Friday, 31 December 2010

Delightful Deptford and glorious Greenwich

If one of your new year resolutions is to take more exercise, or just to get out in your local area a bit more, you might like to join the local Ramblers Association for this walk on 2 January which is part of the RA's Winter Walks festival. (It's actually called Glorious Greenwich and delightful Deptford but I took the liberty of rearranging the title to reflect the true status of the two areas despite what it says in the blurb ;-))


"Greenwich might be a World Heritage Site but its less glamorous neighbour has much to discover including one of the most outstanding London churches and a curious link to a Russian tsar. Start the year by finding out more about them both on this enticing stroll, also part of the Ramblers Festival of Winter Walks. 6.5km/4 miles, 2-2½ hours.."

The 4-mile walk starts at 10.30am on Sunday 2 January, meet at the Cutty Sark DLR station. Full details are here.

Thanks to Luke for the tip-off.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

New Cross underpass refurbishment

Darryl over at 853 has already posted some rather nice photos of the refurbished New Cross underpass but I thought it was worth a few more pictures and a short critical appraisal.

From the user's perspective, any refurbishment of this dreary link would have been welcome - it was dirty and uninspiring even if it wasn't really long or dark enough to be particularly threatening.

The entrance to the underpass has been improved at both sides - on the Deptford side with new trees, paving, a planted edging and decorative steel fencing panels, and on the New Cross side by improved paving and a direct link across to Fordham Park.



The architects have managed to include some rather artistic steel panels as part of the new lighting design through the underpass itself - the cut-out floral design is similar to those used as fencing on the Deptford approach and they are supported by steel piping units which have the main lights set into them.


I am slightly dubious as to how resistant to vandalism these panels and lighting units will prove - even after being in place for a very short time, a couple of the tubular lighting units were wrapped in hessian (perhaps broken?) and one of the lights behind the decorative panels was not working. The working versions of these lights change colour and give the underpass a very pleasant visual ambience at night time - quite an improvement on the previous set-up.

Fordham Park

There's been a lot of landscaping going on in north Deptford over the last year or so, and work on Fordham Park is now almost finished. I had a nosey around just before christmas to try and get an idea of what it's going to be like when complete.

The old park had some nice trees and a big grassed area in the middle, with a few paths skirting around the outside, but the railings that surrounded it meant access was restricted to just a few gates and there was little to entice anyone to linger unless they were playing ball games on the central area.

With the railings gone and more paths criss-crossing the park, permeability is considerably improved for pedestrians and cyclists. The hard paving is particularly good news for people passing through the park, especially in the winter months; the rest of the paths are gravelled. Access for cyclists is hugely improved, with the link through the underpass now going directly across the road and into the park, instead of having to do a dog-leg down the road to a different entrance. There is also a choice of routes using the improved paths through the park.


Although there is still a grassed area in the middle of the park for football and so on, there are also a number of other play areas which should attract other users. Next to the Moonshot Centre is a paved area for ball games and a couple of rather sturdy looking concrete table tennis tables with steel nets. Large stone block seating, the same as that used in Margaret McMillan Park, is in evidence in places, along with additional park bench seating.


At the far end of the park a children's play area is under construction (although I am not sure how long some of the pieces of equipment will last, they look rather alarmingly flimsy) and there are also a few of those carved wooden 'totems' that are also in Margaret McMillan Park. New humps and bumps have been added in the landscape to create a bit more visual interest, and it seems that most of the existing trees have been retained.

My only criticism (apart from the length of time it seems to have taken to do the actual work) is the ugliness of the lighting columns (you can see them along the left side of the first picture). On paper I'm sure they looked quite classic - a streamlined design with the lighting element set flush into the column itself. Unfortunately in practice they just look rather lumpy and grey and I suspect they may have been the victim of a bit of 'value engineering'; I'm sure that's not quite what the architects had in mind.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Deptford christmas festival


video
Myself and the Geezer had fun at the Deptford christmas festival on Saturday; luckily we were unburdened by the usual shopping bags so we amused ourselves dodging the remote-controlled wheelie bins Sid and Nancy, taking a free ride on one of the cycle rickshaws and then peaking with a whirl on the big wheel. Please excuse the rather naff music on the first clip - I put it on to mask the screaming (not us) and sarcastic commentary (us).


video
(This one comes with real sound and a little bit of cackling at the end. Again not us!)

It was rather grey and my photos were crap so I won't inflict them on you here. I recommend you hop over to Darryl's blog where he's got some rather nice pictures especially of the Deptford Wheel at night and particularly of the new underpass to Fordham Park.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Things to do in Deptford this weekend

Apologies for the intermittent service of late; various family matters have required the Dame's attention and will undoubtedly continue to do so over the next few weeks.

Hopefully I'll find time to get out and about in Deptford this weekend though - there's plenty going on and if the weather keeps fine, it could be a great opportunity for exploring all those other parts of Deptford you've always meant to seek out.

I'm particularly looking forward to trying out a free ride on the big wheel that is apparently going to be up and running in Margaret McMillan park on Saturday from 10-7, it's always interesting to see familiar places from a different angle.

Get your bike checked over for free at the bicycle maintenance stand on Douglas Way between 11 and 3 on Saturday, where apparently you can also experience a 'smoothie bike'. I've kindly done the Googling for you on this one - apparently it's a pedal-powered blender which allows you to get some exercise and then ingest a few of your 'five a day' afterwards.

As well as free bike-powered rickshaws for getting between New Cross and Deptford market, there will be information stalls where you can find out about local walking and cycling initiatives.

You might be sensing a theme by now - and indeed you'd be right. Many of the activities are intended to promote the improvements that have been made on cycle and pedestrian links between New Cross and Deptford.

A kids' christmas tree decorations workshop in Giffin Square from 1.30 to 3pm will be followed by the christmas tree lights being switched on from the Albany Theatre. And if it's music you're looking for then there will be some oompah in Giffin Square around lunchtime from a brass band.

Stroll a bit further to Tanners Hill and you wil find an 'artisan market', morris dancing barbeque, mulled wine and music from 11 - 6.


Meanwhile there's an exhibition of photography by Anita Strasser taking place at St Nicholas Church in Deptford Green. Billed as 'A photographic and textual journey into life on Deptford High Street' it runs from 7-21 December and is open Tue/Wed/Fri 9am-1pm; Sat 10am-3pm.

If it's evening entertainment you are after, how about a traditional Christmas panto? The Bear Church is proud to present...

A Lad in Deptford; Join Aladdin on a magical carpet ride to the best pie shop in town

Saturday 11 Dec 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 12 Dec 2.30pm

At The Shaftesbury Christian Centre, Frankham Street, Deptford, London, SE8 4RN
Tickets are FREE by must be reserved in advance via info@thebear.tv or calling
020 8692 6480

The Bear Church’s much loved panto returns with a reworking of the classic
Aladdin story, set firmly in SE8. With a cast of adults and young people from
the local area and a hilarious original script by local writer Tracy Jones, the
production will delight children and grown-ups alike.


