Planning applications validated by EDDC week for beginning 8 Feb

New breed of local food halls in UK towns offer grub and a hub

Ideas for the post-Covid future – Owl

Food halls were springing up in town and city centres before the pandemic but now smaller community versions, with an extra dimension such as a cinema screen or co-working space, could be arriving on a high street near you.

Zoe Wood

There is potential for up to 120 of these community food halls across the UK, a new report has found, as big shifts in consumer spending and attitudes caused by the coronavirus pandemic – including a newfound appreciation of local community – prompt investors to consider piling in.

“These community hubs will give people pride in their town centres again,” said Thomas Rose, a co-founder of the real estate consultancy P-Three, of a new generation of food halls. “This move towards being a loyal supporter of your high street is not going to go away.

“We have spoken to a handful of private equity groups who are looking to invest in this type of concept because they see the consumer wants this,” Rose said. “Local authorities love the concept too.”

There are around 40 food halls in the UK, from flagship venues such as Seven Dials Market in central London to smaller ones in market towns.

Maba street food venue at the The Cutlery Works in Sheffield.

Maba street food venue at the The Cutlery Works in Sheffield. Photograph: Cutlery Works

While P-Three’s analysis also sees scope for a further 50 flagships to open in cities such as Glasgow, Birmingham and Bristol once the pandemic is over, the community model offers something for smaller catchments, hard hit by retail closures but where more money is now being spent.

A former Poundland store in Lewisham, south London, is now Catford Mews, where locals can eat or watch a film or comedy gig. Another example is Cutlery Works in Sheffield where a food hall now fills a former cutlery factory.

When Catford Mews opened in 2019, Preston Benson, the managing director of Really Local Group which is behind the venue, said locals’ jaws were “hitting the floor”.

“They were saying: ‘Oh my God I can’t believe there’s something like this where I live,’” said Benson. “Everyone deserves to have nice, convenient things where they live.”

The Catford Mews entertainment venue

Inside Catford Mews Photograph: Catford Mews

Really Local Group’s other projects include turning the site of a former Blockbuster shop on Sidcup high street in south-east London into Storyhouse, a complex with a cafe, cinema and library. “This is gonna be an all-singing, all-dancing community hub,” said Benson.

Urban regeneration has historically been retail-led, but with high streets battered by a crisis that has led to household names such as Topshop and Debenhams collapsing and online sales rocketing, no one thinks more shopping is the answer any more.

“The danger in real estate is that people are too often just trying to fill space,” said Rose, who says community food halls could provide alternative anchors. “We advise people to put the right tenants in the right buildings, to make sure it is sustainable.

“There will definitely be some stores which can be converted [into food halls] but a 1970s department store isn’t always the best building.”

In Darlington, County Durham, which lost two landmark stores from its main shopping thoroughfare when Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser closed, the historic indoor market is being overhauled to create a food hall, bar, events stage and temperate garden.

Despite the shadow of Covid-19, Dan Warne, a former managing director of Deliveroo, whose first venue Shelter Hall in Brighton opened in the summer, has raised significant new capital as investors recognise “clear trends in the market”.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in people wanting to support local and ensure the businesses they love survive,” said Warne. “Our food halls give an opportunity for small food businesses to expand without the usual risk of finding a premises.”

With more people regularly working from home, community food halls with an average size of around 12,500 square feet are “modest but effective” redevelopments, with the potential to draw sustainable visitor numbers in urban neighbourhoods or towns of more than 50,000 people, P-Three’s report found.

“The regular footfall and spend will act as a catalyst for local regeneration as well as adding value to neighbouring properties making the proposition particularly attractive to both private and public sector landowners and investors,” said Rose.

Sheffield’s Cutlery Works demonstrates the strength of the community model, as it has been a success despite being located in a place that is neither central nor affluent. “If food halls are based on location, location, location, we picked the worst one,” jokes the founder Matt Bigland of the area once inhabited by the city’s cutlery-makers.

The Boozehound craft beer bar at the Cutlery Works in Sheffield, a food hall placed in a former cutlery foundry and works.

The Boozehound craft beer bar at the Cutlery Works in Sheffield, a food hall placed in a former cutlery foundry and works. Photograph: Handout

But Sheffield people “love to champion independents”, says Bigland and instead of office workers and shoppers, Cutlery Works has built a regular clientele that runs the gamut from millennial hot-deskers to grandparents.

He thinks that after the pandemic “food halls are going to come back stronger than ever. I think people have a pent-up energy to get back out and be sociable.”

Coronavirus: Case rates in Devon and Cornwall

Here are the latest rates of cases of Covid-19 in Devon and Cornwall.

BBC News

The figures are the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to and including 15 February, with the week before shown in brackets for comparison.

