Moonbow Jakes - shock news

A couple of years ago, when we started looking for a new place to live, we didn't give Brockley a second thought. We only knew it as "those two roundabouts" on the way to other places. However, in desperation, we went to visit a place on Upper Brockley Road, and discovered a whole new world hidden away. Then, we found Moonbow Jakes and decided that Brockley was more than just some nice houses, it was a place to live.

So, it came as a shock when we started hearing rumours that it was up for sale. Today, however, we received this confirmation from John, the current owner:

Nick, in answer to the rumours of my imminent departure from Moonbow Jakes, I can confirm I am in the final throws of passing on the business to four musicians who, I believe, plan to keep the fundamentals the same while making some minor improvements. As with all sales, there is a possibility that something outside our control may scupper the deal, although this appears unlikely.

Taking that things all go to plan, we are holding a series of events over December including a poetry evening, which kicks off with Brockley resident and one of the UK's most prominent pianist, Julian Jacobson, trying out some new material on Monday evening (3rd December). I would like to thank everyone who have loyally supported Moonbow Jakes in Brockley, New Cross and Catford over the last ten years and invite them to write any comments in a special book in Brockley, on our blog at or they can record a message of how Moonbow Jakes has impacted on their life or community by visiting the shop. People wishing to take a photographic record are also asked to share their pictures by posting copies to our site.

Thanks to Brockley Central for your unstinting support and I wish you all well for the future.

John and Moonbow Jakes Coffee Bar x

John added that the new owners plan to preserve the character of the bar, although of course, they're bound to want to stamp their ideas on the place in some ways. He also said that they've enjoyed a record year this year and that it had always been his plan to move on at some point - so it's reassuring to hear that Brockley is capable of sustaining places like Moonbows - his account certainly tallies with the fact that it seems to be full whatever time of night or day we pass.

John will be a loss to the area and, before he goes, we hope to persuade him to share his unique perspective on Brockley.

The Talbot: Still on track

The Talbot pub
We recently received a post from one reader, who'd heard that the plans to overhaul the Talbot might be somewhat delayed. However, we're pleased to report that we spoke this week to the prospective landlords who confirmed that, although the refurbishment was going to be more complicated than originally thought, due to the poor-quality of some of the infrastructure of the building, their plans are still on track.

The Talbot's transformation should be complete by late spring 2008.

More details of the refurbishment, here.

We attended last night's meeting to discuss the fate of the Localities Fund and will report on it soon...

Normal service will resume shortly

Phew, the vote's over and we can go back to talking about things like pubs and what famous people live in Brockley...

Although the Brockley Central troll was a late entry for this year's Brockzilla, we have found some of the debate genuinely enlightening and we are pleased to say we have had our opinion changed on one or two of the ideas (and reinforced in one other).

Thanks to everyone who cast their vote and spoke their mind, we will be summarising the results and sending them to the Councillors who, and we must stress this will take them on board, but not base their final decisions solelely on them.

Today, has been so busy from a personal and Brockley Central point of view, that we haven't had time to update you on the news about The Talbot, but we'll hopefully get round to that very shortly...

We'd like to end with a quick word on this blog.

1. This blog is not aligned to any organisation or political party - it is run by two blokes, for fun and to improve the quality of local information and debate. It is not, nor has it ever been, "official". If it was, it would probably look something like this and no-one would use it (although we stress, that's not official either!).

2. Although this blog does occasionally take an editorial stance on issues, we always try to respect those with whom we disagree. They also reflect our personal opinions, rather than any vested interests, and as you may have noticed, Nick and Jon don't agree on everything anyway. As someone has already said, we should all recognise that we essentially want the same thing: Brockley to be a better place.

3. We always try to get our facts right. In the last 9 months that this site has been running, we struggle to recall a single complaint that someone has made about the factual accuracy of our articles, even if they regularly complain about the opinions expressed!

