Starting on a positive note, the Half Moon Hotel re-opened on 20th March. Fullers, the new tenant, have not only done a great job in enhancing the building’s historic features, their range of food and drink means that it is full every evening - and the 12 bedrooms upstairs, named after the astronauts who have walked on the moon, are booked solid for several months ahead.
Moving on to the Crown and Greyhound, in the last issue of the Journal I reported that it would re-open in April - how wrong I was! But the good news is that Mitchells and Butler took over the building just after Easter and fitting out work is finally underway. The projected ‘soft’ opening date for both the pub and the hotel is now 16th June.
No one locally thinks the Crown and Greyhound project has been a success - it’s nearly three years since the pub closed and the impact on footfall for the shop keepers at the north end of the Village has been substantial. There is also now growing concern that the redevelopment of the S G Smith workshop site (now called the ‘Gilkes’) will be delayed and cause even greater loss of business. Political uncertainty has impacted on the housing market and there is a growing fear that the site might be left vacant for a while.
It now transpires that the site is not owned by McCullogh Homes but by Moat Housing Association, a major social housing provider. It was known that Moat were going to take over the affordable housing part of the development but it was not realised until recently that they were also the site owners. McCullogh Homes have worked with them on other developments so the arrangement is not unusual, but what is a worry is the delay in starting work. At a recent meeting of the monitoring committee of local residents set up by local MP, Helen Hayes, and Village Ward Councillor Jane Lyons, the planning officer dealing with the project reported that he had made it clear to the developers that they should engage in a constructive dialogue with local stakeholders, particular the nearby schools - something they have not done in any meaningful way. McCullogh originally said that they were likely to start work this summer, then in September, but it would appear that the earliest they can now start is next year as they have yet to submit any detailed approval applications to the Council. The most important of these is the Construction Management Plan which will set out the site access routes and the times when lorries can go into the site.
Lack of footfall in local shops is also a problem at the Park Hall/Croxted Road shops in West Dulwich. This will be exacerbated by the recent announcement that the local Lloyds Bank branch is to close, possibly as early as July. Over the last few years the local traders have been working hard to build up trade with the famers’ market, the regular fairs and the ‘Love West Dulwich’ competition. The closure of the bank would be a real loss to the area.
The potential loss of local services is further illustrated by the Royal Mail’s plans to close the local sorting offices in East Dulwich and West Norwood. Luckily the Alleyn Park sorting office appears to be secure, for now, but the thought of having to go to Camberwell and Anerley to pick up undelivered post is not a happy one, especially if you do not have a car.
Footfall is not a problem that East Dulwich has and members will read elsewhere of the sad demise of the East Dulwich Society. The Dulwich Society has agreed to expand its remit in the area - one which has not been properly represented at the Dulwich Community Council for many years.