The cast includes the customary pantomime dame (WELL REALLY!), hero, princess and villain as well as a monkey, Loch Ness monster and two genies.
Before each show refreshments and gifts will be on sale with all proceeds going towards the Church youth’s trip to Uganda to work with children orphaned by conflict and HIV/Aids.


Not interested in Christmas? Celebrate the winter solstice instead at the Twinkle Park Winter Festival on Saturday in this small-but-perfectly-formed park tucked down at the end of Watergate Street. There's free lantern-making workshops at the Charlotte Turner Centre from 10.30 to 12.30, you can help out with some pond clearing from 12-1 in the park, and at 3pm gather for a lantern procession through the streets followed by food and entertainment till about 6.
(Thanks to Anon in the comments for tipping me off about this one!)

And finally if all that is a bit too pedestrian for you, why not pop down to our local tattoo shop Kids Love Ink and get yourself a free tattoo?! The tattoo studio moved premises recently - albeit only a couple of doors closer to the station - and is having a grand reopening this weekend, offering free tattoos from a number of standard designs to customers on a first come, first served basis. The only thing to remember is that you need to bring one of the flyers along that staff have been distributing around Deptford and New Cross over the last few weeks. Donations are invited and will be going to charities Lewisham Autism Support and ME Research UK.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Popping up all over the place

With 'pop ups' trending all over the place, Deptford and surrounds is not immune.

Old favourite Cockpit Arts open studios takes place on 3-5 December - Friday (11am-9pm) entry is free, it's £3 on Saturday and Sunday (11am-6pm). Not wanting to miss out on the trend, they are hosting a pop up cafe (although to be fair they've had the pop up cafe at their open studios for years..!)

To coincide with this regular event and turn it into a Deptford-wide celebration, Deptford Art Map and the various galleries in the area have created 'Gifted - a weekend of art and design in Deptford'.

Among gallery openings and mulled wine/mince pies, Creekside Artists is also holding the Faircharm Fair - an art and craft weekend on 4 and 5 December. Its purpose is 'to raise the profile of visual arts and crafts in Deptford and to provide a networking opportunity for artists, as well as the chance to showcase and sell their work. Drawing activities and music will add to the fair’s festive atmosphere and (surprise surprise!) there will be a ‘pop-up cafe’ on site throughout the event.'

Christmas Fayre at the Bear (former Bear Cafe, 154 Deptford High Street). Every Saturday and Sunday between 27 November and Christmas, the Bear will be hosting gift stalls and a cafe. 10am till 5pm. I do hope they'll be resurrecting some of their glorious soups :-)

Further afield, crafter Miss Libby Rose has got a 'pop up shop' in the covered market in Greenwich from now till Christmas where you can learn to make your own gifts for Christmas. I'm not quite sure what the difference between a pop up shop and a market stall is, but here's the details of the classes.

'Tea and make' will be popping up on 27th November at 3 Lewisham Way (opposite Goldsmiths Uni) until 11 December. It's described as 'exclusive christmas shopping, tea drinking and making' and will be open Tues to Sat 10-6 except Thursday till 9, Sunday 12-4pm. The names of the makers are on the flyer, but you'll have to click to make it big enough to read.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Greenwich gyratory proposals update

West Greenwich CARA has published a report about the meeting on Monday which was very well attended - you can find the details here.

One main point which came out of the meeting was the fact that the decision on whether to move ahead with the plan will not be made next month - it could be March or later before any vote is taken.

Two-year anniversary!

It has just been brought to my notice that this month we are celebrating TWO YEARS since the plans to rebuild Deptford Station were given planning permission by the council.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Deptford christmas festival and lights switch-on

It's hard to contain my excitement as I savour the prospect of the Deptford christmas lights. I haven't looked lately but I guess they are still in place from last year, clamped to the lamp-posts along the High Street. Next time you go shopping you can squint up at them and imagine them glowing with coloured bulbs for a sneak peek of the excitement to come.

All sarcasm aside I am not by any means suggesting that the council should waste spend any more money on christmas decorations and certainly not on taking them down, storing them and then putting them back up every year. It's great that we have some lights and perhaps kids enjoy seeing them burst into life at the annual switch-on, but I'm relieved to see that there is a little more to the christmas festival than just the illuminations - because frankly that wouldn't be very exciting! 
 
Perhaps some of the local pubs will be serving mulled wine. Oh I just remembered, we don't have any local pubs left on the high street.
 
Saturday 11 December, 11am – 3.30pm
Deptford Christmas Festival at Giffin Square, Douglas Way, Margaret McMillan Park and Deptford Project
 
Festive activities are due to take place around Deptford all weekend.  Some of Saturday’s attractions include special market stalls, children’s activities, and walking and cycling-themed entertainment including rickshaw rides.  The Christmas lights will be switched on as the sun goes down.
 

Former British Legion, Childers St redevelopment plans

You could easily pass by the low brick building on the corner of Childers St and Abinger Grove without a second glance - and in fact I did so for some years before noticing the old Royal British Legion which proclaimed 'Pride of Deptford'!
  
As far as I know the Legion has been gone for some time, and the building is currently being used by one of Deptford's more unorthodox churches. Planning permission is being sought to redevelop the site by building a six-storey block of social rented/'affordable'/shared ownership housing with commercial space at ground level. The developer is proposing one one-bedroom flat, 14 two-bedroom flats and 7 three-bedroom flats in an attempt to address a shortage of larger social housing units in the area. Two of the units will be fully wheelchair accessible.

Only six car-parking spaces are proposed for the flats, along with at least one cycle parking space per flat in a secure area next to the car park. A number of renderings of the proposed building are available.



As all too usual, in my opinion, the developers have gone out of their way to avoid showing the height of the new building in direct comparison to the existing buildings nearby. The renderings in particular choose suitable angles that suggest that the new block blends seamlessly in with the four-storey maisonette opposite and the Victorian pub across the road from it. The rendering above shows the block as you approach from Evelyn Green, the one below shows the view along Abinger Grove as you approach from Evelyn Street. 

The rendering below, showing the building from further back on Abinger Grove, is probably the one that demonstrates most clearly how the building will relate to its immediate neighbours, but I was interested to see that the designers have tried to minimise its impact by showing it in a light blue so that it blends nicely with the sky.


According to the planning documents (find them here) the developer has already done a lot of work with Lewisham's planning department on the 'massing' of the building, and has made some changes to the original design to reduce its impact on its neighbours. I'm not sure they have really gone far enough.

