Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Deptford pubs added to local listing

As part of its ongoing strategy to protect pubs in the borough (better late than never) and categorise its heritage assets, the council has proposed half a dozen pubs in Deptford and New Cross to be 'locally listed', part of a total of 26 buildings in the borough picked out to be added to the existing list. The existing list can be downloaded from the council's website.

Anyone following the recent saga of the Catford Tavern, which was locally listed in a hurry when the owner put in a planning application to turn the building into flats and retail space, will appreciate how even successful, well-run pubs can be put at risk if the building owner decides it's time to cash in. At the cabinet meeting where this proposal was considered, councillor Liam Curran even suggested that the council should consider listing all its Victorian pubs en masse, following the lead of a group of students from Kingston University who are aiming to get Unesco World Heritage status for the London boozer as a 'type' of building worth preserving.

However welcome this move is in terms of raising the profile of some of our less obvious assets, it's worth remembering that local listing does not give the building any statutory protection against being demolished or altered. English Heritage, which has published a 'good practice' guide to local listing available to download here, explains: 'Heritage assets not designated under statutory regimes, but recognised by the local planning authority as having heritage significance do merit consideration in planning matters; with the LPA taking a balanced judgement having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset.'

As you were, then.

Here's the pubs that have been put forward for local listing, and the detailed explanations of why. Full details of all 26 buildings to be listed are available here.

Albertines

An attractive Victorian corner pub built as the ‘Clarendon Arms’ in 1857 on the site of
the former Bricklayers’ Arms of 1803/04. It was renamed the ‘Malt and Hops’ in 1992
before its current sign of ‘Albertines’. Albertines is in a similar heavy classical style
as the Five Bells on New Cross Road (Grade II statutory listed) but without the finer
architectural detailing.
Albertines is built of red brick with deep eaves with decorative corbels and a shallow
pitched roof. There is a full height bay to the Lewisham Way elevation and the
original timber sash windows to the upper floors remain, including large venetian
windows.
This building makes a positive contribution to the townscape and contributes towards
the setting of the nearby listed buildings, 160 -186 Lewisham Way and 239
Lewisham Way.


The Haberdashers


The Haberdashers is a classically inspired pub built as the Rosemary Branch around
1854. It is a three storey building built from yellow stock brick with stuccoed detailing.
Below the parapet is an ornate frieze and two channel jointed rendered pilasters with
an urn resting on a small corbel. The windows to the first floor are grandly expressed
with a solid cornice and corbel detail. The original windows to the upper floors
remain and the first floor has particularly decorative arched sashes.
This pub reflects the architectural style of the surrounding residential area but has
enhanced the classical styling to create a beautifully ornate building. The
Haberdashers is an attractive building whose architectural merit make this a locally
important building.


The Black Horse

An traditional three storey Victorian working pub from the 1870/80s. It is built in stock
brick with deep decorative eaves. The original bull nosed timber sash windows
remain to the upper floor but the first floor windows have been replaced.
This pub has an impressive green and beige tiled frontage which makes a historic
contribution to the local streetscape which has been largely redeveloped in the
twentieth century. This pub was originally a corner pub although since
redevelopment this is no longer the case. The fascia is also tiled with the signage
incorporated into the tiling and the original windows and large gas entrance lamp
remains. The dentiled course separates the tiled frontage from the upper floors.


The Cranbrook

The Cranbrook is an unusual and beautiful bullnosed building on the junction of
Brookmill Road and Cranbrook Road. It was built in 1854 as part of the creation of
Deptford New Town in the mid – late 19th century. It reflects the building style of the
surrounding terraces in the Brookmill conservation area which are simply designed
with classical influences and unified with a rendered parapet. The Cranbrook is three
storeys tall and looks over the surrounding streets as the most prominent building
within the conservation area. It is made from yellow stock brick with a stucco ground
floor with Palladium inspired channel jointing and decorated window apertures to the
upper floors. Like the surrounding terraces the pub also has a thick stucco parapet
that wraps around the building. The windows of the building to the upper floors are
evenly and generously distributed.


The Harp




Built in 1897, this is a large and attractive pub that sits facing down Deptford High St
from Evelyn Street. It is astride the two junctions with New King Street and
Watergate Street and has been designed to address these streets as well. It makes
a handsome contribution to the streetscape.
The pub is in an ornate classical style with Baroque influences and is rendered to the
upper floors with an unusual pink marble pub frontage. The roof is a dummy
mansard which falls to a simple pitched roof to the rear. There are two ornate
dormers to the roof with a circular window to one and a tablet of a harp to the other.
There is an ornate frieze that wraps around the building at eaves levels. The first
floor windows have decorative pediments and the proportions reveal a generously
proportions rooms internally. To the ground floor the two original entrances have
been converted into windows but the pediments above the fascias revealing the
original locations. All the original timber windows remain to the upper floors.


The White Swan



An imposing corner property situated on Deptford High Street on the corner with
Edward Street. This was built as a pub and also a hotel in the early 1800s. It is stock
brick with classical detailing and retains the original pub frontage. There is a grand
separate entrance to the hotel on the Edward Street elevation and the pilasters,
fascia and decorative entrances of the pub frontage are all still intact. The pediment
detail to the first floor windows has been removed. The most impressive element of
this building, which can be seen along the street, is the deep parapet which
incorporates the signage ‘Swan’, ‘Hotel’ and ‘The White Swan’ and classical arched
detailing. At the corner rising above the parapet is a swan figurine sitting within a
stuccoed recessed background with a finial above.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Deptford Community Cookbook and live cooking demos

The Deptford Community Cookbook which I wrote about earlier this year is now on sale, and the organisers behind the project have been launching the book with a series of live cooking demonstrations on Saturdays. Unfortunately the post I scheduled to publish earlier this month did not appear, perhaps due to operator error, but you can still catch the last demo this weekend.



They will be showcasing recipes from the book this Saturday 22nd December from 11.30am to 2pm, in conjunction with Regenerate Deptford High Street (no I've never heard of it either).

Niaomh says: "We are located next to the Codfather fishmonger, there will be free tasters and the book will be for sale for only a tenner! The book is also available for purchase through our website http://www.deptfordcookbook.com and will be on sale in some local shops."


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Cockpit Arts open studios and New Cross Learning AGM & Christmas fayre

News of two upcoming local events - the annual pre-christmas open studios at Cockpit Arts and the AGM and Christmas Fayre at New Cross Learning (formerly New Cross Library).

7-9 December 2012
£3 entry (free on Friday) 
Friday 11-9
Sat, Sun 11-6

I usually make an effort to get round Cockpit Arts at least once a year and usually find at least one or two great presents. It's well worth the effort, especially if you haven't been before, and even if you don't have any money to spend it's a fascinating opportunity to meet some very skilled crafters and admire their gorgeous creations.  

