Ceramic Painting Shop in Nelson Road

Paul Cunningham writes:

Just look at Nelson Rd. For what should be a show piece of Greenwich Town Centre its is looking awful. Another shop has closed and in the dark nights it s quite a dismal place.

And my part in it. Well I have been trying to open a ceramic painting shop where the offer is creativity on unglazed ceramics with colours. I’ve had a lease conditional on a planning application since 2006!

The problem is I can’t get LB Greenwich to give me a decision on the type of shop it should be. Its not that I don’t like the decision its that I can’t get one with a change of use planning application that been with them for six months!! They are hung up that it might be a cafe because you can have cup of tea or coffee and a juice for the kids. I need help. To try and get this matter moving and resolved I have started an online petition

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?PaulC just to urge them to give me a decision!

The Phantom replies:

This is an interesting one. Yesterday when you sent me this, I assumed that it was part of the ‘regeneration’ (read “chain store revolution”) that seems to be lined up for Nelson Road, but I’m beginning to think that it’s not as simple as that. I think it’s the whole future of a shop unit, probably beyond the life of your store.

It is true that we have an inordinate amount of cafes in Greenwich already, and I can see that change-of-use could be seen as a precedent – if, for example, you opened your pottery shop and found that you made more cash just selling teas, it would then be a cafe in perpetuity – even if you sold it on. Presumably this is what the council’s bothered about.

But that’s no reason to keep you hanging on like this. They should make a decision – even if it’s only a firm “no” – so you can get on with your life and set up shop elsewhere.

There are a couple of things I could see being a possible compromise if you can possibly get the council to talk (unlikely I know, but worth a shot.) I wonder if there could be some kind of “temporary” change of use licence – perhaps for the duration of the lease of the shop, to be reviewed at the end of a set period. If the council felt your shop was less pottery-painting and more coffee-drinking, they could kick up a fuss. If your business was thriving as a pottery paintery then it would get a permanent licence or another long-term ‘temporary’ change.

You could agree not to sell a certain amount of beverages or more than three different kinds of cake or something, or keep the amount of permanent cooking facilities to a kettle and a sink.

Or maybe the change of use could be granted to YOU, not the shop – so that if you moved, the change of use would not stay with the shop?

But perhaps I’m being naive. Maybe it’s easier for the council to sit on the fence. Have you tried contacting your councillor?

If all else fails, what about considering other places? Ceramic-painting shops are destination stores, not depending on footfall. The ones I’ve seen in Brighton, for example, seem to be stuck down side-streets and still do a roaring trade. Trafalgar Road is beginning to get some interesting shops down it and as the amount of new builds increases, hopefully the area will continue to expand and trendify. The rents are cheaper too, and the choice of unit is wide indeed. I’d suggest taking a look there.

I wish you luck trying to get a decision from the council, one way or another, so you can get on with your life and your business…

I forgot to mention that Paul’s website is http://www.biscuit-biscuit.com/

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