Brockley Bites - Festive Special

The Brockley Christmas Market, 2pm-7pm Saturday, December 1st

Brockley's Christmas Market will take place on Coulgate Street, by the station, this saturday. As well as the stalls, local businesses will be supporting the activities and, thanks to Magi, the Broca and Dandelion Blue, Brockley finally has a commercial street worthy of Christmas festivities. In addition to the market, Brockley Community Church will be organising a lantern workshop and procession from St Peter's Church, Wickham Road from 4pm - 5.30pm. The Christmas lights will be switched on by the cast of Broadway Theatre's Aladdin at 5.30pm.

Dandelion Blue official opening tonight

After a soft-launch yesterday, Dandelion Blue is officially opening its doors tonight. We've not had a chance to try it out, but the feedback so far has been very positive and the place itself looked stunning as we ran for the train this morning...

Jam Circus live music Sundays

Jam Circus, Brockley's liveliest local venue, has begun regular live music sessions on Sunday nights and have a new website, if you've never been to the venue before. Click here for more. We will carry more on their music programme in the coming weeks.

The Brockley Vote - don't forget to make your voice heard

The unofficial poll about how this year's £10,000 localities fund should be allocated has generated unprecedented interest in terms of number of votes cast, number of comments made and number of unique visitors reading the site in the last few days. That can only be a good thing for an initiative which is designed to encourage greater participation in local democracy in Brockley.

However, please keep the debate focused on the merits or flaws in the proposals, rather than personal abuse or allegations of skullduggery. It's perfectly legitimate for certain projects to try and mobilise their supporters to vote - that's campaigning, not conspiracy. It's also not fair to say that this site is biased towards the street trees on the basis that it is a "Brockley Cross Action Group project". It was not proposed by the BXAG, it was proposed by an individual resident from the north of the ward, who thought it would be a good way of improving the look and feel of the local area. And there is no reason why the trees could not be used to improve main streets in the north of the borough, they need not be confined to places like Brockley Road. There is no need for tribalism.

We have expressed a personal preference for the idea of street trees on the basis that we believe that it would be the most effective use of the money, but we encourage everybody to vote for their own personal favourite. This site tries to reflect life in all areas of the ward (and beyond) and the readership is diverse.

Finally, we would just like to reiterate that this is an unofficial poll, that merely forms part of the overall consultancy process by Brockley's councillors. The final decision will be taken by them, on the basis of a wide range of feedback and the poll only represents one part of that process. We urge anyone who passionately believes in one of the projects to attend the meeting tomorrow night:

Tuesday, 27th November, 8pm
George Lewis Room
St John’s Church
Lewisham Way

The cut-off point to register your vote on this site is 5pm tomorrow.

Brockley's £10,000 question

Tuesday, 27th November, 8pm
George Lewis Room
St John’s Church
Lewisham Way

Next Tuesday, Brockley councillors Dean Walton, Darren Johnson and Romayne Phoenix will hold a community meeting to discuss the allocation of the Brockley Locality Fund - £10,000 of public money, which can be allocated to good causes in the Brockley area.

A shortlist has been drawn up from ideas submitted by local residents, some of which had their merits hotly debated here.

Cllr Dean Walton has provided Brockley Central with an advanced look at the list of projects, which is below. We've also created a new poll so that readers unable to attend the meeting can register their views online. We must stress that this is an unofficial poll and while we will pass on the results of the vote to the councillors before the meeting, it is obviously an unscientific sampling of the Brockley population (highly skewed towards towards the bored and office based!). However, the councillors will take the results in to consideration as part of the wider consultation process.

Here's the list in full:

1. Digicams for young people to report graffiti etc to Love Lewisham, with monthly prize and end-of-year exhibition

2. Fixed sports equipment on Tanners Hill Estate for children

3. Youth worker for Tanners Hill one night per week for a year

4. Street trees with metal railing guards

5. Contribution to Brockley Common

6. Clean up and secure garages in Vulcan Terrace

7. Picnic benches where young people can socialise, Pitman House

8. Improvements to Lewisham Way memorial gardens

9. Improvements to Veronica House Gardens

10. Solar panels installed at another local primary school

11. Contribution to Myatt Gardens playground fund

12. Contribution to Brockley Fun Run

13. Contribution to Brockley weekend arts festival

14. Equipment / storage space for planned after-school club for 5-11s

15. Contribution to Healthy Brockley Community Awards

The poll is on the right-hand side of this site. Please register your votes before the closing deadline of 5pm on Tuesday, to make your voice heard.