However I do have to take issue with the way Cockpit Arts is promoting the studios on the website as being 'a stone's throw from glorious Greenwich'. PLEASE! It's 'a stone's throw from glorious Deptford' and a bit further to Greenwich if you like that kind of thing. Anyone would think they were ashamed of being this side of the Creek!


New Cross Learning AGM & Christmas Fayre
Sunday 16 December
AGM 2pm-3pm
Christmas Fayre 3pm-6pm
Free entry.

All are welcome at the AGM as well as the fayre.

The community-run learning space and library in New Cross is celebrating its second Christmas with a festive book fayre. There will be:

  • A Christmas tree made of books
  • Mystery book bags for £5
  • New and second hand books for sale from 20p
  • Book consultant service for advice on those tricky Christmas book giving decisions
  • Festive crafts
  • Raffle
  • Mulled wine and mince pies

According to the press release: “It’s going to be a fabulous festive afternoon” said the chair of New Cross Learning, Gillian Hart. “Book lovers should come to buy our books for friends and relatives. We’ve got a marvellous selection, and every penny we make goes towards our utility bills – and keeps our learning space and library open! So it’s not just a gift for your friends, it’s a gift for the whole community in New Cross.”

The Christmas Fair will follow New Cross Learning’s first Annual General Meeting, which will report back on the community-run learning space and library’s first year of work and accounts, and elect a new management team.


DIY home insulation workshop


Transition New Cross has organised a 'DIY home insulation workshop' which will take place at the old Tidemill School building on Sunday 2 December. 

The workshop is intended to help residents install DIY measures to reduce heat loss from their homes and learn how they can minimise their energy bills; it has been organised by Transition New Cross, a collective of locals promoting sustainability issues and engagement in the community.

The workshop provides participants with easy to make insulation adjustments for the house and will cover the following topics and techniques:
- temperature management
- curtain making
- DIY door and window sealing
- radiator reflector installation

As well as learning how to apply these to your own home, participants can get hands-on experience by helping to apply them in the venue. Materials will be provided by the organisers and no building skills are required.


The DIY home insulation workshop
Time: 11am to 5pm
Date: 2nd December 2012
Location: Old Tidemill school (Frankham street, SE8 4RN, Deptford)
Organisers: Transition New Cross and Assembly SE8

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Guerrilla garden update

I'm happy to be able to report some progress on the saga of the 'guerrilla' garden on the Edward Street roundabout. If you remember, in a fit of excessive zeal Glendale staff pulled all the tops off the wild flowers earlier this year, leaving the bed 'tidy' and bare except for the young sunflower plants. As a result of the hoo-ha that it created, questions were asked in council meetings, newspaper stories were published, and the council and Glendales reiterated their claim that they had done the clearance because they were intending all along to replant the bed. 

Weeks came and went, the sunflowers continued to grow tall, flowered and gradually died off (seed heads are probably ripe for picking and drying right now  - anyone?) and many of the flowers that had been so unthinkingly beheaded sprouted back out of the ground for a second attempt.

Today I passed the garden and noticed that two boards had been stuck in the ground, one at each end of the bed. 

If you click on the picture you should be able to see a bigger version - and you'll read that Glendales is offering two different planting schemes for the beds, option one using low-growing shrubs such as lavender, hebe and so on, option two having low-growing conifers.


If you have an opinion on what you would like to see planted here, you are invited to give your feedback to lewisham@glendale-services.co.uk by 30th November at the latest.


Friday, 16 November 2012

Wavelengths redevelopment: turning up the heat

Exciting news: work has finally begun at Wavelengths to convert the old library space into a 'modern purpose-built health and fitness leisure centre'.

I'm sure those who use the gym will be delighted to know that they will soon have a myriad of new machines on which to run, cycle and row while watching TV; there's also new rooms for classes (much needed, who ever thought a strangely-shaped room full of pillars would serve as such?!) an 'indoor cycle studio' (room full of bikes for those who want to 'spin'), a new health suite with sauna and steam room, a cafe and a 'soft playroom' for kids.


Above you will see the rather unhelpful diagram that's included in the newsletter being given out at Wavelengths. Perhaps you think my words harsh, but not only is it difficult to tell how the plan above fits on the existing building, the decision to divide it into phasing also seems pointless considering that 'phase three' is now being carried out at the same time as 'phase one' while 'phase two' hasn't begun yet. Confused? You will be!


The fancy rendering above is helpful if you need to know exactly how the new machines are going to be laid out, likewise if you haven't ever seen the inside of a gym and aren't sure what people do in it, take a look at the 'fly through' video. Just don't expect to learn much about how the changes fit with the Wavelengths layout.


In the small print of the leaflet you might have missed the bit about the fun pool being closed - apparently they are carrying out 'essential refurbishment works' but there is scant information as to what this involves.

Will the flumes be brought back into use, or are they being taken out altogether to stop them gathering any more dust?

What about the plastic palm trees set in concrete - will these forlorn items remain after the refurb? Thankfully I haven't had to look at them since the fitness pool was built, but I presume they are still there, propping up the faded 80s vibe of the place.

But regular fitness pool swimmers can't have missed the immediate impact of this closure - the fact that the water in the fitness pool is now stifflingly hot. I thought I was imagining it, but it seems that other swimmers have been complaining it's too cold and so the temperature has been turned up.

Naturally we have to share the fitness pool while the leisure pool is closed for its mysterious three-month refurbishment but I don't understand why the temperature has to revert to that of the leisure pool during this time. Many people use the fitness pool for exercise or training, and it is way too hot to be able to keep up a good pace safely.

Of course it doesn't help that the showers are now once again resolutely cold - on my latest visit the contrast from the hot pool to the freezing showers made me feel like I was rolling in the snow after a Swedish sauna. Perhaps we need a few birch twigs to add to the experience.

Let's just hope that with more people using the pool the pressure might push the management to get those bloody showers fixed once and for all.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Save Lewisham Hospital A&E

In case you haven't already seen this, please read and respond to the campaign to save the accident & emergency facility at Lewisham Hospital.



It is not just the A&E that is at risk - if it is closed, other units such as emergency surgery, critical care and so on are also in danger of being lost.

The suggestion has been put forward by the special administrator who has been appointed to take over South London Healthcare Trust (of which Lewisham Hospital is not a part). The intention is that Lewisham's A&E and the healthcare priorities of all who use it should be sacrificed to save a failing trust.

I can't even begin to comment on how hugely cynical and short-sighted this proposal is, without my blood starting to boil.

For the sake of my own health I will direct you to the various links below that explain it all in clear, concise detail; for the sake of your future health and that of the whole of south east London, I suggest you sign the petitions, contact your MP and attend the meetings.

