Vauxhall residents have launched an online petition to save a popular café from closure.
On November 9, Bonnington Community Centre and Café announced via Facebook it was being threatened with closure and a petition was swiftly launched to stop the café’s closure has gained over 3,500 signatures.
The Bonnington Centre, a community resource for residents in Vauxhall, was set up in the 1980s and has a long-standing reputation in the area.
Speaking on the online petition page, Hampstead resident Peter Camilleri said: “I have known the Bonnington Café since the 1980s and it is the beating heart of the most unique and inspiring square in London.
“The café must be kept as a community run initiative and not be changed into just another commercial food outlet.”
In a statement, Bonnington Centre and Café said: “A small fraction of our management committee has shown a shocking lack of consideration for the community.
“We refuse to acknowledge the legality of this decision.
“We feel that such serious decision must only be taken after proper consultation with a wider local community in an open general meeting with full disclosure and transparency.
“We are in the process of receiving legal advice, having meetings and negotiations. The Bonnington Cafe and Centre is staying open for the time being.”
Londoner Dil Green suggested it might be worth launching a bid for control of the space.
He said: “This sort of thing happens too often – places born out of struggle, solidarity, love and goodwill turn out to be vulnerable to greedy people because the underlying legal structure is weak and based on assuming that no-one will get involved who doesn’t have goodwill.”
Fellow London resident Jess Currie said: “It sounds like the evil jaws of gentrification.”
Britons from across the nation have risen to the café’s defence, and Mark Bennett from Stockton, North Yorkshire said: “I have been going to the Bonnington gardens café since 1995 – it is one of London’s greatest purveyors of community fellowship and migratory pit stops.”
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Council’s planning department said they had received no requests for new developments on the site.
Lambeth Council’s building control department said they had no information regarding the case.
A spokeswoman said: “We would only be notified if works were approved by planning and would visit site during construction to ensure the said works were in compliance with the building regulations.”
The Bonnington Centre and Community Association did not respond to a request for comment.
With thanks to Bob Walker via Flickr for the image.