As residents of Herne Hill since 1987 and working in the Bath Factory Estate for the last 20 years we feel it is important that the existing nature of the Bath Factory Estate be clarified. It would appear that there has been a certain amount of misinformation concerning the area, as highlighted at the recent consultation in the Baptist Church on April 19th 2017.
The many small and entrepreneurial businesses currently occupying the site range from mechanics to craftspeople, artists, artisans, community led groups and initiatives. Indeed there is a strong communal sense here, with 'businesses' often interacting and sharing skills and expertise on singular projects.
Our business is not traditional in the sense of being retail or indeed standardised commercial, we are artists, Members of The Royal British Society of Sculptors and Chelsea Arts Club, therefore requiring a suitable studio in which to create our work. The nature of our practice does not sit alongside residential density or retail establishments but our longevity in the unit speaks for itself and the acceptance and generosity of the area. Our unit backs onto the gardens along Stradella Road and faces the back gardens of Croxted Road.
There are currently only two unoccupied units on the site, however enquiries about unit space availability are frequent as more and more sites of this nature have been 'developed' and many small concerns have lost their premises. Most of these enquiries have been from members of the artistic community.
We are all aware that the estate and the parade of retail units on Norwood Road requires investment as they have been sorely neglected by Dulwich Estates, Network Rail and May Investments Ltd [who hold the lease to the arch units] however this should not encourage or necessitate demolition or extensive redevelopment. There are valid concerns about refuse collection and fly-tipping, which is a constant issue. These concerns have solutions at a local level and should not be presented as a reason for redevelopment.
A regeneration involving residential accommodation on the upper floors of a newly created run of retail units along Norwood Road would have a most detrimental effect on accessibility for current businesses many of whom, including ourselves, work 7 days a week.
This is one of the last areas of diverse and creative small enterprises and as such should be valued, encouraged and viewed not as a pariah but rather as a tremendous community asset.