Our own, personal, criteria for where the money should go would be that it should support a project which wouldn't happen without some public funding, that it should support projects which benefit the widest possible number of people and it should leave some sort of tangible, lasting legacy. On that basis, we'd plump for street trees in planters on Brockley Road over projects like the Fun Run (nice idea) or Healthy Brockley (conflates eating vegetables with 'spiritual health'), which could be delivered without the need for any public money.

And "digicams" for kids? Doesn't every child have a mobile phone before it gets its first tooth these days? And isn't the whole point of the Love Lewisham project is that it's made reporting graffiti and fly tipping really easy and quick for any one (yes, even adults) , without the need to spend council tax money on consumer electronics?

Anyway, to whomever came up with that idea, they will be pleased to know that (despite referring to ourselves in the plural) we only have one vote, same as everyone else.

Happy voting!

The Brockley Jack: The Astonishing Truth

When Brockley Central heard that the Brockley Jack was due for a refit, we wanted to know more. We wanted to get under the skin of this important story - to understand the fate of this historic building and the motivations of the men and women behind the plan. What were their hopes and fears? Where did they see the pub in ten years time? What epic challenges have they overcome to reach this point.

We went straight to the source to find answers - calling the landlord to get the real dirt. And, um, then we were referred to their PR agency, who gave us this bland response...

Claire Wood, manager at the Brockley Jack, said:

“We’re currently awaiting planning consent for a complete refurbishment of the pub interior and some minor alternations to the rear of the pub.”

So there it is - the full story we promised you yesterday. Sorry about that.

Dandelion Blue due to open within the week

Dandelion Blue, the much-anticipated deli that will neighbour the Broca on Coulgate Street, should be open within the next seven days, according to co-owner, Peter Foster.

The final touches are currently being made to the shop and we managed to grab a few minutes of Peter's time to ask him some questions...

What will you be selling?

We will sell a very broad range of produce, including cheeses, salamis, hams, sausages, oils, olives, antipasti, anchovies, fresh pastas, organic fruit and vegetables and easy-to-prepare meals.

We'll respond to our customers, so if there are certain things people tell us they want, we'll be happy to organise it. For example, at Christmas, we plan to order organic turkeys for our customers and we'll make fresh sandwiches on request. We hope people will think of Dandelion Blue as their deli, rather than ours.

What will your opening hours be?

9am - 8pm. We read people's comments about staying open late enough for commuters and recognise that it's very important to do so. We did initially consider opening earlier, but we watched people running for their trains every morning and decided there weren't that many people who were going to want to browse our antipasti at that time of day.

Was it important to open before Christmas?
We hope it will be a busy time and that's why we want to open as soon as possible, to give us a little time to get settled. We'll be supporting the Christmas Market on December 1st by running a raffle.

How will you differ from Degustation?

Obviously, Degustation is a specialist French shop and we're confident that our two businesses will compliment one another in terms of the range of produce that we offer. The more we've thought about it, the more we believe that we will benefit one another, by encouraging people to think local.

Why did you decide to open Dandelion Blue?

My business partner, Sandra, has lived in Brockley for a couple of years and was always disappointed with the quality of food available locally. While out locally, she overheard people with the same sorts of complaints and decided that it was the right time to go for it. My background is in film and commercials and Sandra's is primarily in marketing, so it was a big step for both of us. The messages of support we've had on Brockley Central and through our website have been very encouraging and kept us going when times got tough!

The Brockley Jack set for a makeover

It has been confirmed that (as reported by one BC reader) the Brockley Jack is to undergo a refurbishment soon.

Most comments about the Brockley Jack speak of faded glories and a disappointing atmosphere, so this is potentially very welcome news and we hope to have the story for you very shortly...

Brockley Bites

Brockley housing market: in pursuit of imperfection

Brockley is a doer-upper hotspot, according to The Sunday Telegraph. It claims:

"Fully renovated properties are not selling, as buyers seek out unmodernised homes to 'do up' as a way of adding value in a slow market. It's harder to sell properties which have been extended or have loft conversions as young buyers want to add this value themselves... areas of London with a good supply of renovation projects are Brockley, Telegraph Hill, Tooting and West Norwood."