Were the new block next to the other apartment developments further along Childers St it would be fine, but I can't help feeling it's still rather too high for its corner location. Perhaps it is being driven by the insistance that the building incorporates commercial space at the ground level.

It's also worth remembering that not only is it replacing a single storey building, it is also right next to the public area of Evelyn Green. Not the estate's most beautiful green space, it's true, but certainly valuable for those who live nearby. The documents propose that the developer might contribute funding to improve facilities in these public areas (now owned by Lewisham Homes) which would undoubtedly be welcome.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Greenwich gyratory proposals

You may remember the consultation almost a year ago about the plans to pedestrianise parts of Greenwich town centre. The benefits of making Greenwich town centre easier to navigate for pedestrians seemed to be outweighed by the intention to create a much larger gyratory which would affect bus routes and make certain journeys much longer for local motorists.

Not only does it seem that Greenwich Council and its transport advisers are out of step with the general trend to remove gyratories (New Cross is a perfect example of many in London which are being restored to their two-way road systems), but recent research by the council has also revealed that the gyratory would increase traffic levels on other streets such as Circus Street and Burney Street (although equally it would reduce traffic levels on other streets).

Many cyclists are concerned about the negative impact it will have on cycling in the area; higher traffic speeds and a reduction of freedom of movement for cyclists. Deptfordians who cycle from here to Greenwich also fear that Norman Road will become a huge barrier to travel.

The impact on bus routes has yet to be fully assessed, but it seems likely that routes such as the 199 from Lewisham to Surrey Quays would no longer be able to serve Greenwich Town Centre (one less option for public transport back from Greenwich to Deptford) and and many other routes would be extended/stops would be moved further away.

More details of the local opposition to the scheme is available on the website of West Greenwich CARA (Conservation Area Residents' Association) which is also having a meeting in the Prince of Greenwich pub in Royal Hill on Monday 15 November at 8pm.

Greenwich Council is intending to vote on the matter in December.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Gifted/Cockpit Arts open studios

The weekend of 3-5 December is a definite diary date for being in The 'Ford (not that I'm suggesting any other weekend isn't of course...!)

Cockpit Arts will be having its pre-christmas open studios weekend, and has linked up with many of the other galleries and studios in the area to promote this particular weekend under the 'Gifted' banner.

Most of the galleries and artist studios in the area will be open over the weekend, some with special events including artist talks, mulled wine, badge making and even a cocktail party.

Full details of the events are available at the Art Map website. Find out more about the Cockpit Arts open studios here.

Deptford Project

The Deptford Project (taster) from Umlaut Collective on Vimeo.

Local artists Umlaut Collective have made a short film about the latest redecoration of the Deptford Project carriage.

They also have some great photos on their website of the Union Cycle Works workshop in the arches.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Tesco Express Creek Road

It's a Tesco Express so you can pretty much guess what kind of stuff is on the shelves - plenty of ready meals and plenty of snacks, not such a great range of stuff for those who like to cook from scratch compared to what can be bought locally and much cheaper in Deptford High Street.

A few items worth pointing out are:

- it has a FREE cashpoint, which will no doubt prove a bit of a godsend for the local area. The only other cashpoints I know of in the environs are the ones that charge.

- it has the usual Tesco Express long opening hours which will give Costcutter a bit of a run for its money. I noticed this morning that there was already a bit of banner competition going on across Creek Road between the two stores.

- it is bigger than the Tesco Express on Deptford High Street.

Er, that's it!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Convoy's wharf planning application

In due course I hope to bring you my considered comments on the application, but once you've seen the number and extent of documents you'll understand that it's going to take me some time to fully digest.

In the meantime I know that quite a few of my followers are interested in this development, so I wanted to bring the documents to your attention for full scrutiny.

They are posted here on the Convoy's Wharf site. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tidemill School bid for academy status - deadline for comments

November 15th is the final deadline for sending your comments about the school's proposal to seek academy status to Tidemill's board of governors.

The consultation document produced by the school, along with a form for comments is available to download here by clicking on the headline of the page. It is a balanced document which explains how things operate now, and what changes academy status could bring. I think it does a pretty good job in addressing some of the questions that have been raised without noticeable bias.

'Saying no' has also produced a document, which can be downloaded at the same page, which counters the main arguments generally put forward in support of academy status. 

Full details of how to submit your comments are on the website.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Save Lewisham's libraries march

If you want to get your marching feet in practice ready for the evening's parade in Deptford, there is a cheerful event with a very serious message taking place from Crofton Park to Lewisham on Saturday lunchtime. Click on the picture for more details.

Deptford carnival procession Saturday 30th

This Saturday sees the MADCAP MARCH OF MAYHEM AND  MISCHIEF - described as 'an inter-cultural, end of summer extravaganza bringing together the work of local schools, artists, volunteers, dancers, makers and shakers in a frenzy of glitter, sparkles and a smidgen of approaching winter darkness....'


The march, which is organised by the Madcap Coalition, will start at the Albany at 6pm and will travel via Ferranti Park to the Laban Centre where there will be 'music, games, fire, food and much more!'

It should certainly be a colourful event - volunteers have been working on costumes for weeks and there will be musicians, banners, flags and so on.

Paddy Power licence granted

Depressingly predictably the council's licensing committee this week granted a gaming licence for the John Evelyn pub for Paddy Power.

Despite the very vocal objections of local businesses and residents, as well as the blatant over-saturation of Deptford by such establishments, the council found no grounds on which to reject the application.

With the Halifax due to vacate its premises in the next couple of weeks, I shudder at the thought of the possibilities this raises.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Union Cycle Works

I had heard a tip-off some weeks ago that a new cycle workshop was setting up in one of the arches of the old carriage ramp at the station, but since then nothing.

Happily it seems that Union Cycle Works is now established and on the case, working to give disadvantaged people the skills to turn old bikes into new ones.

East London Lines has got an interview with Jo Harrington about the new venture here.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Master Shipwright's Revelry


Another great date for the diary - the Master Shipwright's Revelry on Sunday 7th November.

"This bonfire weekend, The Magpie’s Nest and Kit and Cutter, Deptford’s very own purveyors of folk events, will be docking up on the banks of the River Thames for a nautically themed, fire brazened and musically scored celebration. With permission granted to host this event in London’s historic Master Shipwright’s Palace, this is an opportunity to explore the grounds, its unique wooden theatre and ballrooms, animated by the sounds of both British shanty and folk singers young and old including City Shanty Band but also the more contemporary sound of Peter Gabriel’s and Realworld’s Spiro, Lake Chad’s Mamane Barka, Bulgaria’s Perunika trio and Morris dancing from the Belles of London City and the Blackheath Morris Men and many, many more acts. Also included in the event will be a Fire lit ritual for a Drowned Sailor with full river burial procession, Fireworks, lectures on London Guy Fawkes and London’s river faring traditions. As well as food, bonfires, storytelling, sing-a-longs, dancing and local Greenwich Meantime Ale aplenty. Aslo included is music by Princes in The Tower, Kidnap Alice, Skinny ListerFirefly, Nick Hart, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham, Lady Woodsman and the Boat Band"

Buy your tickets here.
 


