Third Wave Entrepreneurs needed

For the last couple of years, a big problem for people aspiring to start a high street business in Brockley has been a lack of space. Most units were full, derelict or in limbo - occupied by dormant incumbent businesses.

But suddenly, there are options. Some spaces have been refurbished, while in other cases local businesses have decided to call it quits, freeing up the space. The list of opportunities in the area includes:

- The Broca Food Market - a prime site on the West Side, on the market now

- Degustation - a ready-made business with a long-term lease, for sale to new owners to take on and grow

- Birds Dress Agency - still on the market in Brockley Cross, as is the largest unit in The Tea Factory, a potential cafe next to Green Tea Architects.

- 61 Loampit Hill - a small handsome shop on the corner with Tyrwhitt Road that lies empty following its recent renovation. A new tenant could capitalise on its proximity to The Talbot, Brockley Market, Lewisham College and thousands of new flats down the hill in Lewisham

- El's Kitchen - a prime retail spot in Ladywell, where a popular deli stood until the owner chose to sell-up for health reasons.

- Smiles - a restaurant space in Brockley is a rare opportunity. However, it's on the market in a pretty sorry state - not a project for the faint-hearted.

- Albertine's is an even rarer beast, a bone fide pub. It needs significant investment and has been on the market for a long time, but until recently, pitched as a going concern. However, its recent closure means that any incoming landlord would enjoy a clean break with its past.

- And finally, Network Rail is at last renovating its derelict unit on Brockey Road, creating a new space next to the station.

To fill these spaces, we need a new generation of entrepreneurs to give Brockley a shot - a Third Wave.

Obviously, Brockley's timeline divides neatly into two periods with 2007 the pivotal year: Before Brockley Central (BBC) and Anno Bloggerati (AB) thereafter. The First Wave of Brockley businesses therefore, were all those which came before Brockley Central's birth - from Mr Lawrence, Le Querce and Jam Circus to The Barge, Fishy Business, Cinnamon and Sounds Around. The Second Wave began with Degustation and The Broca cafe - the first new businesses that we got to get excited about. The Third Wave starts now, with the departure of Degustation and the arrival of Sodo Pizza in Honor Oak.

The First Wave consisted mostly of businesses that opened in the just because Brockely was there. The Second Wave was characterised by businesses that opened with a stronger sense of possibility about what Brockley could be - The Orchard, The Gantry, El's, Arlo & Moe, Gently Elephant, Geddes and Brockley Market - all sought to raise the bar for the area.

The Third Wave looks like it might be very different again. Sodo is a first: An established restaurant that's built a fanbase elsewhere in London but looked this way to expand - an indicator of the area's growing profile. The imminent opening of a traditional barber station in Midtown suggests that hipsters will also play an important role in the Third Wave. Whoever else comes, they will be met by previously untapped demand.

61 comments:

hillyfan said...

El's Kitchen is also available. Unless there is any progress there? (crossing fingers)

Brockley Nick said...

Good point. An oversight on my part.

Jack said...

KFH are relocating to the premises opposite, so another good space available!

Real said...

The landscape has not changed substantially. The ELL has brought new people and increased house prices but the expected gentrification has not materialized. Few property on the market as the Council keeps a tight grip to its treasures and the major developments that obtained planning permission are still empty land banks. The fact that some of the newer entrepreneurs are retreating is a worrying sign (7 closures vs 2 new openings) but who can blame them, the Clapham of the SE is still a sleepy backwater after all this time.

Jon from SE4 said...

Nothing wrong with being a sleepy backwater. If I wanted Clapham lifestyle I would have moved to Clapham, Balham, Peckham or Brixton. Some like it quiet, thanks (not that I wouldn't want a new shop or two - just don't overdo it).

Brockley Nick said...

