Butcher and fishmonger wanted for Swains Lane parade
Independent traders including florists and greengrocer already booked to move in
21 May, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
Work progresses on the redevelopment project in Highgate
All but two of the new units in the new Swains Lane development are set to be filled by respected independent traders six months before building work is completed.
The news comes as the Swains Lane Retail Forum, a group made up of residents and the developers Noble House, search for a fishmonger and butcher to complete the parade. The redevelopment of a 1930s shopping stretch had long been a source of controversy, with its previous owner, the Earl of Listowel, putting in various applications that aimed to demolish a row of well-used shops and replace them with a larger block.
Such projects faced widespread opposition over a 15-year period, but eventually a scheme was passed that creates shops with a row of flats above. Once the earl had secured permission, he sold it on to north London-based developers Noble House.
Architect and Swains Lane resident Julian De Metz has kept a watching brief on the project since it won planning permission in 2012 on behalf of the Save Swains Lane pressure group. He has since chaired a retail forum to work with the owners and residents to fill eight units.
He said: “We did a survey to see what people wanted. They asked for a butchers, a fishmongers, a dry cleaners, florist, deli, and greengrocer. We worked with Noble House to try to get these types of businesses interested, and we have found some very good independents who want to come in.”
As the numbers of homes being created above the parade were not seen to be enough to include any affordable housing, as part of a deal known as a section 106 agreement, Noble House and the Town Hall agreed shop sizes would be kept small to encourage a variety of independent businesses.
The New Journal has learned that a popular, independent, greengrocer, which already has an outlet nearby, has agreed terms, with the deal just waiting for a signature to be completed.
Others poised to move in include a florist, run by a woman who owns a farm and grows her own flowers, a dry cleaners, a wine shop and a deli which sells freshly-baked bagels. They will be joined by a newsagent which is currently based opposite the parade.
The forum are hoping for a butcher and fishmonger to fill the last remaining units, including a corner site, once home to hardware store Cavours.
Mr De Metz said the project showed that high streets could thrive, and added their experience of finding suitable tenants highlighted how the Town Hall could use extra powers to protect shopping areas.
He said: “There are policies over affordable housing, but we should also be looking at policies about affordable retail spaces too. It is an essential idea to help our high streets survive and thrive. If it was enforced, it would simply mean developers such as Noble House would pay less for the sites. In this case, having an ‘affordable retailer’ policy would have meant the Earl of Listowel simply made less money when he sold it on.”
Noble House director Alex Oliver praised the process of using a retail forum to find businesses.
He said: “We have worked closely with the retail forum and they have done much of the leg work. Most of the operators we have chosen came via them.”
He added that instead of paying estate agents to market the sites, operators were approached by the people who will use the shops, giving them further confidence they would do well.
He said: “It has been an unusual process and very positive. We had interest from around 80 businesses and created a good mix.” The project is likely to be completed by around November.
Work had stopped last year following the death of construction worker, Stephen Hampton, on the site.