Dog & Bell pickle festival 2010

Get the date in your diary - Saturday 27 November at the Dog & Bell on Princes Street.

Entries accepted between 7.30 and 8pm; prizes at about 10pm.

No idea what I'm talking about? Click here for more info.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Meeting about New Cross Library


As you may have read elsewhere, New Cross Library is one of five in the borough that Lewisham Council is 'consulting' locals about closing. As well as the fact that the council wants to save money by cutting 15-20 members of staff from its cross-borough library service, the building is apparently in a poor state. Bear in mind that Lewisham Borough has only 12 libraries in total, so this would mean almost halving the number of facilities available.

Plans to relocate the library to a new building as part of the New Cross Gate redevelopment have had to be put on hold because the redevelopment is also on hold as a result of the recession. Unfortunately that's one of the drawbacks of relying on private partners to deliver public services as part of a larger project - and clearly an issue that the council should keep uppermost in its mind as Tidemill School attempts to become an academy and take control of a community building.

The first consultation meeting in August revealed some interesting facts (full documents here):

- the building is owned by Lewisham Homes (I assume that there are council flats in the upper part). A question was asked about the cost of repairing the building but from the notes, it seems this was not answered. Assuming that Lewisham Homes has a duty to repair the building for the sake of tenants, surely the council should be investigating this possibility?

- the council is proposing various 'outreach' services to replace some of the services the library offers, and yet there is no specific budget for outreach. Again this would rely on other parties such as community groups or colleges to participate. Not really a solution for what should be a public service.

- there is not a single bookshop in the area. Of course owners of computers have access to online bookshops, but what of those people who do not have a computer at home and rely on the library for their internet access?

Although the libraries being targeted are small, and presumably more expensive to run in relation to the number of users, this proposed reduction in services is unacceptable. For many pensioners, people on a low income or the unemployed, the library offers vital access to books, music, computers and even social contact that they might otherwise have to go without, not to mention giving children an opportunity to improve their literacy skills and explore the wonderful world of books.

With a decision on the cuts looming next month, the council is holding a second round of meetings - Monday 25 October is the date for the New Cross Library consultation.
The meeting will be held at 7pm at All Saints Church, New Cross Road (at the junction with Monson Rd). All are invited to attend.

In the meantime I am glad to say that an active group has been leading a campaign against the closure, with leafleting and petitioning going on over the last few months.

To show your support please sign the petition if you haven't already done so: you can also join the Facebook group to find out about other events and protests that are planned.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Deptford Xtra/Bridge House Meadows

Every so often the freesheet 'The Gate Post' sponsored by the New Cross Gate Trust has a special insert called Deptford Xtra. When this happens, the monthly newsletter gets delivered round the Dame's neck of the woods as well as its usual circulation - presumably NX environs.

The insert of four pages is vaguely useful in updating us on what's happening around the area with the various developments and initiatives - although of course much of it is council puff pieces telling us what a great job they are doing.

I'm not sure how useful the update on that old chestnut known as Deptford Station redevelopment is. We are told that 'building work on the new Deptford Station is expected to finally get under way before the end of the year'. Notice that they are not committing themselves by mentioning an ACTUAL year. However we are promised that 'the new station will be operational before the end of 2011'...oh hang on, they've covered themselves by adding 'if all goes according to plan'.

There's quite a bit of information about things I'd already read about elsewhere, mostly in Lewisham Life; new 'public art' (I use the term advisedly) such as the Quill sculpture on Evelyn Triangle and the bits of cloth on sticks that are planned for the waterfront on Pepys Estate; the Deptford Lounge/Tidemill gets a mention (although no word of the ongoing furore); and an update on Deptford Green school along with a rendering that sent me off looking for something to show. The fly-through below is interesting if a bit scary at times (mind those girls' heads!) although I couldn't help thinking there were rather a lot of open balconies just begging to have someone's school books chucked over them.



Page 13 has something a bit more interesting - as well as a huge rendering of the 'centre for sporting excellence' that Renewal is proposing for Surrey Canal Road....


...the reason for a recent invitation to a consultation event about plans for Bridge House Meadows becomes clear.

Bridge House Meadows is a small park tucked away between north Lewisham's forgotten housing estates, somewhat equidistant between Mercury Way and Ilderton Road. I've only been there a couple of times, doing a recce on my bike - it's not really a place you would pass through on the way to anywhere. But I'm sure it's very much appreciated by the people living nearby, being more or less surrounded by blocks of flats with little access to outdoor space. There's also a useful footpath/cycle path that links through the park, across Surrey Canal Road and past Millwall Football Ground towards Rotherhithe.

Unfortunately it seems local residents are not going to be able to use their little 'green lung' for the next couple of years, and cyclists and walkers will have to find detours (very difficult in an area with so many rail lines). TFL is planning to take over Bridge House Meadows as a headquarters while they build the next phase of the East London Line extension.

I have to admit I'm rather gobsmacked by this. Considering the area is surrounded by industrial estates I cannot believe that TFL can't find anywhere more suitable to locate themselves. They are intending to close one of the area's few public parks and a cycle and footpath for two years.

In order to get permission to do this, it seems TFL have had to commit to improving the park after they have finished using it, but all the same it seems like a long period during which to expect residents to do without.

The most painful irony is that the new line will go through the meadows when it opens, but local residents won't even benefit by getting their own station at the end of it all!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Tidemill school invitation-only meeting

Further to my post about a public meeting on Thursday, it turns out that this event is invitation-only.

This was revealed in a letter to parents from the Tidemill School head. Crosswhatfields blog has the whole story here.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bid for a night out at the fireworks

Ebay bidding opens this Thursday for a chance to win a VIP night out at the Blackheath Fireworks display. Lewisham Council has been trying to raise more cash for the event since Greenwich Council decided not to support it this year.

It's good to see that the council is using a bit of imagination to try and raise the money - there's a £36k shortfall to make up and so far it has received £11.5k in public donations.

The council is aiming to boost funds by Ebaying a VIP night out at the fireworks, which includes the opportunity to light the blue touchpaper and stand well back (although I'm sure it's a much more sophisticated system than that...!).

