Brockley Economics: Supply-side

So there are people in Brockley - young people, people with families, people who work from home, people with money - who are not really catered for by local business. Hence the childless and the child-encumbered are at war in the Brockley Mess and the temporary closure of Le Querce causes mass-hysteria.


There are one or two decent spaces in awkward locations, like the Tea Factory. There are awkward spaces in decent locations. There are small spaces that are shrinking to the point where no-one will be able to use them. There are places like this one, whose landlords are trying to turn them in to housing. There are others, like this one, where the landlord is trying to sell the freehold, something beyond the reach of most start-up entrepreneurs. There are new spaces being built to meet planning requirements, but where the evidence suggests businesses are reluctant to locate. There are incumbent businesses that never open, but which can't be let to others and then there are stalled refurbishments.

Finally, there are a few promising projects in the pipeline, but no progress yet. This year could have been the year when a load of new businesses sprang up in response to the East London Line.

But right now, if you wanted to open a new restaurant, bar, clothes shop, butcher or greengrocer, your options are severely limited. Where would you go? Where could you go?

Even this place, which we understand is actually of a decent size inside, is unavailable because it has problems which owner Network Rail doesn't think would be economical to remedy.

Instead of the white heat of the private sector being unleashed on SE4, almost all of the good news this year has been provided by the public and voluntary sectors. According to the government, turning off all that pesky public investment will allow private companies and voluntary organisations to flourish instead. Let's hope so.

But until Brockley can provide good-quality space, in good-quality locations, of the right size, with attractive streets that customers want to use, the Brockley economy will fail to cater for the pent-up demand, buggy-wars will continue at the Brockley Mess and every child who has a birthday party in the area will be given the same three presents from Magi, for want of other options.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bit doom and gloom Nick. Wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Having said that, I too am starting to agree.

Crofton Park Ranger said...

My girlfriend was having a moan about the lack of decent gym / pool nearby (I know that there are gyms and pools but they dont meet her exacting standards apparently!)

The conversation turned to what a great business opportunity it might be (especially considering the revised Mosaic data mentioned in earlier BC post).

I think you'd have to ignore the pool (I cant see that happening unless you have a massive site) - But a gym howevre could take an upper floor somewhere for a lower rent...

But where? We were stumped.

Perhaps one of those new housing developments should have a first floor commercial space built in for a gym?

Or is the brockley demographic not gymmy enough yet?

Richard Elliot said...

Great article Nick.

Waitrose Watch said...

Where will waitrose go?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8273506.stm

Lou Baker said...

Move to Dulwich.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how this can be improved on. The available space is what it is, and perhaps that's why Brockley has never really taken off in the past. Surely part of the problem is that the new developments aren't dedicating big enough individual commercial spaces. What can we expect to get on mantle road? the small spaces limit the options - don't they?

Anonymous said...

The old greengrocers on the corner of Tyrwhitt road would make a great bar or cafe. The success of The Talbot has, I believe, proved that this part of Brockley and St. Johns has the demand.
I would also like to see a quality greengrocer/butchers on this parade, possibly where the chemist was.
CPR if your girlfrind can wait 2 years, the new gym/leisure centre with 25 metere pool will be open on Loampit Vale.

Howson Road said...

Park Ranger: tell her to cycle over to Ladywell Leisure Centre for a swim, that way she won't need a gym. ;)

Paddyom said...

I like this article Nick - really sums up a big problem for the area, that being, not enough decent businesses and the ones that are decent cant cope with demand.

This weekend we ate twice at the Orchard and it was packed both nights. Saturday night I rang at 6.30 to book a table ahead and they said they had stopped taking bookings as it was so busy but i may get a table after 9 if i wanted to risk it! This is actually great news as the Orchard is a lovely bar/restaurant which is obviously trading its socks off showing that there is a massive demand for such product. Maybe they will extend into the former SOTH unit and the adjoining vacant unit to create a much bigger Orchard? Who knows.

Also went to the Mess twice for lunch this weekend and both times it was really busy with a constant stream of custom. They were busy running around delivering food to tables, ran out of a few items and looked fairly stressed with the demand. Again this is great news and shows that currently in SE4 if you create the right product, they will come.

There are some other gems, like Magi, Degustation, Smiles and I have great time for Budgens actually... but we need a better variety of shops by Brockley station as the proliferation of fast food and betting shops has killed the areas variety and appeal. I dont think more Cafes is the answer either, a better shop than Costcutter would be top of my list for a new store.

mk said...

Interesting read Nick.

The Martin's Yard development looks particularly interesting - any idea as the project's current status?

Though I am not quite yet an SE4 resident, I think BX could do with a decent bookshop or art/local handicraft shop to add to the cafe/restaurant contingent...

Matt-Z said...

I'm surprised that no charities have opened shops in Brockley. There is a good enough mix of comfortably off people to donate stuff (plus a green/recycling ethic) as well as a lot of less well off people who'd benefit from cheap, second hand clothes and so on.

There are available retail units of the right size, but could a charity negotiate a fair rent? I'm sure a charity shop would be well supported, and well patronised, and if it was a local charity (e.g. St Christopher's Hospice) in would generate a great deal of good will. The last local charity shop was the Celia Hammond Animal Trust shop on Lewisham Way, and while it appeared badly organised and run, they never seemed short of donations.

Would it work, and would you like to see a charity shop on our high street?

Blunderbuss said...

There used to be a great second hand book shop under the bridge by Brockley X, when that went and the furniture shop burnt down that whole area got even worse.

With all the new housing developments on the Westside, including the pavement widening and getting rid of the railings not unfeasible that a good shop could open up in one of the new commercial units as the footfall will really start to increase...