Which is one way of putting it.

DVD crackdown reaches Brockley

Lewisham Council is currently waging war on the snakemasters and you can play your part. Council officers are currently urging local businesses such as pubs, cafes and barbershops to refuse to allow pirate DVD sellers and posters have begun to appear in Brockley. The sellers are generally linked to organised crime gangs, operating in London.

The view from The Hill

We recently asked users of The Telegraph Hill website the following question:
"As a resident of Brockley Cross, I consider Telegraph Hill as much a part of my neighbourhood as Hilly Fields and try to cover news about the Hill whenever possible. However, the survey shows that very few of the people who visit the site hail from Telegraph Hill. So my question is... is that because TH is already so well served by this site or is it because people in TH don't consider TH to be part of the Brockley area?"

It prompted a few interesting responses, with the prevailing view that Telegraph Hill is very much New Cross and Brockley is simply a neighbour.

Parking in Lewisham

The Big Retort is unhappy about selfish parking and even less happy with Lewisham Council's response...

8pm, Brockley Road petrol station, last night

Evidence that "gentrification" is yet to destroy Brockley's unique charm #302

We popped in to the forecourt shop on the offchance that they might sell the vitamins that we needed. We want to stress at this point that we are not normally the kind of middle class neurotic that feels an urgent need for vitamins on a Saturday night - we take a degree of pride in the fact that we've never set foot in a Holland & Barrett. However, on this occasion, we needed to buy some.

We weren't actually expecting to find them in there, but we were surprised when the woman behind the counter asked: "What are vitamins?"

It seems Brockley's first biodynamic wholefood shop is still a mercifully distant prospect.

On the other hand, the Dandelion Blue deli's opening date is tantalisingly close and we will have the full story on the site shortly...

Brockley MAX doubt

The future of the Brockley MAX - the long-running arts festival that has served as an important focal point for the local creative community and a showcase for the Brockley area - is likely to go ahead in reduced form next year and there remains a possibility that it may not happen at all.

This summer Moira Tait, the organiser in previous years, announced that she was stepping down to let someone else take on the Festival, to bring new ideas and energy to the event.

In a recent email, Moira announced that the event will be taken on by a new organiser, who will be investigating the feasibility of a 2008 MAX, but that it will in all likelihood take place over a weekend, rather than a week.

We hope to speak to the new organiser in the coming weeks, to get a clearer picture of what volunteer support is needed and how people can help, but it would be a tragedy if the MAX was allowed to fizzle out, through lack of community energy, especially when we're all agreed that the sense of community is one of the things that we treasure most.

Brockleys Nick and Jon will be offering their services...

We hope to bring you a more detailed report soon.

Site tweak

Several people have asked for the "recent comments" section to be expanded, to help keep better track on all the conversations. Your wish is our command. It has been expanded from five to eight comments, which is hopefully the right balance.

We'll keep making changes as we go along, so please keep your suggestions coming.

Next stop Croydon

According to today's Guardian Brockley-residents will soon have a new reason to head south.

Croydon has unveiled plans to emulate the success of cities like Barcelona, with a radical transformation that according to Will Alsop, the master planner, will: hack back "a forest of car parks" choking the town centre, shut eight-lane highways to through traffic and build a pedestrian-friendly "emerald necklace" of parks.

Removing cars from the pavements? Remodelling traffic systems in favour of the pedestrian? Creating new green spaces? Sounds like a familiar agenda. Although so far, the new developments in Croydon are more like this effort, which doesn't exactly wear its Gaudi influences on its sleeve.

So, until we can all enjoy days out on the East London Line to see Croydon's answer to the Sagrada Familia, what are the best reasons for taking the train south?

We'd like to nominate the wonderful Horniman Museum and the slightly forlorn dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park, for whom the march of paleontology has not been kind.

What are your recommendations?

