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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Clapham's North Street Mews community under threat from property developers

The unassuming entrance to the North Street Mews in Clapham - a hive of businesses, artist studios and workshops
that is now facing  redevelopment, rent hikes, and thus in reality, destruction.
Dreamily rhapsodizing about art spaces over in SE16, I turn back to email to see that one of the last communities of small businesses, artists' studios and workshop spaces in SW4 is threatened by the malaise that has become the main theme of this blog - "gentrification",  or "social cleansing".

We're talking about North Street Mews - a hidden hive of useful creative activities right by the Wandsworth Road - North Street crossroads (that's the junction that's being chewed up by gigantic cement mixer trucks, all day long).

The 21 tenants have been told property developer HighLaw Ltd intends to "upgrade" this valuable slice of property, so close to the charms of Clapham Old Town (please please don't use that v-word here) and the even greater future charms of the glorious, jaw-dropping Nine Elms development!

You can read the North Street Mews tenants' concerns here, and sign the petition if you feel the same way I did.

The North Street Mews people say that  "All 21 units have been fully occupied for the last 20 years, allowing careers to be made, families to be supported and a strong community to be built."

They add that the developers, HighLaw Ltd,  claim the space is "underused", "isolated" and in need of "enhancing" with expensive townhouses and 'hot-desk' commercial office space. 

And that the existing tenants have not received  any "offers or assurances...to be included in the future development or to be supported in relocation".

They developers also " refuse to acknowledge that they will in fact be kicking out 21 small businesses and their staff, leading to numerous potential job losses and adverse affects on their families", they add.

"The mews is an asset to the local community which will be lost in the prospect of a redevelopment that will serve the interests of profit, those wealthy enough to buy luxury houses, and large companies who can afford commercial desk space."
They say that the development "is not a done deal - yet!" –  but it's clear a planning application will be made shortly.
So -  urgent action is going to be needed. So many good places around here have already fallen victim to this same trend.  The North Street Mews are not far from the old "Tearooms des Artistes" on the Wandsworth Road, which closed a few years back and is now waiting for new owners. 
Maybe that place was no longer a viable business, but North Street Mews clearly is - and it needs to be allowed to flourish. They're picking these places off, one by one, but only because the rest of us let them get away with it.
Check out the North Street Mews Facebook page at: facebook.com/wearenorthstreetmews
There's also an Open Studios Day on 5/6th December from 12 - 6pm. 

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