I've been a resident of Shad Thames for 20years since I was in my early 20s and have become saddened at the decay of the area. It is as if time has stood still in the area from the glory days of the late 1990s/2000s.
Retail space after retail space has gone to waste. Design Museum, Valentina, Bengal Clipper, Ask and Pizza Express not reopened yet. The buildings are also looking dated and worn both inside and out. A building I know well Cinnamon Wharf is looking tired with the same furniture in the entrance as there was 20yrs ago, yet managing agents still happy to collect anywhere between 4 and 10k a year from its residents for service charges.
You could say the area is in a unique location by tower bridge but where is the innovation outside Legare and Watchhouse. Its as though the area is content to be a tourist trap, but the reality of it is a slow deathly spiral for business and residents there. I walked down Bermondsey Street this evening. its beautiful with the innovation in restaurants, bars, cafes, even the whole London Bridge train station area has been uplifted, so why hasn't Shad Thames. There is litter everywhere, broken paving stones on the front, weeds growing where Ask is located.
Surely someone has to wake up and smell the coffee before its too late for the area. There are so many spaces that can be let. Don't be greedy, let people try and succeed especially given the uncertain times we live in for businesses.
I completely agree I find it really sad to see the area looking so tired and I sadly believe itís got a lot to do with residents that have lived here for A long time and donít seem to like change they are all moaning about The Watch House and the same with Legare having a few outside tables itís ridiculous. We should be embracing new restaurants and coffee shops. I love the area but it does need some attention.
It's a very tough place for independent businesses to thrive because of the rents and behaviour of the landlords, for example the freeholder of the Circle tried to get rid of the corner shop and replace it with yet another office.
A few years back there used to be a really good Italian deli on Queen Elizabeth St and they closed up when their rent review went through the roof.
Unfortunately I can't see a restauranteur taking on what was Bengal Clipper or Valentina unless the landlord cuts a great deal on the rent as the premises are both vast. Surely they'd rather have some rent rather than no rent for 2 years or however long it's been?
When ever I go down there I think how vibrant it is! The Bengal had gone dramatically down hill for years and was a shadow of its former self by the time it shut. Valentina - canít comment as didnít go but did think hmm another Italian when bermondsey seems full of great ones. The design museum isnít that becuSe Zaha Hadid suddenly died? I liked the little Thai that was on the back street but that was very quiet and shut which was a shame but new places have come in. Pizza express looks like itís in trouble nationally. Iíve heard from the chemist that there is one resident who makes their life hellish- sounded like rich miserable people with too much time on their hands! And then there are all the restaurants now by the bridge that seem busy. Personally Shad Thames is not top of list for my concerns nor pizza express
There's been some extreme NIMBYism in Shad Thames that has contributed towards this decline, as Billy1 alludes to. Look at the difficulties The Watch House have faced getting permission to be able to first cook brunch on site and second change an awning. No wonder La Lanterna and Tentazoni shut up shop, and the decline has continued since.
I'm not sure that Shad Thames is 'dying' (or at least it's no worse than many other locations). Granted, restaurants have been struggling, but no more than elsewhere.
- For residents, ST is essentially a dormitory, and they will generally work and usually do their leisure activities elsewhere. Mostly it's about getting a good night's sleep, and anything which interferes with this goal is going to face a backlash.
- The resident population is quite transitory, with a high % of let flats. So, I would suggest that there is relatively little political pressure to improve the area. There is a perception that the area has been seen historically as a bit of a cash-cow by landlords (rents) and Southwark council (council tax & business rates).
- Considering location, ST overall does not get much footfall - witness the struggle to let the units within 'Courage Yard'. No restaurant away from the cobbled area has ever succeeded.
- the other areas mentioned above have either have had a lot of money spent recently (e.g. London Bridge station, Tooley St), or are slightly hipper with lower rents & rate-able values (e.g. Bermondsey St.).
- ST is arguably ill-served by the set of staid big-brand restaurants and bars along the riverfront. Not only is the area definitely NOT hip, but the combination of turning pissed-up ch*vs onto the streets in the small hours and deliveries/rubbish collections at 6am is guaranteed to antagonise local residents.