The successful bidder will not only win the chance to start the firework display but a VIP package that includes:

* access for up to 10 people to an exclusive VIP viewing area for the duration of the display
* a private tour of the firing zone by experts from Pains Fireworks where all the fireworks will be laid out ready to fire (the tour will take place at 6pm, 2 hours before the display itself)
* VIP parking for 3 cars in the very heart of the event
* 10 meal vouchers from the Fine Food Company
* 10 drink vouchers to be used at any of the mobile bar units supplied by Creative Bars
* 10 hot chocolate vouchers supplied by Jaz and Jules
* Glo sticks for the whole party provided by Limelight Entertainment Ltd


The eBay auction will start at 7pm on Thursday 21 October with a starting price of just 99p. Bidding will continue until 7pm on Sunday 31 October.

To bid go to www.lewisham.gov.uk/fireworks and follow the link (the link will only be live during the auction period).

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Tidemill school public meeting

A meeting to discuss the implications of Tidemill School's bid to gain academy status will be held at the school on 21 October at 7pm and will be chaired by Joan Ruddock. If you are concerned about the school's plans, or simply want to know more about what it means for the school and for the wider community in Deptford, you are invited to attend.

It's worth remembering that the new school being built for Tidemill also includes the 'Deptford Lounge',  which will house the library, meeting rooms, a cafe and other public facilities. What will happen to these facilities in terms of ownership and maintenance responsibility is not yet clear, but building the school and the Deptford Lounge as a single unit is bound to raise complex issues.

Deptford Says No to Tidemill Academy from leila on Vimeo.

For further information about the local campaign against the bid for academy status, visit their website here. Tidemill School's page is here, although I wasn't able to download any of the 'consultation documents' that are attached on the news story.

Update: Thanks Marmoset for sending the link to the consultation documents on the campaign's website.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Blu Eden - Champagne & Shockwaves

In a bid to introduce a lighter note to what has been a gloomy couple of weeks on the blog, I direct you to the video of Champagne & Shockwaves by local duo Blu Eden - singer Nora Blu and musician Richard Eden. You won't need to take the band's word that it was filmed in and around Deptford and Greenwich - see how many of the locations you recognise.



Richard adds: "If any of your readers have pop video making skills we would bite off their hand to help make us our next video. You may have noticed that we made the current one ourselves. I pulled the manager along on a skateboard while he filmed the girls miming as they walked along."

If you can't see it here, you can check out the video and some other songs at Blu Eden's myspace page.

The band has also offered readers the chance to win a Blu Eden t-shirt. Just email the answer to the following question, along with your details, to contact@blueden.co.uk by the end of October to enter the draw.

Q: Which Caribbean restaurant in East Greenwich was the club scene filmed in?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

South London Press picks up on John Evelyn story

The South London Press has got a good story on the closure of the John Evelyn pub in its latest edition.

It highlights the fact that the pub is owned by Admiral Taverns, although no-one from the company was available to comment when the story went to press.

Anyone who wishes to make Admiral Taverns aware of the impact their decision to hand the pub over to Paddy Power (presumably on a lease, although this is not clear from the story) will have on our local community can do so on the company's website here.

Unfortunately it seems the company has been in trouble for some time, and last year was partly taken over by Lloyds Bank.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Deptford Arms planning issues rumble on


With Deptford at risk of losing another community pub to the gambling industry, it is interesting to hear that planning issues relating to the conversion of the Deptford Arms by Paddy Power have still not been resolved. My previous post (and the additional comments) explain some of the background to the various planning applications that have been submitted and refused.

The current situation is that the revised planning application - which was refused by the council - has now also gone to appeal and is awaiting a decision. Naturally Paddy Power didn't wait to get permission before making the changes - presumably they are confident of winning the appeal, or have some compromise in mind to appease the planners if necessary.

The main intention of the council's planners in refusing the application is that since the building is in a conservation area, any changes to it should be in keeping with its original use - in plain terms, it should still look like a pub so that the original character and frontages of the street can be preserved even if there is a change in use. Paddy Powers' appeal focusses on its claim that these changes are vital to preserving the building. Next time you are passing the building, I invite you to glance up at the crumbling plaster above the windows and the tree growing out of the wall of the upper storey, and make up your own mind about these claims.

To view the documents go to this page and use the case reference 2135043 to search the site, then follow the links. I tried to put in a direct link but it seems they've changed the site address and it's no longer possible to do so.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Proposed improvements to Douglas Way

Feedback from yesterday's consultation at the Albany has been very useful in clarifying what's happening in the market square, and answering some of the questions about the lack of publicity.

Ironically enough the improvements that are planned are not part of the general Deptford town centre regeneration works - which perhaps explains why fellow Deptford blogger Marmoset's visit to the town centre regeneration office shed so little light on the matter. Instead, the improvements to Douglas Way are being carried out by the North Lewisham Links project, which is intended to improve walking and cycling connections in north Lewisham - and which includes the work that has already been done in Margaret McMillan Park, the ongoing work in Fordham Park, and the improvement of the underpass that links the two.

The good news is that this means the funding for the work is already allocated. The intention to improve Douglas Way has not been publicised till now because there were uncertainties about whether the funding for the North Lewisham Links project would stretch this far. But miraculously it has, so this phase of the work is just about to kick off.

I do feel that the designers have got the hardest task in front of them with this part of the work, in that they have to accommodate the practical requirements of a working market in their plans. Three days a week, market traders need to be able to drive their vans in to the square, wheel in the stalls, hook up to electrical supplies and set out their wares for the day. Annoying things like benches and trees will just get in the way for them.

But for the other four days of the week, Douglas Square is a desolate place and there is an urgent need to improve it. Without the market there to attract people, it lacks any kind of redeeming feature. There is nowhere to sit, no shelter and no greenery to soften the harsh lines of the wonky bollards and uneven paving. It's a place through which to hasten on your way to somewhere else. I'm sure the Albany suffers to some extent, being on the other side of this unwelcoming expanse - people walking along Deptford High Street are not tempted to venture into the square to see what's there, and passing business for the cafe must be minimal.

No renderings were available at the consultation simply because they have not yet been developed - but the intention is to introduce some elements of the improvements in Margaret McMillan park such as similar furniture and finishes and so on, in order to create a 'continuous' link. Anyone wanting to assess the likely quality of the work and the type of furniture that might be used can do so by having a wander towards New Cross station.

There is a limit to what can be done in the square because of the need to retain access for the market traders - no option to introduce large planters or landscaping for example! - and a limit to the items that can be consulted upon anyway. It's more a case of 'what colour paving do you prefer?' and 'how do you feel about a few trees?' than anything particularly radical, hence it does seem that a start date of January 2011 is achievable.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The John Evelyn pub: another Paddy Power?

Reader Chris has alerted me to the depressing news that Paddy Power is attempting to open another betting shop in Deptford - in one of our last-remaining community pubs. 