Save Lewisham Hospital 

Transpontine

Heidi Alexander's petition

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Black history month - local events

There's plenty going on in and around Deptford over the next few weeks for Black History Month - tomorrow's event at the Deptford Lounge caught my eye in particular. Deptford's maritime history is very much in focus at the moment, what with plans to build over the remains of our royal dockyard at Convoys Wharf, and the threat that the anchor on the high street will be sent back to Chatham, eliminating the last visual reminder of Deptford's considerable boat-building heritage.

Tomorrow night historian and novelist S I Martin will be talking about Deptford's black maritime history, and he will be accompanied by singer and spoken word performer El Crisis. It promises to be a fascinating evening.

I saw El Crisis performing this song at the Deptford Lounge some time ago - I think it was at the opening or some time around then - and it brought tears to my eyes.



Deptford Lounge 

18 October 7-8.30pm
Deptford’s black maritime history: S.I. Martin and El Crisis
Deptford’s black maritime history explored by S.I. Martin.

19 October 4-5pm
Bessie Coleman: story and paper plane mobile craft
Chatterbooks special for ages 8-11.

20 October 2-3pm
African Batik craft
Come and make your own African inspired pattern.

27 October 2-3pm
African landscape craft
Come and make an African landscape scene.

29 October 2-3pm and 3.30-4.30pm
Half Term Tour - Stories from Many Nations
Alison Blunt, internationally acclaimed musician and storyteller, presents stories and songs from many nations.

3 November 2-4pm
Black History Month Sing Out!
You can be part of a barnstorming sing-out performance at Deptford Lounge.

8 November 7-8.30pm Chibundo Onuzo and Noo Saro-Wiwa: Author event
Chibundo Onuzo and Noo Saro-Wiwa share the platform at Deptford Lounge to discuss their new books.


Moonshot Centre (Fordham Park)

27 October 12noon–9pm Moonshot family fun day
IRIE! Dance Theatre invite you to step back in time to the Moonshot Centre in the 70s and 80s.


New Cross Community Library 

30 October 3.45-4.30pm Half Term Tour - Stories from Many Nations
Alison Blunt, internationally acclaimed musician and storyteller, presents stories and songs from many nations.

Full listings and more details about all these events can be found on the council's website.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Deptford High Street improvements - save the anchor!


You may recall at the beginning of this year that Lewisham Council was awarded funding for high street improvements and published some proposals of what changes it intended to implement.

As well as addressing the paving, layout and lighting of the street, there are also a number of other significant changes that the council wants to implement, including parking and traffic flow on the high street.

The original plans for the south end of the high street at Deptford Broadway seem to have been modified somewhat compared to the new visualisations that are included in the leaflet that the council is delivering locally.

Oddly, although the council says it wants to remove the anchor and the low wall around it (ostensibly to remove the focus for the street drinkers) the new renderings show a nice little planted area with a lovely low wall. Looks the perfect place to meet your mates for a can of Red Stripe and a fight. Right outside Peacocks, oh sorry I mean the 99p shop.

Apparently the council is 'trying to find' a new location for the anchor (massive hint: how about that unfinished and uninspiring square outside the Deptford Lounge which currently has no focus whatsoever if you don't count the hoarded off corner? You're welcome, the invoice for the consultancy fee is in the post).

If you feel strongly that the anchor should stay somewhere in Deptford, I recommend that you fill in this online survey which includes a question about what should happen to one of Deptford's most well-known landmarks. 



Traffic is to be restricted to one way only (I assume from the junction at Giffin Street) which might reduce some of the motoring fuckwittery that is regularly experienced down there, but I'm not holding my breath. The council also says that it's going to replace the current high street parking regulations with bays where drivers can park for half an hour only, so I assume this means there will also have to be enhanced parking enforcement.

Other measures include the employment of 'an experienced events and town centre renewal manager who will work with local businesses over the next two years to showcase Deptford’s potential'.

There are plans for a series of special events, 'refresher courses' (not sure what in) for existing market traders and shopkeepers and to work with local artists/designers to 'create a more attractive look' for the high street.

The council is also offering support to up to a dozen under-25s who want to start up their own businesses and market stalls. They will get six weeks’ training and a pitch on the market in the lead-up to christmas. 

You can find out more about these plans (and inevitably 'have your say' for what it's worth) at a drop-in event being held at the Deptford Lounge next Wednesday 17 October from 4pm-7.30pm.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Evelyn Assembly Saturday 13 October

Evelyn Assembly is holding its annual voting event this Saturday from 11am - 2pm upstairs in the Deptford Lounge on Giffin Street.

Attendees will be able cast their votes for the local groups and organisations they think should receive assembly funding - 17 in total have applied and they will be represented at the event, providing information about their projects and what they want the funding for.

If you want to vote, you will need to arrive by 11.45 at the latest.

There's also dancers, free face painting, a balloonist and local musicians, as well as free refreshments. Not to mention the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the ward's elusive councillors.

Meanwhile the council is seeking your opinion about local assemblies - for your chance to win £100 in 'high street vouchers' (I take it that's not the opportunity to buy 100 items in Poundland or 101 in the 99p shop) you should fill in the online survey here.

Finally the leaflet also promises the opportunity to 'sign up to have your say on the changes happening around convoys wharf in Evelyn ward'.

 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Albany sells off its back garden for housing

Do you enjoy sitting out in the garden at the back of the Albany Theatre enjoying a meal or a cup of tea in the sunshine? Perhaps, like me, you often wander along Idonia Street and take pleasure in watching the birds flit among the row of mature trees that stand along the edge of the land bordering Octavius Street.

If so, my advice is to make the most of it.

Last month the Albany finally made public the deal it struck more than a year ago with developer Cathedral Group to sell off this little green oasis for residential use, and announced that plans for the land will be put out for public consultation later this year.

According to the press release on the Albany's website:

The Albany and Cathedral Group have entered into a partnership to kick start an investment and development programme which will secure a vibrant future for the Albany as the leading arts venue and community hub in south east London. 

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary on Douglas Way this year, a lack of capital investment in our building over the previous 30 years has restricted the ability of the Albany to fulfil our potential in delivering a full range of events, activities and community uses. 

As part of the investment programme, a residential development will take place on land to the rear of the theatre, providing necessary finance to help facilitate the development and expansion of our operation, knitting the Albany further into the heart of Deptford. 

The proposed development will fund a programme of major external and internal improvements, ensuring the Albany can continue to innovate and remain a leader in arts provision by creating a new, reinvigorated and sustainable local arts complex with expanded facilities. Plans for the residential development will be brought forward for public consultation in the autumn of this year.

These plans have been in the offing for more than five years now, but apart from a vague mention at the Albany's last AGM and a couple of paragraphs in the accounts and annual report for the 2010/2011 financial year, the Albany has been playing its cards very close to its chest.