La Lanterna, Brockley Road

La Lanterna, the Italian restaurant opposite Brockley Station, has had a modest makeover. Out go the photos of celebrity diners on the walls, to be replaced by black-and-white framed photos of jazz musicians or something. The changes stop there, however and happily, the jolly waiter on the roof (a piece of public art to treasure) remains.

The food itself is pretty reliable, though our group with stuck to conservative choices - risotto, pizza, pasta, pancakes and salads so we can't speak for the fish or meat options. Every dish was tasty and well-prepared, but nothing in particular lingers in the memory.

In our experience, service is the restaurant's strong point. It was a busy Saturday night, with most of the tables full, but we were well looked after by the friendly team and never felt that the kids in our group were an imposition.

This article will be moved to the "reviews" section when it's ready, so please use it to give your views on La Lanterna as the point of Brockley Central reviews isn't to learn what we (whose greatest regret about turning 30 is that we no longer feel able to eat Pot Noodles) think about a place, but to act as a repository for local wisdom.

Limbo shop watch

Brockley is cursed with far too many limbo shops: shops which are neither open nor closed, but somewhere in-between.

Limbo shops offer no goods or services, but they do a very effective job of stopping anyone else from coming along and opening something more useful.

To the casual observer, a limbo shop will appear as though it's just shut for five minutes while the manager's popped out for lunch. But the manager never returns.

In fact, they can often appear that they are just weeks away from a grand opening, with building work in progress and people coming and going. Lights go on behind shutters, shadows play across empty window displays.

Sometimes we like to play the game 'guess the business plan', where we try to work out how the owner ever expected to make a living. Was it supposed to be an internet cafe? A money changer? A newsagent? An office? A restaurant? All of the above?

Ask Toes is one of the most obvious examples, but there are many more scattered along the likes of Brockley Road and Lewisham Way.

Happily, we've recently been able to strike one from the list. Yana, on Geoffrey Road, is an Afro-Caribbean beauty salon that was for months nothing more than a sign in the window, inviting people to come upstairs (an invitation which few seemed willing to accept), while the actual shop bit lay dormant. Now, it's open and actually looks pretty good - with staff, equipment and furniture, it's a proper shop.

Together with a decent dry-cleaner and a nice florist, it has the makings of a functional parade of shops. Although inevitably Yana's neighbours still include a fast-food place that has been shut for a year, while builders intermittently come and go, installing and un-installing the same counter-top, teasing prospective customers with the prospect of food, but denying them for eternity as the Harpies robbed Phineas.

We'd like to compile the definitive list of Brockley's limbo shops, so please post your nominations below...

Coulgate Street, 10.20am today

We've written so much about Degustation lately that Max would no doubt accuse us of being in the pocket of 'big boulangerie'. However, we think it's such an interesting test case for Brockley's future that we have become a little obsessed with its fortunes.

This morning, for example, it was the setting for a perfect little Brockley vignette. An assortment of prospective customers hovered on the pavement, waiting for the shutters to rise: a twitchy-arty sort, a young couple and a scruffy blogger. Meanwhile, a guy in a hood over his baseball cap wandered past, mouth open, eyes fixed on the French word on the sign above the shop, aghast. He muttered, "what is happening to Brockley, man?"

The fact that the focus of his disappointment wasn't the line of overflowing commercial bins flanking the Brockley Barge to his left or the tatty view of the sorting office and Costcutter in front of him, but the small independent food shop, run by a guy who's been living in the area for years, speaks volumes for the depressing nature of the "we don't want gentrification" line of argument.

The Tea Factory Gallery Tour

Tonight, together with some of Brockley's finest creative minds, Brockley Central was taken on a guided tour of the unfinished Tea Factory, to see first-hand the new Gallery space that is being created as part of the development.

Twenty of us picked our way through the building site by torchlight, as though led by Derek Acorah. The space itself is surprisingly big, about 10 metres from front to back.

