853 exclusive: The Blackheath Society has said it would support the reinstatement of the heath’s famous tea hut, which was destroyed last week in a car crash.
Two people were taken to hospital after a driver ploughed into the hut, which has been a local fixture for decades, serving drivers, bikers and passers-by around the clock. One staff member was rescued by bikers after being trapped underneath a tea urn, hot plate and fridge.
News of last Tuesday’s collision brought a surge of sympathy from far and wide, with two online fundraisers having together raised £6,500 so far for the staff and owners of the hut.
The Blackheath Society had long been associated with opposition to the hut, with its president Neil Rhind quoted in 2003 as calling the hut a “blight” on the heath.
However, the society’s current leadership has made clear it would support rebuilding the Blackheath Tea Hut. It said it would discuss the issue with other residents’ groups and local councillors next week.
The heath straddles Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs, with the hut just on the Lewisham side of the border. Lewisham Council said last week that a new hut would need planning permission, while one of the area’s local councillors, Kevin Bonavia, told 853 that he would also support reinstating the hut. A Greenwich councillor, Geoff Brighty, has suggested moving it to a disused toilet block on the other side of Shooters Hill Road, moving it into the neighbouring borough.
The society emphasised that the notion that it was opposed to the hut was “obviously outdated”.
It said in a statement given to 853: “The Blackheath Society was sorry to hear the news about the tea hut. We look forward to seeing plans to rebuild the tea hut that we are able to support and would welcome any proposals that will ensure its safe future development. To this end we will take an active and positive role in discussions on the issue at the next Blackheath Joint Working Party meeting on January 21.
“The future of the tea hut obviously depends on a number of factors, including the wishes of the owner, and we note that a Lewisham Council spokesperson has said it would require planning permission for the tea hut to be rebuilt on its current site. Another possibility might be for it to move to a site nearby, but that would require the full cooperation of Lewisham and Greenwich councils.
“The tea hut has an iconic status in Blackheath. The society also continues to be concerned about the health of all those injured in the January 7 accident and wishes all involved a speedy recovery.”
6.10pm update: A fundraising screening of Tea Time, a film about the tea hut, will take place at Mycenae House in Blackheath on Wednesday 29 January.
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