Many new-build developments in recent years have seen commercial space and planned shop units lie empty for years after completion. The phenomenon is widespread across London and seen in many parts of the capital.
What normally happens after a few years is the developer then submits plans to convert commercial space to residential. And now there’s another example in Deptford as empty space on Creek Road sees an application to convert into 10 flats.
The block in question this time was constructed almost 10 years ago. The commercial units are set back and on a separate level to the street on a raised platform. This means units would miss some passing footfall.
Is there no demand for new build commercial units or are rents too high? It’s normally a bit of both. There’s no doubt though that spaces that should be at the heart of new developments and bring residents together are not being used as such.
It’s enlightening to visit many bustling continental cities and witnessing the many functioning and varied commercial units at the base of flats, and not only in the centre of town.
You can’t move in many Madrid or Barcelona streets, to give two examples, without seeing many family owned cafes and independent shops. They serve as crucial meeting places for local residents.
I always fear increasing rents will kill off these places which bring so much life and enjoyment to those great cities, and many others. Many commercial spaces in the London would be occupied, and offer greater choice, if rents and rates weren’t so expensive. And cheaper rents and rates would mean lower costs too of course increasing the chances of places surviving.
Creek Road is far from the only example in the locality. Other failures to let commercial space in the immediate area include New Capital Quay, as covered here, and River Gardens.
Maybe one day more legal protection will be offered to these kinds of spaces and stricter rules on ensuring affordable rent for retail units when planning approval is given. Until then expect many more to lie empty for years.
The planning reference is 18/0876/F