Could SE26 follow Hastings?

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art4
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Location: sydenham

Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by art4 »

This may not need a new thread, but I couldn’t find a good place to post. For those who doubt my motivations, perhaps bear with me.

I’ve been based in Hastings, or close by St Leonards and will be mainly there for another couple of weeks. One of the parts which interest me a lot about the place are the number of independent shops, cafes, art galleries opening up and revitalised areas which may have their own quality about them before this but can be very run down.

Addiction problems are rife but this isn’t the purpose of my post to offer suggestions for this and to create solutions (if any) which shifts the dilemmas elsewhere.

Instead I am interested to understand why Hastings/ St Leonards appear to be working so well.
I think the regeneration has an organic feel, so nothing too forced. There are clusters of independent shops, or pop ups happening at the same time, in close proximity so helping matters. It provides confidence for start ups to take the risk in renting properties longer term. There is a pretty established arts community which are behind the changes. But also investors who worked out the potential a long time ago.

I live in Sydenham, so I am extremely interested in the development of the High Street in SE26.
I have enjoyed some of the pop ups but they are transient. If they worked then the business owners would be in a position to negotiate with the landlord to create an appealing proposition.

The very nature of pop ups dictates the unlikelihood of creating a cluster in the same place in the early stages. Opening up niche shops and off the beaten track does not help this and provides false hope to start ups. But there is the domino effect and I believe it was a lost opportunity not to use Jill hub as a pop up. If the product was chosen well it could have been an anchor point.

The Portas Pilot is about opening shops, using empty retail spaces, advertising them well with the aim to sustain them. Just because a pop up has happened, it does not mean that the criteria has been achieved. I think after reading about so many events, attending some that the question must be raised about the financial viability or if not this the level of time spent on projects which had no future/ benefit to the community.

My concern is we hear a long list of what has been done but are given no evaluation of the success. There are huge gaps between the promotion, promises and then what happened next.

I am aware this is not an easy task- but feel it’s important to try to prevent making Sydenham into a place which it is not.

My opinion is we don’t need any more graffiti- knowing why to turn down an ‘artistic’ opportunity or idea is useful. Rather than thinking this is cool. I’d say a choice of product, well researched, based on local opinion is far more vital- ask are the pop ups catering for this? There are 2-3 in Lower Sydenham there is hardly any footfall in these areas so why provide hope to start-up businesses? I hope they will flourish but it won’t be there.
michael
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by michael »

It is really good to hear that St Leonards is finding new and creative solutions to the problems on their high street. They were unsuccessful in their bid for Portas funding but it is well worth watching their bid video to get an idea of some of the problems they face. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQGt-NMcBzs

One of the ideas of the Portas Pilots was to act as test cases in different areas. There are lessons to learn from how others have done, and for others to learn what we have done. And there are lessons from places like St Leonards which were not successful in getting Portas funding, but have continued to develop their high street in their own way.

I suspect the definition of a pilot is that you don't get everything right, but judging the success of each initiative is important if it is to provide on-going improvement in our area and across the country.
Two years ago few people knew what a pop-up shop was. I remember when Hugh Dames first proposed the idea for Forest Hill and we had a great time in December 2010 with the pop-up shops - including using the post office as a pop-up pub.
In recent months there has been national recognition that local markets are key to developing town centres - exactly what we have done in Sydenham and Forest Hill, jumping on the bandwagon a lot earlier than many other town centres.
This week's report by Bill Grimsey will make interesting reading. Apparently one of his recommendations will be about providing more parking in the high street. And another will be about professionalising town teams to build on the work that they have done.

Art4 is right, that we cannot rest on our laurels and should not take success for granted. There is lots more to do, and lots of other good ideas floating around that need to be implemented in Sydenham, Forest Hill, and Kirkdale, just as has been happening over the last year more than ever before.