The breakdown of the figures by local authority area is:

  • Cornwall – 47 (down from 82.5)
  • Plymouth – 44.6 (down from 64.5)
  • Exeter – 73.8 (up from 37.3)
  • Mid Devon – 60.7 (down from 145.8)
  • East Devon – 63.6 (up from 58.8)
  • Torbay – 88.1 (down from 106.4)
  • Teignbridge – 47.7 (down from 78.3)
  • South Hams – 23 (down from 50.6)
  • West Devon – 19.7 (down from 37.6)
  • North Devon – 22.6 (down from 26.8)
  • Torridge – 14.6 (down from 16.1)

For comparison, the figure for England is 133.2

For a more detailed look at coronavirus where you live, use the BBC’s postcode checker: [see online article]

Better Education for Devon Event Will Listen to Public Views – Wednesday

A Devon education “listening” event will take place on Wednesday 24th February, organised by Cllr Su Aves (St Sidwells and St James) of Devon’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee with Hannah Packham, the National Education Union (NEU)’s Regional Secretary. The discussion will bring together Devon teachers, school staff, parents, students and everyone with an interest in education to focus on priorities and aspirations for the county, both during and after the COVID pandemic.

After brief introductions from the panel, participants will be asked to break out into smaller groups by area of interest to focus on their biggest concerns, and the questions they would like answered from Westminster policymakers. Topics will include primary, secondary, further education and universities, as well as Special Education Needs, and protecting the pre-school sector.

Cllr Su Aves says “We really want as many parents, teachers, governors and other residents to come so we can make sure the whole diversity of Devon educational experiences and ideas form part of our policy understanding. As well hoping to create opportunities for positive changes in Devon, we will be communicating the key findings to Shadow Secretary for Education, Kate Green, at a public event we are putting together for Wednesday 17th March.”

Event panellist Cllr Rob Hannaford (Exwick and St Thomas), who is Chair of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, added, “COVID has flagged all kinds of issues for Devon, including major inequalities between different families’ home experiences, between schools, social development, and exam results. Teachers, parents and students have dealt heroically with home-schooling, in some cases under unimaginable strain. Our job in Children’s Scrutiny is to build awareness, shine a light on what’s working well and sort out what’s going wrong, and this is an opportunity for us to do more, in more parts of Devon.”

“Equal access to education, the broken assessment and accountability system, cuts and escalating workloads are ongoing priorities for the NEU,” says Hannah Packham, “After COVID-19 we also need reform of our assessment and exams systems to make them fit for the future.”

Devon residents are invited to register at the following link for the event, which will be hosted by Devon Labour.

Education secretary snubs Devon

Too busy feeding his Tarantula ro respond? – Owl

Daniel Clark, 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has failed to respond to Devon’s calls to him to encourage schools to capture the voice of children and young people and their responses to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Devon County Council in October voted for a motion to write to the secretary of state to encourage him to ensure that schools allow students to see themselves reflected and reflect on how they challenge persisting racist ideas.

But four months later, the council heard that Mr Williamson hadn’t responded to the letter, let alone enacted any of the requests made.

Cllr James McInnes, cabinet member for education, said that it was very disappointing that a response from the secretary of state has not been received, but regardless of this, in Devon they have moved forward the educational aspects that they can influence.

Cllr Claire Wright said: “Does the cabinet member think it is acceptable for ministers to ignore Devon County Council on such an important subject, and given that racist hate crime had increased and the minister has ignored the motion, will you continue to press for the answer on this issue?”

Cllr McInnes replied: “It is disappointing that a response from the secretary of state has not been received but regardless of this in Devon we have moved forward the educational aspects in line with the motion agreed at council. We have already contacted the department for a reply and a reminder, so it is important we do get a reply.

“But we need to look at what we are doing in Devon and we are being proactive and taking it seriously.

“In addition to the work already in place before the council meeting, education teams and schools have been developing their curriculum to challenge historic and persisting racist ideas & celebrate the diversity in Devon, increasing awareness and sensitivity to what racism looks like in Devon and how we can all challenge racism and ensuring that race equality policies are shared (and updated) regularly by schools, parents, children.

“We have also been appealing to school’s pragmatic motives and their principled motives and equipping all young people with an appropriate education, free from racist myths and to provide a safe and affirming educational experience for minority ethnic pupils.

“Additionally, we have eight bi-lingual support workers who have been incredibly active during the lockdown, supporting children and families and providing support in accessing the curriculum and even the school itself.”

In the letter sent to Gavin Williamson secretary of state for education, Cllr McInnes, on behalf of the council, had said: “The point of my letter is to ask you if the Government will also take action nationally and urge schools to capture the voice of children and young people and their responses to the Black Lives Matter movement, ensure that the school environment and curriculum allows all students to see themselves reflected and included and reflect on how they challenge historic and persisting racist ideas and how they celebrate diversity.

“My council believes these actions would certainly help to develop a more understanding and inclusive society that promotes racial equality for everyone.”