If the station car park closes, what happens to the farmers market?

UPDATE: Please see the bottom of this post for an update from Kevin.

From Blackheath Village Residents Group via an email from Kevin Bonavia:

Lease on Station Car Park Will Not Be Renewed

The Council’s lease on Blackheath Station car park has come to an end and Network Rail, the owners of the car park, do not intend to renew it. It is understood that Network Rail want to operate their own business from the site and although they are not saying what this is they have said that they intend to retain some sort of car parking facility. Network Rail also have a commitment to the arrangements that have been agreed for the Olympics.

More on their site. Being vigorously tweeted about by Kevin Bonavia and Heidi Alexander. No comment from Nick Raynsford, who is probably talking about housing somewhere. There are other issues Nick.

Hope they can get something sorted here. Otherwise Network Rail will may try to develop the car park, as they have done in other parts of the south east.

UPDATE: Better link to the mess of redevelopment at Epsom station that I was thinking of: Controversial Epsom Station regeneration given the green light from 2010

UPDATE: Here’s a reply from Kevin Bonavia:

Here’s an update following a number of enquiries to Network Rail about their intentions and to Council officers about Council policy towards use of the site.

Network Rail (via their property department) have informed our MP, Heidi Alexander:

“I would like to confirm that the Blackheath Station Car Park will remain in its current use once the lease with Lewisham Council comes to an end. It will however be necessary for there to be restrictions during the Olympic period due to Blackheath being a designated station for transport to the Olympic Park.”

So far so good. I understand that Network Rail will shortly be meeting Lewisham’s Director of Property to discuss more details, and I have asked for more information about potential changes to the operation of the car park, such as parking charges and any effect on the farmers’ market.

In the meantime, the Council’s approach to the use of the car park is very clear. In 2005, the Council undertook a survey of sites that could potentially be used for more housing as part of Lewisham’s obligations under the London Plan. In the case of the Blackheath Station car park, Network Rail submitted that the site would be suitable for high density housing with a decked car park. The Council, however, decided not to place the site on the list for potential new housing stating:

“Although this site is close to a rail station and therefore in a highly sustainable location it was considered that in this case the preservation or enhancement of the Conservation Area at Blackheath took precedence. It was considered that a development of this density and pattern would not conform to the historic pattern of development within the area and would form an intrusive element that could not preserve or enhance its character. The loss of the car park additionally would not preserve the village character of the Blackheath Conservation Area by removing the Farmer’s market site, and the possibility of parking in the centre of the village.”

Network Rail should be aware of this, but it’s worth reminding them in case there’s a change of heart…


Filed under blackheath, food, politics

46 responses to “If the station car park closes, what happens to the farmers market?

  1. Classic PC headline!! Shouldn’t the question be “If the station car park closes, what happens to the cars?”!!

    That car park is always banged out. I would be more concerned about where the (largely season ticket holders) will be parking up! Plus the inconvenience caused to the car parkers will far outweigh someone’s ability to buy highly priced organic lamb chops etc.

    But this aside, the lack of notice about this major change to the centre of Blackheath is astounding. The lease has already ended!! How can this have happened??

    • It isn’t PC. It’s implicit in the headline that a car park contains cars. There’s nothing politically correct about worrying about the farmers market. It’s pretty much the only way of getting good quality fresh veg near that area that doesn’t cost a fortune. See this.

      • ThePirateKing

        To be fair BB there is an excellent old fashioned green grocer at Blackheath Standard (opposite the library) and – as it’s not in the middle of Blackheath Village – at quite reasonable prices too.

      • Anonymous

        The Blackheath Farmers’ Market is just about the most environmentally unfriendly way of shopping I know. Small quantities of produce are shipped halfway across the country to be bought in small quantities by people who mostly drive to the market.

        The long overdue hike in prices, and 24h charging will at least make people think twice about using their car for short journeys, and end the ludicrous situation where winebars had a financial advantage over daytime traders whose customers have had to pay for parking.

      • Compared to tomatoes flown in from Spain at the local supermarket?