It's not seven closures vs two new openings - the Broca's not closing, it's moving. Degustation stays open til someone buys it, Loampit Hill and the Network Rail shops are effectively new units, Albertine's has been on the market for yonks, . And newer entrepreneurs are not "retreating" - businesses open and close all the time, for all sorts of reasons. Degustation's founder no longer lives in the UK!


To say that Brockley hasn't changed is to ignore the dozens of good new businesses that have opened in the last seven years, which have transformed local options.

Brockley Nick said...

Ps - what land banks? There has never been much room for development and whst there is is being built or only recently got planning.

Pps - whoever called it the new Clapham? Straw man.

Woodman said...

The gentrification is certainly well under way where we are. Every time a house is sold by a long-term resident, it's bought by a young well-off family. The process will take a very long time, but like it or not, I don't think you can deny that it's happening.

Monkeyboy said...

Or every time a struggling young person is priced out of dulwich they scrape enough to buy in se4 and a long term resident makes a buck. The struggling young person raises a family and becomes a "long term resident" (long term being a conviniently vague criteria). It's always happened, it will continue until there is more housing.

(The "long term resident" buys a big gaff in Sussex to retire to. Raising prices so the local Sussex lad has to move to north wales)

maisie_moo said...

Someone who works in Ladywell told me El's Kitchen is reopening soon as The Larder, with El advising the new owners for a while. No ideas if this is fact, wild rumour or something in between.

Matt-Z said...

There are at least five empty retail units in Crofton Park (not counting those due to be filled soon, like the Mr Laurence off licence and Jones & Virgo), most of them long term. Are the landlords asking too much, not interested in letting them, or are there not the businesses to fill them?

heckmcbuff said...

Gogi's on Brockley Road is also available to rent. This shop includes a four bedroom split level flat.

Anonymous said...

Mid-town has a couple as well. There's one on the section near the Esso with the dry cleaners and Another Level barbers. Think that's on for £850 pw.

Anonymous said...

I meant £850 per month...

Kate said...

What shops would people like to see? I'd love a bookshop or clothes shop.... It depends very much on what people want and crucially if they'd support it by shopping there.

Brockley Nick said...

If that's true that is ridiculous. Should be half that or less. You do get the impression that some landlords in the area are either clueless or are actively trying to avoid letting commercial properties.

Capo said...

I'd rather tear every inch of Brockley down brick by brick with my bare hands than have it turn into Clapham.

10 said...

I can count about 10 sites with planning permission on the Brockley Road and neighboring streets.

Brockley Nick said...

You mean individual buildings. Hardly "land banks".

terrencetrentderby said...

Apart from maybe Degustation these locations are very subprime and probably
overpriced.

e-shopper said...

A place with lockers, where you can pick up your purchases after doing a bit of Internet shopping - that would be very useful.

Dannys1234 said...

I believe it to be true. Landlords seem to be happy to sit on a half renovated property like this waiting out for a large business to come in and pay the high rents. The costs for a small independent local business to now set up in the area are prohibitive.


Small businesses arrive and do well as it's fairly cheap > more have confidence to follow suit > area attracts younger affluent families > landlords hike up prices > no more small businesses can open > chains arrive = Clapham

twitching curtain said...

Something has gone wrong, compared to other nearby parades like Lordship Land and the lovely Bellenden Road in Peckham Rye Brockley Cross is really lacking. BC with its busy station should be a vibrant hub for the area.

Brockley Nick said...

Lordship Lane is a long and diverse high street with a successful mix of independent and chain businesses.

Brockley road is fragmented with comparatively few shops near brockley station. The mot garage and car dealerships have to go and be replaced by reatail bars and most importantly restaurants if you want something even close to Lordship Lane. Brockley is far less affluent and Lirdship Lane had diverse bars, restaurants and upmarket shops ten years ago, before Brockley even had a free cash machine. Give it another seven years.

Short memories, little patience...

There's a microbrewery bar opening in few weeks too.

Brockley Nick said...

Well no big chain is going to want that tiny shop.

twitching curtain said...

