Shops to let

Hi, everyone!

My name is Nair and I am a chef living in Forest Hill. I was thinking about opening my own (very small) business in the area and I was wondering if anyone knows any space to rent that could be used as a cafe/restaurant.

Many, many thanks.

There’s a tiny unit opposite the old coop but there’s already a number of cafes and food outlets there. What sort of food do you specialise in? That area only has typical greasy spoon cafe or fast food places.

Unit right by the station near KFH. Used to sell pancakes

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Dartmouth road opposite crossing next to hairdressers (station end)
And the old Barclays Bank site is amazing though not very small Id love to see it put to good use.

There are some opposite the Honor Oak Pub too.

There’s also the timetunnel oppositeish sylvan posts that’s just gone vacant and also the old bra shop opposite boots

There is some unit shops down near waldram park road. standstead road

Unfortunately, it’s not just a vacant shop that you need, it’s one with A3 use and, as far as I’m aware, none of the shops suggested have that usage.
You could apply for a change of user class, which would also require consent from the landlord, but I think you’ll struggle to get it because of local government policy restrictions, not to mention landlords not wanting hot food premises.
Have you thought of testing your product in a street market? (Aga’s Litlle Deli started like that).


There are premises on Kirkdale that might be suitable. As @Anotherjohn says, depending on the amount of cooking you’re doing you may need change of use approval from Lewisham Planning. But that shouldn’t be too hard and depends on whether you’re cooking on the premises. Eg a sandwich shop can trade from A1 retail premises, as long as they’re only reheating on the premises, not cooking from scratch. Fig & Pistachio cafe for example traded quite happily on A1 without change of use. And even if you do require change of use then on very small (below 150sqm) you don’t need full planning permission, just prior approval from the council.

This is a complicated way of saying don’t worry too much about the change of use process - it’s sortable and there’s plenty of advice available.

Saigon Cafe at 138 Kirkdale must have recently gone through (or are maybe still going through?) the change of use process, so maybe contact them for advice?

Saigon Cafe have the added complication that they are in a Grade II Listed building so they will need additional consents (something Waffle Station didn’t do for the huge exterior flue they installed).

But there are plenty of premises on Kirkdale that don’t have Listed building restrictions. And Kirkdale High Street is quite a foodie hub and that sort of clustering is good for trade.

Here are some possibilities …

The former Fig & Pistachio cafe premises at 101 Kirkdale. Lewisham has recently refused permission for a nail bar. I don’t think anyone objected to the change of use, but the owner had made a big mistake on the type of approval applied for. He may come back again with that one, but if the nail bar people have gone elsewhere then that premises might be suitable for you. Icy Cakes have just opened a few doors away and as they’re not cooking on the premises they didn’t need change of use.

On the corner of Fransfield Grove and Kirkdale is a former Thai restaurant that has been boarded up for 18 years! That is the perfect site for a restaurant or cafe/bar. It’s in a prominent location with a lot of passing trade and a big wide pavement for extra tables.

If that’s too big then there are three other vacant shops in that parade that might be suitable.

Good luck.


I strongly second AnotherJohn’s idea of a market or similar to validate your idea and product without taking on the heavy cost and risk of a lease.

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Did you mean station side of Perry Vale? There is also an amazing pizza and pasta place - Piazza dela Cucina with a great beer garden at the rear… and Sfizio which serves an Italian version of tapas.

Also, have you thought about doing pop ups? Maybe at a local pub or wine bar or event? Kirkdale’s 161 Food + Drink sometimes host pop ups. And I think I’m right in saying that the All Inn One pub no longer use their kitchen, so they may be interested in some sort of joint venture?

Then there are plenty of pubs that don’t do food but I wish did. The Bricklayer’s Arms and Fox’s (Foxes? The old Fox & Hounds as was) for example.

What sort of food do you do?


All Inn One no longer has a kitchen - it was removed a while ago.

Gosh, I’m quite overwhelm with all your feedback! Thank you so much for all the interest and suggestions.
Do to the amount of cooking that I’m planning to do I will definitely need an A3 license, as @Anotherjohn pointed out. And I understand the difficulties allied to a permit change scenario. Thanks @marymck for throwing a better light into it.

I also will need to develop my marketing skills as it is difficult for me to categorise my type of cooking… it’s from scratch, fresh, seasonal, with a modern approach, big focus on flavour.

Street markets were a possibility, but I’ve realised that to be able to accomplish my goals i will need a space (even if quite small) of my own.

Pop ups are a possibility while the right place doesn’t come up.

But everything is still quite fresh, very early steps.

Thanks to all for your help. I already started checking some suggested places!



Hi Nair
I’m glad everyones’ comments are giving you food (sorry, pun) for thought.
As usual, @marymck has come up with some positive and encouraging ideas and information, which I’m sure will help you.
I should have elaborated on my comment about local A1-A3 restrictions. As my shops are all on Dartmouth Road, which is part of the Conservation Area under an Article 4 Direction, they are governed by different rules and Permitted Development rights don’t apply the same as they do elsewhere in the town.
Have a look on Gumtree and Movehut and just go into places and chat to people to let them know what you’re looking to do - and hopefully you’ll strike a chord with someone.
I hope something happens for you.

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I was drawing a line just below the pizza place. I didn’t realise it had a decent garden so thanks for heads up.

It really is very nice. Parts of it are covered so lovely in summer when the weather is a bit poor. Also an outdoor bar.

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I never knew this was a thing! Have to pay them a visit now - thanks.

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There’s also an A3 space on Stanstead Road, SE23