Brockley Central has been very excited about the prospects for a new community art gallery at Brockley Cross. Run by charity Tea Leaf Arts, it will serve as a centre for the local artistic community, a venue for new kinds of events and installations and an expression of Brockley's vibrant community.

However, as the Tea Factory slowly emerges from its scaffold coccoon to reveal a handsome new building, the gallery is still a distant prospect.

During the planning process for the Tea Factory, the Council negotiated with the developer to ensure that, for the first two years of its new life, the Tea Factory would have to give one of the commercial units to the community, at zero cost, to be used as a new gallery. If, after those two years, the gallery was able to run on commercial terms, they will have first refusal on the site. This made sense for a host of reasons...

Firstly, the Tea Factory owners win because this deal was secured as part of the Section 106 agreement, which is the price councils are able to extract from large-scale developers - it's payment in kind, rather than in cash.

Secondly, the ground floor units had to be commercial (rather than residential) anyway and the new development on the west side of the station has proved that these kinds of units, in areas of low footfall, with few other shops around, are hard to shift. By giving away one unit, the developers ensure that they have a nice gallery instead of an empty window - all the better to attract residential buyers and help secure more commercial tennants. The Tea Factory is due to house a new cafe, and there's no-doubt the management would have been attracted by the prospect of having a gallery for a neighbour.

Thirdly, for the Council, it's a much-needed gesture towards regenerating Brockley Cross, but the burden of effort to make it a reality is handed over to the local community and Creative Lewisham.

However, when we recently contacted the community team behind the new gallery for an update, we were shocked. While the Tea Factory is due for completion this month, the gallery has no opening date - in fact, its future is still in doubt.

Instead of a functioning commercial space, the developer is planning to deliver the gallery owners an empty shell, without basic requirements like electricity, heating, lighting, plumbing and even windows. By doing so, the developer will fulfil his agreement under the terms of the Section 106, but leave the gallery team with a £14,000 funding gap.

The gallery team have finalised their plans for the space and are frantically trying to raise funds from other sources, but it is an unexpected mountain they have to climb and, even if they are successful, it is likely to take time before they are in a position to get the Gallery up and running. There are no further funds available from the Council's Section 106 budget to support the project.

We don't understand how the Council could have negotiated a deal which effectively leaves a community group having to pay the fit-out costs for a commercial developer, particularly since, after two years, it becomes the developer's again, to profit from.

In our view, the Council must take more responsibility for this problem than it appears to have done so far. They must intervene by playing an active role in identifying new funding - not just pointing the group in the direction of various funds the group can apply for but actually finding funds within the Council budget, to clear up the mess they've made. After all, if the Gallery doesn't happen then the Council have effectively negotiated zero value from the Tea Factory's redevelopment.

Despite several years of consultation by the Council about the regeneration of Brockley Cross, the Tea Factory is the only meaningful development to have come to fruition. It would be a travesty if their one success story was marred for the want of a small amount of money.