    • Anom

      I think you have all missed the point, the car park stays, the market stays and everyone should be happy. You can’t blame Network Rail for wanting to operate the car park on a commercial basis, god only knows why the council never did. As for the season tickets holders, well no wonder they are moaning, they only pay £2.07 per day (based a=on Mon – Fri, no weekend parking and 20 holidays). Come on everybody, it is £15 per day which is the equivalent of a season ticket at more than £3,000 per annum.
      You need to move with the times and stop adopting the attitude of the village green, I am certainly happy that Network Rail are taking on the operation of the car park, at least they might spend some money on it.

  2. Mo

    That is awful news. Not only for the market but also for the village. I mean it’s hard enough to get a space – not to mention expensive but at least there is a car park! If people are driven away it will destroy Blackheath

    I assume Network rail will want to build apartments & get Tesco’s there & drastically reduce parking spaces. The usual shoddy “mixed use” nonsense. Something that will make them money quickly. No long term thinking about protecting the area. Instant profit is all that matters to these souless organisations.

    And God knows we cannot rely on Lewisham (or Greenwich) councils to protect the interests of the area.

    blackheathbugle – “There’s nothing politically correct about worrying about the farmers market.”

    Couldn’t agree more! Nothing “PC” about supporting local/family run businesses over big corporations whose only motif is profit.

  3. Ed

    What ! How can this happen ? How will non local people shop in Blackheath ?! The car park is an essential part of any place and not an optional extra . Got to think long term !

    • Mo

      I doubt Network Rail care about the long term. They don’t care about a small blot in South East London. They will be thinking how they can make serious money. Leasing such a prime spot for a car park is, I assume, not the way to make serious money. More apartments (stick in a few affordable ones to keep the Council happy) is the likely aim. The apatments will have designated parking. They could be worth a fortune – superb location.
      I assume there will be retail space that will only be affordable to the chains. Sadly the visitors & the local shops will not be on Network Rails radar.

      Speaking as someone who drives into Blackheath every weekend I am painfully aware of how hard it is to park on a Sunday. And without that car park I can’t think where we’d all park. And if the Market is no longer there – what’s the point on a visit every Sunday?

  4. scared of chives

    Of course a home can/will be found for the Farmers’ Market.

    And hooray if it means people use their stinking polluting cars less. As long as there’s a ‘drop-off’ for disabled/elderly people to get to the station it’ll be fine.

  5. I think people should be encouraged to walk or use public transport when coming to Blackheath and in that respect closing the car park is not a bad thing. However, more flats right in the centre of the village is not the way forward.

    • ThePirateKing

      If that area ever stopped being a car park then I’m sure it would be built on. My point is that if you want to keep that land free from new flats then keeping it as a car park is easily your best bet I would have thought.

  6. Mark Etherington

    We’ve already given up driving to Blackheath. Crossing the A2 is never much fun, and finding a parking space can be infuriating. A walk through the top of Greenwich Park and across the heath is so much more enjoyable and healthy and less stressful so it’s what we always do now, even with our three-year-old. If you’re tired or buy too much there’s always the bus to get you home.
    So fewer car parking spaces doesn’t bother me. But replacing the area used by the farmers’ market with shoddy flats, private parking spaces and generic chain stores – ugh. It would be yet another example of how to take a special corner of London and homogenise it into the rest of the whole. I doubt much can be done to stop it though…

  7. Digitalgoldfish

    Can we have our Waitrose now?

  8. John G

    Can Blackheath Society buy it off Network Rail so to keep it a car part? They could charge for parking to get some revenue? 205 car parking spaces x £10 a day = £2,050 a day. x 365 = £748,250 a year. Could the finances work?

    • scared of chives

      Not a bad idea – Blackheath Society may then hold a pop concert on the site…oh..

    • Bob Land

      Probably not. I wonder how much a square foot the ground there is worth .

      The Property Developers are already rubbing their hands together.

      A project like this, in the middle of the Village, a once in a lifetime venture.

