|Posted on Thursday, 14 June, 2007 - 03:50 pm: |
I posted this in a HOP related strand. Thought it might start a discussion on how we can get similar improvements to FH high street. Thanks to Ana for her quick response.
Ana, I'm really interested in the improvements you've been instrumental in getting implemented in HOP: particularly the new signage, hanging baskets and removal of bins. Would you be willing to let us know how you managed to get them organised? I for one would like to see similar changes in Forest Hill centre. Cheers.
Posted on Thursday, 14 June, 2007 - 03:24 pm:
I started the process three year's ago, it has taken meetings with regeneration Darrien Goowin, Julie Sutch, Joan Ruddock MP, Gavin Moore Head of Development, the Met, Jim Dowd MP,, Forest Hill Traders and anyone and everyone I think off to badger, moan, cajole etc...
I felt for two years I was getting nowhere and resorted to just embarrassing those (unnamed) individuals into pulling their finger out by cc'ing Councillors such as Jackie Addison in with correspondence/requests/pleas that were previously ignored . There are officers in the council, like Shirley Broughton (Highways) who are extremely helpful and willing and often it just takes to get to know their name and e-mail address. The TFL money was found I think because I have more energy then them. But before that small things like painting lamposts black as opposed to unpainted, demanding decent lights for Christmas (October is the time to whip off e-mails for this) and flowers (I sent the e-mail in May and just got on the list). I also founded HOBO, the traders association in attempt to get recognition for the traders, all of this helps and Forest Hill has bigger problems, mainly down to the layout I think of the centre, the T junction does not lend itself to bringing a sense of cohesion, you have your work cut out.
|Posted on Friday, 15 June, 2007 - 01:54 pm: |
Ana and HOP seem to be doing the right thing here. What I don't understand is why the combination of FH elected councillors, salaried FH town manager, and interested parties like FH traders' associations can't do the same in Forest Hill. If money goes to HOP for signage, hanging baskets, and better refuse collection, the same should be available, surely for FH.
|Posted on Friday, 15 June, 2007 - 02:41 pm: |
What's to understand? She clearly pursued it like a dog with a bone.
The fact you've had to reply to your own post speaks volumes about the 'hearditallbefore' element to your post. Forest Hill's shopping district is - with a few obvious exceptions - an embarrassment - especially that London Road Newsagent. It clearly takes someone to champion these things - i.e. give up time, suffer humdrum council beurocracies. I should know after my London Road irritations ../9/44.html"#cccccc">
|Posted on Friday, 15 June, 2007 - 03:54 pm: |
Apolgies if this is old ground - I just felt that given Ana's successes, it might be useful to make a comparison between what HOP now HAS got, and what FH hasn't and SHOULD have. The excuse that there's no money can't be justified as the money was there for HOP. Besides, it's relatively little, financially. Clearly, Ana has been vital in this case, but we pay someone to *do* this kind of thing, don't we? FH's town centre manager? Anyone got her email details handy? I'd also have thought the FH Society would be interested in pushing the case for inexpensive yet effective improvements to the shopping district.
|Posted on Friday, 15 June, 2007 - 04:10 pm: |
Is it Julie Sutch?
|Posted on Friday, 15 June, 2007 - 09:36 pm: |
By coincidence I was contacted by Jo Middleton, Lewisham's Town Centres and Tourism Officer today about another matter... her email included these details for the Town Centre Managers:
Julie Sutch (South Lewisham) 0208 699 1064
Deborah Efemini (Lewisham) 0208 297 5625
Petra Smith (Catford) 0208 314 8246
Jennifer Taylor (Deptford) 0208 691 8725
Sarah Pfeiffer (Local TCM) 0208 691 8725
Not sure which Forest Hill falls into... and presume they can all be emailed at the usual email@example.com...
Hope this is of some help,
|Posted on Saturday, 16 June, 2007 - 06:58 am: |
It is Julie Sutch, firstname.lastname@example.org. Based at Forest Hill library, she has temporarily relocated to Sydenham Library.
|Posted on Friday, 06 July, 2007 - 03:11 pm: |
I have just moved to the area and in deperate need of somewhere comfortable, upmarket and friendly to sit an enjoy a great cup of coffee while I catch up on the papers. As to the other retail spaces - FH is crying out, in my mind, for a decent butcher / italian resturant, (maybe even an M&S) / bookshop. All I wonder is where all the people that get on and off the commuter trains in the morning from FH go at the weekends? Surely there is the demand for these kind of shops??
