The last spare vendor

The last surviving shop on Upper Brockley Road - once Brockley's main commercial street - is under threat. The owners of the store, which previously operated as Moore Grocers, have applied to convert it for residential use.

It's a planning application we have been waiting for for a few months, since it was withdrawn from the market as a commercial property.

The property is in a challenging location, on a street, which is now a quiet residential road, with little footfall. The property itself had fallen in to an appalling state of disrepair and anyone seeking to take it on as a commercial enterprise would need to invest significant sums to make it a viable business. Given the frantic state of the local property market, it's entirely understandable that the owners would seek a change of use and, if there was no demand for the property for commercial use, we'd argue that it was better to let the property find new life as a maisonette, however regrettable the final passing of Brockley's historic high street might be.

However, we know that the owners did have at least one firm offer for the property for the commercial rent price they were asking, because Brockley Central made it.

For some time, we've been wanting to put our money where our mouth is, by starting a business in Brockley. Not only do we think it's an area with untapped potential, but the chance to walk to work was a dream. If it had come off, the business would have created local employment and a new destination in the area. Either that, or Brockley Central would have had to introduce a paywall, to cover our debts...

We were also informed by the estate agents that they had received at least two more offers for the property. Perhaps that was mere gamesmanship, but we don't believe so. We ended up in a bidding battle with another entrepreneur. Both of us were asking for an intial rent free period, which is the standard in the current commercial property market and which reflected the enormous initial investment required to fix the walls, floors, ceilings, rotted fixtures and antiquated electricals.

When we thought we might lose out to the other bidder, we even indicated that we'd be willing to negotiate over the rent-free period. We wanted the property and we weren't afraid to up our price. During this time, we consoled ourselves that, even if we lost out to our rival, we'd at least have a new local shop to enjoy. However, we were wrong. Instead of entering in to negotiation, the agents informed us that the landlords had changed their minds and withdrawn the property. From that moment on, it was clearly only a matter of time until this planning application appeared.

To be clear, we no longer have a personal stake in this issue. We were forced to look elsewhere to start our business and have now had an offer accepted in a place we are committed to. We'll bore you with the details soon enough, but sadly it isn't in Brockley as 91 Upper Brockley Road was the only property that fitted the bill.

Our concern now is that a part of Brockley's history will be lost and that a property with the potential to house a business that would add life, employment and a new community facility to the area will disappear.

We'll be registering our opposition to the application on this basis.

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