As far back as 2007, architectural practice Project Orange was working on potential designs for the site, and at that time the proposals were pretty depressing. Almost the entire area of the site was taken up by residential units, apart from a large extension for the Albany Theatre of course, and a tiny 'garden' between the old and the new units.



The grey building on the right is the carriage ramp development which was given planning permission earlier this year, but which has not yet started construction. The green and yellow blocks behind it are the original proposal, with the Albany to the left for scale.




A plan view shows the existing land at the back of the Albany comprehensively built over.

However since I downloaded these images a year or so ago, it seems there has been something of a revision to plans, with the Project Orange website now showing these renderings of the Albany Housing 'in progress'.


I'm assuming that the dark grey circular shaped things are trees, it seems from the information on the Cathedral Group site that these trees are actually protected, so at least some of them will be retained, and the layout certainly looks a lot more permeable than the previous proposal.


Here the black and white block on the right is the carriage ramp development, the two new blocks - still a considerable height and higher than the flats on Idonia Street - at the rear of the Albany.

It's good that the Albany's management and trustees are planning for the future and that they seem committed to improving and expanding the facilities on the site. But I am sorely disappointed by the path that they have chosen.



The sell-off of this green space right at the very heart of Deptford risks undermining any good the Albany might achieve in securing the future of the theatre, and it seems to me that they have taken the easiest route to getting the cash they need without considering what impact their actions will have on their immediate neighbours and the local community.

Campaigners across the other side of the high street are fighting the temporary loss of green space which is threatened by construction of a shaft for the Thames Tunnel, but it seems to me that the Albany's backdoor tactics are far more insidious and harmful.

The area is already going to change dramatically with the construction of the eight-storey block next to the carriage ramp and redevelopment of St Paul's House on the high street. The loss of even more green space does not signal an improvement to me.



Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Deptford Green School open days

With the new Deptford Green School now up and running, head teacher Peter Campling is inviting 'the whole community' to visit and take a tour around the school.

Leaflets have been distributed around the area inviting people to turn up any weekday from now until Wed 10th October, from 9.15am to 10.30am for a tour of the school and a presentation by the head.

If weekdays are not convenient, they are also opening the school on Saturday 6th October from 10.30-11.45am and on Tuesday 9th October from 6-7.15pm.

There's a warm-and-fuzzy-feeling video on their website if you want to find out more about the teaching and the school itself, and it certainly looks like the new building has some great facilities. I was particularly taken by the rooftop, open-air classrooms!

Things have clearly changed somewhat since I was at school, since teachers now have job titles like Leader of Learning and Leader of Teaching. However I notice that there's still a trend for kids to try and mark out their individual style by the way they knot their ties. Some things are enduring.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Paynes & Borthwick wharf


I've been meaning to write about Paynes & Borthwick Wharf for some months now, ever since I was down in Twinkle Park at about 7am on a Saturday morning and was remarking on the almighty racket coming off the site as the builders hammered on, impervious to local residents.

As a few people have commented, the new buildings on the east of the site, which is right next to Twinkle Park at the bottom of Watergate Street, have grown quickly in recent months. The main tower can be easily picked out from the various high points I've visited in the last few days, including the top of the Seager Distillery Tower, Point Hill, and One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park. That being said, it is still massively overshadowed by the ugliness of Creekside Village and the bulk of New Capital Quay, and if the Convoys Wharf towers get built as proposed, it will be stumpy by comparison.

View from Twinkle Park

As far as their marketing material goes, United House and LaSalle Investment Management clearly believe that Deptford is still a hard sell, even for riverside developments next to 17th century listed buildings, so they have relocated it to West Greenwich, SE8.  

A press release says the development "will provide 257 high specification one, two and three bedroom apartments and 10 live/work units in a landscaped setting with views towards Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the City. The mixed-use regeneration scheme will also feature 38,000 sq ft of art gallery, restaurant, commercial and retail space and a total of 150 underground parking spaces. 

"Paynes & Borthwick will comprise 203 residential units for private sale and 44 affordable homes which will be managed by Hexagon Housing Association. The development will include a new residential tower rising to 16 storeys and the sympathetic conversion and sensitive restoration of the existing warehouse buildings which will retain their original facades. 

"The master plan for the project has been agreed by the Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich to advance the regeneration of this area of London, which has been designated a Creative Enterprise Zone by the Government."

Naturally in their site rendering the developers have taken the liberty of including Twinkle Park, just to make it look greener and more attractive than it would do if it was just a load of buildings with green roofs. It's not an outright invention of course, but it does seem galling that they are using a lovely little green space which has been created by and is maintained by the community in order to sell private flats. Not least because the park is already becoming badly overshadowed by the high buildings. 

As developments go, it's not a bad effort. The owners were obliged to retain the facade of the old wharf building, on both sides of the structure, and although they've stuck the usual double-height glass box on the top, set back from the facade so that the planners will let it ride, it's not offensive by any stretch of the imagination.


The new-build blocks are relatively dense, but by dint of the site plan, the architects were prevented from creating anything as monstrous as the blocks on New Capital Quay, and they have actually included two relatively low-rise blocks between the new build and the renovated facades which should make the public plazas a little more attractive.

Two low rise blocks - view from the river

Twinkle Park on the right hand side, looking along the retained facade
With 150 parking spaces for just 250-odd apartments, the tiny roads that lead down to the site are likely to suffer both in terms of increased traffic movements and overspill parking. And although the developers are promising an art gallery, restaurant and commercial and retail space, whether this will be filled or will just stand empty for years is anyone's guess.

You only have to look at the sad, boarded-up ground floor of Wood Wharf, and the shenanigans over the Seager Distillery Tower art gallery to know that it's not going to be a straightforward transformation into the 'Creative Enterprise Zone' that is being touted.

View towards the river

View from the road, looking west


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Seager Distillery development


This weekend as part of the Open House event, Seager Distillery Tower's 'viewing area' was open to the public, rare access to great views which many local bloggers and residents seem to have taken advantage of. Apparently residents of the tower have access to this area, which must be fun when there are fireworks or storms to watch - bet it was full for the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies! - but yesterday was rather warm in the full sunshine.


Although it has great views, they are only on three sides of the building, and in reality it's little more than a small glass box. There's a balcony outside with railings and everything, but no access to it. That being said, it's the best place from which to see the tower, as you can ignore its priapic proportions and grim grey exterior.


Looking south, the magnificent Dawson Heights estate in East Dulwich loomed on the skyline like some kind of ghostly castle. I made a mental note to take a trip down there one day and have a closer look, it's quite tucked away and the topography of the area make it practically invisible from the main roads of the area. You really have to seek it out.

The view south

The open access also provided a welcome opportunity to chat with a couple of members of Galliard staff, who gave quite an insight into progress on the development.

Perhaps you remember a year or so ago when the developers applied for permission to relegate the proposed art gallery to a poky site on Brookmill Road because they had a hotel operator lined up to open a four star 'boutique' hotel in the old building facing the main road?

