There are many ways of measuring how a street is doing – how many businesses fail, employment trends, and the like – but the easiest and most visible is the number of empty shops. Fourteen of the 190 or so shops & restaurants on Lavender Hill are currently empty, a 7-8% vacancy rate (though this is closer to 3% if we measure it in terms of the total retail area, as the smallest units tend to be the empty ones, and the vast Asda supermarket tends to skew the figures a bit). This is fairly healthy by national standards (across the UK the average rate was 10.1% in August 2016), and if we ignore the units that are currently part of building sites, there are only half a dozen ‘long term’ vacant units (a ~3% vacancy rate).
The following is our working notes on what is currently empty, and our speculation on why – bear in mind, of course, that this can change quite quickly…
5 Lavender Hill – very gradual ongoing development. Formerly the Cedars Pub, then Ashtar. A pub that’s been empty for some time, one of our concerns as this is in a particularly mucky and run-down state and the location is very prominent. The property seems to have changed hands a few years ago, plans have been approved for major works on the building, which also involve converting this to a modern restaurant unit with a rear terrace.
7 Lavender Hill – recently redeveloped. Formerly CutPoint barber shop. Empty, due to building work on the wider building to create a new flat at the back, and available to let at c. £17,500pa. The building work (planning application No. 2016/1252) meant the barber shop had to leave, left a sufficiently large shop to be viable. We’ve recently published an article saying how much we like the high standard of work by the builders!
15 Lavender Hill – former bookmakers – One of two units that became vacant when all of the William Hill betting shops were closed down around the country (see our article on this here). Its future is unknown.
36 Lavender Hill – recently redeveloped. A new unit, formerly Amazing Thai – the restaurant was mostly converted to a flat, and left a rather-too-small shop in the remaining part of the unit. We’re not supportive of this type of project unless it leaves a big enough shop to be viable. With luck it will find use as a small office, like the Zebra Property Group next door.
53 Lavender Hill – soon to become the new home of Signtair. One of the longest enduring vacancies in the Borough. Has had occasional use as a pop up art gallery, giving us the decorated shop fronts on the next door unit (pictured). Plans went in some time back to create a flat at the back, and refit the front sections; it also has planning permission (never implemented) to be used as a restaurant, as it could have a front terrace. We understand Signtair will soon be relocating here from their current premises on the opposite side of the road.
71 Lavender Hill (pictured above) – recently rebuilt, currently to let. Formerly AJ Fairlee pharmacy, but long vacant. The last ‘properly’ abandoned and unmodernised shop, this was in an exceptionally poor condition with broken windows on the upstairs flats, vast quantities of debris in the interior, and a partially collapsed floor. The entire property has been rebuilt to a high standard, behind a retained front facade, to create flats and a new two storey shop unit with lots of light in the basement level. The shop is currently ‘to let’.
131 Lavender Hill (pictured right) – opening soon as the new Olive & Barr kitchen showroom. This was one of three former branches of William Hill on Lavender Hill, which had been trading for decades but closed when they closed almost all their UK shops. Unlike the one at 15 Lavender Hill, the landlord here has been very proactive and completely refitted the unit, to make sure it is ready to go (our photo to the right). .
133 Lavender Hill – Restaurant closed down. Licensed unit with a long history of Italian restaurant use, most recently Ciao Martina. A good unit in good condition.
178 Lavender Hill – Restaurant closed down. This very briefly traded as Mrs Le’s Bahn Mi (and before that, for rather longer, as Salisbury’s Fish & Chips) – this unit is currently occupied by squatters and seems to be in rather poor shape.
205 Lavender Hill – reopening soon as TaxAssist accountancy services. A good corner unit that has mostly been an estate agent over the years – was then a branch of Ryness for five years. Work is underway to prepare it for its new use.