day a week.

Anonymous said...

How about a motorway cafe, bearing in mind the volume of traffic thundering past it all day and night.

Anonymous said...

I see the container has been graffitied, maybe the BrocSoc protest about the sea container which is unsightly.

Have they considered it makes the area look unsightly and unattractive to invest in as a buisness?

Reg said...

If you build it they will come.

Besides which, any business trading there would do so on those days other than market day. Result: increased footfall.

Brockley Nick said...

@Reg - if you build something good they will come. And yes, they don't need footfall from the market, if they are good, they will create their own. Just pointing out the obvious, which is that there isn't any footfall from the market at this location.

Ben said...

Maybe BrocSoc can buy it and try to rent it out.

Residential seems perfectly viable to me and will spruce up the area.

Anonymous said...

Who wants yet another sodding cafe??? What is it with you lot???

Anonymous said...

Anyone for a 'country supper'?

Troll Hunter said...

well, you know, you can just choose not to use it. Oh, you're a troll. Sorry, was forgeting.

Anonymous said...

Brockley only has so many options

1) a cafe
2) a "public space"
3) a deli
4) a childrens shop of some kind

Makes you just want to slit your wrists doesn't it!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the restaurant space at the base of the Tea Factory has been taken yet? Would be great to have a cool new restaurant / bar to spark off the area ...

Robert said...

BrocSoc's point is that this particular small row of shops opposite the memorial gardens has great potential for some kind of retail/restaurant or commercial use. In time the row could be a real jewell - Meze Mangal has started the ball rolling, and we need to give it a chance to develop.

The owner has not tried to rent the shop out, because he has no intention of renting it out. He will get more money from letting it lay dormant, then converting to residential.

We are trying to send out the message that we need to support the area's potential to develop a vibrant local economy, and we think that means holding on to our best high street locations for commercial or retail use.

When a retail unit is converted to residential - it is lost forever. The economics of converting it back make that virtually impossible.

Brockley needs great local shops, restaurants, pubs, bars and businesses. And this particular unit is one of the best local locations that is currently unsused.

Regarding the shipping container - its about time something was done about this - it is on the list of BrocSoc's things to work on - if there is anyone out there that would like to help us with this: do all the required chasing/liaison with council/restaurant etc - then please drop us an email: planning@brockleysociety.org.uk (we are really swamped at the moment, and could do with all the help we can get!)

Anonymous said...

Why do BrocSoc care its in New Cross anyway.

Too many zombie derelict retail units in the area, perfect for the housing shortage.

Anonymous said...

Yes Anonymous 16:03.

No wait, actually, no.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon1725 - it's not New Cross, it's SE4, in Brockley Ward and its the boundary of the conservation area BrocSoc was created to serve.

It's not even close to being New Cross - although Deptford could make a good case to claim it.

JPM said...

We must hold on to this retail space. The shops at Upper Brockley Road were converted to residential, which I think is a great shame.

Ben said...

Is there enough footfall on Upper Brockley Road to support that parade?

There needs to be more retail in BC to create a central focus. The future for the area is a vibrant BC!

david said...

I agree that it should remain a retail unit but I'm not convinced that another restaurant or cafe is the greatest solution for area. Okay, so this stretch does lack a cafe in the London Particular fashion (although there's nothing wrong with the greasy spoon there), but another eatery would face the stiff competition of local favourite Meze Mangal. Even if was somethinbg entirely different Meze has been there years and so kind of dominates. A grocery shop would struggle because of the Tesco, Sultans, Shaun's and Londis all close by. So what's left? I'm an unimaginative sort who only buys books and records, presuming neither of those stores are valid in 2012 what would people like to see?

JPM said...

Ben, I suspect there wasn't in the past. But they have all gone now anyway, so we should hold on to what we've got elsewhere.

david said...

Oh and Brockley Cross will always struggle because it's a traffic congestion spot making it tricky to park, walk peacefully,cross the road, have al fresco dining in the glorious summer etc. (Although kudos to the Orchard, Browns and so on who are proving success is possible). There's no way to end the congestion because it's caused by the limited railway line crossing points.