I've noticed that very little seems to have happened to the building since then, and apparently there are two reasons for that. Not only did it take a long time for the council to grant permission for the changes to the building (Quote: 'they are not the easiest of councils to deal with' - hurrah! I would have been worried to hear that they are a walkover) but also our chap confided that the hotel operator has now pulled out and as of this moment in time they have no other operator in place.

Given that they missed the obvious Olympic deadline, this news hardly surprises me. And considering there are several other hotels nearby, not to mention more in the pipeline, I would be somewhat gobsmacked if they managed to attract another operator willing to back a four-star boutique hotel on the A2 in Deptford.

I look forward to hearing what plans Galliard has for its showcase building now.

Ghost bike on Deptford Church Street

This week Barry Normah is due to appear in court in Bromley charged with killing Olatunji Johnson Adeyanju in a hit and run in Deptford earlier this year.

Recently a white 'ghost bike' has been placed next to the pedestrian crossing where TJ was knocked off his bicycle while crossing the road.


These 'memorials' are often placed next to locations where cyclists have been killed, and are intended to highlight the dangers of these particular junctions, remind drivers and cyclists to take care, and to serve as memorials for those who lost their lives.

Personally I have mixed feelings about this type of memorial, the same way I feel about roadside shrines. While some friends and family of the victims might find such a shrine helpful, providing a way for them to focus on and deal with their loss, I can't help thinking that I'd rather concentrate on my happy memories of that person. On the other hand I think it's good to remind road users of the potential consequences of their actions.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Upcoming events in Deptford

Apologies for absence over the last few weeks - sometimes real life just gets in the way and it's necessary to take a step back and let the blog drift for a while. With holidays coming up next week I'll be doing the same for another week or so, but don't worry I'll be back mid September, refreshed and ready to launch back into it.

In the meantime there's plenty going on in Deptford and surrounds, as well as London itself, to keep you busy over the next few weekends.

Albany Outdoors

This weekend (8-9 September) the Albany invites you to help celebrate its 30th birthday at its FREE outdoor weekend, with theatre, live music and family fun taking place in the squares and streets between the Albany and Deptford Lounge.

These include:


The Albany Bandstand Marathon
Red Herring's That's The Way To Do It!
Fanshen's Green and Pleasant Land
C-12 Dance Theatre's The Van Man
Uncover and Emergency Exit Arts' Tag It
MADCAP's Urban Village Fete


Find out more in the online brochure.


London Open House weekend

22-23 September
The annual favourite weekend of architecture and design buffs, budding historians, and nosy sods like me; find out what goes on behind the normally-closed doors of your home city.

Alongside plenty of exciting, grand buildings that will be open to the public in town, Deptford is pretty well represented. You can go up the Seager Distillery tower (the views from the top may be the only thing that commends it!), have a tour of Tidemill School and the Deptford Lounge, or pay a visit to the SE London Combined Heat & Power facility on Landmann Way off Surrey Canal Road. There's plenty more going on so take a look at the online listings to plan your day.

The Vanishing Point

On Saturday 15 September, the Vanishing Point presents an immersive screening of Silent Running using the rooftop and gallery spaces of Utrophia gallery (120 Deptford High Street, London, SE8 4NS) at 7.30pm.

The organisers say: "Silent Running is the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull (noted for his stunning visual effects work on Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey) and is described by critic Mark Kermode as “One of my all time favourite movies and one of the greatest sci-fi films ever”. The event will feature interaction with crew members from The Valley Forge, garden areas, secret special musical guests, a blast off bar, food stalls and immersive installations inspired by the film. 

"Come along dressed in tie-dye or robot inspired costumes and get in at a reduced rate of £10 on the door! Advance tickets are available now through our website- www.thevanishingpoint.org.uk. Guests will be sitting on a rooftop during the screening and are invited to bring blankets and cushions for additional comfort."


Octopump 2 Festival at the Royal Albert

21-23 September
Something for the grown-ups with the second 'Octopump' festival taking place at one of my favourite local pubs. Already the list of beers on offer is making my mouth water, with Darkstar, Redemption, Vale, Thornbridge and Harviestoun all mentioned, as well as Kent, London Fields and By the Horns. Having spent most of a recent festival weekend supping Vale Pale Ale, I would be dead chuffed if I was able to get a pint or two in my local!

Rob from the Royal Albert says: "As last year the focus will be on the quality and selection of beer and cider as well as the following:

-Live music
-BBQ
-DJs
-Yard of ale shenanigans
-Drinks offers (buy seven pints get the eighth free!) (not all in one night I hope! - ed)
-Camra discounts
-Take away beer cartons
-The return of Holly the Hoptapus!

Also this year we will have an even bigger selection of beers and ciders as we will not only have our eight pumps (which seem a little old hat now) but we are clearing out space next door to rack ales and have a cider stall. There may even be a gazebo and a deck chair or two out front if you’re lucky."

The Great Greenwich Treasure Hunt

Finally, a little further afield - on Sunday 16th September Greenwich Oxfam Fundraising Group in conjunction with Visit Greenwich invites you to join The Great Greenwich Treasure Hunt.

The event is being sponsored by a number of local businesses with Goddard's Pies as the main sponsor; some 150 participants are expected to take part and the intention is to raise £1300 for Oxfam.

The treasure hunt will consist of a number of questions which teams must answer in the required time by visiting sites and businesses around Greenwich town centre. There will be some great prizes which have been donated by local businesses. These include a two course lunch with drinks for six at Goddard's restaurant and six tickets for any show at Greenwich Theatre. The recommended team size is four to six people and the event is suitable for all ages.

Tickets are on sale now at www.wegottickets.com/greenwichtreasurehunt and also in person from both the Greenwich Tourist Information Centre on the Old Royal Naval College site and the Greenwich Oxfam bookshop. They are priced at £8, £6 for students and £5 for under 16s. There are also family tickets available for £20 for up two adults and two under 16s. The organisers recommend you get your tickets in advance as the event is likely to sell out.

To get updates on the event 'like' the Facebook page www.facebook.com/GreatGreenwichTreasureHunt or email info.oxfamgreenwich@gmail.com to be added to the event mailing list.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Deptford Tales walking audio tour





StoneCrabs Theatre has been working with children of St Joseph’s Primary School to create the Deptford Tales. Inspired by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales they have written and recorded their own unique, humorous and refreshing versions.

This Saturday you can experience these stories as you navigate your way around Deptford!

Pick up a map and mp3 player for a tour from Deptford Lounge (click for map) anytime between 11am and 2pm on Saturday, 18th August 2012

Tours will last approximately 45 mins.

After these dates recordings will be available from Deptford Lounge.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Global Picture Palace film weekend

A festival of popular world cinema is taking place over the bank holiday weekend at the Stephen Lawrence Centre, courtesy of our very own Deptford Film Club.

