"I've had customers nearly crying": Belsize Park launderette boss "relieved" after Hampstead greengrocers pull out of plans to move into England's Lane site
PUBLISHED: 12:44 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:56 15 January 2020
The boss of a Belsize Park launderette says her "life can go back to normal" after Hampstead greengrocers Artichoke pulled out of plans to move into the property on England's Lane.
Artichoke, which has a store in Heath Lane, confirmed to the Ham&High it had withdrawn its application because, as a fellow local business, it supported the launderette and understood how important the facility was to people in the area.
"A spokesperson for the shop said: "We never had any intention of putting people out of work as that is what we are all about, a family-run business."
Celia King, 60, who runs the launderette, was delighted with the news.
She said: "These past few weeks have been an absolute nightmare for everybody, they didn't realise how many people it was affecting.
"I'm still in shock that they've pulled out, but I am so pleased and so thankful for everyone's help.
"I didn't realise there was so much help out there, how people have got so involved in it.
"I have had customers in here almost crying. It's a relief and good news all-round, especially for this street."
Before Artichoke pulled out, concerns were raised over the 150 families at nearby homeless hostel England's Lane Residence where there are no washing facilities.
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"It has all turned out well, particularly for the people from the hostel," Celia said.
"I can get on with my work now - customers are happy."
Hostel resident Ubah Ali, 32, who lives there with her son, 7, and grandmother, 84, said the news highlighted the strength of support in England's Lane for the longstanding facility.
She said: "It is very good news because we did not expect this to happen.
"We can now continue our lives as normal with one less thing to worry about. Being able to wash your clothes is a basic thing for any human being, especially for families with kids."
Despite the relief of the launderette's customers, the threat of the facility closing appears to remain, as the property is still advertised on estate agent Willmott's website for a lease of £60,000 per year.
Ubah said: "We might have to continue to fight, but for now we are enjoying the moment."
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq said: "I'm very happy to hear that the launderette has been saved for the foreseeable future.
"It serves a vital role in the local community and the manager Celia does a great job in looking after everyone who uses it."
Belsize councillor Luisa Porritt, who supported the campaign to save the launderette, said: "Artichoke's decision to withdraw its application to replace the England's Lane launderette represents a successful effort by the local community to make their voices heard.
"We hope that this gesture of good faith by the applicant leads to them being able to identify a new, more appropriate site for them to open their business."