We had imagined a token space with room for no more than a couple of Picasso sketches but, while not quite Tate's Turbine Hall, it will offer plenty of flexibility. It will be glass fronted with exposed concrete beams.
The tour was part of the local consultation process designed to find an appropriate group to run the gallery - the decision will ultimately be the Council's. Brockley has a number of existing community groups and it's possible that one of those groups could be given the opportunity to run the gallery or a new body could be created, specifically for the job. Andrew Carmichael from Creative Lewisham suggested one possible model could be the Art in Perpetuity Trust , a charity set up to run the APT Gallery in Deptford. The advantage of this model would be that, in addition to having charitable status, it would ensure that proper focus is given to making the gallery a success and that membership is open to any artist.

It's clear that whichever group takes up the challenge will have to adopt a serious, commercial approach to running the gallery. Although the shell will come rent free, the fit-out costs will be significant, there will still be rates and utility charges to be paid and it will need to establish itself as a credible and viable business within two years, before commercial rents kick-in.

While conducting the tour the developer confirmed that the gallery would have a new cafe as its neighbour (there will be a small area at the front for people to sit outside, off the pavement) and that another unit had been let as office space, although some commercial space and apartments are still available.

Thanks to Andrew Carmichael from Creative Lewisham and the developer Colin Yeates for organising the visit.

Brockley Bites

A bubble burst

Last night’s Dispatches on Channel 4 [“The Housing Trap”] was essentially the tragic story of a young man’s thwarted dream of buying a flat in Brockley. It was heartbreaking to watch a fate that no one could deserve unfold. The programme featured all the usual debate about the housing market. Conclusions? None. And its credibility was shot to pieces early on, when the narrator described Brockley as “an unfashionable part of South London”.

Brockley Nappuccino

We were going to write a longer piece questioning the value of Lewisham's efforts to use tax payers' money to bribe and cajole less-well-off families to use 'real' nappies (aka old technology that has rightly gone the way of the mangle or the carpet beater as a symbol of the drudgery of the domestic family life that we have mercifully left behind), but work is getting in the way today, so suffice to repeat the press release from Cllr Sue Luxton, for those who disagree with us:

"Come along to Lewisham's First 'Nappuccino'! It is taking place from 10am-midday on Friday 9 November 2007 at the Toads Mouth Too Cafe, 188 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2RL. If you would like to attend please contact Vivienne Thomson, Real Nappy Officer (details below). Real nappies save money and waste and are easier than you think. Come to a friendly chat over coffee and find out more."

Vivienne Thomson
Real Nappy Officer
London Borough of Lewisham
Wearside Service Centre
Wearside Road
Lewisham SE13 7EZ
T: 07904 164496 F: 020 8314 2128 W:

Brockley TownTalk now live

A new website has been launched by Lewisham Council to provide people with information about the Brockley area. Its best feature is the local business directory, which is pretty comprehensive. Visit it, enjoy it, but obviously please come back to Brockley Central!

Love @ Brockley

As we recently cautioned in our posting about the BC code of conduct a blog can be a powerful force for good or evil, depending on who wields it. Judge for yourself which side of the line Richard Elliot's blog falls, when he audaciously uses an interesting review of La Querce to retrospectively proposition a female diner, who he appreciated more than the ravioli.

We're happy to help spread the word for him, although we suggest that his romantic efforts are somewhat undermined by the photo below, in which he's pictured stripped to his black socks for a massage.

Good luck Richard, Brockley needs more young families.

The Talbot's future confirmed

Yes, we know we've written similar headlines in the past, but this time we have some detailed news that's confirmed at source and very exciting...

The Talbot is about to receive a major refurbishment from the people behind The Herne and The Palmerston - two outstanding south east London pubs.

Last week, we received an email from BC reader Michael, who told us that Palmerston Partners would be taking over as licensees in January. Coming on the same day that we learned that Portland's plans for Homeview were rejected, we were almost overcome with excitement. Still, we sat on the news until we had had it confirmed.