The club has been working with young people to design and build two temporary cinemas at the centre, taking advantage of some of the building's quirky angles and overhanging bits to turn them into temporary screens, and a series of films from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean will be screened there over August bank holiday weekend.



Its great to see something like this happening at the centre, which I have always thought needs to forge stronger connections with the local community and open itself up a bit more. Tickets for the Friday or Saturday are £10 (which includes a choice of two out of the four films) or you can buy a ticket for both days for just £15. Free popcorn is included!


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lord Clyde saved from demolition

Earlier this year I reported that a planning application to demolish the Lord Clyde pub on the Evelyn estate and build a block of flats in its place had been rejected by Lewisham Council's planning department.

Four reasons were given by the council, which were basically the loss of a heritage asset and the impact this loss would have on the surrounding area; the loss of a public house, boxing gym and meeting rooms, which are all considered valuable amenity assets and particularly important for an area which suffers deprivation to this extent; the design, scale and massing of the proposed building, and the poor quality of living accommodation proposed.

The developer appealed, but when the decision was published last week, it seems the Planning Inspector agreed with Lewisham Council on most of its grounds for the rejection.

Even though the Lord Clyde is not listed either nationally or locally, its only heritage importance being that it has been identified by the council as 'an undesignated heritage asset', the value of the building from a heritage point of view was agreed by the inspector. He noted that the building was fine example of a Victorian pub, he pointed out the prominent parapet inscribed with the pub's name and said that the building was important because it provided architectural variety within an area otherwise dominated by residential buildings.

The design of the proposed replacement building was too bulky and would dominate the street, the inspector said. The replacement of a locally-important building with a new one that failed to respect adjoining buildings was contrary to current planning law, in his opinion. (I must say that this particular point was music to my ears, although if we could see it applied to a few more developments I would be much obliged!)

It's heartening to see that the representations made by members of the local community were given appropriate weight in the inspector's decision. In its application, the developer claimed that the pub 'does not provide any positive contribution to the area', incensing the landlord and prompting him to start his own campaign, which successfully garnered significant support.

The representations convinced the inspector, who was also impressed by the boxing gym and meeting rooms in the upper floors of the pub, which he saw on his visit and accepted made a valuable contribution to the local community, in particular to young people.

It was particularly heartening to read the inspector's comment that although the developer stated the public house was no longer viable, no evidence to substantiate that claim had been submitted. All too often such claims about viability of businesses are taken as read rather than being examined properly and challenged  - we've seen it recently in claims by betting shops that they occupy what would otherwise be empty retail units, when in fact there has been no testing of the market whatsoever.

He also pointed out that no attempt had been made to find alternative premises for the boxing gym or meeting rooms, and that without their presence, the community's 'life chances' would be reduced, contrary to London Plan policies. Moreover, the proposal would be contrary to other policies which seek to protect social infrastructure provision. 
 
What will happen next is anyone's guess. It would be great if the building were sold to someone who was actually willing to invest in it and spend some money on refurbishing the pub and upper floors, but I guess that would be pretty unlikely unless we have any kindly benefactors lurking around locally. Perhaps it would be a prime candidate to be owned by some kind of local cooperative or trust fund, run by local people who could improve and strengthen the community facilities, renovate the pub and come up with some new ideas to help keep it going and attract new custom.
 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Deal's Gateway - cycling suicide

Cycling has been very much in the news the last week or so, both positively, with medals for our track and road cyclists, and negatively, with the sad news that another cyclist has been killed on London's roads.

Regular cyclists will know that the main changes that are needed in order to reduce road deaths are improvements in the design of junctions and road layouts, with the safety of cyclists in mind.

Anyone who rides the same route regularly becomes familiar with the junctions, and if they are anything like me, subconsciously builds up a safety rating for each part of the journey. Sometimes it's not the actual layout of the junction that's at fault, it's the fact that the relative direction or volume of traffic has not been considered by whoever designed the traffic phasing. Usually the main consideration in terms of traffic is to keep the cars moving.

It is now two years since Transport for London deemed it necessary to change the traffic signalling at Deal's Gateway - the junction where Greenwich High Road meets the A2, and the construction of the new development known collectively as One SE8 created a new road, Deal's Gateway, on the opposite side.

When this new stub of road was first built, the traffic lights at the junction had three phases. The main phase was green, for the traffic on the A2. The second phase was green for the traffic on Greenwich High Road, the vast majority of which emerges and turns right into the A2, heading for New Cross. A third phase (which I believe only operated when a vehicle was detected on Deal's Gateway) was a dedicated phase for traffic coming out of the One SE8 development.

Now I can't remember the exact details of why it was changed, but I seem to remember that TFL thought that having a dedicated phase for Deal's Gateway was causing delays to drivers on the A2, and so decided to do away with it. Now traffic from Deal's Gateway gets a green signal at the same time as traffic from Greenwich High Road.

Under normal circumstances on any other crossroads, this would not be a problem. Unfortunately it often happens that the only traffic emerging from Deal's Gateway is cyclists coming through the cycle route in Brookmill Park and heading for Greenwich, while in the opposite direction, a non-stop stream of cars, buses and vans wants to turn across the Deal's Gateway traffic.

This change to the traffic pattern was rapidly identified by local cycling groups as posing a huge danger to cyclists and the issue was flagged with TFL. After a lot of pestering and the intervention of various politicians and cycling groups, TFL made some 'improvements' to the junction by bringing the signals on Deal's Gateway nearer to the junction and putting some signs up on Greenwich High Road.

But the improvements it offered were barely noticeable; cyclists still had to take their lives into their hands every time they wanted to cross the junction. I have used this junction once since the change, I will never do it again while these traffic phases remain - however I am lucky in that I rarely need to do so.

Last week, Lewisham Cyclists decided to film a cyclist attempting to perform this manoeuvre. You can see the results below.






I don't believe it would be melodramatic to say that a cyclist is likely to die on this junction if the traffic signalling is not changed. I would hazard a guess that the only reason no-one has been killed so far is that the vast majority of cyclists change their routes to avoid it.

If you want to help with the campaign, or find out more about it, you can get in touch with Lewisham Cyclists.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Deptford rail bridge in full technicolour



Walking along the high street is now much more pleasant with the scaffolding removed - it was a dark and unpleasant place at night time and a rubbish trap at all hours of day.

I must say the newly-painted steelwork looks very stylish and I'm delighted to see that no yellow has been allowed to mar the beauty of the bridge! It's also much improved with the roof and canopies removed, although that might not be much of a benefit for travellers when the rain and wind return.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Upcoming events: Deptford and surrounds

With a certain major sporting event imminent, and the impact being felt across the capital, there's also a wealth of other things happening as everyone ramps up the local events. Don't expect to have any time to watch the sporting highlights with all this going on!