According to Chris, the pub closed its doors a couple of weeks ago, with the notice in the window shown below:
 


But only a few days later a notice of application for a gambling licence appeared in the window - on behalf of none other than friend-of-the-neighbourhood Paddy Power.


Chris is understandably already upset about the closure of the pub, but says that local shopkeepers and businesses are also worried about the knock-on effect the loss of business from the pub customers and the opening of a THIRD betting shop in this small area will have.

"We (local residents and the shopkeepers on the Evelyn Triangle) have written a petition letter and our deadline to get as many in to the council is, I believe 9th October."

Residents wanting to voice their concerns about this application should either visit the Post Office in the Evelyn triangle and hand in their letter to Jay, or send it direct to the council by 9th October at the latest.

A suggested text has been helpfully supplied by Chris:



London Borough of Lewisham
Planning Department
Town Hall
Catford
London SE6 4RU

Sender's Name & Address





ON BEHALF OF THE EVELYN TRIANGLE TRADERS AND TRADER’S ASSOCIATION
AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY


Dear Sir

I the undersigned am concerned about the change of business application and gaming licence application by Paddy Power Enterprises regarding the premises known as the John Evelyn Pub at 299 Evelyn Street Deptford SE8 and we are appealing to Lewisham Council to turn down this application.

There are already 2 betting shops in the Triangle and another 7 within a ten minute walk. 

We feel that the removal of the public house and the facilities it provided as a large community hub, which included not only a meeting place for funerals, weddings, anniversaries etc, but was used by a wide range of the local community as a place to unwind and catch up on local news and gossip.  It provided a safe haven to many of our local senior citizens who would congregate there daily where they could communicate and also be provided with a nourishing meal.  Unfortunately many of our older neighbours will now no longer have a place to socialise should the premises be granted a licence and be turned into a betting shop. 

Another big concern is that in an area with a large amount of the population being in the low to middle income group, that they will be tempted to improve their situation by gambling monies that they can ill afford, made all the more tempting with yet another gambling opportunity opening up within a stone’s throw of the other two. There is further concern about the temptation to minors of having more options to gamble.

The John Evelyn is also the main local vantage point for the annual London Marathon and over the years has raised many thousands of pounds for charity.  It was also used as the main hub by the local Fire Brigade for their annual charity bus pull. 

The loss of revenue to the local traders is already noticeable and if this downward trend was to continue it could result in other businesses having to close further eroding the very strong sense of community that has been built up around the Triangle over the years.

Yours faithfully



(your signature)

Concerned readers should also lobby our three local Labour councillors to raise these issues with the licensing committee.

You can do so by emailing Sam, Crada and Joseph direct via this page on the Lewisham Council website, or raising it with them at their regular surgeries. According to the web page, they will be holding a surgery this Saturday between 11-12am in the Albany - so if you are intending to visit the town centre consultation it might be a good opportunity to raise this issue at the same time.

Incidentally, if you want to know what 'benefits' the gambling industry as a whole suggests it can bring to the area, you might want to read this rather glib commentary piece on Sportsbook Reviews. Or you might not; be warned it is likely to raise your blood pressure.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Deptford town centre regeneration 'consultation'

Another last minute 'consultation' announcement from Lewisham Council has been brought to my attention via the News Shopper.

Apparently two exhibitions/consultations are to be held at the Albany this week where residents can find out about the plans for refurbishment of Douglas Way, which is set to begin in January next year.

This is the first I've heard about either the meetings, or the plans for Douglas Way (which you may recall me moaning about on previous posts - musing as to why it wasn't included in the existing regeneration/improvement plans). Take a look at the council's own page here and you'll see I'm not making this up.

I'm delighted to find that improvements ARE planned, and interested to hear about them. By dint of good luck I'll be around for one of the events, but a bit more (or indeed any!) notice would have been useful for many people I'm sure.

It seems the council has been so busy making videos about all its regeneration plans that it has forgotten about good old fashioned publicity. You know, the type which involves actually telling people about meetings and consultations and so on. Or has everyone else had this notification/seen posters etc and I'm just missing it?

Events are at the Albany.
Wednesday 29th Sept 4-7pm
Saturday 2nd October 10am-12.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Deptford X 2010 preview

A post by Marmoset over on Crosswhatfields blog nicely captures my own feeling of anticipation at the imminent arrival of Deptford X.

Art-lovers in Deptford are very lucky to have year-round access to contemporary art in our local galleries such as Bearspace, Arch Gallery and APT, as well as the opportunity to visit late-night openings and tours such as those organised by the Deptford Art Map.

But it's festival time that I really love; I like to see art set free into the real world to amuse, surprise and provoke the general public - in particular those who may never consider setting foot inside a gallery.

It's exciting to see ordinary places transformed - those facilities we use every day without a thought, the streets we walk along and the views we observe are transformed by colour, shapes and sound into something brighter and more stimulating. A tedious journey to work may be improved by the sight of an incongruous artwork in an unexpected place - and that particular location may never be the same again in our minds.

Last year the grimy surrounds of the station were brightened by colourful street scenes...


..walls told stories...


...strange items were found abandoned on ledges...


...streets acquired stripes.

I like to think that such interventions and site-specific creations might touch someone's life in an unexpected way - whether simply by making them smile as they walk past, by giving them pause for thought, or even by inspiring them in some way.

This year
it seems we are in for just as much of a treat with Mark Titchner's curation. A bit of bad organisation on my part means that I won't be around to experience the vibe this weekend, but happily Deptford X runs over two weekends, giving me the chance to check out at least some of the shows and events.

Liz Harrison's sound installation of birdsong in the stairwells of Deptford Station promises to be truly magical - a perfect example of the type of thing I love about Deptford X. The thought of birdsong lightening the steps of all those grumpy commuters trudging up to the platforms fills me with a certain degree of emotion. (I'll be the one hanging back trying to work out if that's a thrush or a blackbird.) Apparently Liz's creation, which will be competing for the Deptford X Award, was inspired by reports that the pitch of birdsong is rising in competition with the urban noise levels.

If you have a limited amount of time, I would suggest checking out the Deptford X Award nominees - they are all within a fairly short walking distance of the high street, and you will probably come across quite a lot of the other galleries and installations on the way. Depending on when you visit, you may also come across some of the events or artists in residence, or even the gallery plots, performances taking place within some of the galleries.

Whether you are a regular gallery goer or a total Deptford X virgin, it's certainly worth spending an hour or two finding out what's going on in our vibrant community. And don't forget to check out the more unusual locations such as Johnny's DIY, where you'll be able to see Charlie Pi's 'human figure formed of tools', or the Creek at low tide, where Sue Lawes' 'Creekery' can be seen sticking out of the mud.