The next step are the SEE3 action groups, and I hope that Art4 and others will be able to attend:
The next Enterprise & Creative Action Group meeting is on Tuesday 10 Sept from 7.30pm to 9pm. We are calling for traders and artists to join in and share their ideas on what would add commercial value in the high street. We have a small amount of funding for areas such as workshops, shop local and signage schemes to support and improve your high street.
Personally I won't be able to attend as I have a meeting on transport issues to attend. But my opinion is that TfL style signage (particularly for Forest Hill) is important to link up the different transport, cultural, environment, shopping, and leisure provision around the town centre.
Perhaps others on the forum can let us know how this action group progresses next week.
Tim Lund
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Tim Lund »

This is going to be a bit bland, but whether it's Hastings, Sydenham or Forest Hill, it's generally individuals who make the difference, and I don't think there's any lack of individuals with good ideas round here. The background, however, is quite different, with us enjoying - if you like that sort of thing - the economic growth of London, magnified by the coming of London Overground. So prime locations for pop up shops will be out bid by estate agents, while less prime ones will have landlords looking toward residential conversion.

The crux of the problem is to persuade landlords to be more flexible and imaginative with their letting decisions. I'm baffled that the idea of a pop-up shop seems so novel - why wouldn't a landlord want someone testing the market for what businesses might work in empty premises? Well - there are some obvious answers to this, such as that pop up shop tenants will need to be managed, and this will have a cost.

I'm a bit suspicious about Bill Grimsey's report, but agree about the need for professionalising town teams. However, this raises the difficult questions of how to get professional 'town managers' - e.g. how much they would be paid, how this would depend on their performance, and who would be deciding this - Lewisham Council, the local community, or some as yet unformed group representing the interests of commercial freeholders?

Worth looking again at my post The solution for High Streets like Sydenham
Eagle
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Eagle »

I understood Hastings divided into two.

Up and coming part with rising aspirations and prices.
Down and out side where people on benefit have been shifted from London.

Not sure about St Leonards , but what would William 1st make of it now.
Hannah
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Hannah »

I think the street markets are a good thing to come to the area (whether this is from the Portas Pilot or not). I think they could sell more than just food though - the last Sydenham market had some craft and vintage stalls too

Some of the pop-up shops have looked amazing and had great merchandise but are spread so far out across Sydenham - you have to make a big detour from your usual shopping route to visit some of them. I hope the people taking them on have felt supported by the community and the town teams. I also hope it has helped them take a step towards opening more permanently in the area.

I thought the Jill space had a key position on the high street being near the station, post office & some of our fab existing shops, but the visual merchandising was disappointing and often looked more like a closing down sale. There were some beautiful things for sale but that message was lost by the display units and some of the other merchandise. It is also a shame more craft workshops, kids workshops and drop-in sessions weren't established so that the space engaged more with the community as a social hub. I am glad to see that the ice-cream parlour seems to be getting a fairly steady stream of business though.

Some of the street art is vibrant and more attractive than a dirty, shutter covered in flyers & graffiti tags. I still think Lee's 'What If' ideas are perhaps a better way to regenerate the high street and more understandable to the whole community???
leenewham
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by leenewham »

Thanks Hannah.

I have to agree with a lot of Art4's post. It's not to criticise SEE3, but councils have quotas etc and I'm sure the SEE3 team agree that the locations aren't the best.

As I have said before, what matters here is momentum and what happens now with what has started with SEE3.

Feast (which was on yesterday) in West Norwood is a fantastic street market. It's interesting that a few of the pop ups in Sydenham actually came from the Feast market in West Norwood.

I also agree about Jill, it never really worked as it could have done as a commercial enterprise.

Sydenham Roads real issue is that it never got that bad, it never had enough empty shops like a bush fire to help new shops rejuvenate and grow from the ashes and a turn around of fortune at the right time. It did in Dartmouth Road, East Dulwich, the Stables in Camden, Brixton market etc. You can't have new exciting vibrant businesses unless you have a space to fill. Empty spaces lower or stabilise rents, they are opportunities. If the only opportunities are on the fringes of the high street, that's where the more interesting business will be, but they are less likely to succeed due to location, which in turn may dissuade other likeminded businesses from opening up here.