Aside from the arrival of the torch at 7.30am tomorrow morning (don't expect me there, I've seen it already elsewhere and that was under duress!) here's a flavour of what south east London has to offer in the coming weeks and months.

28/29 July and 4/5 August: Faircharm Fair


Local artists and designer makers showcase their work at Faircharm Studios Deptford. The fair will coincide with the open studios on Creekside and Deptford X contemporary art festival 2012. 
The fair is open to the public from 11am-6pm. More info here.

27 July - 12 August: Deptford X

Deptford X chair Paul Marks says: "We have been working with our appointed lead artist-curators, Hew Locke and Indra Khanna, to produce a high-quality festival of contemporary visual art, and we are pleased to welcome Henna Nadeem, Dzine, Doug Jones and The Hidden Noise to Deptford X 2012.
"Deptford X has been commissioned the London Borough of Lewisham to produce three pieces of work: David Mach’s ‘Hell Bent’ sculpture will be displayed on Blackheath; Lewisham Council’s refuse trucks will be decorated with new work that has been created by students led by Bridget Lycett-Smith; and a sculpture from the Museum of Melancholy inspired by Olympic podiums will be exhibited in the Creekside CafĂ©.
"This year the festival will include over 50 fringe projects, plus gallery exhibitions, open studios and numerous tours, events and performances, making Deptford X 2012 a truly inspiring programme."

Lots more info on the website, as well as a downloadable programme. If you want a printed copy, you can buy one from Arch Materials shop for £1.

27 July - 11 August: Gallery Closed Studio Open 

This is a new Utrophia/Extra Bones project as part of Deptford X and will take place at the Utrophia project space.

From the organisers:
"Gallery Closed Studio Open is a programme of diverse participatory art projects, workshops, music making, live performances, screenings and talks, almost all of which are free. Our aim is to create something which all of Deptford will feel they can get involved in, and we think we have something to suit almost every taste!"

All the listings, as well as information on how to sign up for projects, can be found here.

The line-up also has plenty for all ages and the organisers have picked out a selection here which are particularly suitable for families and children


28 July, 4/11 Aug: Deptford X walking and cycling tours

Walking tours:
28th July Part 1: Studio & main programme tour 14:00 - 16:00
4th August Part 2: Studios & fringe 14:00 - 16:00
11th August with special guests: curators of Deptford X Hew Locke and Indra Khanna 14:00 - 16:00

Led by South London Art Map’s tour guides, all of whom are artists and curators practising in South London, these tours will give you the behind the scenes look at Deptford’s studios, galleries and most importantly the Deptford X fringe and main programmes.

All tours are pay what you like and begin at Bearspace Gallery, 152 Deptford High St, SE8 3PQ

Cycling tours:

29th July Part 1
4th August Part 2
12th August Part 3

Join Artouride (London's only art & design cycle tour company) in collaboration with SLAM on a visual cycle journey around the DeptfordX 2012 festival. Your guide will show you some of the highlights of the festival, including studios, exhibitions and installations. During these leisurely rides we will stop and view and discuss work on display, giving you ample opportunity to experience many aspects of the festival. We will also discover the local area's historical and contemporary landmarks.

All tours are from 14:00  - 17:00 and meet at The Deptford Project, 121-123 Deptford High Street, SE8 4NS

Tours are £15pp (Includes use of Artourides Brompton bike) and there are 10 places available @ £10 if you bring your own bike.

Booking info here.

5 August: New Cross Learning big summer booksale


A big summer book sale will be held at New Cross Learning, the community-run learning space and library in New Cross Gate on Sunday 5 August.

The event will run from 2pm-5pm, with second-hand books at (almost) pre-war prices, with paperbacks from 20p and hardbacks from £1. There will also be tea, coffee and home-made cakes for sale.

It’ll be a great opportunity to get some holiday reading and take a break from the Olympics.  We have a superb stock of donated books for all tastes.

"It may have been a horrible summer, and we may not get as many medals as we were expecting,", said Chair of New Cross Learning Gill Hart, "but a good book never lets you down".

All of the proceeds will go towards keeping New Cross Learning, its library and other learning activities, open.
http://www.newcrosslearning.org/

Various dates in July and August: Mystery walks and magical picnics

There will be six mystery walks and picnics on Fridays this summer from 27th July, leaving from New Cross Learning for an unknown destination!

The walks may be indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather, and are free (and sponsored by the NHS). People of all ages, and families, are welcome.

The walks will start at 11am and finish at 2pm, and there will be a magical healthy picnic half way through. They will offer the chance to get out, do something new and get (gently) fit while having fun, showing that you don't have to be an Olympic athlete to stay healthy.

The destinations will include some local beauty spots and London museums.

The walks and picnics will be on a first come, first served basis, and the dates are 27 July, and 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 August.

Various dates: family events and low-tide walks at the Creekside Centre

A whole host of family fun days and low-tide walks are being held at the Creekside Centre this summer - for full details see the posters below or visit the website


As well as the low-tide walks noted on the poster below,  extra walks are being held during the Olympic period on 29 July at 2pm, 2 Aug at 7pm, 7 Aug at 11am, 10 Aug at 1.30pm and 30 Aug at 7pm.


28 July: Blurt & Satyre gig on board the MS Stubnitz

Not strictly in Deptford, but featuring some of our home-grown musical talent. This floating music venue from the former East Germany is currently moored in the Royal Docks on the other side of the river. Worth a look if you get the chance - see the Guardian's article here.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Convoys Wharf public exhibition

I wonder how many of my readers went to the Convoys Wharf public exhibition in the Deptford Lounge last Saturday or Monday evening? I suspect it wasn't very many of you.

Several hundred read this blog every day and I estimate that barely a third that number came through the door in total during the eight-hour period the plans were on display. To my knowledge there were two posters on display locally - one in the Dog & Bell and the other in the Deptford Project. Neither of these was visible from the high street, and in a brief sweep of the shop windows on Saturday, not a single poster was on show - only a board outside the entrance to the Deptford Lounge. A survey of friends living within a three minute walk of the high street revealed that none had had flyers delivered either by hand or in the post. Apart from posts on blogs such as this one, there has been a marked absence of publicity.

It would be interesting to know from the people who actually made it to the exhibition, where they had heard about it - if you saw any flyers or posters, or just saw something on the internet. Even if you didn't go, it would be good if you could comment on any publicity you may have seen or received.

There was an awful lot of information on display at the exhibition - way too much in my opinion, and quite a lot of it unnecessary - but in fact probably the most important bit of information in the room, and the one that fewest people saw, was the label next to the large model. This label stated that it was a 'groundscape' model - ie lower floors only. No building heights at all, rendering the model incredibly benign, a low-rise development at a human scale and posing little threat to Deptford as we know it.