Full listings can be found on the Deptford X website - unfortunately no downloadable map as yet, but hopefully that will be available by the start of the festival.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Open House: Master shipwright's house

There's nothing I like more than a good snoop round someone's house, and when it's a house on this scale and in this kind of location, so much the better! Luckily Chris and Willi, the owners of the Master Shipwright's House in Deptford, kindly welcomed us nosy types into their private house this weekend as part of London's Open House weekend. The house was built in 1708 by Joseph Allin, who was the master shipwright for the royal dockyard next door.



I've visited the house before for an art exhibition, but it was about five years ago and the restoration work has advanced in leaps and bounds since then - and continues to do so. I notice that they've even given the front of the house a lick of paint since I had a peek at it from Convoy's Wharf last year.



Quite aside from being a significant structure in both Deptford's history and in the history of England's royal dockyards, the house is truly beautiful and serene. The restoration work has been painfully sympathetic - William explained that they were careful not to invent any period detail for the restoration, and stuck rigidly to this philosophy throughout. As a result the story of the restoration is incorporated into the house itself - traces of its history are visible in some rooms while very little remains in others.



Visitors can enter the main door of the house and enjoy the two enormous rooms that face out to the river on the ground and first floors. Adjoining the house is the single-storey garden room where archive photographs and historical documents relating to the house and to the royal docks can be seen, as well as information about the new garden house that has been built on the water's edge.



The garden structure was inspired by the idea of a 'banqueting house' and it is made entirely of leftovers from the restoration of the house, unsympathetic items that were removed, recycled timbers from skips etc, and even the old doors from Deptford Station. It perches on the river wall and offers a peaceful and sheltered outdoor retreat that makes the most of the vista (although not particularly peaceful during open house!). Each elevation is markedly different - the west end is clad entirely in slate and rises much higher than the rest of the building, while the red doors from the station contrast with the various windows and timbers making up the main elevation. I'm not entirely won over by the rather jumbled visual appearance of the structure, but given its starting point and the materials to hand, I accept that the intention is more important than the aesthetics. The garden house was built by Robert Bagley and Roo Angel.



Visitors were free to wander the grounds, which are dotted with tables and chairs taking advantage of every sunny corner. The south-facing vegetable garden round the back also made me feel very envious - and it is groaning with ripening tomatoes, squashes and so on.

At this stage I felt it necessary to leave before the urge to fetch my sleeping bag and set up home in one of the quiet corners became too strong.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Dame is out of town

Now that school holidays are over, the Dame is off for a break.

Back in time for Deptford X!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Surrey Canal Road station funding

London Reconnections has published a letter from the DfT about funding of the proposed Surrey Canal Road station on the East London Line extension.

It's not good news - but they have been wavering and mumbling for so long that it's not very surprising.

It would make much more financial sense to build a station at the same time as the new line is being constructed, but naturally the new government wants savings in the short term.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Take part in Deptford X

Also on the subject of Deptford X, you don't have to be a working artist to take part in the festival. The Deptford X Challenge is open to anyone living Deptford, or who has a business in Deptford.

The organisers are inviting locals to create an X and then put the X in their window between 20 September to 4 October. The X can be in any material, shape or size. It can be in any window, although it's better if it's one people can see.

The person who creates the best X will win £50!

All you need to do is to fill in the form on the website before 17 September and then send a picture of your X is place, by Friday 8 October.

Full details here.

Volunteers wanted for Deptford X

As our annual arts festival gears up for its launch at the end of the month, the organisers are looking for volunteers to help with promotion, gallery and exhibit invigilation, general help and public interaction.

Anyone is welcome to apply; an interest in the visual arts and experience of working in the public realm are desirable but not essential. Volunteers will get an allowance towards food and transport costs, a Deptford X t-shirt and those aged 18-25 will get a volunteering certificate.

For more details or to apply, visit the website.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Deptford trees: Turkish Hazel



As well as an aged Mulberry tree, Sayes Court Gardens is home to three Turkish Hazel trees (Corylus Colurna).

I noticed one of the trees as I passed through the gardens yesterday - the ground beneath what I thought at a glance was a lime tree was carpeted with peculiar looking seed cases and was being raided by several squirrels. The seed cases are like regular hazel nut cases but look like they need a good haircut, and rather than being a bush, like the common hazel, it is a tree.

Although not native to England, it seems that they are fairly common in London as they are tolerant of urban conditions.

The nuts are edible but are small and have a thick shell, so perhaps they are best left for the squirrels to fight over!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Hatcham Gardens relocated to Deptford

Not really, but it seems that the author of this article in Building Design thinks so - presumably due to the fact that the press release about Hatcham Gardens' makeover refers to the Deptford arboretum. Poor New Cross doesn't get a look in.

It's also a shame that the photographs were presumably taken just after the period of hot weather and don't show the new space to its best advantage.

I'll be writing something about the linear arboretum project in due course.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Public meeting about Tidemill School

A public meeting about the future of Tidemill School will be held at the Albany on Monday 6 September from 7pm.

Many people - both parents and local residents - are concerned that the plans to make Tidemill School an academy are being rushed through without proper consultation. The two month 'consultation' took place over the summer holidays and the school's governors are planning to make a final decision next month.

There is also a petition demanding full consultation before any decision is made - this can be signed at http://sayingno.org/cms/ or http://www.gopetition.com/petition/38021.html

The campaign can be contacted by emailing admin@sayingno.org or 020 8692 8939

For more information about the campaign visit http://sayingno.org/cms/

Deptford Green School contract signed

I'm a little late with this story but I don't think any of the other local bloggers have picked up on it so still worth highlighting.





Deptford Green School has won the dubious honour of being the first school rebuilding scheme to reach financial close since cuts in the national school rebuilding programme.

The £28.6m school will be built by contractor Costain, as part of Lewisham Council’s £400m BSF programme which involves the major refurbishment or renewal of 12 secondary schools including three special educational needs schools.

Deptford Green will be a 1100 place mixed comprehensive school; the development consists of temporary school facilities, a multi-use games area, a main school and decant from the temporary facilities and demolition of the existing schools and landscaping.

The main school is planned to open 3 September 2012.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Nollywood film festival

Here's a bit of advance notice of the 'Nollywood Now' festival that will take place in October at the Moonshot Centre in Fordham Park in New Cross.

It's claimed to be the UK's first ever Nigerian film festival, and is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's independence, as well as taking place during Black History Month. It's being organised by Phoenix Fry, who is also behind the Deptford Film Club and who explains the significance of the event thus:

The Nigerian film industry, popularly known as Nollywood, exploded at the beginning of the 1990s and is now the world’s second largest film industry in the world in terms of number of annual film production. The industry has an estimated turnover of US$250 million, and produces around 2400 films a year.

