The terrace of 19th century shops at the end of Railton Road (otherwise known as Station Square) in the centre of Herne Hill is looking a bit sad these days (see photo below).
As planned, the premises are being closed prior to extensive refurbishment by their owners, Network Rail. With the assistance of Network Rail, two of the tenants have found alternative premises in the previously refurbished railway arches on Milkwood Road. The vintage furniture shop is still trading, from premises on Dulwich Road. All the shops are boarded up pending the start of the rebuilding programme.
All except one: the Best Kebab shop, which defiantly continues trading.
We are guessing that all of the work can start until these tenants finally depart. Presumably they are exercising their right to trade until the end of their lease.
Hopefully Network Rail can shed some light on this situation.
We will soon notice that the Herne Hill shopping scene is witnessing a big change.
Even if you’ve been shopping there in recent days, you may not have realised that some of the familiar shops in Railton Road are about to disappear for good.
Owners Network Rail (NW) have been granted planning permission to refurbish seven of the retail units that back on to the railway viaduct.This group of shops runs from the Laundrette to the vintage furniture shop Bleu.
The work is planned to start this spring. The upper floors, currently derelict or used for storage or offices, will be turned into flats. A change of use has also been granted for some of the premises, from Retail to Restaurant/Café.
Two of the present shops have accepted NW’s offer to transfer (at a higher rent, inevitably) to the modernised arches just round the corner on Milkwood Road. Ye Olde Bakery and greengrocers The Fruit Garden will be re-opening there in the coming days. Bleu has occupied a vacant shop on Dulwich Road, a few steps away from The Florence. However, Walters Butchers have declined and, sadly, will close for good this coming Saturday.
Details of the Network Rail plans, and of the Herne Hill Society’s comments on the scheme, can be found in the Winter edition of Herne Hill magazine, just published.
Starbucks next ? or McDonalds?
The big risk for Herne Hill is that some of the refurbished units are intended for large restaurant tenants – businesses that can afford the higher rents. This probably rules out the sort of local, family-run businesses that have served and supported our community for so many years. There is talk that Starbucks and McDonalds, those generous contributors to HMRC’s income, have expressed interest.
As followers of Herne Hill Forum and the Herne Hill Society online media will have seen, there seems a strong likelihood that the new student hostel to be built on the old BP petrol station site next to Sainsbury’s and the former postal sorting office will house a new Tesco Local. Planning permission appears to have been granted already.
This prospect is dividing opinion, but there seems to be a majority who oppose it, seeing no need for another supermarket, especially on this particular site.
Neighbours who share this view can sign a petition accessible here.
Already a few neighbours have joined and added some items they are willing to share including a chocolate fountain, ladder, travel cot and bike. As well as household objects you can add your skills (such as gardening advice, guitar lessons, computer repair or help with IT) and spaces too (such a bedroom, a space for storage or even a beach hut – though obviously this may not be local).
Ecomodo is a social enterprise and their aim is to bring neighbours together, to help each other out and make visible the things that people are willing to share in one place.
Their website lets you to list your items to lend and see what others have on offer. Items can be lent for free or as a lender you are able to charge for an item, and choose if you want to keep the fee or make a donation to charity. And if you need to borrow something that isn’t yet listed you can post a wanted ad.
By borrowing the things you only occasionally need, as opposed to buying new, is not only a simple way to save money but it’s better for the environment. It’s an amazing fact – that the average drill is used for only 12 minutes in its lifetime. The total lifecycle impact from the collection of raw materials, manufacturing and distribution, to disposal is unacceptable when the purchaser was probably within a few metres of an idle drill in a neighbour’s shed.
If you’re not sure what to lend or borrow – sign up – to keep an eye on new items or wanted ads added in our neighbourhood. And for a bit of inspiration browse all items to borrow to see what others are lending around the UK.