Anonymous said...

Ask Toes used to be a Caribbean takeaway called Luella's or something, wonder if they closed due to probs with the building...

UB40 said...

There was a rat in the kitchen...

NXG _Resident said...

If you want a really depressing article, check out this blog post from Crosswhatfields? (Local Deptford blog)

http://crossfields.blogspot.com/2010/10/deptford-on-re-up.html


There's a place that really has some issues!

Ed said...

The law of adverse possession was introduced to ensure land owners didn't leave land idle and unused; surely we can do something about those two lovely tiled shops?

Perhaps an act of constructive graffiti might prompt interest; something along the lines of 'open our bloody shops'.

Paddyom said...

I love Deptford, I hate to see little gurriers get away with stuff like this in broad daylight. When i was a teen we all wanted to live in Summer Bay, these kids seem to consider the dodgy bits of Baltimore as more of an aspiration. They should consider leaving SE8 once in a while and realise how things can be better. Why the peelers dont stop this is beyond me.

Plenty of money and nowhere to spend it said...

Couldn't agree more, Nick. In the last couple of years I've been meeting loads of people in Brockley, professionals like myself who are doing pretty well (often in creative industries) and have disposable income. But everyone bemoans the lack of good places to eat / buy / hang out... yes, there have been a few improvements, but we're still lacking by any yardstick. If I wasn't so busy doing a job I'm actually good at, I would set up a nice classy eating and/or drinking joint in the Brox. Agree about the lack of available space... maybe we'll have to wait for the inevitable sell-off of Brockley Park Cars? But not everything has to be big.

I will personally thank the person who sets up the first sushi place in SE London (or beyond SE1) by eating there three times a week without fail!

And no, Lou, I don't want to move to Dulwich, because I like it here otherwise and much prefer the people I meet in Brockley to those I meet in Dulwich / East Dulwich / Blackheath.

Monkeyboy said...

Transpontine has a story about yet another bookies. Am I being overly sensitive or do they seem to cynically follow deprevation?

Anonymous said...

"If I wasn't so busy doing a job I'm actually good at"

"sushi place... eating there three times a week without fail!"


not painting a pretty picture . . .

Anonymous said...

Yeah, doing a good job and eating fish. What a loser!

Jealous much?

Anonymous said...

Sushi place - well there's a woman who sells it from a stall in East Dulwich on a Saturday (and it's reportably good), or a place in Forest Hill I think. Or somewhere in Catford. Or Edo in Crystal Palace.

Do you eat 3 times a week in all of them?

Ramble said...

Yeah the Japanese in Catford is meant to be really good. I've just not managed to get there yet. It's called Sapporo Ichiban.

http://www.qype.co.uk/place/96712-Sapporo-Ichiban-London

Anonymous said...

Second the sushi and would be there the other three nights a week. I think there would be demand.

Edo in Crystal Palace is good, and seems to do a fair bit of delivery trade. Brockley is a bit too far for them sadly.

Plenty of money... said...

Thanks for the sushi tips... I admit I didn't know about any of them. No, I won't be going there 3 times a week, since I live in Brockley, but will definitely try them out.

anon @ 5.31... apologies if you objected to something in my post. I'm sure you're also good at your job, and sorry you don't share my love of raw fish.

Blue Green God said...

Has anyone noticed that large urban thing 10 minutes north of Brockley - London Central or something? Apparently there are some things to buy there. Also they do food - some of it classy.

Surely the real priority is a Cath Kidston store and a porcini-mongers?

Anonymous said...

By the way, the link to Edo is http://www.edolondon.co.uk/

Seems to be a £3 charge for delivering over 3 miles (not sure how far it is), so I guess they will deliver for extra.

Tamsin said...

I would go back to the suggestion of a charity shop - preferably St. Christophers. Their ones in Beckenham and on the Bromley Road are very good (and on the Bromley Road just two doors up is the Sponge Kitchen with delicious oatey loaves that I would go out of my way for).

On the other hand too many charity shops can give a very negative vibe about an area. Drove through Hedington on Saturday and it seemed that literally every other business was a charity shop and my first thought was "how depressing..." and the second one "where on earth do they get all their stuff!"

Latest news on the St. Martin's Yard development would be much appreciated - it looked so good in the consultation stage.

Brockley Jon said...

Yep, it's a very good point re the charity shop. We always cart our stuff to Lewisham, but why shouldn't Brockley have one? Beckenham has loads - they always seem well stocked and very clean & tidy. And you can't say it's a sign of lack of income as Becks also has a Waitrose and M&S food!

mk said...

I think a focus on local craft shops and bookstores will make Brockley a more interesting environment. Perhaps it's worth taking a few cues from Chatsworth Road in Clapton?

http://www.chatsworthroade5.co.uk

Matt-Z said...

I think we're closer to Chatsworth Estate.

Bore Off said...

Waitrose or a decent local equivalent would be nice, or an M&S simply food.

Why if someone says they want nice things in SE4 do they get jumped on by begruders telling them to shove off to East Dulwich, like 'Plenty of Money' above?

Surely SE4 is as entitled to some nice things as much as anywhere else. Or is it so shameful to admit that your actually happy the area is changing?

over my dead deli said...

It is considered taboo to talk about gentrification on here as it can leave you open to a tirade from an anonymous gangster.

Headhunter said...

I think some residents of Brockley like to wallow in their own self pity at how awful the area that they're forced to live in is and woebetide anyone who actually wants to improve it

Ed said...

Agreed HH!

Deptford Pudding said...

If I wanted to live in Ealing I'd move.

over my dead deli said...

A typically myopic response there from the anti-aspiration society.

Brockley Central Label Cloud