The label proclaims: 'Convoys Wharf: 3 squares, 3 linked parks and a riverside promenade'.

Not to mention 3,500 new apartments, several high rise towers, shops, hotels and a lot of parking spaces. The three parks it mentions (Pepys Park, Sayes Court Gardens, Twinkle Park) already exist outside the site boundaries; don't be misled into thinking the new development includes new parks, although they seem to have tacked a bit extra onto Sayes Court Gardens and propose to plant trees everywhere, including inside the Olympia Building. Work that one out.

But you wouldn't be misled by the model at all, would you?

Farrell's had clearly spent a lot of money on having this model built - architectural models don't come cheap - but the information it provided could just as easily have been conveyed on a plan, at a fraction of the price. Musing on this only led me to one possible conclusion - that it was a deliberate ploy to confuse or pacify people by the visual suggestion that the development was going to be in scale with its surroundings.

The model was made very green by the presence of large trees on every road, and pretty chips of coloured perspex were dotted everywhere to represent counters in retail units, boats, and other unidentified objects. Cocktail sticks bearing white flag-like labels were stuck all over the place, with touchy-feeling, wording on them, clearly carefully-chosen to appeal: 'local pub' and 'local shop' as opposed to 'pub' or 'wine bar' and 'retail'.

If you are the sort of person who thinks that if the developer or council writes such a thing on a model, it will become reality, then you no doubt see a rosy future for this site. Museums, art galleries, schools, squares and public areas, not to mention the gardens on the old jetty.


But despite the wealth of historical research and the jaunty flags, I found very little changed in the masterplan. Some additions that were welcome at first glance turned out to be less than logical under closer inspection, and nearly all of the previous major sticking points still stuck badly.

Initially I was excited to see that the architects had included the Lenox Project on the masterplan - until I noticed that it had been located in the protected wharf at the west end of the site. Knowing what I do about the Lenox Project, I understand that it needs visitors to sustain it financially - and many of those visitors are expected to be drawn from the tourists who visit maritime Greenwich to the east of Deptford.

I also know that a ship needs launching facilities - slipway or dry dock - and although these are present in spades on the Convoys Wharf site, none exist where the masterplanners have dumped the ship. There's a massive whiff of tokenism about it and suggests that perhaps they just grabbed on to the suggestion as a way of filling up part of the big gaping hole in the working wharf.


Many of the other aspects of the development proposals that made local people unhappy remain unchanged.

The developers still intend to build 'up to' 3,500 units and still maintain that this is because Lewisham Council demands such numbers (a claim which has been flatly denied by Lewisham Council's planning department).

The transport proposals are still at the same pitiful level: 'enhancements' to bus routes along Evelyn Street, a new bus route through the site, and a jetty for the existing river boat service to call at (expensive and only really practical for travelling across the river to Canary Wharf).

Around 1800 car parking spaces are proposed, and this has a number of implications for the development and its neighbouring estates. Firstly the fact that those cars have to get in and out of Convoys Wharf, and local roads are ill-equipped to allow this. Moreover, in excess of 300 spaces are proposed for non-residential use.

Secondly, while the developers may boast that the proportion of parking spaces to residential units is below the allowable level, don't break out the applause and champagne until you've considered what this means. People buying or renting the new apartments are unlikely to sell their cars just because they don't have a parking space. They'll just find somewhere nearby to park it, probably a local road or car park. Most of the estate car parks already require permits, but when residents finally move into the new development, a controlled parking zone will inevitably be required on all streets around the site.


Employment prospects are still restricted to retail or service industries - aside from the Lenox Project, the ever-shrinking protected wharf was eerily bereft of anything except a label saying 'temporary uses'.

With no building heights or massing information it was impossible to assess the real impact of the proposed development. Only a series of tiny models made out of polystyrene gave any clue as to what we are going to see at the second 'consultation' in September when a more complete masterplan is intended to be revealed.

The Convoys Wharf website is now back online; they have made a series of little videos which explain the research they carried out before nominally tweaking the previous masterplan.

You can submit comments via the website, although since there's no information about the new masterplan on it as yet, it's difficult to do so if you weren't at the exhibition.

Several members of Deptford Is.. were at the exhibition and a thorough review of the proposals has been published here. I recommend signing up for their mailing list if you want to be kept up to date with what's going on (and be informed about future exhibitions).

In the meantime, I feel a post on 'public consultation; what on earth is it?' coming up.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Council contractors decimate wild flower garden

Yesterday I published the following post:

The Deptford guerrilla garden is now in full bloom - walk down to the roundabout at the bottom of Edward Street (next to the MOT place) and you will see poppies and daisies galore.




There's a scattering of nasturtiums, some sunflowers that are striving up towards the rather elusive sunshine, some little unidentified purple flowers and various other things that I don't know what they are, along with loads of tiny pansies and a scattering of weeds.




A welcome splash of colour in this bed where the roses (at the other end) are usually the only decoration, if you don't count tin cans and empty chicken boxes.




When I went past the other day, in a sunny moment, the flowers were awash with bees, making the most of a dry period to gather a bit of nectar. Great to see a new habitat for our poor honey bees.




Do take a look if you are passing, and enjoy the display while it lasts.


Little did I realise how short a time we would actually have in which to enjoy this: coming home from work on Tuesday I found this scene of devastation.


It seems the council's over-zealous grounds maintenance contractors - presumably Glendales, who don't have the best reputation locally - have been along and 'tidied up' the flower bed by removing almost everything of beauty.

They have not just removed the weeds, which admittedly could have done with a bit of attention, but also the poppies and daisies, which were in full flower, the one or two cornflowers, the nasturtiums around the edges which were just coming into bud, the small hollyhocks which had not yet taken hold properly, and a myriad of other plants that added colour and diversity to the flower bed.

Thankfully they left the sunflowers - although not all of them, there were many others dotted around the flower bed. The many bees and other insects that were buzzing round the flowers when I visited at the weekend were long gone. Another habitat, however small, destroyed.  

I got in touch with the local resident I know who gardens here, she was understandably upset. "I can't believe what they've done - how is this any improvement on the situation?" she said. "And what are they going to put in it instead? I've been living here more than five years and in that time the council has never spent any money on flowers or even seeds for this bed. It has always been empty, which is criminal really when so many people are waiting for allotments and don't have gardens.

"Me and my friends spent quite a lot of time trying to make it more attractive by digging up the weeds, sowing seeds and planting flowers here. After all this hard work it was looking so lovely, and now it's just a vast expanse of empty soil, which will be full of weeds and rubbish again within a few weeks. I really don't know what they think they have achieved.

"Proper gardeners would have had the knowledge and patience to weed selectively and would certainly not have pulled up any flowers, even poppies which can be invasive. They would have come back once the flowers were gone, removing most of the seed heads to keep next year's poppy growth manageable.

"What they've done here is just vandalism."