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.

Shops about to disappear
Shops about to disappear

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 …



Further to the story below (see the ‘Farcical Interlude’ section), we hear that Lambeth have seemingly failed to take steps to inform all residents in the Herne Hill 3rd phase CPZ zone that parking restrictions in the included streets will not be enforced until 4th November.

So confusion, chaos and rumour flourish unchecked, adding to our Council’s now solid reputation for mis-management and indifference to residents’ concerns.


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.


That development on the derelict plot along the railway on Milkwood Road has come to life again.

Milkwood Road development site

It seems that the Peabody Trust is buying the site from the previous developers, who controversially got planning permission then never used it.

See the report on the Herne Hill Society website. Our previous worries about where the new residents of that development would park their cars are still relevant: only a CPZ will protect us.


Lambeth have now given planning permission for the development on the plot of land opposite 251-275 Milkwood Road – opposite where Gubyon Avenue joins Milkwood Road. The first application was refused, but the developers made some changes which were apparently enough to persuade the Planning Committee to give the green light.

There are to be 49 separate apartments/maisonettes in this development: 40 private and nine “affordable”. But, as before (which is why some of us opposed the application) there is no provision for parking.

Instead, the application states “the normally appropriate parking provision is one residential unit. … however, given the type of residential development envisaged for this land and the closeness of Herne Hill station make the site ideal for car-free development”.  The application also states however that the development complies with the so-called Lifetime’s Homes Standards which calls for “availability of parking adjacent to the dwelling”: where? one wonders.

Look! no cars! They're all parked in Fawnbrake!

To their shame, the Planning Committee and planning officers have turned a blind to the parking implications of this development.

In theory, the new residents may turn out to be deep green neighbours who all renounce cars and take to their bicycles to move around. But realistically, quite a few will have cars and will therefore need somewhere on the street to park them.

Milkwood Road itself has precious little spare parking space already – so inevitably, the car-owning residents of this new development will try to park their cars in Gubyon, Kestrel, Fawnbrake and Brantwood.

Of course, as we all know, there’s loads of space on our streets just waiting to be filled up with commuters and residents seeking refuge from CPZs in neighbouring zones.

Maybe Lambeth’s planners have a well-developed technique for turning a blind eye to problems like this when it suits them. Some of us may not be inclined to forgive them.

Oh, and if the traffic planners eventually succeed in getting a CPZ in Fawnbrake and neighbouring streets, this would only make matters worse for residents in the new development, wouldn’t it?

Do phrases like ‘head in sand’ spring to mind?

A separate post will follow shortly on the revived ‘stakeholder’ consultations on CPZs – watch this space.


To the surprise of the applicants and also, perhaps, of the planning officers, the Planning Application Committee turned down this application at their meeting on 12 January.

The Herne Hill Society made a very well-argued objection speech, and the Committee were unhappy about several aspects of the application – though the parking issue did not seem to register with them, and the officers evidently thought that it will all fall into place when we in the neighbouring streets get a CPZ. (For them, it was clearly a matter of “when” rather than” if”.)

The official reason given for the refusal reads as follows:

“1. The proposed development represents an overdevelopment of the site which would, by reason of its footprint, scale, mass and bulk adversely affect the character and appearance of the area and would provide substandard accommodation for future occupiers with respect to unit sizes and children’s play space provision contrary to the provisions of Policies 17, 31, 33, 36 and 50 of the Unitary Development Plan (2007).

2. The applicant has failed to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the local planning authority that the proposed development could provide an acceptable standard of accommodation with respect to noise levels within the residential units in close proximity to the railway line, contrary to Policies 7 and 54 of the Unitary Development Plan (2007).”

What happens next?

The applicant can either appeal, or come back with a modified proposal.

Watch this space.