CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Revealed: Swain’s Lane new shops line-up

Daunt Books among businesses set to move in to revamped parade

21 February, 2019

Noble House managing director Frank Montanaro: ‘At first we dreaded working with residents’

A BOOKSHOP, a family-run greengrocer, a butchers and fishmongers are among the new businesses all set to open in a Highgate shopping parade.

The row of new stores in Swain’s Lane has been the focus of a multimillion-pound redevelopment with building work set to be completed by early summer.

As part of a planning deal struck between developers Noble House and the Town Hall, a residents’ committee had to be consulted on what type of shops would be installed.

The New Journal can now reveal that Daunt Books – which has branches in South End Green, Belsize Park and also own the Owl in Kentish Town – will be opening, alongside a second branch of Primrose Hill Butchers, a family-run firm.

Bourne Fishmongers, who have a shop in Highbury Barn, will be joined by Fam Greengrocers, a popular store in Fortess Road. Roni’s Bakery, who serve up fresh bagels at their deli in Hampstead, will be joined by a new florist called Electric Daisy, and a dry cleaners.

The final unit, which is set to be signed off shortly, will be an off-licence and wine bar. Swain’s Lane Retail Forum committee member Julian De Metz said there had been a search for independent businesses who stood a chance of making a success of the street.

He said: “Noble House said to us: ‘If you can find the tenants you think will be popular, then do it.’ We have battled through planning to get here and they have understood our vision.”

The Forum sought to create a mixture of shops and looked for people with good reputations who may want to open a second business. Mr De Metz said: “We did not want them all to be start-ups and we didn’t want lots of big chains, but perhaps a business with one outlet that was doing well and had the experience. Above all, we did not want shops that would make it feel crazy, gentrified and expensive.”

He said that after many years of dispute with the former owner, the Earl of Listowel, over his plans to redevelop the parade, a happy ending was in sight. Mr De Metz said: “If we pull it off as it is now it will be a very unusually put together high street, with everything we need. It represents what the community asked for, we did a lot of surveying for views, we drew up a list and tried to follow it.”

Noble House managing director Frank Montanaro told the New Journal the company had entered into the agreement with trepidation.

He said: “At first we dreaded working with the residents. It had taken the previous owner more than nine years to get planning permission and it had been an extremely tough process. We thought, oh no, how will this work? But the guys who got on board have been great. We set down what we didn’t want – an estate agent and a bookmakers, for example – and then the Forum came up with what they wanted and started the hunt.”

How the parade used to look

He said the location and the size of the units, which would keep rents affordable, was a big draw, adding “Because of the Heath being so near, it becomes really busy. It is like a high street by a football stadium and we have kept rent levels sensible.”

Mr Montanaro said a large bathroom fittings company had offered to take on three of the units but were turned down, despite the size of the deal. He added: “We did not feel it was right for the place. Now we have seven great shops with the last one about to be finalised.”

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