Fortunately, we spoke with Palmerston this morning, who gave us some details. The necessary caveat is that they are still agreeing terms and finalising their plans for the pub, but they were able to tell us the following:

  • The Talbot will remain "a proper pub" that they hope regulars will still enjoy
  • They want to reflect the character of the area and don't plan to copy either of their other pubs
  • However, it will be given a complete overhaul, including a new kitchen, a refit upstairs, new exterior front and back and work inside to open up the bar area
  • There is also a lot of work to be done on improving the building infrastructure, to bring it up to modern standards
  • The food will be "quality but simple" fare, locally sourced and cooked on the premises
  • They do hope to take over in January 2008, with the new-look pub open by the spring
  • At this point, they are still debating whether to keep the name. They are looking in to its history (if anyone can help here, it would be much appreciated) to see whether it's of any particular significance. The alternative is to rename it, to emphasise that it is a very different proposition from the current place
We sympathise to an extent with those people who currently enjoy The Talbot and worry that a revamp will compromise its appeal, but it will still serve beer (probably better beer, too), you will still be able to talk to your mates and it will still look and feel like a pub. But hopefully, it will be a pub that more than a handful of people will enjoy and one with a long-term future that doesn't involve terminal decline.
We think this is exactly what The Talbot and Brockley need. They didn't use the word gastropub, but that's clearly what the Herne and the Palmerston are and what The Talbot will become. For some, the term is anathema, but they are wrong. And there are plenty of alternatives for those who prefer their food delivered by the lorry load and reheated to order.
The prospective landlords have pledged to keep us up to speed as their plans progress.
Thanks to Michael and to the Palmerston.

Portland's plans for Homeview refused [updated]

Last night, as reported by an excited Cllr Dean Walton on the BC message boards, Lewisham's Licensing Committee rejected the application by Portland Bookmakers for a betting shop licence at the 'Homeview' video shop on the corner of Brockley Road & Adelaide Avenue.

There is little doubt that without the vociferous campaign by local people against the proposals, Brockley would by now have its umpteenth bookmaker, occupying one of the most important spots on the high street.

Portland's parent company still own the site and, as Dean suggests in his blog, there will almost certainly be an appeal, but who knows, maybe Portland will decide that they made a misjudgement and look elsewhere to expand. A good gambler knows when to cut their losses.

We dislike the use of the term "common sense" in political debate, because one person's version of common sense is often an other's blinkered belligerence, but Sue Luxton describes the result on her blog as a 'victory for common sense' and in this case, we can't think of a better way of putting it.

Update: We just received the following press release from Ute Michel, on behalf of Brockley's Green councillors.

A controversial plan to turn a former much-loved video shop into a bookmakers was thrown out by councillors on Lewisham’s licensing committee last night because it risked harming vulnerable residents.

The ruling – made after four hours of debate – sets a national precedent because it was the first to be judged under new rules brought in by the recent Gambling Act.

The applicants are thought likely to appeal the decision, but if magistrates uphold the decision of councillors it could mean communities throughout the country have a powerful voice over the siting of bookies’ offices in their neighbourhoods.

Birmingham City Council, among other major authorities, was known to be watching Lewisham as the first test case of the new law.

A near-identical decision was taken by councillors in Haringey, north London, last night, over a separate application there.

Lewisham’s licensing committee was concerned that the location of the premises meant people suffering from addictions could not be sufficiently protected from harm.

There are 210 residential units (places, not residences) for people with addictions within a mile of the premises at 329-331 Brockley Road. Objectors were also concerned about the effect on local children as there are a secondary school and several primary schools nearby.

Green Party councillor Ute Michel spoke against the application at last night’s public meeting, where she was quizzed by committee members.

She said afterwards:

“I am thrilled with this decision. There were huge concerns about a new betting shop, and I fully supported the local community in opposing the application. As this was the first application decided under the new legislation, Lewisham’s decision is not only good news for Brockley and Ladywell, it also sends a strong message to other local authorities across the country who are all faced with similar issues.

“The local community rose to the challenge and several residents also argued the case very forcefully and professionally at a well-attended meeting last night.”

For sale: The Rivoli Ballroom

Yours for a cool £10 million, the Rivoli Ballroom has gone up for sale. There's no doubt that the Rivoli has untapped potential as a unique and characterful venue (with a 24-hour drinking license), which a new owner might capitalise on. On the other hand, it's also vulnerable to developments that could compromise its 1930s splendour.

Thanks to Darren for letting us know, we hope to bring you more detail on the story in the coming days.