Anonymous said...

I don't think traffic congestion is the problem, David.

I previously lived in Kilburn and the congestion there was just as great if not greater than at Brockley Cross. In fact the traffic moved much slower as a result of the congestion and this gave shoppers the opportuinty to cross the road at various points along it.

david said...

Fair point, although Kilburn is a single straight road rather than a collection of short parades around an intersecting crossroads which I think causes traffic to behave slightly differently and crossing timings are easier to judge. And traffic is hardly quiet on the Lewisham Way. However, of course it's not the only problem but I don't think it helps. Brockley Cross struggles from having numerous clearly viable if not always legal businesses which are in the main shabby around the edges. A general spruse up would be fantastic but I also think some people (not neccessarily on this blog) can be obsessed by Brockley Cross and to such a degree that they deny existence of alternative viable retail areas, like the high street, like Lewisham Way, because it's between the station and their front door.

Ben said...

JPM

I suspect out of town supermarkets and internet (did it die that recently?) killed Upper Brockley Road. Without the footfall I don't see how it would survive now.

I agree up to a point we should preserve what is left, but there are so many isolated retail units that have been empty for years and years, even during the boom years.

☭INGSOC said...

Greater Brockley is still at war with Greater Deptford

Anonymous said...

Said it before and will say it again, a KFC would work a treat up in that area.

There WERE shops on Upper Brockley Road, before the Busybody Raids.

Anonymous said...

I think we're talking about the parade along from the Wickham.

no haters! said...

Seriously, what does the negative twist at the end of this post really contribute if you've already said you support BrocSoc? Why the hate? MM has proved that area can work. It has TONS of footfall...ermmm Lewisham College? -there's more going on there than just Brockley Market! And then there are the St. Johns commuters who could use a good coffee spot. A café/sandwich establishment would work fantastic there. Poor old disparaged Lewisham Way isn't going to get in the way of your grand Brockley Cross designs. Let the love in! There's enough to go around.

Brockley Nick said...

"Seriously, what does the negative twist at the end of this post really contribute if you've already said you support BrocSoc?"

It's called balance and critical analysis.

"Why the hate?"

What hate? It's a statement of the bleeding obvious if anything.

"MM has proved that area can work."

Yes, we're all agreed the area can work.

"It has TONS of footfall...ermmm Lewisham College?"

No it doesn't. Lewisham Way has low footfall. Floods of Lewisham College people don't walk past that spot. Nor do loads of people from the market. The low footfall is an issue that has to be acknoweledged if a viable solution is going to be found.

"And then there are the St. Johns commuters who could use a good coffee spot. A café/sandwich establishment would work fantastic there."

Yes, maybe. Although to serve St Johns commuters, I'd suggest you need something a lot closer to the station.

"Poor old disparaged Lewisham Way"

Not disparaged by this site. I regularly point out that Lewisham Way is rather beautiful. And argued against the wallies who said the market could never work at this location.

"isn't going to get in the way of your grand Brockley Cross designs."

I want both Lewisham Way and Brockley Roads to thrive. Obviously.

"Let the love in! There's enough to go around."

No, let your critical faculties work for a while.

Anonymous said...

I live on St Donatt's Road, and I find the Lewisham way shops very useful, much more so than most of the shops in New Cross. The Allotment is good, but it's not open very late, and is closed on Sunday, so other than Kismet and Sainsburys, there is nowhere to buy fresh food and veg, or things you've run out of. However, the area can be a bit intimidating with all the goings on around Upper Brockley Road. Having said that, a new cafe would be welcome

rice'n'pea said...

A Nandos would do well there, seriously.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It's time honest fare came back to Brockley.

rice'n'pea said...

Yes, a slap up honest meal. No more tiny organic choritzo tarts and fennel salads served by unattractive Goldsmiths students.

yawn said...

