Council’s two-year block on new Cafe at The Mound

The council has been blocking a potential new Cafe on the Coldharbour estate for the past two years, it has emerged, as local Conservatives continue their ‘Mend The Mound’ campaign for the regeneration of the local shops. 

A local couple who have 25 years' experience running cafes and eating establishments have been trying for the last two years to secure a lease to open up a Cafe at Number 8, The Mound – premises which the council has allowed to stand empty for several years. Despite the couple's best efforts, however, the process has dragged on without resolution. The council eventually sent the prospective tenants a lease to sign, but only after Coldharbour Conservatives handed in their Mend The Mound petition calling for action on empty premises at a recent council meeting.

The local couple in question, who live in New Eltham, have plans for a cafe providing breakfast and lunch – which is exactly what a large number of residents have told the team they think The Mound needs at street stalls and surgeries. The lease has now been signed but a ‘change of use’ still needs to be secured for the premises to allow the cafe to open up.

The Conservative team on the Coldharbour have taken the issue up and have tabled a written question at next week’s council meeting, calling on the council to bring about a swift resolution to the issue so that the cafe can open up as soon as possible.

Cllr John Hills said: “It is staggering that the council has been dragging its feet on this for two whole years – and that it has been acting in such a secretive manner. It seems that it took our Mend The Mound petition to get the council to take any action on this at all. We now need a firm commitment from the council that the cafe will be allowed to open up as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Mandy Brinkhurst added: “A cafe is just what the Coldharbour needs. It will bring more business to all of the shops, and provide a meeting point that the whole community can use.”

Council candidate Matt Hartley, who helped organise our Mend The Mound petition last year, said: “The council has serious questions to answer here. Why has it taken our Mend The Mound campaign to get them to take action on empty premises when this cafe could have opened nearly two years ago? The council needs to give a clear timetable for when the cafe will be allowed to open up – and a firm guarantee that it will start taking the problem of empty premises seriously.”

Local Conservatives' Mend The Mound campaign secured its first victory in February, with a commitment from the council to improve lighting around the shops.  However, the council has so far refused to lower business rates to attract new businesses to fill empty premises, or to take action on locally-monitored CCTV.  

Residents and users of the shops can sign the Mend The Mound petition in support of the campaign's aims at http://www.your-councillor.com/chne/petitions/ and also support the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MendTheMound