Films are rarely released in cinemas, but are distributed in DVD and VCD format in markets and shops for home viewing. In London, many Nollywood fans rent or buy their films from shops in Deptford, Peckham and Dalston. In addition, Odeon cinemas organise occasional late night screenings and popular premiere events.

Nigerian film is popular with audiences from across Africa. In 2006, 42% of Nollywood films were made in English language, 37% in Yoruba and 18% in Hausa. The industry has taken influence from all around the world (including Bollywood melodrama, Latin American soap operas, low-budget American/British horror and Hong Kong gangster flicks) but transform these influences to address local concerns.


Between 6th and 12th October, one film will be shown each night - details of the films are here. Tickets are due to go on sale during September.

Phoenix has also been interviewed about the festival in a piece in the South London Press, along with the magnificently-monikered Nollywood fan Chuks “Chocolate” Manly-Rollings.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

'Silent' cinema at the Deptford Project

Don your wireless headphones for three weekends of classic films showing at the Deptford Project next month.

'Silent' cinema works along the same lines as the silent discos that have become popular for late night slots at summer festivals - the audience can hear what's going on through their headphones but observers don't get the amplified noise, only the shrieks, laughter, comments of the people in the audience. Great for holding outdoor screenings/discos when you don't want to piss off local residents. The only difference being that at silent discos it's normally two competing djs broadcasting on two different frequencies, with the dancers choosing the soundtrack they prefer. Hmm, could be useful for foreign films....?!

Showings are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday over three consecutive weekends in September, each with a theme - 80s classics, horror London and cult movies. Some great classics there - the Dame having seen almost all of these first time round!



There will be food and drinks for sale from the Deptford Project (licensed I wonder? can anyone advise?). Tickets are £10 and are available from here.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Norman Road industrial estate redevelopment

Greenwich.co.uk has published a story about plans to redevelop the old industrial estate on Norman Road.

The site is just over the other side of the Creek - a collection of grotty old industrial sheds sandwiched between the DLR and Greenwich High Road - when it was in use it provided a quick cut-through for pedestrians between Deptford and Greenwich, but it has been shut off for some years now and serves mainly as a dumping ground for old tyres.

Cathedral Group, the developers behind the ongoing saga of the Deptford Station carriage-ramp redevelopment project, are proposing to build 500 student apartments, 200 residential units and a 125-bed hotel on the site. Unwisely in my opinion they have dubbed it 'the Movement' (because if it turns out to be a pile of poo, it may become renamed the Bowel Movement).

The publication of renderings etc is still some time off - at this stage the developers have been asked to submit an environmental impact assessment (find the document here) for the proposal. Greenwich council's planning department is worried about the possible impact of this 'major development' so close to their sensitive heritage centre.

In the details I've seen so far, nothing higher than 11 stories is mentioned. Without wishing to sound glib (11 stories is after all still pretty high, especially in the context of Greenwich town centre) it's fascinating that only just a stone's throw across the Creek a series of tall buildings (Old Seager Distillery (26 stories) and Convoys Wharf (up to 46 stories) as well as the second phase of the Creekside Village) are being thrown up without a care.



The environmental impact assessment makes a lot of mention of the protected views from various places in Greenwich Park and surrounds, but my attention was focussed more on the transport impact assessment, given the ongoing discussions about proposed changes to traffic flow in Greenwich. The assessment claims that the new development will have no impact on traffic because 'total parking spaces provided will be low' and there is a station nearby. No figures are furnished for the number of parking spaces that will be available - in fact the only mention of transport is that one cycle parking place will be provided for each two student apartments. Perhaps all students share tandems these days.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Street drinking control

Deptford has been highlighted as one of three areas where street drinking is a problem, in a report that was considered by Lewisham's Mayor & Cabinet meeting last month.

The council wants to use a Designated Public Place Order to implement a borough-wide street drinking control zone. This effectively means that the police have the power to stop people drinking in public 'to assist in tackling problematic street drinking linked to anti-social behaviour'.

Three areas have been highlighted - Deptford, Rushey Green and Sydenham - and as a result, the report says, the police recommended that the drinking control zone be put in place across the whole borough.

The report does propose other measures as well as the borough-wide zone; engagement with drinkers and continuation of outreach services and stepping up enforcement of licensing breaches. What resourcing will be available for these measures - particularly outreach services - is questionable, with the council intending to cut its spending by a third over the next few years.

One further proposal is the creation of 'designated drinking areas' within which street drinking would be tolerated, subject to certain 'acceptable behaviour' conditions. Apparently Rushey Green has been suggested as one such area and the council agreed to investigate other areas. It all sounds a bit arse-about-face to me.

The south end of Deptford High Street and the area outside the post office are popular places for street drinkers to congregate and invariably the scene of drunken brawls and inconsequential rows at various times during the day. There is no question that in some cases street drinking leads to 'anti-social behaviour' in Deptford, although the extent to which people perceive it to be a problem varies depending on the individual. As someone who is fairly streetwise, self-confident and has lived in London for many years - and crucially does not suffer it on my doorstep - I regard it as nothing more than a bit of a nuisance.

The way other people perceive it - particularly those who live or have businesses nearby, who are themselves vulnerable or less self-confident - undoubtedly differs.

The question is whether this measure is necessary, appropriate or effective.

The police already have powers to deal with people who are drunk and disorderly. By implementing a drinking control zone, the council is additionally giving them the power to decide who can drink in public and who cannot. Experience shows that such discretionary powers, while applied as intended in the majority of cases, are also very much open to abuse.

Drinking control zones already exist in Lewisham & Catford town centres, as well as Upper Brockley Road. An independent review of these zones that was carried out last year for the council concluded that they were limited in their effectiveness, particularly in the medium to long term and additionally required extensive resourcing of support agencies to have any impact.

Changes in drinking culture - the loss of many public houses and increase in the price of alcohol in pubs, combined with the availability of very cheap alcohol in off-licences and supermarkets, have contributed to the increase in street drinking. The increase is not just among those who are alcohol-dependent, but also those on low incomes who seek social contact. It's also worth pointing out that drunkenness does not make everyone aggressive or troublesome - some people are aggressive when they are sober, while some become more mellow after a few drinks.

Introducing a borough-wide street drinking control is not the panacea to all ills, and the implementation of alcohol control zones creates unreasonable public expectations. A borough-wide control zone will not end street drinking.

Transpontine has made a convincing case against the need for a DPPO in Lewisham, as well as raising some of the broader issues involved.

A consultation period is in process - you can answer the questions by taking the survey here up until 27 August, although Transpontine doubts from the tone of the press release that this is anything more than box ticking. In fact he's right - the decision has already been taken by the council and was agreed in the Mayor & Cabinet meeting last month. The report to the council explains the urgency of the matter by saying that it needs the power to be in place 'for a period when street drinking is generally at its peak' - which presumably is the summer months.