Frankly, the two have little to do with each other. Why would a new business on Lewisham Way impact at all the demand/availability/whatever of retail premises at Brockley Cross? Apples and oranges, Nick. Kind of like when you compared Deptford Bridge to, what was it, Edgeware Road? some time ago when there was first talk of putting a 4-star hotel there.

I live across the street. There is A LOT of footfall on both sides of the street (it's Lewisham Way ffs!) and it is surrounded by flats. Unless you have some empirical data to suggest otherwise...? Constant stream of people during the day walking between LC and Tesco to buy drinks and sandwiches. Not only that, it's chock full of people that travel on foot from the expansive blocks of flats behind the gardens to St. John's station. Oh wait, my critical faculties must be deceiving me and causing me to imagine a population where none exists. Or could crossing the street be that prohibitive? Your negative response to my post only proves my point. STOP HATING. I welcome new retail establishments on Lewisham Way AND Brockley Cross yet don't feel that they need to be included in the same breath. Go on, call me illogical, ridicule me with all your snarky best. That's why people keep coming to this blog. For the charming frisson.

Brockley Nick said...

@Yawn - your argument completely contradicts itself.

"Frankly, the two have little to do with each other. Why would a new business on Lewisham Way impact at all the demand/availability/whatever of retail premises at Brockley Cross? Apples and oranges, Nick."

I never said it did - I have no idea what you are talking about. You're the one who suggested that I was "hating" on Lewisham Way because I was concerned about Brockley Cross, which made no sense, for precisely the reason that they are unrelated.

"Kind of like when you compared Deptford Bridge to, what was it, Edgeware Road? some time ago when there was first talk of putting a 4-star hotel there."

How is that relevant to this discussion?

"I live across the street. There is A LOT of footfall on both sides of the street (it's Lewisham Way ffs!) and it is surrounded by flats. Unless you have some empirical data to suggest otherwise...?"

No, I don't - and neither do you - so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree what "a lot" of people looks like.

"Constant stream of people during the day walking between LC and Tesco to buy drinks and sandwiches. Not only that, it's chock full of people that travel on foot from the expansive blocks of flats behind the gardens to St. John's station."

Yes, that's twice you've mentioned the flats. Look, of course there are people. It obviously has higher footfall than a residential street but low footfall for a high street.

"Or could crossing the street be that prohibitive?"

Yes, one of its problems is that the shops are only on one side of the street and the road is wide and busy. That makes it a less dense and less promising retail stretch than - say - Honor Oak or Crofton Park, which have shops on both side and a narrow, easy to cross road.

None of which makes it a lost cause - as I've repeatedly said, it has potential. But in my view, the business that moves in there will have to be the sort of business that generates its own footfall, rather than relying on passing trade. Like Meze Mangal does. Like Brockley Market does. Again, it seems like an obvious point, unless you have a chip on your shoulder.

"Your negative response to my post only proves my point."

No, it doesn't. It proves that I think your original post was ridiculous.

"I welcome new retail establishments on Lewisham Way AND Brockley Cross yet don't feel that they need to be included in the same breath."

You're the one who keeps mentioning Brockley Cross - I never mentioned it.

Waystrell said...

yawn, come on mate. Face facts. St Johns station gets about 5% of the passengers that use Brockley Station. And not many of those walk past this place.

Why are you taking that simple fact so personally.

And calling someone a hater is so childish. Especially since he wrote an article in favour of the thing you want.

terrencetrentderby said...

and no one has cared about lewisham way for 30 years

is that italian furniture shop still there? need a new white leather bed and ivory dining table

TM said...

It's now a Tesco.

Anonymous said...

Ned is still selling his good honest Beds though, right?

Welcome to 2012 said...

Yawn, I've been reading this site for years now and they never call it wrong.

They said Brockley Market would be a massive hit, when others couldn't tell the difference between it and the farmers market in Hilly Fields.

They said Hilly Fields would get a cafe years before the Council signed off on it.

They said it was inevitable the MOT garage would get redeveloped, again years before the site was even acquired.