Success follows success which is why people open up businesses like, money shops, chicken shops, convenience stores etc which are easy to do franchises in areas where there are other similar businesses. But it also works with more aspirational businesses too (see East Dulwich, which has a good balance vrs chiswick which is now totally gentrified).
Rachael
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Rachael »

I think one of the most successful things has been the efforts to revitalise the night time economy in Sydenham. The supper clubs and club nights at Zanzibar, along with events like tomorrow night's street food event, show that there is an appetite for more things to do in the evening. And I don't see why those can't continue on a pop up basis - it is a model that seems to work really well across London.

Some of the pop up shops have been more successful than others - I think the concept of the pop-up is great, though, and was worth trying. I think we should try to have pop-ups again for Christmas as part of a targeted campaign to get people to use the high street more. I agree that the Jill hub was possibly the least successful in terms of being an attractive space and drawing attention to the project, although I know people attended some fantastic events there.

As mentioned, the whole point of a 'pilot' is to see what works and what doesn't. I'm sure the experiences of all the pilot projects around the country will be assessed in due course.
art4
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by art4 »

Back in Hastings now and I will try to explore and find out what makes things work here.

Interestingly Eagle I don’t sense the divide you mention (perhaps I will!)- it feels as if there are a diverse group of people but somehow integrates. I am acutely aware though that there are groups of people here who are marginalised, CRI have a huge presence here- they are a charity helping with addiction and mental health. Probably not the most reassuring name though if you are seeking treatment- it stands for Crime Reduction Initiatives.

In terms of Sydenham- apart from seeking out the new pop ups and trying where I can to keep to the interesting independent shops- really I avoid the high street, particularly at weekends.

Personally I find there to be no hub- no community feel. Hardly surprising when good shops are intermittent. Interrupted by the £ shops, betting, chicken etc
Lee stated ‘success follows success’. It is possible that unnecessary risk factors are being created by the choice of product chosen for ‘some’ of the pop ups. I’m not criticising any business here, but I do though question the commercial insight of the team who makes the decisions.

Does the product fit?

I find myself often wondering could it be possible to open an art gallery in SE26. Before Blue Mountain this was where I considered. Really I don’t have the confidence to open somewhere there at present.

I believe for it to have a chance of working then I’d need to re think the art work. It’s retail at the end of the day- the product needs to fit the market. Currently SE26 would not be the right fit for my art business, but this is not because of lack of flexibility on my part, really has do with requiring a lot of work to source paintings, prints etc to suit the place.
I think it’s about keeping accessible, so to reflect on the location, you don’t want to move people out but at the same time need to get on the map to achieve new people visiting.

There are huge distances between the pop ups, perhaps one way to link them together and to the high street is to create mini pop ups in permanent shop windows as a way to help integrate?

It’s of potential mutual benefit to the existing trader- so to create a feeling of involvement, linking the existing traders in together, hear about their experiences and to work with SEE3.

Maybe a new forum for this could be created? I really think it is important to get out there on the high street and ask people how their shopping experience could be improved.

This should not be an imposed endeavour
Hissing Syd
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Hissing Syd »

I grew up in Hastings and Bexhill and am currently back there at least once a week. I'm glad your experience of the area is a positive one - the arts scene down there is indeed thriving and several old friends are a part of that. The old town also continues to be pretty and diverse, but (IMO) Hastings remains a very troubled area; for a long time it had the highest suicide rate in England. My parents also had various businesses there over thirty years and it was a very rare week indeed that we didn't get a call in the night to say the windows had been smashed or the shop broken into.

Which is not to say things aren't improving (they are) and that good stuff isn't happening - the Marina area has been very nicely tarted up in recent years. But I would not walk around there at night - and I feel much safer in SE26.