BC has gone from being horrible to "ok but lacking" in the 13 years I have lived here which is an improvement but it could be great (CP is getting there). Still too many zombie units though.


A lot hinges on those new developments.

Brockley Nick said...

"BC has gone from being horrible to "ok but lacking"


Yes. Well that's quite a lot of progress... ;)

twitching curtain said...

Bellenden Road has taken off quickly and the area was much worse than Brockley only a few years ago. I would say the problem for BC is the lack of a decent "proper" pub like the Victoria Inn and The Montpelier.

Brockley Nick said...

Bellended Road has been nice for a long time. Again, it's bigger, the road itself is nicer (Southwark cares a lot more about the state of its high streets) and it's more established as a "nice place" - people were already salivating over Bellenden Road when I started this blog, when Fishy Business, Toads Mouth and the Barge were pretty much the only shows in town. However, I agree entirely about the pub issue. The Council has to push for bars and restaurants in any new development, to draw people in.

Tim said...

The problem is a complete lack of help from Lewisham Council. The area IS fragmented, but Coulgate Street could be made into a very pleasant little area - pedestrianised probably. Instead, it's used as a parking lot. How ACE vans are allowed to use the public streets as a place to store their vehicles, I don't know (I know they're leaving). And yes, we need bars and restaurants. The Orchard and the Gantry have been very good and creative with tricky spaces. Now we need the new Coulgate Street development to have a nice big space for a bar or restaurant. I'm no particular fan of chains, but they would give the area legitimacy.
Imagine how high property prices could go then (whoop whoop)!

Monkeyboy said...

the van thing is annoying but not sure what the council can do. the vans are presumably issured, taxed and MOTed. if thats the case they can park where they like if there is parking available.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the details for the leaseholder of 61 Loampit Hill? Thanks very much

real said...

Please Nick, from horrible to ok in 13 years not a lot of progress by London standards. Perhaps you are right that until the MOT is there there is a big weight on the area, but it is the old chicken and egg story. They wont develop the MOT until they can see a serious improvement in the area. All the commercial units they built in on Endwell road are empty.

Furthermore, I would enter and find useful only 6.5 shops out of the 25+ units in BX and BR. This is hardly being ok. Yes I can have a drink in our local pub with winos and dealers, or I can have the worse indian in london... no actually a really stick to orchards and company

nope said...

"Bellended", like that.

Brockley Nick said...

It's actually horrible to OK in less than seven years, since it was still pretty grotty in 2007, albeit not quite such a den of iniquity as it apparently was before the Barge was taken over by Wetherspoons. I'd be interested to know what areas you think have gone on speedier transformations without being a major regeneration project (and even most of those take a couple of decades). Dalston's rise was pretty rapid, but then it had the benefit of being just up the road from Hoxton. We're just up the road from New Cross.

Work will begin on the redevelopment of the MOT garage this year.

Crofty said...

I heard this from a person who works in Ladywell too - new owner a friend of El and the shop apparently will be kept pretty much the same, just change of name as El won't be there.

dnjc said...

HOP high street is doing ok. sainsbury's helped a lot. just need pet shop to get a new owner and maybe a chemist and bakery would be nice!!

Dannys1234 said...

Thats' true, but then why on earth would the landlord be wanting such a high rent and seem happy to play the long game?

Alan Sugar said...

Speculation and fabrication... there is too much hot air and over priced toot.
Let's look at the books for these 1st & 2nd wave businesses. No one is going to run down they're own business, whilst trying to sell them... are they.
Start up costs and rents are way too high for most young entrepreneurs... and young home buyers in this areas, the banks aren't lending as much, so I guess the bank of mum and dad are the only ones who can support, the new flux of well heeled hipsters.

Nick Hewer said...

There are only two businesses up for sale. One has reportedly already found a buyer (who would have looked at the books). So you are talking out of your pompous bottom.

Nick Hewer said...