They said the ELL would bring new shops and places to eat and drink to Brockley, while other locals were slamming it for being worse than the old train services.

They had faith that the Talbot would come good, when most people thought the old place was a write off that would get turned in to flats.

What I'm saying is instead of seeing some sort of plot to keep Lewisham Way down maybe listen to what is actually being said.

They are just saying that only certain types of business will work here. Experience suggests they are right.

Ben H said...

A large chain restaurant.

Why? It would quickly bring in footfall by acting as a beacon. Meze Mangal is already a hit but that took years and years to build up custom.

There is a shortage/absence of evening eating places in the area and people I know tend to eat in town after work. The result is empty local shopping parades with rubbish footfall.

too busy yawning to be surprised said...

"However, it must also be said that Lewisham Way does not seem to be in as much demand (at this time) as commercial property around Brockley Station. While Brockley Market certainly proves that new businesses can work on Lewisham Way, it's too far from this location to deliver much in terms of increased footfall. And while it would be great if Meze Mangal follow through with their plans to expand next door, until they move that sea container parked outside their property, it's not going to become an al fresco hotspot."

My point, which was in agreement with Brockley Jon and also responding to other comments, merely questioned WHY this particular nugget need be included in the post. It suggests that the two areas are competing with each other somehow when clearly they are not. I disagreed with its inclusion as some gratuitous negativity. And I further disagreed that the area is lacking in footfall, which it is most certainly not. I think, given that I live across the street from the location and work from home, that I have a pretty decent ground for appraising the situation thusly. (But, naturally, if I'm an idiot or delusional, I guess not and Nick is always right as it's his blog.) In fact, much of the litter, something that many here would be sympathetic to, comes precisely from people walking the Lewisham College-Tesco route on both sides of the street. Some enterprising business could certainly capitalize on this by opening a decent café that could cater to the LC clientele as well as local residents and commuters. Lastly, to suggest that St. Johns station gets 5% of the commuters as Brockley Station, as one commenter has, is inane. Go ahead, let the arrows fly, deconstruct me point by point, you happy people, irrespective of whether or not we agree.

Mungematics said...

Commuter numbers (entry and exit) in 2009-2010:

St Johns: 584,000
Brockley: 2,000,000

St Johns is 29% of Brockley

Brockley Nick said...

"My point, which was in agreement with Brockley Jon and also responding to other comments, merely questioned WHY this particular nugget need be included in the post. It suggests that the two areas are competing with each other somehow when clearly they are not."

OK, here's why it was in there. As the article says, I agree with BrocSoc's argument that this should be kept as a commercial space. However, I believe there are two qualifiers to their arguments.

Firstly, BrocSoc argue that Brockley has become a lot more commercially dynamic over the last few years. This is true, although most of this activity is around Brockley Station, as a result of the East London Line, which has caused use of the station to triple. There has been no such increase at St Johns. It should be acknowledged that the increase in activity is not spread evenly and just because "Brockley" is livelier than it was, it does not follow that every location in Brockley has benefited equally, even if we might wish it were so.

Secondly, BrocSoc said that this would make a great al fresco dining location. I think it could be, but in order for that to work, you would need to move the rusting sea container. Not many entrepreneurs would choose to open an al fresco dining experience with that next door.

Neither of these qualifiers means that I disagree with the main point. I'm just trying to present a balanced, honest analysis.

And it certainly doesn't mean I am somehow supporting one place over another. I live in Brockley Cross and I am far more critical of Brockley Cross as a retail location than I am of Lewisham Way. Brockley Cross will never be a lovely place to dine out under the stars. Lewisham Way could be, but only if we acknowledge its current problems and do something about them.

You keep saying it would be a fine place for a cafe. Nothing I said contradicts that. I was arguing that it's precisely that sort of business that needs to go there - one that would attract its own custom, rather than rely on the poor footfall.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks for those station stats, very interesting.

Would be good to get a comparison for 2012.

