Pages Cheshire Street hunts for new premises over rents and business rates

Pages Cheshire Street hunts for new premises over rents and business rates

Pages is closing its Cheshire Street store in east London and is now looking for alternative premises, blaming unaffordable rents and “punitive” business rates.

The store in Shoreditch opened in May last year, and went on to hold 30 literary events with the help of Arts Council funding, including appearances by gal-dem, Deborah Levy and Sabrina Mahfouz.

But co-manager Jo Heygate, who runs the store with Eleanor Lowenthal, said high rents in the area, currently being fought against by the East End Trades Guild and the Booksellers Association, and the business rates regime had left her with little choice but to shut up shop for now.

She said: “Rather than continuing to fight these battles on Cheshire Street, we have chosen to regroup and actively look for a new space with lower rent. We will close the bookshop in its current physical space on 26th April this year.”

“We have had a hugely positive response to Pages Cheshire Street since we opened a year ago, with many people becoming emotional as they walk in,” she said. “The shop has been a destination and for many, been a safe space to browse, have conversations, for meetings of minds.”

The store will continue to offer its online subscriptions and recommend books by women, and trans and gender diverse writers via ​social media​. Its selection will also be showcased at the Radical Book Fair on 27th June.

Heygate said: ​“Our original award-winning shop, Pages of Hackney​, continues to be an important part of the community on Lower Clapton Road and beyond, and will retain its emphasis on inclusivity, marginalised voices and intersectional feminism, as well as offering a diverse events programme, such as forthcoming events​ with Niven Govinden and trans activist Juno Roche.”

In the meantime, the store is asking people to get in touch if they know of a different space to rent or share, or if an organisation would like to collaborate.

Meryl Halls, m.d. at the Booksellers Association, said: “ It is deeply concerning that business rates and high rents have been responsible, yet again, for the closure of a store that was so clearly valued by its local community. We wish the booksellers at Pages, who are incredibly hard working and creative booksellers, well in their search for new premises.”