Cricks Corner: Dartmouth Park Hill ‘institution’ under threat from plans to turn cafe into home

Cricks Corner, on the junction of Dartmouth Park Hill ad Bickerton Road. Picture: Cricks Corner

Cricks Corner, on the junction of Dartmouth Park Hill ad Bickerton Road. Picture: Cricks Corner - Credit: Archant

A popular cafe in Dartmouth Park Hill faces an uncertain future after a planning application was submitted to turn the “institution” into a home.

Cricks Corner worker Henry Coombes. Picture: Cricks Corner

Cricks Corner worker Henry Coombes. Picture: Cricks Corner - Credit: Archant

The landlord of Cricks Corner, at the junction of Bickerton Road, has put proposals to Islington Council which - if approved - would pave the way for the cafe to become a two-storey house.

A decision is expected after December 6, when a public consultation ends.

Named after Albert Crick, the historic site was run as a bookshop and library in the early 1900s. It was also a newsagent before it was taken over as a cafe in 2015.

If Cricks Corner was to close, the coffee shop’s boss Tom Koszel said the community would lose an “exceptionally valuable” local business, and that he hoped to keep his cafe running for “years to come”.

“Whether our cafe or someone else’s business, the benefits brought to the majority-residential area of Dartmouth Park Hill by any viable business operating out of number 80 provides significantly more social good than the creation of two or three more rooms within a residential property,” Tom said.

The co-owner, whose lease at the site is due to expire in 2026, said he had been told the planning application was a “contigency plan” of the landlord’s if the economy took a “further drastic turn”.

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Noting a further threat to five or six full-time jobs, he added his thanks to the owner of the premises, saying: “We are very grateful for his patience and generosity this year when our business temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic.

“We oppose the application with extreme reluctance.”

Daniel Outram, from the Swain’s Lane Retail Forum, said: “Crick’s has been on this site for 108 years. It’s an institution.

“It’s a travesty that recent changes to planning law suddenly make businesses like these so vulnerable to change of use.

“If they aren’t protected we’ll end up with a city full of residential property, and dwindling neighbourhood amenities for local residents to mingle in.

“Never have high streets and local businesses needed protection more than they need it now.”

A planning statement produced by JMS Planning & Development Ltd for the landlord, Rodney Powell, said the plans would benefit the council and local area by providing a “sustainable development” that would make a “better and more efficient” use of the site.

Both JMS and Simmons Taylor Hall, the agent acting on behalf of the landlord, have not responded to this newspaper’s request for comment.

For more information about the planning application, click here.

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