Some landlords are absentee. Some are simply thick and greedy. Others would rather have an empty property because they only care about maximising the residential space above and letting a shop is too much trouble.

Alan Sugar said...

You clearly can't count and your not looking at any competition in a wider sense... existing business for sale, new development sites with empty units or the the local market...
Your a lightweight your fired!

Brockley Nick said...

There are two businesses up for sale.
1. Degustation (owner left the country)
2. El's (owner selling for health reasons)


The other opportunities are just units.


The only new(ish) development with any space is The Tea Factory - a flawed attempt to create retail presence on a particularly unlovely bit of road. I think some sort of cafe could work there, I'm not surprised people haven't taken the plunge.

Kriss said...

Bellenden Road is a really good example of what can be done with a local authority that is committed to urban regeneration in partnership with local residents and traders. A LOT of money was spent: £12.4m over 10 years and the results speak for themselves.



In 1997, when Southwark Council declared the Bellenden a renewal zone there were 3324 dwellings in the area, of which 78% were privately owned, 84% were either unfit or not in reasonable repair, and 37% of households were dependent on means tested benefits.


Brockley - even back in 1997 - was in a far better place (and I remember the Breakspears Arms very well) so it's hard to imagine LBL prioritising Brockley over areas within the borough that are still like the old Bellenden today.



We have come a long way, but that said, some strategic thinking and a bit of vision from our Cllrs and Mayor would be nice.

Brockley Nick said...

Agreed, agreed. But so long as the prevailing view is that "nice high streets" are a luxury for the middle classes, rather than a social good in their own right and a driver of growth, then the Council's view will be that this is a low priority. And cuts mean there's precious little money for capital expenditure. The solution will need to be privately driven - what the Council can do to help is through planning. They need to push for bars and restaurants, not shop space.


And your historical perspective is very useful - shows that Bellenden Road has a decade's head start on Brockley Road.

Headhunter said...

Don't think you need to worry yet, Brockley is hardly like Clapham. There's more chance of East Dulwich or even Forest Hill emulating Clapham than Brockley

Alan Sugar said...

Nick can you please elaborate on your "relatively unusual moment" ;)
I'm neither surprised or delighted yet?

Also "when there are actually some opportunities to open" ;)

Are you going to put your money where your mouth is and relocate your business here?

I think it's best if the reader decides what "is not cause for concern"

Brockley Nick said...

"Nick can you please elaborate on your "relatively unusual moment" ;)"


Well, I thought the article did that. But to put it more bluntly, if you wanted to open a shop, cafe, bar or restaurant somewhere near Brockley Station in the last couple of years, there was little choice. I'd say that Brockley Road, from Cranfield to Harefield Road, the Harefield Road parade and Coulgate Street are the prime locations, with Mantle Road the secondary location and Brockley Cross very much a sub-prime location.


The only free units were: the shop on the corner of Brockley and Cranfield Road, the tiny shop on the Harefield Road parade and the stuff in Brockley Cross. The corner shop became Gently Elephant and Patchwork Present moved in to Harefield Road, leaving none of the prime spots free.


Now, Degustation is free and the Broca Food Market is ready to relocate. This is a rare moment for a new business.

"I'm neither surprised or delighted yet?"


You neither surprise nor delight me.

"Are you going to put your money where your mouth is and relocate your business here?"


No, because HML needs a central London location to work. But in due course we will need to review our current arrangements and if for whatever reason we relocated (etc) then it would not be because the West End is not much cop as a retail and leisure destination.

To be clear, I think there is good business to be had in Brockley by opening another restaurant or bar here. Meze Mangal's expanded restaurant is packed out every night. Sodo is turning punters away without a reservation and the Gantry and The Orchard are incredibly popular. But I don't know how to run a bar or a restaurant and I have a job, so that's me ruled out of the running. I would be less quick to recommend people open a shop here, but mainly because I don't know how anyone makes money out of independent high street retail.


