Monday, February 04, 2008

Goldsmiths sets date for New Cross eviction

From last week's Mercury, 30 January 2008 (buy the hard copy if you can, it has got a two page colour spread of photos of the shops and the people):

'University Landlords call time on charming shopping parade

An iconic parade of shops looks set to be consigned to the history books. Rubbish and Nasty,Café Crema and Prangsta occupy the run-down shops at 302-314 New Cross Road.
Parade landlord Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, has told disappointed business owners to leave by March 7.

Rubbish and Nasty, an emblem of this part of Lewisham's recent fashion and music revival, is run by Sophie Soni and Ian McQuaid. The shop operates as a working installation for the pair's creative work and also sells music and second-hand clothes. Sophie said she would now quit New Cross, hoping to find a studio space in Deptford.

At the other end of the parade is specialist "costumiers" Prangsta whose selection of vintage clothing for hire attracts people from across London. Owner Melanie Wilson has been running the shop for 10 years and said she was sad to leave.She also plans to move to a Deptford studio.
She said: "The building does need attention and repairs, so we can understand that the businesses will have to move out. But it's going to be very sad for the area. I have had a lucky time here, but I think that perhaps the university wants to make it part of the campus."

Kiri Lewin and Chris Boddington have run Café Crema since 2004, becoming popular with students and lecturers with their vegetarian home cooked food, coffees and film nights.
While Sophie and Melanie will be able to move out and continue their work, Café Crema faces a tougher future. It is most closely tied to the university community and most reluctant to leave.
Kiri said: "We are emotionally attached to the area and don't want to see all our hard work go down the drain - especially if the shop just ends up being boarded up. We'd really like to be involved in plans for the future."

A spokesman for Goldsmiths said notice on the shops had been served following a fire enforcement notice. He said: "The college has been seeking an inclusive approach to the problem. In autumn 2007, we invited all of the businesses to send representatives to attend discussion meetings. We are currently looking at a number of options for addressing the building issues. We are committed to ongoing dialogue with the businesses when these have become clearer"'.

Transpontine comment: Nobody is denying that work is needed on these buildings - Cafe Crema aren't arguing that they shouldn't move out while work is carried out, they just want the option of moving back when it is completed. What is clear from this story is that Goldsmiths have no clear plans or timescale for carrying out the works, or for what they will do afterwards. I understand that there are two options being considered - one to turn the parade into student accommodation, the other to have flats upstairs but to have some kind of 'market place' downstairs, possibly with stalls selliing student work, shops and a cafe. It would certainly be another nail in the coffin of any idea of New Cross 'town centre' if Goldsmiths gets away with the former, taking a whole stretch of street frontage on the high street out of public circulation.

1 comment:

Kate said...

A quick point on this - last month Lewisham Council's press office told me that these shop fronts are original Victorian of a particularly unusual design, and they were planning to renovate them with help from a grant from English Heritage (there is a national programme to renovate historic shop fronts). Therefore Goldsmiths might find they're quite restricted in what they can do with them, planning-permission-wise.
Some of the tenants might want to check with Lewisham Council how much involvement they've had in Goldsmiths' plans for the shops, in case that puts the brakes on things ...