Irresistible enforcement to meet indescribable object

The recent history of 179 Brockley Road (aka La Lanterna / Alby's Place / Villa Toscana) has been a sorry mess. Alby's Place recently closed after a retrospective planning application appeared in their window for building work carried out without permission. Then, work began on Villa Toscana, without any sign that the problems with the original work had been addressed.

Now, Cllr Johnson has sent us confirmation that the Council intends to serve an Enforcement Notice against the property, so that the owners deliver what was originally promised. The Council's letter confirms:

A planning application was submitted on 21st September 2009 for the change of use of the upper floors of 179 Brockley Road to a hotel (Use Class C1) together with the construction of a part one/part two storey extension at the rear to provide additional restaurant area, a new extraction flue, additional hotel accommodation and a self-contained two bedroom flat accessed from Harefield Mews, alterations to the front and rear elevations, including the retention of a dormer window to the front roof slope, replacement windows and a new shop front. 

An enforcement complaint was received on Friday 22nd June 2012 for unauthorised building works and questions regarding the use of the premises. The lawful use of the premises is a hotel.

Unfortunately the earlier reports regarding the works to the rear were held up as the Council received complaints regarding the use of the building. It was considered that all breaches of planning control at the premises should be reported to Planning Committee. A report is being put together to be presented at planning committee to get authorisation to take enforcement action.

Mr Lockett will be reporting the unauthorised building works to the Planning Committee next month with a view to serving an Enforcement Notice. 

In response to the letter, Cllr Johnson commented:

"When I first moved to Brockley over a decade ago this was one of the few places to eat in the area so it has been sad seeing it sitting there empty for years. But residents are right to be concerned about the recent planning breaches and I hope the Planning Committee agree to clear enforcement action. It would be good to see a well-run local restaurant here and I sense that's what most people in the area would like."

61 comments:

Net Curtain Twitcher said...

OK, fess up - who had nothing better to do but put a complaint in because they had the temerity to try to open a restaurant in the area?

Anonymous said...

Probably the building inspector just doing their job.

This is a sad turn of events.

Mr. said...

That makes absolutely no sense - especially given Cllr Johnson's last words quoted above. Try again troll. Actually, don't bother - you lose.

Mr. said...

That was to the Curtain Net Twatter

Anonymous said...

Good to see the council taking an interest in the very odd goings-on with this site.
It used to be a nice little restaurant, and could play a really great role in bringing people to that stretch of Brockley Road. I really hope that the people who are involved at the moment will recognise that locals don't want the place taken in the direction they're trying to take it, and let someone who wants to start up a useful business take over the site.

Anonymous said...

Good! I am very pleased to read this.

Timmy2wheels said...

@Anon 13:16

I'm not sure La Lanterna could be described as a nice little restaurant. At best, it was a West End take on a trattoria which fell woefully short of the mark on the handful of occasions I ate there when I first moved to the area...

Anonymous said...

Oh dear...

Clearly Biagio has run out of money. Unless the Council is prepared to step in and pay for the work, I do not think this is going anywhere... let's re-assess in in two years at the end of the enforcement process.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just sell it to someone who wants to do something with the building? Looking around the high street there is some amazing stuff being done (therefore demand for good properties).

crosstown rebel said...

What is the definition of "a new shop front"? I'm guessing not the plywood mess that's there now?

Anonymous said...

I saw a photographer taking photos of it for one of those coffee table books, worst shopfronts in Britain or something...

AliAliAfro said...

Weird - "the lawful use of the building is a hotel" - So does that mean a change of use would be required for this to be operated as a restaurant?

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DJ said...

How dare you - I had a lovely pork there just the other day!
Followed by roly poly.
Etc.

terrencetrentderby said...

*then?

thenimbybrigade said...

Well done to those that reported it and to local hero Cllr Johnson. An empty shop in limbo for another few years is just what that parade needs!


Anonymous said...
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Ben H said...

Has anyone tried to buy the building from Biagio...?

Assuming they have no really need or intention of selling a derelict shop we should at least let them open, trade and then sell if the restaurant doesn't take off.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have an empty shop front anytime than Biagio's bagnio!

Brockley Nick said...

@Ben - my understanding (from the agency involved in the sell-off of some of Biagio's estate) is that they are prepared to sell if the price is "right". The question is whether anyone is prepared to meet their valuation.

The realistic market value of a small restaurant in Brockley is probably somewhat different to a "hotel" / "restaurant" combination. Too many owners are happy to sit on empty properties on the basis that rising property prices make it worthwhile to hang on to an empty building and in the hope that they might get a change of use (similar to the debate about pubs, the other day).

Container City said...

I wish they'd sort that big blue container and derelict cafe next to Meze Mangal. How longs that been dragging on... Surely some new blood would jump at the chance to make something of the place.
Instead of leaving it to rot.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what change of use you would need. It is Biagio who decided to change it into a Hotel, so changing it back to restaurat + flats should not be difficult. Obviously someone would need to revert the upstairs into self containing flats and move the entrance from where it is at the moment....


Anonymous said...

... the typical Brockley Mess!!!

Anonymous said...

"Hotel"

Anonymous said...

Stop it.

Tim said...

Look, it's obviously right and proper that the Council enforce planning rules. Wish they'd do it more vigorously, sometimes. But it looks like they are doing a good job here.
This is a tale of bad business. Whoever owns that shop is not capable of running a profitable legal business, that much is clear. And holding onto a shop that makes no income for years doesn't make sense. If the owner thinks property values are going to shoot up, they must be the most optimistic property investor in all of Europe.

Anonymous said...

