Predictions for 2013

Our predictions for 2012 erred deliberately on the side of optimism, given that 2011 had been a very strong year for new arrivals. For the most part, our optimism was rewarded, although the ones we thought were our safest bets turned out to be misplaced. Here's the verdict:

1. The Wickham Arms will finally find an owner with the resources and nous to make a success of this magnificent pub. Away from the area's main thoroughfares, it will have to find a unique recipe to become a destination in its own right. 

Erm, no. The current management soldiers on. While it retains some charm and enormous potential, few would describe it as a destination pub.

2. A developer will come forward with a plan for a significant piece of Brockley's centre. It will be as controversial at it is bold. 

We give you 180 Brockley Road. This prediction was a bit of a cheat, since we'd seen the plans in advance. However, we've heard about lots of plans that failed to materialise, so it was a relief when these were revealed. They weren't as controversial as we expected (we thought the scale would scare more people), but there were enough grumbles about modern architecture to justify BC getting full marks for this prediction.

3. Brockley Market will expand. It's already a fantastic local market that attracts people from nearby neighbourhoods but the the word of mouth it will continue to generate, married with an influx of new residents to Lewisham, will mean that it develops in to a destination for savvy south east Londoners. 

The Market continues to reinvent itself, while its fame spreads and it spawns imitators in places like Forest Hill. However, it hasn't expanded in size, so we don't get any points.

4. Two predictions in one: the obvious opportunities in the area will be seized. Masons will reopen under new owners while someone will do something with the corner unit on Cranfield Road. 

Masons lies empty still but Gently Elephant took over the Cranfield Road site to become BC Newcomer of the Year. Half a point.

5. Aside from Masons' successor, the Hilly Fields Cafe and the Toads Mouth replacement, Brockley will get another place to eat. It will be the brainchild of one of the area's many foodie entrepreneurs, perhaps one who's cut their teeth at Brockley Market. It will be closer to #Meateasy than a formal restaurant.

From pizza revolutionaries to Canadian cuisine pop-ups, Brockley's status as a hotbed of food entrepreneurialism has grown this year. For a while we might have to rely on pop-ups to secure us half a point, but then Arlo & Moe came along (Villa Toscana too, but they're hardly Young Turks). One point.

So two and a half points out of five. Even Stevens, with the added bonus that another long-term prediction we've been making has finally materialised in a significant way. Two child-friendly businesses opened in 2012 (Gently Elephant and Pistachios in the Park) meaning that business is finally responding to the demographic shift taking place, to the relief of parents and non-parents alike. In the long-run, we are all fed.

What are our five predictions for 2013? There are some fundamental drivers that we talked about in our review of 2012, which we will extrapolate from:
  1. The last few years have seen an accelerated pace of change in Brockley, thanks to the new local spending power brought by the ELL. So we're doubling down on our predictions for The Wickham Arms and Brockley Market: New owners for the Wickham and more pitches for the Market by the end of the year  In the case of the Wickham, continued decline or redevelopment are both too depressing to contemplate as alternatives. Whatever happens, we predict that Brockley will get another new place to drink booze in 2013. The Gantry has provided more proof that we are a thirsty bunch.
  2. From the shops to the trains, Brockley is filling up. So we expect at least one of these three big mixed developments in Brockley's pipeline to begin construction - 180 Brockley Road, Mantle Road or St Cyprian's. We maintain it's likely that the Royal Mail will decide to sell off the Brockley Road Sorting Office, as it seeks to offload assets ahead of privatisation, and predict some formal news on that in 2013, though we should stress, this remains in the realm of speculation at the moment.
  3. In the short-term, being full-up makes it more likely that incumbents will be pushed out. Brockley's commercial landlords are not necessarily the sharpest bunch, but even they can't have missed the fact that Gently Elephant has turned a dormant site in to a (presumably) rent-paying business. Local landlords will look again at their local properties. We predict that at least one established business will be priced out of Brockley and replaced by something newer and shinier. 
  4. The last couple of years have thrown up developments we never saw coming - the market and the microbrewery. In an effort not to be outflanked like that again in 2013, we're choosing a wild card. A new hotel will be created or proposed in Brockley in 2013. 
  5. Hopefully, this one is less of a punt: Lewisham Hospital A&E will earn some sort of reprieve. It's too good and too important to piss away, no matter what the initial recommendations claimed. Having been a recent beneficiary of its services, perhaps this is just wishful thinking on our part, but we may be able to rely on Tory voters in Bromley, horrified by the prospect of more Lewisham residents hitting their A&E, as unlikely allies. We're less hopeful about any of the locally-funded public services under threat.