A LORRY drivers' tea hut is the only fly in the ointment in a 50 year multi-million pound improvement plan for Blackheath.

Residents' group Blackheath Society has been trying for 30 years to move Blackheath Tea Hut from its current location as it says it is an eyesore and traffic hazard.

The group has been unable to move the 24-hour cafe as Lewisham Council refuses to stop leasing the land.

So the Blackheath Joint Working Party (BJWP), representing residents and Greenwich and Lewisham councils, plans to remove parking around the tea hut effectively closing it.

But owners Peter Gore and Cathy Murphy are not giving up their business without a fight.

Mrs Murphy collected 850 signatures over two days in favour of the tea hut staying where it is.

She said: "There are a few residents with a lot of power who have been trying to close us down for 30 years. We are the last place lorry drivers can stop on their way into London and we have lots of groups who use the tea hut as a meeting point.

"The claim the tea hut is a traffic hazard is just being used to try to shut us down by people who don't like us."

A tea hut has been situated at the corner of Shooters Hill and Goffers Road since at least 1971 but records of a refreshment station on the site go back to the time of Henry VIII.

Local historian and BJWP member Neil Rhind said: "Blackheath was recently decreed a World Heritage Site and it seems a pity the squalor of the tea hut is there to blight it."

Blackheath Tea Hut is charged rates by Lewisham Council both as a mobile vendor and as a fixed-premise vendor.

BJWP consists of residents' groups, Greenwich Council, Lewi- sham Council, English Heritage and Royal Parks Agency.

Plans which cover a number of issues and look set to cost £2m for the next 50 years in Blackheath are available for public consultation at libraries until May 7.

April 14, 2003 19:01