Even without planning permission I do not think they stop him if he wants to open a restaurant.

Meanwhile he will receive notice in few months, he will appeal etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Plywood? That's generous, I thought it was MDF!

Anonymous said...

This is what they were supposed to do.

http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/CeListDocuments.aspx?MID=1243&RD=Meeting%20Documents&DF=18%2f03%2f2010&A=1&R=0

Xavier marshall said...

Very Tired today and want to group things to do in london in Weekend

HFM said...

Would make a nice little Nandos or pizza restaurant mmm.

Regards

Honest Food Movement

Ian on the Hill said...

Not only was it MDF, it was indoor MDF. Damn thing's already warping and bubbling.

Anonymous said...

I think it looks quite good with the details now picked out in white

Anonymous said...

Looks like an Armando Iannucci paper house...

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go in there when it opened as Alby's Place? Some friends did, from what I heard it had a distinct air of brothel about it.

Anonymous said...

Myself and my partner did based on our neighbours recommendation. Gotta say we quite liked it.

Brockley Jon said...

Was it like the Stone Bar in Honor Oak? From the outside you're not really sure, but then once you go in, it's a PARTY! ...or was that just the five Red Stripes.

Jane said...

Albys was great, took my kids their for a birthday meal. Chicken was yum and he even sang happy bday to my daughter! Shame the locals never really gave it a chance.

HFM said...

Thank you Jane for that frank and honest review of Alby's. If only the rest of Brockley was as open minded to traditional fare as you are.

Regards

Honest Fare Movement

Roxanne said...

Good work 'Jane'. Perhaps you also enjoyed the £16 invisible pasta? They must have smelled the whiff of mung bean on me and quickly shut.. every single day of their tenure

Anonymous said...

Sherlock Roxy haha!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Jane and the HFM might be related?

Ben H said...

You reckon...

Anonymous said...

That surprises me Jane since I watched them struggle to get their industrial sized cooker through the front door and fail. Wonder if they bought the cake from Waitrose?

Anonymous said...

The Villa Tosca is far better than Albys ever was.

I have just had a wonderful five course meal and staff all sang happy birthday to me even though it wasn't even my birthday.....

Jane and HFM were there, that guy from the Dogging society entertained us all with his witty tales of the goings on Hilly Fields.

It was good, honest fun and not a bit pretentious like people who go to delicatessens.

Am I still ill?

Brockley Nick said...

We had our wedding reception there. The owners appeared on an actual gondola, singing beautiful Italian love songs as our 500 guests wept.

After an unforgettable night of fine dining, music and dancing, we retired to the hotel's honeymoon suite to give ourselves to each other.

Anonymous said...

Can't get anything past the sleuths on this site...

Jane said...

See it was open! The chicken was so nice!

Anonymous said...

I'm another person who's eaten there and I'm fed up with the constant, agenda-led assertions by others that I haven't.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many other anons have eaten there (who wish to remain anonymous)

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 13:80 - please do tell - would love to know:

- At the door how were you greeted?

- How long do you have to wait for your table?

- How many other guests were there?

- Were the others enjoying their food?

- Did the written description on the menu reflect what was on the plate?

- Were the prices reasonable, given the surroundings and service?

- What was your first impression of the ambiance?

- How did the decor compare to those of other restaurants?

- Did the place smell?

- Were the tables large enough?

- Were the seats comfortable?

- What is your overall impression of the evening?

- Would you have wanted to go back?

Danja said...

It must be a big suite if you got 500 in it, Nick.

Brockley Nick said...

One more question: what secret agenda would drive BCers not to welcome a new restaurant in the area, given that they spend much of their time saying how much they wish new restaurants would open in the area?

Anonymous said...

Photographs Plse Jane, it is usual for guests & hosts to compile a visual record of such gatherings. Do you have any of this tantalizing dish you call "the chicken"??

Tressilliana said...

Alby's was 'open' for a very short time. It's been a long, long time since La Lanterna was closed, but is there any chance at all the Anons/Jane are talking about meals they had there many months/years ago?

No, I don't think so either.

oryx said...

To refer back to Brockley Jon's comment, Stone Bar in HOP is indeed very nice - good food, friendly service & late licence.

I'm astounded Just Thai Thai is still open, speaking as someone who's eaten there about three or four times. To be honest, I've had some excellent food there, but it's always empty and the wait for food is unacceptably long.

Never tried the subject of this thread but though we're right down the other end of Brockley, we'd travel for a good Italian (or anything else decent opening on that site).

Honor Oak Bark said...

Do Stone Bar do food? Heavens, thought it was just late licence, telly and (always raucous looking) private parties. Or is this another reminiscence?
Thai Thai, empty when we've tried it yes, excellent I'm afraid not. Would be lovely to have somewhere that was consistently reliable, doesn't need whistles & bows, but good pizza, salad, pasta menu with reasonably priced house & beer would be great.

oryx said...

I can confirm that Stone do indeed do excellent Caribbean food.

As for Just Thai Thai - the last time I went there (it was at least a couple of years ago) we had a lovely Thai salad, but I then had a green chicken curry with........leg meat. I hate leg meat. The wine also tasted like watered down dry sherry, but hey, you can get Thai beer.

Still puzzled it's still open, every time I drive past.

We actually ate there the night of our move to Brockley back in 2007! Sat on the sofa and had pad thai. They really can do good food, but the slowness/damp/emptiness/chicken leg ;-)/dodgy wine let it down.

TM said...

Lets hope the Council do a better enforcement job than they have managed so far with the Crown and Sceptre in St john's.

Tiles anyone?

Anonymous said...

Street value yes, but is it honest?

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