Brockley Station numbers have risen dramatically since 2009/10, which was the year when the ELL opened. TfL forecast that numbers would rise by 190% in the first year of the ELL's operation.

So St Johns passenger numbers might easily be around 10% of Brockley Station's by now.

Brockley Nick said...

Ben, I agree, a chain restaurant (why not a Nandos?) might well be the best idea for this spot. It could kick-start further interest in this location.

Mungematics said...

2010/2011 passenger numbers:

St Johns: 661,116
Brockley: 2,727,378

No newer data is to my knowledge available.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, over half a million discerning users.

Anonymous said...

St Johns is in Deptford.

Brockley Nick said...

So in one year, Brockley passenger journeys grew by 700,000 and St Johns grew by 100,000. And people leaving Brockley station have to walk past lots of shops. There are no shops next to St Johns and only a small fraction will go past this location.

Anonymous said...

Ladywell is the real Brockley station anyway. Good honest direct fares to the city and a seat every time.

mcpenis said...

ELL is never an honest journey. I always feel dirty when I get off at Canada Water.

Might move to Ladyboy.

Anonymous said...

Zone 3 though, anon. Zone 3.

Anonymous said...

A casual visitor to this blog might think Brockley was somewhere in the sticks from some of the comments, and the insults. Grayson Perry, come on down!

That stretch of Lewisham Way has one big plus; the depth of the pavement. Try putting a container - lengthways or otherwise - anywhere else! I've been going to Meze Mangal since it opened and for us it did not take years to build its reputation, it was there from the off. The shipping container, while not lovely to look at, is a good landmark.

Those shops on Upper Brockley Road were on the way out many years ago and as Robert points out it's too late now to convert most of them back. Maybe that's why the Wickham feels so isolated or 'too far'. The building opposite that looks like they ran out of paint was variously a restaurant 'The Postbox' and a gallery before it was converted to flats.

A record shop, now there's a lovely idea whose time may come again I hope.

Anonymous said...

Get around Ladywell's zone 3 problem by buying your ticket at Brockley and using it at Ladywell. They never know...

Anonymous said...

I got caught at Ladywell once actually. I was supposed to get a train from Wloo East to Lewisham but there wasn't one for a while so I hopped on a Ladywell one. I managed to persuade the ticket officer that I had got on the wrong train by accident and he let me off. Wouldn't recommend trying to do it on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Meze Mangal should be closed down until they remove that eye-sore of a container which blights the whole area. Why would another business open close to that? If I put one of those things in my front garden, I'm sure the Council would be doing something about it.

Anonymous said...

Meze Mungal own the pavement. You could put one in your garden if you wanted.

Stating the bleeding obvious. said...

It's not o the pavement but getting back to the point you are making in a rather hamfisted way. Assuming its on their property then perhaps they are within their rights, just as I would possibly be by putting a rusty shipping container in my front garden, not sure that's the case but for the sake of your brilliant argument lets assume it is.

I wouldn't do it because I feel a sense of civic pride and have respect and consideration toward my neighbours. In other words I'm not a selfish numpty. Hope that clears up the issue. Now get back into your cage before the keeper catches you, you do t want the cattle prod again.

kolp said...

I sure the following point has been brought up before and probably by me... but if the container has to remain where it is for however long, why not get some collective effort going to get it 'spruced up' painted by Artmongers or muralised etc?

Darylh said...

Meze Mangal has to get rid of that container.

fattyfattygonegone said...

I agree, its pretty ignorant of them to leave that eyesore for the rest of us to have to look at. Where is their pride in appearance? I pity the poor neighbours.

Anonymous said...

I saw an advert for sales assistant at sainsburys lewisham way - £6.25 per hour if you're interested! I'm guessing this means the plans to develop that site are going ahead?

mincer said...

I thought everyone in BrocSoc worked in PR or media...

Mincers mate said...

I thought all trolls lived with their mum and typed dim witted comments while wearing 5 day old pants?

Brockley Central Label Cloud