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Planning: 2-4 London Road FH (Launderette)
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Akhnaten


Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #1
21-09-2012 02:25 PM

I've just heard that the launderette on the corner of London Road and Devonshire Road may well be closing. Apparently the owner was in there with a couple of estate agents from Pedder and are looking at turning it into [irony]much needed[/irony] offices.

This is a real pain. I've used that place for the last 10 years. Both Gwen and Diane (RIP) have done a fantastic job over the years. As it's a private venture I guess the owner can do what he wants.

Personally I'd like to know how he can look himself in the mirror after sacking someone who's worked for him for 15+ years.

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
21-09-2012 02:55 PM

Apparently the oldest launderette in the country or something along those lines. But this corner unit at the heart of Forest Hill would be far better as a cafe, greengrocer, or some other retailer.

It would be a shame if it got permission to become an office rather than retailer or cafe, and there is some protection for A1 retail units in core shopping areas (although a launderette might not actually classify as A1, so it would be harder to argue against changing to A2).

Hopefully whoever moves in will do something about the poor condition of the external appearance of this unit.

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Contrary Mary


Posts: 124
Joined: Oct 2008
Post: #3
21-09-2012 03:51 PM

Nooooooooo!

I do most of my washing at home, like most people - but have discovered that this place is essential for washing heavy duvets, large cotton rugs, pillows - any other item which would either break my machine, or needs fast/efficient tumble drying...

and at around half the cost of dry-cleaning, even with a service wash!

The staff are always friendly and efficient, and, on a more personal note, when I was younger, it was a great place to wait to meet my friend half-way through my walk to school: the only one warm, dry and open at that time in the morning in the winter in those days.

If this is true, I will miss it, tatty as it looks from outside.

Or, how's this - tart up the building, and keep it as a launderette!

This post was last modified: 21-09-2012 03:52 PM by Contrary Mary.

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Renzon


Posts: 30
Joined: Jun 2007
Post: #4
21-09-2012 09:14 PM

I don't think we need another cafe'.....

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tiggywinkle


Posts: 26
Joined: May 2010
Post: #5
21-09-2012 10:33 PM

What about a great fishmogers? (like it used to be!). tiggywinkle(mrs).

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Anotherjohn


Posts: 347
Joined: May 2005
Post: #6
22-09-2012 08:30 AM

The fishmonger was next door, where the charity shop is now, wasn't it?

I think the bottom line here is that the launderette occupies one of the most prominent sites in Forest Hill and there was always a chance that a more profitable trade would eventually take over.

However, this could be seen as an opportunity for someone. I don't know how good the machines are or how profitable a launderette can be but, presumably, someone could buy all of the equipment and set it all up in a cheaper unit somewhere within walking distance of this one.

Regarding Micheal's comment about change of use - a launderette is A1, which means that if it were within Forest Hill's core District Centre the council would been justified in refusing change of use to A2 for the simple reason that it would exceed Lewisham's target of a maximum of 30% non-A1 units. However, I believe this unit is No.2 London Road, which, due to the council's stupidity, appears to fall just outside the core, which, for some reason, starts next door at number 4 London Road. This means the planning restrictions for this particular unit are far more relaxed and it will take some serious and valid objections to prevent it going through.

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #7
22-09-2012 08:41 AM

Is this unit something our Portas team should be taking an interest in? I've always thought it a shame that this unit was not more of a flagship store for Forest Hill. I'd like to see nice retail rather than a restaurant.

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Renzon


Posts: 30
Joined: Jun 2007
Post: #8
22-09-2012 09:22 AM

A deli would be nice.....it is just in the right location for office bound or home-bound commuters stepping off the train and stopping en route to get something for lunch or for dinner....

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Perryman


Posts: 809
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #9
22-09-2012 10:03 AM

I think it used to be a LLoyds bank.
Before that, the site of Cullen's Stores.
I've a feeling there was a post office here at some point.