|Posted on Friday, 06 July, 2007 - 03:14 pm: |
p.s - am in total agreement with egging on FH improvements. Yes FH has a strange layout - but doesnt mean we shouldnt try - the space behind the train station would be perfect - (great place for a Cafe Nero?) - and Dartmouth Road is no busier than Clapham High street -
|Posted on Friday, 06 July, 2007 - 04:23 pm: |
The Dartmouth Arms is nice to sit and drink coffee with the papers, newres.
|Posted on Friday, 06 July, 2007 - 05:49 pm: |
Sydenham is getting a coffee shop in the very near future in the form of Blue Mountain - see http://forum.sydenham.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1082&sid=9c6923e03b202377354e34848c109c22
We did have a Blue Mountain in Forest Hill a few years ago, but in entirely the wrong location (opposite David's Road). I hope they are not put off by prior experience and realise the opportunities that exist in Forest Hill as well as in Sydenham and there are one or two vacant sites that would be ideal for a coffee shop.
Congratulations to Sydenham and I hope we can follow your lead soon.
|Posted on Sunday, 08 July, 2007 - 09:30 am: |
You know, it never ceases to amaze me that with the boom in coffee outlets and cafes in general, Forest Hill seems to have been totally sealed against the trend. I used to go to Blue Mountain and yes it was in the wrong position but it was also appallingly managed - I lost count of the times it closed for a few weeks, opened again then closed for a month or two, etc etc. I spoke to the lady who ran the gift shop in Davids RD (Abigails) and she put the blame on the landlords whose rent expectations were too high. N9o change there then1
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 01:43 pm: |
Can someone please enlighten me as to why some landlords of retail spaces seem to prefer have no rent for an indefinite number of years while the shop is empty, rather then to bring down the rent to more realistic figures? Surely the reduced income will be offset by renting the premises sooner.
It seems that some landlords are not aware of the negative impact an empty shop has on the aspect of the street. Would this be something that our Town Centre Manager could take on board and perhaps negotiate with these landlords to lease out at reasonable rates, so as to get them occupied as soon as possible.
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 02:12 pm: |
There may be provision for empty properties to be purchased by compulsory purchase order.
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 04:25 pm: |
This article is slightly illuminating on the issue: at the moment, owners of commercial property stand to make a killing by just hanging on to the empty property and flogging it when the value rises. And there are tax incentives for keeping properties empty, too.
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 08:15 pm: |
That is exactly what I was told - ie that landlords can actually get tax breaks on empty properties and this can make it more lucrative to keep them empty. In the meantime, the town centre stagnates and drifts into slow decline. Good eh?
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 08:48 pm: |
Which properties are supposedly being left idle for profit?
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 09:28 pm: |
|Posted on Monday, 09 July, 2007 - 10:28 pm: |
I think I know what you're getting at Nev'. A part of the problem is the Inland Revenue Valuations Office assess commercial property for Business Rates based upon what they believe to be the market rent, which would tend to be pretty much in line with neighbouring areas. So even if landlords conceeded a bit on rents here, the Business Rates - amounting to an additional 42% of the rent(!) - is still payable. Even with a rent reduction of say 20% a Forest Hill shopkeeper might be paying only 14% less (inc Rates) than his neighbour in the East Dulwich who's benefitting from potentially double (I'm guessing) the amount of spending customers. Faced with this, commercial landlords then become aware of the fact that residential space is a far more valuable commodity here and carve their property up into flats and offer a much smaller commercial element. This seems to be the case with MacD's and, unless a big name like Pizza Express comes in for Aceri, I'd be surprised if that doesn't follow suit. I rent small shops in Forest Hill and I see the trials and tribulations they all face week-in-week-out. It's still hard here and everyone has to look after their own interests. If Lewisham Council is serious about regenerating this area without losing 50% of the commercial space to residential, then they should lobby the Valuations Office for a deprived area status to get the Business Rates down. If not, fine, just let me know, my life would be so much easier and I'd be wealthier if I shortened my shops and put studio flats behind them. I guess what we all need is for Lewisham to stop all the spin and get on and do something meaningful around here.
|Posted on Tuesday, 10 July, 2007 - 09:41 am: |
What you're saying makes a huge amount of sense, Another. Over to you, councillors. The changes in the linked article also seem like a reasonably nudge in the right direction, too, I think.
|Posted on Tuesday, 10 July, 2007 - 09:41 am: |
I think there is no financial incentive for Lewisham to do this. I think NNDR paid on Lewisham properties goes to a central pot. But council tax on residential properties in Lewisham is collected directly by Lewisham Council. Therefore, residential properties are more lucrative for Lewisham Council.