First posted 24 December, updated 12 January
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.
I guess we are all really thrilled about that …