It's been a launderette since 1952, which is an impressive run.

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Bcm


Posts: 187
Joined: May 2010
Post: #10
22-09-2012 10:54 AM

Sad news but I do think such a nicely positioned unit can be put to more valuable use. There is an excellent if not particularly nearby laundrette on brockley rise I can recommend for duvets etc.

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Akhnaten


Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2007
Post: #11
22-09-2012 10:57 AM

Thanks for everyone's posts - they are a salient reminder of why I dislike community forums.

michael Wrote:
But this corner unit at the heart of Forest Hill would be far better as a cafe, greengrocer, or some other retailer.


Better for who? Young middle-class commuters who, when they start to earn more money, leave Forest Hill? Or poorer families who have lived here a number of years and cannot exert that kind of choice?

I propose the launderette gets turned into a Costa or Cafe Nerro. They serve a decent cup of coffee and competition between all these cafes would be good for consumers.

I have lived in Forest Hill from 1974 to 1984 and again from 2003 to now. Forest Hill used to have a deli where Acorn Estate Agents is - my mum would buy tins of hummous from there (this was exotic in the 70's). That closed. Provender on Dartmouth Road closed and that had been around for ages. I don't want to discourage small business owners but you must remember that something like 50% of ventures fold within
the first year and 90% within the first three years.

michael, you seem to have some sort of agenda as to how Forest Hill should look. I have one too. I want Forest Hill to remain the way it is, where people of all classes and backgrounds come into contact with one another. I like the mix of transience and permanence that the place embodies. To me that is what a community is: difference, not some agglomeration of the like-minded.

My assumption is that those who bray most loudly for a deli are those who can't afford to buy in East Dulwich. East Dulwich is generally dreadful (SMBS excepted), full of mediocre bars and that godawful Jojo Maman Bebe shop (Mothercare at thrice the price).

There seems to be this view that "gentrification" of areas can continue though more delicatessens, cafes and fishmongers. Well, the party is over, the property bubble is deflating and I suspect that Forest Hill will remain static for as long as mortgages for first time buyers are hard to get.

The other point I tried to make in my original post was that someone, who has served this community well for many years (better than this website and all the delis other than Provender) is losing her job. If you do own a business in Forest Hill you should employ Gwen - she is a grafter. That, in my mind, would be a gesture of appreciation from this community.

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Bcm


Posts: 187
Joined: May 2010
Post: #12
22-09-2012 12:49 PM

If you dislike community forums then why are you here? I'd like to think most of us post because we care about SE23 and want it to continue to improve as it clearly has over the past few years, thanks in no small part to Michael and the FHS which he gives up much of his own time to contribute to.

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Pico


Posts: 133
Joined: Nov 2010
Post: #13
22-09-2012 12:51 PM

I can vouch for Gwen too. I hope she finds work. I used to do my laundry regularly at that launderette in the early 00's when my flat mate couldn't afford a washing machine. All the staff there were lovely to me.

I agree with Akhnaten's comments about Forest Hill being a good mix of people and it would be a shame for the area if it became too homogenous. I like the down to earth yet safe feeling in Forest Hill. I have just come back from Lewisham Market and there was such a great buzz in the air. The old cliche of a melting pot doesn't even come close to describing it. I think it is good for us all to be around many cultures and class of people.

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Cellar Door


Posts: 356
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #14
22-09-2012 01:28 PM

Akhnaten Wrote:
…I dislike community forums.

The owner of the laundry may well be agreeing with your opinion, Akhnaten, after you have shared their private business on this one.

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rbmartin


Posts: 795
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #15
22-09-2012 02:02 PM

I'd like the laundrette to stay or at least move to another site in the town centre. Not everyone in FH has a washing machine, although I understand that it's standard in the majority of homes.

