There are some definite builders in there now, with a skip full of junk and old plaster outside. Curious passers-by can now peer inside the previously boarded-up shopfront. So we may (touch wood) finally be seeing the building back in business.

I’ve always wondered who owns the assorted empty shops on Lavender Hill. Some are “To Let” and awaiting a new occupier, and presumably will once the economy gets back together – nothing unusual about that. But a surprising number have been empty for as long as I’ve lived here, despite the flats above being in use, with no apparent effort to let them or sign of life inside. For example the long-closed “A J Fairlee” a few doors up, or the one with the green tiles that looks like it was (long ago) a butchers shop.

Previously, empty shops and business premises were essentially tax free and could be an investment – but as far as I’m aware following changes a couple of years back they now pay full rates after about six months. Indeed there was a flurry of lettings on the street after this change was announced.

So someone’s paying business rates for these perfectly serviceable empty shops – but for whatever reason, not seeking any tenants(even short term ones) to cover their costs. Seems a strange approach to take – one can only assume they are owned by property holdings so large that they don’t realise they own them or are paying for them?