  9. This is a disaster, if it happens. I know lots of people are anti car and anti what they see as twee over-priced food. But I’m not, I rely on the farmers market and Brockley Market, two days of proper food.

  10. Mo

    Loving the anti car lobby. Wonder how many of them live within walking distance of the village? It’s easy not to care about the evil car park if you don’t need to use it.

    Personally I could take a bus but I do that every working day of the week and I am not on a direct bus route. 15m walk to a direct bus. And frankly it’s the weekend and I want to relax and I don’t wish to cart home several bottles of juice & veg on the bus!

    Bashing car drivers is ignoring the bigger picture – these people drive into the Village and spend money. Where will they go if the parking disappears?

    As for the developers. Yes they’ll want to rip out the heart of the village for a quick buck. But it’s all a knock on effect. No parking, no market, less trade, less buzz and Blackheath looses it’s vibe. Then it’s not such an attractive place to live. But what the hell – the developers have made their money!

    • scared of chives

      I reckon 90% of customers of the Sunday Farmers’ Market don’t drive in…and the market is on a…er…car park. Perhaps the BB should do a poll on it.

      I might ‘need’ to visit Harrods – but I’d never expect to be able to park 10 metres away. Set up your own market so you don’t need to drive to it.

  11. Ed

    We need posters up in the village to let everyone know ! Where is the Blackheath society ! Help ! We need to keep the car park for the future of the village .

    • ThePirateKing

      To be fair to the Blackheath Society, they emailed their members (of which I am one) about this on 8th Dec. As it was a public mass mailing I see no reason not to paste it here. This is what it said:

      Dear Member,

      For your background information we have been advised by Lewisham Council that their lease on Blackheath Station car park has come to an end and that Network Rail, the owners of the car park, do not intend to renew it. It is understood that Network Rail want to operate their own business from the site and that a car parking facility will be retained. Network Rail also have a commitment to the arrangements that have been agreed for the Olympics. The Council hopes to remain in occupation until February 2012. In the meantime no further parking permits are being sold.

      We will, of course, be seeking further information, working together with our Ward Councillors and M.P., and will keep members advised.

      Kind regards

      Wendy Shelton

  12. john garcia

    It would be interesting to know who exactly uses the car park. My suspicion is that it is a mix of local businesses and commuters both of whom arrive early and park all day . It’s always been difficult to find a space after 9am.

  13. Mo has explained it clearly enough, but some are still not getting her point.

    For people who live outside the village and its immediate environs, the most important thing about the closure of the car park is the lack of car parking spaces it will create.

    I understand that people in the immediate vicinity will miss the farmers market, but it can be relocated. Try and look at the bigger picture and don’t be ‘Little Villagers’.

    Can you not accept that there are people who drive to Blackheath? Can you not accept that the vast majority will not drive to Blackheath if the car park closes? Can you not accept that laudable concepts of a bracing walk across the Heath with kids in tow is not appealing to all?

    At the end of the day, it’s no skin off my nose. I’m over 50 with a heart condition. I live in Charlton and nip into Blackheath Village quite a bit and spend some hard-earned wedge there. If the car park goes, I will nip in less often. I won’t be the only one.

    Sorry, but that’s reality. If ever the Blackheath Society was needed it is now. You have to try and stop this. If the car park goes, maybe you won’t miss me and Mo, but multiply us by several hundred and it won’t be good for the Village.

    I’m still astounded there has been no forewarning about this.

    Best of luck.

  14. Kevin, I’ve added your comments to the post itself. Thanks for the update.

  15. Anonymous

    Quite simply this will kill Blackheath. It’s all very well saying people should use public transport, but for a lot of people that simply isn’t practical. Families with children (we do often get the bus to Blackheath with our little one, and it can be quite a nightmare, if you have a buggy you can’t always get on the bus!), the elderly, the disabled, those with no direct route on public transport. Yes Blackheath will alays have it’s villagers, but without people coming in from the surrounding areas and spending money, the local businesses will struggle to survive, and many will go out of business, and that is the stark reality of what will happen. It’s simply crazy that Blackheath’s main car park should go

  16. The first we heard of these rumours was when Kevin turned up on Sunday.
    I’ve just emailed Kevin to let him know that the market is NOT under threat. We’ve spoken to Network Rail who are delighted to have the market continue. I have a meeting with them onsite in January. Please can you make this public.