Speaking of Sydenham:

"Personally I find there to be no hub- no community feel. Hardly surprising when good shops are intermittent. Interrupted by the £ shops, betting, chicken etc "

Horses for courses: only yesterday I was walking down the high street and thinking how many wonderful changes have taken place in the four years I've been here. In terms of a community feel I must disagree: pretty much all the shops I regularly use (PFC, Co-op, Lidl, Billings, Kirkdale Bookshop, Musti's) tend to know my face (and in some cases my order!) and greet me with a smile. I've never had that anywhere I've lived before.

Yes, there are a lot of chicken shops etc still - and my jaw dropped when I saw the latest incarnation of horror that has entered into that eyesore next to lovely Trattoria Raffaele (now with added hairdryers!). On the whole though I'm deeply impressed at how things are looking and it's only going to get better. Even the street drinkers have moved on!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Hastings - and don't hang around the station late at night!
Maria
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Maria »

Completely agree with you, Hissing Syd: I too have come to live here from a North London area absolutely packed full of café society, art galleries, exhibition areas and fabulous restaurants (...no parks, mind), and I've amazed at how much I was missing in there that I've come to find here: exactly, a strong sense of community and a determined will to make it even richer, livelier and better.

Art4: "you don’t want to move people out but at the same time need to get on the map to achieve new people visiting" - You don't want to move people out at all, actually! What a statement to make, It takes your (well mine anyway) breath away.

Again Art4: Maybe a new forum for this could be created? . What for, I wonder? This one is more than good enough.
art4
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by art4 »

I didn’t mean move people out! Instead intended to mean: try to create the right mixture of shops in order to anchor locals more to their high street.

High quality, interesting products which have a broad appeal and creating a reason for people further afield to visit.

There are lots of basic things (except good food) which I am unable to buy in SE26.
art4
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by art4 »

What types of shops are needed in SE26?
marymck
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by marymck »

art4 wrote:What types of shops are needed in SE26?
Young people have asked for a sports gear shop and clothes shops.

Speaking for myself ...

Good clothes stores, shoe shop, somewhere I can buy nice Xmas and birthday pressies, a bar that sells cocktails and nice nibbles, Holland and Barratt, a good Chinese or Thai restaurant.

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gillyjp
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by gillyjp »

marymck wrote:
art4 wrote:What types of shops are needed in SE26?
Young people have asked for a sports gear shop and clothes shops.

Speaking for myself ...

Good clothes stores, shoe shop, somewhere I can buy nice Xmas and birthday pressies, a bar that sells cocktails and nice nibbles, Holland and Barratt, a good Chinese or Thai restaurant.

[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image
I'm sure we've played this game before but anyway I would like to see 'The Real Greek' restaurant see link below... http://www.therealgreek.com/
art4
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by art4 »

A good gift shop would be my first choice- home wares, prints or affordable art, locally made crafts, childrens toys....
Rachael
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Rachael »

My daughter, who is nearly 16, was commenting today that it would be nice to have somewhere her and her friends could meet up. A decent sized coffee shop would be good, or the new ice-cream place if they made their interior more exciting. She regular travels to Streatham to go here: http://www.creamscafe.com. If there were places like that in Sydenham, her friends would happily travel here on a Saturday afternoon. To attract them (nice teenagers who want somewhere to hang out together off the street) places need to have something unique and quirky.
Maria
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Maria »

It would be great if you would pop in the new ice cream place and said exactly that to William, the owner Rachael. Mollie and I went to talk to him some time ago and he was rather keen.

He has big dreams for his place, and he has huge space at its back: much, much further back than even the area you see. Perhaps funding is stopping him from doing what he wld love to: enlarge it, enrich it, fill it with art work, get musicians in (he is a music teacher and has loads of contacts), get more lights etc.

... a true wealth of opportunity - but at the moment if they are not careful once the weather gets colder and people will no longer go in for ice cream they may not last that long... which would be a great loss.
Rachael
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Rachael »

Maria wrote:It would be great if you would pop in the new ice cream place and said exactly that to William, the owner Rachael. Mollie and I went to talk to him some time ago and he was rather keen.

