A replacement for the Blackheath Tea Hut, which was destroyed in a traffic collision on Tuesday night, would need planning permission before it could be built, Lewisham Council has said.
Two people were taken to hospital after the driver of a Mercedes ploughed into the hut, which has served locals, drivers and bikers around the clock for decades.
The hut’s owner has reportedly vowed to rebuild the structure, which had to be torn down after the crash severed its connections to gas and electricity. Two fundraisers have together raised nearly £5,000 for the team behind the cafe.
Today’s Evening Standard reports that bikers had to rescue one of the café’s workers after she became trapped under a tea urn with boiling water, a hot plate and a fridge.
Lewisham Council told 853 that it would need to approve plans to rebuild the landmark, which is reported to have stood for 96 years, and that it would be happy to discuss the issue soon.
“A replacement tea hut would require planning permission. We’d welcome early discussions about any proposed replacement facility,” a spokesperson said.
Kevin Bonavia, one of the Lewisham councillors representing Blackheath, said he was saddened by the loss of the hut, said he would support a new cafe.
He told 853: “The Blackheath Tea Hut has been a local landmark for generations and has often been a welcome respite at all hours of the day for me and so many others in our area. Personally I will support efforts to rebuild the hut as soon as possible.”
Bonavia is chair of the Blackheath Joint Working Party (BJWP), which advises Lewisham and Greenwich councils on the management of the heath. The heath straddles both boroughs and the hut sits on the border of the two, facing the entrance to Greenwich Park.
In 2003, the group had proposed tightening parking restrictions around the hut, which would have put it out of business.
Bonavia added: “The Blackheath Joint Working Party has in the past considered concerns about road safety and damage to the land around the hut from vehicles and so I hope that any new design can help with those issues.”
The Blackheath Society, which sits on the working party, had been associated with opposition to the tea hut since the 1970s. In 2003, local historian Neil Rhind, now the society’s president, was quoted by the News Shopper as saying: “Blackheath was recently decreed a world heritage site and it seems a pity the squalor of the tea hut is there to blight it.”
Rhind’s opposition to the hut became so well-known, on his 80th birthday he was given a cake shaped like the tea hut.
Yesterday, the Blackheath Society told 853 that the 2003 News Shopper story was “obviously outdated”, and that it would be discussing the tea hut at its committee meeting next week.
“The tea hut has iconic status and the society is obviously very sad that it happened. Our thoughts are with those people who were injured,” its press officer John Bartram said.
On social media, one Greenwich councillor made a cheeky attempt to get the hut moved across the borough boundary. Geoff Brighty, a Conservative councillor for the adjacent Blackheath with Westcombe ward, tweeted that the café could move to the disused toilet block opposite, which Greenwich Council has been trying to sell.
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