The gentrification that ED has had is different from our situation, we appear to encourage the chain stores we have here (WHSmith, Boots and Sainsburys) to increase footfall for the independent stores, where as our neighbours are concerned about a proposed M&S Simply Food on Lordship Lane.

A clone of ED is not what I think will revitalise FH, the main shops and the Pools, along with the help from the Portas Pilot should help regain FH's retail identity.

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #16
22-09-2012 04:04 PM

Akhnaten Wrote:
michael, you seem to have some sort of agenda as to how Forest Hill should look. I have one too. I want Forest Hill to remain the way it is, where people of all classes and backgrounds come into contact with one another.

I do have an agenda, I want to see every shop as a successful business rather than half of them closed. If you look at the number of empty shops on Dartmouth Road I can't believe anybody really wants it to remain like that.

I completely agree that we don't want Forest Hill to become an enclave for bankers and lawyers to live without being disturbed by the working classes, you will see other threads where I have welcomed the Home Accessories store in the place of Blockbusters, despite some feeling it is too down market. My agenda for Forest Hill is to have all types of businesses for all sections of our community.

The launderette is useful and is very convenient for items that will not fit in the washing machine, but it honestly doesn't need to be in the prime location on the high street. When it opened it was state of the art and a sign of gentrification, aimed at the middle classes who didn't want the drudgery of the mangle but could not afford servants. No wonder it took pride of place at the centre of Forest Hill.

I would like to see a laundrette open in another unit in the town centre, but I really would like this prime position to be something more focal to most peoples lives in the 21st century, and this is exactly what a cafe seems to be in our modern high streets and the more we get the fuller they all seem to be!

One thing I would tend to avoid discussing on a public forum is the terms of employment/termination of an identified individual within our community.

Anotherjohn,
according to http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permiss...angeofuse/ launderettes are considered sui generis - whatever this means in planning terms.

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #17
22-09-2012 04:06 PM

Very sad
Spent many times there years ago. Powder all over the floor.

Staff were always excellent.

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Anotherjohn


Posts: 347
Joined: May 2005
Post: #18
22-09-2012 04:45 PM

Michael.

Yes, there are conflicting statements re the user class -

A1 Shops Use for all or any of the following:
a) for the retail sale of goods other than hot food
b) as a post office
c) for the sale of tickets or as a travel agency
d) for the sale of sandwiches or other cold food
e) for hairdressing
f) for the direction of funerals
g) for the display of goods for sale
h) for the hiring out of domestic or personal goods or articles
i) for the washing or cleaning of clothes or fabrics on the premises
j) for the reception of goods to be washed, cleaned or repaired
k) as an internet café, where the primary purpose of the premises is to provide facilities for enabling members of the public to access the internet, where the sale, display or service to visiting members of the public.

But the SUI section includes launderettes (as if it isn't covered in i above!).

Nevertheless, as this high profile corner unit wasn't deemed prominent enough to be designated by the clever people in Lewisham's planning department as part of Forest Hill District Centre's core (!!!) they will struggle to find a legitimate reason to refuse a non-A1 use. They could bow to local pressure and refuse but it probably wouldn't stick if appealed.

I, like you and many other people, would prefer that it isn't turned into an estate agents but I think we'll have our work cut out trying to prevent it purely on the basis of the rules for non-core units. (Please correct me if I'm wrong on my assumption that the property is number 2 London Road).

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rbmartin


Posts: 795
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #19
22-09-2012 04:48 PM

The Laundrette is 2-4 London Road.

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nottinghillbilly


Posts: 457
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #20
22-09-2012 05:05 PM

useful though the launderette may be, I'm sorry to say, at the risk of getting some backlash about this-that I've always thought it a real eyesore and a great pity that such a great and prominent corner plot looks so grim!
I'm with Michael, I would love to see a great deli, organic food shop or similar take over the site, what I would HATE would be a costa, KFC,
Starbucks, or similar chain take over the space.
Heres hoping it doesnt become an estate agent, or chain coffee shop!

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