He has big dreams for his place, and he has huge space at its back: much, much further back than even the area you see. Perhaps funding is stopping him from doing what he wld love to: enlarge it, enrich it, fill it with art work, get musicians in (he is a music teacher and has loads of contacts), get more lights etc.

... a true wealth of opportunity - but at the moment if they are not careful once the weather gets colder and people will no longer go in for ice cream they may not last that long... which would be a great loss.
That's really interesting, Maria. The thing about Creams is that it operates as a franchise, which gives them a lot of clout. If I get the chance I will certainly pop in and see the owners of our ice-cream place.
Steveofsyd
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by Steveofsyd »

I would imagine that it would be good for them to invest in the super fast finer optic broadband so that he youngsters can use will-fi easily. That would help in the winter as people would stay or hours drinking coffee and "surfing"

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leenewham
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Re: Could SE26 follow Hastings?

Post by leenewham »

Hi Maria, I popped in to see William but he was a bit busy the few times I popped in.

The issue with 'shop lists' is that people often say they would like to see something but it's not what would always work or what they would use. It's often 'I like the idea of shop X' but it's not how I really shop or what I'd buy. I've seen this in high street after high street.

The issue is that people like choice. That's why shopping malls group like minded shops together. It's why supermarkets sell 20 different flavours of pasta sauce, numerous types of flavoured hummous and HP Sauce now comes in 5 varieties. That's why people go to busy shopping centres to buy stuff or shop online. Choice. It's why there are lots of similar types of shops in Crystal Palace, it's makes it a destination. People like to browse. Throw in a coffee shop or two, make the street nice and the environment attractive and make it family friendly or even better, entertaining and you have a thriving, vibrant high street.

• I like the idea of a deli, but I know I'd probably not use it, unless it was really a cafe, like Aga's Deli in Forest Hill.

• I'd probably use a children's clothes shop, but a good selection or possibly a used section would be good.

• We have lots of great clothes shops in Sydenham (they are called Charity shops), and I probably use them more than any other. But the issue is stock (The Red Cross place in First Hill is the best locally). In Crystal Palace there is a brilliant shop where people take their (good quality) clothes to and they sell them for you, for a commission. I think that could work here, if clustered with other shops.

• A nursery. What better place to have one. They drive early morning and afternoon footfall and help fill up local cafes with like minded parents who want to share stories or moan about how their kids kept them up all night and they can't find one of their shoes.

• Something creative. Especially something that has workshops in them. We are working with a gallery/creative workshop space in Brockley and it's a great idea. There are SO many creative people locally, artists, designers, illustrators. Yet we struggle to draw them out into the high street.

• More restaurants to drive the nighttime economy and give people a choice. Crystal Palace does this really well. It's a shame Harbour (insert number here) wasn't the Turkish Restaurant that would have given us something different. A thai place, Vietnamese (two hungry bees please, their food is incredible), a mexican (a good one, like the Ambriento street food, not the awful place that is now an accountants). Or how about a permanent street food market, under cover similar to Wholefoods in Kensington? I'd go.

• Food. Sydenham Road does food pretty well, but it needs more variety and now just 'cheap'. We need aspiration. I'd like somewhere that does organic. We like Wellbeing, but many of our local convenience stores and supermarkets sell EXACTLY the same thing. That's not choice. We now shop with Able and Cole, partly because it' makes cooking veggies fun and you get weird stuff and creative ways to cook it. Billings offer that with meat, why can't we do this with veggies.
• Family Friendly. I totally agree with other posters here, Sydenham Road isn't very family Friendly. But it's getting better. The Street Food evening at the Dolphin was packed, with lots of families. Businesses here are missing out on this.

Strong vibrant high streets need a mix of businesses (to cater for all incomes including aspirational), and strong clusters of similar businesses to offer the choice people crave. Basically, high streets need to learn a bit from Supermarkets and adapt. It's more difficult to adapt when you don't have many empty shops, which is part of Sydenham's problem. Hastings got really low, and that helped it rejuvenate. Same with Dartmouth Road, East Dulwich, Crystal Palace.
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