  17. Kevin Bonavia

    Further update: I’ve now spoken with London Farmers’ Markets (who manage Blackheath’s market) – they have been in discussions with Network Rail who have confirmed that the farmers’ market will continue after the end of the Council’s lease. The exact terms will of course need to be agreed between both sides, but that is very good news for traders and shoppers.

  18. Michelle O'Brien

    @Kevin Bonavia
    ” … Network Rail … have confirmed that the farmers’ market will continue after the end of the Council’s lease …”


    But for how long? A few weeks? A few months? Or permanently?

  19. Michelle O'Brien

    On a slightly different tack, if one wanted to be provocative it could be argued that Blackheath Farmers’ Market works to the detriment of some local Blackheath businesses, though not on the scale of the supermarkets.

    As far as I know, none of the stalls at the Farmers’ Market is owned by local Blackheath businesses or individuals.

    The Farmers’ Market sells fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish, meat, cheese, milk, poultry, game, bread, cakes, salad and other stuff.

    But then so do several businesses with shop premises in Blackheath (who unlike the Farmers’ Market folk have to pay business rates on their premises). I imagine some local shops must be feeling the pressure from the success of the Farmers’ Market.

    • Bob Land

      Looking at it in a cynical way, I expect that Network Rail, will allow the Market to continue ( whilst negotiating with the Property Developers, behind closed doors) and then start levying hefty charges on the Market Traders, which will then ensure that they quietly disappear, and then building can commence.

      In one of the previous posts, it said that Network Rail , stated that the Market could continue, but they apparently did not mention the Car Park.

      I wonder how it will all pan out ?

    • Equally, the farmers’ market provides a reason to bring people to the village, from which the local shops will also benefit.

  20. Michelle O'Brien

    “Equally, the farmers’ market provides a reason to bring people to the village, from which the local shops will also benefit.”


    But that I wouldn’t have thought is going to help the Village Flower Shop or Hortus or Fenners greengrocers or John Charles the butchers or the newly opened Coquillage fishmongers, to name five shops in Blackheath Village.

    Twenty pounds spent in the Farmers’ Market on a Sunday inevitably has to be £20 not spent in any of those five.

    And don’t forget there are also greengrocery and butchers shops very nearby at Blackheath Standard and Lee Green.

    I like the Blackheath Farmers’ Market, please don’t get me wrong. But some local Blackheath businesses with traditional shop premises to maintain and business rates to pay must I feel sure be suffering at least to some degree from the competition from the Farmers’ Market stalls in these times of economic belt-tightening.

    • Kate B

      Blackheath Standard is not nearby if you are on the Lewisham side of Blackheath, and it’s often very difficult to park there too. Is there a good independent greengrocers or butchers in Lee Green? I thought Sainsbury’s had flattened all the competition there. I’d like to shop more frequently in the Village, but end up in Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s simply because I can park there. I live about twenty minutes walk, no bus, from the Village, which is fine when it’s fine and not if it’s raining or windy and one has a lot of shopping to do.

      • Michelle O'Brien

        @Kate B
        “…Is there a good independent greengrocers or butchers in Lee Green?…”


        I don’t know if you’d think they’re “good”, Kate, but there’s an independent vegetable shop in Lee Green on Burnt Ash Road directly opposite Sainsbury’s and there’s an independent butchers opposite the Iceland shop in the Lee Green shopping precinct. The vegetable shop is worth a visit just to meet the lady who works there in her fabulous African dress.

  21. Leaving the pros and cons of car drivers/chain stores aside, Isn’t the solution (should the land use get changes there) about 50 yards away in the car park in Blackheath Grove opposite the Post Office? Or is that not viable?

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