Surrey Docks Farm Cafe

As most of our supporters will know, we’ve been without a cafe since January 2019. The good news is we have engaged some wonderful tenants to establish a new cafe here at the Farm. They will provide a welcoming space serving drinks, tasty cakes and delicious meals. 

However before the cafe comes back into action the tenants will need to invest and install a kitchen and we need to carry out a significant upgrade to our electrics. We need to bring a new three-phase line into the Farm to meet a modern kitchen’s needs and to keep up with the demand of our growing Farm projects. We gained quotes for this essential work from UK Power Network who will bring a supply to our boundary and from an electrician who will connect this new supply to the Farm’s Segal building and cafe.

The total cost for this work will be £34,000! The UK Power Network works alone are just under £20,000 then we have to cover their legal fees for bringing a cable under neighbouring land, as well as connecting internally.

This was not something we could afford, so we launched a donation campaign in Winter 2019 to ask our supporters for help to raise the funds. By March we’d raised an incredible £7,700 from 183 people and two organisations. Huge thanks to all who have donated and shared our campaign!

While we have been so lucky to receive grant funding to carry out our Riverfront Development, the ongoing running costs of the Farm keep increasing and without cafe rent and no room hire during the building upgrade, we were already facing a significant loss last financial year (ending March 2020). It was therefore imperative we get a cafe back on site for our visitors benefit and the financial stability of the Farm!

We spoke to UK Power Network about any charitable support towards the huge fees but they were not forth-coming. As such we took out a standby loan from our bank as a back up and we paid the UK Power Network fees in full as requested by them to get the ball-rolling and works started. We paid UK Power Network fees of just under £20,000 in January and it’s now mid-July and there’s still no progress on site! There undoubtedly will have been delays due to Covid-19 but things are still tied up on the legal side and meanwhile we’re struggling financially to survive.

As an interim we’re working towards a pop-up cafe serving takeaway options from our new Orangery in the River Room, out on to our Thames path and river gardens which will reopen in August. But we’re very concerned things will keep dragging on and we urgently need to get this work scheduled and completed so we can bring back a cafe – enabling essential rent and a new resource for our community.

We look forward to hearing from UK Power Network for a completion date for this work and invite them to get in touch with the Farm Manager, Gemma Hooper to do so:


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