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Ferrier Estate off-licence down to £5 profit a day
HOW much money can you make running a shop on an abandoned housing estate which is being demolished around you?
The answer, according to Mohan and Kuldip Plaha who run the Ferrier Estate off-licence in Telemann Square, is just £5. On a good day.
And they say their hope for financial relief from a new shop in the redevelopment’s temporary ‘village centre’off Tudway Road has taken a blow – with plans for a supermarket just yards away.
While businesses like the chip shop, butchers and dry cleaner packed up and left, Mr Plaha said he was encouraged by Greenwich Council to stay put, providing a service to old and new residents.
But he said: “We didn’t anticipate it would take so long for them to rebuild the estate again.
“We originally thought it would be complete by this year - that we’d just have to hang on until now.”
Currently, their only customers are the occasional construction worker and they rely on their son, a pharmacist, for financial support.
Mr Plaha, who has run the shop for 30 years, said: “If we’re lucky we get £5 a day. No one’s buying anything. All the shelves are empty.”
They used to sell a range of household products from detergents to sandwiches but these were discontinued as customers plummeted.
Their chip and pin machine sits below the almost empty shelves - unused for two years.
Plans have been submitted for a temporary ‘village centre’ for the Kidbrooke regeneration, which the estate’s few remaining businesses can move to for five years before they get a permanent shop in the new estate.
But Mr Plaha was dismayed when he saw the plans included a supermarket. Meanwhile, his planned new unit was almost half the size of his current one.
According to the terms of their lease, the shop is the only one on the Ferrier allowed to sell alcohol, something he fears a supermarket could threaten.
He said: “It’s a 1,000 square metre supermarket right opposite the station. They never mentioned it before.
“It feels like they’re squeezing us out.
“We’ll just be the same situation but in a brand new unit.”
He said: “I’m 61 this year. I can’t just go somewhere else and set up a business.”
THERE is now just the off-licence, a chemist, doctor and dentist left in Telemann Square.
Mr Plaha said they had all been told their temporary new shops would be ready last November. But the date was pushed back to January and has just been delayed again until July.
In the meantime there has been no discussion about rents for the shops, leading to increasing frustration and a sense of isolation.
Chemist Padma Patel said: “I’ve been here 36 years and I don’t want to change.
“I think when we move round there, we’ll be more visible to people.
“We just need to know when we’ll be moving.”
A spokesman for Greenwich Council said: "The council has been in contact with businesses based on the site for the duration of the project, including the owners of the off-licence, working with them and offering the opportunity for them to remain in the area during the demolition and build process if they wish to do so.
"The off-licence owners have indicated to the council that they wish to move to a new temporary 'hub' which is being set up to allow businesses to continue to trade during the build phase of the permanent retail and community factilities.
"There has been a lot of contact between ourselves and the off-licence owners, including numerous face to face visits to try to ensure their needs are met, and this continues to be the case."