A Lot of Firsts

The first job was to find a solicitor. We needed one to help us go over the lease terms and to assist in drawing up a contract. This was something neither of us had experience with, so we were unsure of how to approach it. We started our search but  some of the quotes were completely ridiculous and ate into our budget way too much. It was due to a  recommendation from a friend in the industry, that we found our man. He was reasonably priced, calm and professional. Just what we were looking for! We negotiated a contract we were happy with as we needed a change in the licence which would enable us to open as a coffee shop serving food. All shops need a licence depending on what you are doing. It used to be that A1 licenced shops could operate as a coffee shop, however there was a recent change in law, which requires an E licence - a sort of amalgamation of the previous A licences. 


This again was a first for us.

I had to Google how to put a planning design pack in place and looked at what needed to be provided to Lewisham Council. I thought naively I could do it all myself. I did study illustration after all, so making a planning pack should be easy?! I sent the first version to our planning guys who were working on behalf of our landlord. They sent it straight back saying it needed to be made by a Chartered Architect, not someone who barely scraped a pass at Art College.

Again, after we were being quoted eye watering sums of money, we asked a friend (who happens to be an amazing interior designer of coffee shops and other spaces) if she could help us out. She did and put it all together for us, charging us mates rates which was amazing of her! Planning normally takes around 4-8 weeks. I wish we started it sooner. We were now over a month of not being in our shop, waiting for the planning guys to respond which was painful, we just wanted to be in! They did eventually respond, saying we needed to provide some more info. I edited the plan slightly, gave them what they needed and eventually we got the green light - however, we now needed to wait until the 30th November before we could do anything. A planning notice had to be stuck outside the shop (which is completely regulatory) which we did not even think about the possibility of - again, exposing our inexperience.

It did however give time for the builders to come in and completely strip out all the stuff from the previous tenants. 

I'll follow this post up with one about the interior of the shop and what our plans are.

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