"I think it's best if the reader decides what "is not cause for concern""



Uhuh.

10 said...

If I owned 10 sites in Brockley or one in Central London I would be a happy man, it is about the notional amount not the number...

Real said...

North East is full of Places, Crouch End for one.

Guest said...

Blind Council, more shops mean more rates and council tax and for opportunity for CPZ money. So if the budget is an issue the solution should come from helping certain areas to gentrify further: more money from private owners to spend in the public interest. instead Lewisham strategy to tackle budget restrictions is to close the libraries... what is the next clever Council idea?

Guest said...

Nick, you forgot to mention the dry cleaners on brockley cross. Not sure it is up for sale but certainly vacant.

Brockley Nick said...

Crouch End has been very successful for a long time. 15 years ago, I lived in Finsbury Park. Crouch End was the posh bit over the hill which had lots of nice pubs and bars. So that is not a good example of an area which has "come up" quickly.

Brockley Nick said...

How does that relate to your original point?

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Smilesfan said...

What we really need is a new Smiles replacement, miss that place :-( Chai's Garden just doesn't quite cut it (Sorry Chai fans)

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steveboyo said...

Bellenden Road was always the nicest part of Peckham along with Goose Green and Parts of Peckham Rye bordering on to East Dulwich. To be honest Peckham's problems were typical of south London's problems in general which is neglect and avoidance by people north of the river. If you ask me Lewisham Council is way better than Southwark in terms of street cleaning and general provision and far better than Lambeth. Lewisham may not have focused on creating trendy but exclusive neighbourhoods within neighbourhoods as Southwark has done but its services have been superior.

steveboyo said...

Is the whole point of this website and of improving Brockley just to see property price rises? If that is the case then people are being hypocritical when they label areas such as Clapham and Balham for what they are. Because if you fill an area with trendy but soulless restaurants and bars all you'll become is a plasticky version of Clapham, Balham and Battersea along with the high property prices and anti social behaviour that comes with having too many such amenities. Take Clapham, for instance, Lambeth has had to introduce an alcohol free zone and has stopped granting planning permission for more bars and pubs due to an increase in anti-social behaviour from weekend revelers, with two late night pubs/bars forced to shut down. Brockley is lucky to be an enclave with an overground station and lovely houses and greenery. It is best placed to thrive as a village rather than a Peckham or East Dulwich and will still hold its value. Clapham on the other hand is served from every angle by 7 tube and overground stations plus Clapham Junction making it the most accessible borough in South London but that has brought with it many attendant issues.

steveboyo said...

This is true. Brockley is environmentally much more appealing than Bellenden or Peckham. Bellenden was run down and is now thriving as a middle class quarter in a generally run down area. This is what Southwark Council specialises in. You will see the same trend in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. in both cases Southwark's focus has been on improving the waterfront but not doing much to improve the run down interior with it's social housing and crime. Today there are two Bermondseys and two Rotherhithes and Peckhams. Im not sure that is exactly the right direction for Lewisham to take.

steveboyo said...

But that's the truth - nice high streets are indeed a luxury aimed at the urban chattering middle classes who secretly hanker after a Clapham or Islington or Shoreditch lifestyle but can't now afford those areas.A lot of the gentrification going on has come from people who have moved into an ungentrified area due to not being able to afford the cost of living in more upmarket areas. But all of this is played down on the surface by incomers. Take Brixton for example, eternally run down until the credit crunch and property price spikes of the last 5 years have forced the dispossessed middle classes to notice its terraces and market and prices have since doubled crime or no crime. within 3 years a Sainsbury's appeared in a rather bland part of Brixton Hill along with several sainsbury locals, M&S was spruced up and a TK Maxx was added to the high street and along with the many micro restaurants and bars at the village and dot the former drug mile Coldharbour lane. But such so called progress has been blighted by the forced removal and relocation of older long term Brixton residents from the area.

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