I reported a couple of months ago that Lewisham Council had been awarded £1.5 million funding from the Mayor's Outer London Fund for its proposals for improvements on the high street.
Improvements are way overdue in my (humble?) opinion, so this was music to my ears. I'm pretty convinced that you're in greater danger of personal injury in Deptford from block paving trip hazards than you are from street robbery or attacks, and the sooner they get rid of that wonky paving slab outside the Cod Father's, which squirts fishy water all over your foot if you aren't vigilant, the better.
The funding depends on the council stumping up £600k of match funding, but apparently approval of this is just a formality. The project team is planning an exhibition at the Deptford Lounge from 15 March - 1 April and on Wed 28 March members of the team will be on hand to answer any questions from 11am to 4pm and from 6.30-7.30pm. I do hope that the exhibition will be comprehensive and clear, otherwise we will all be fighting to talk to the project staff during that precious hour on the Wednesday evening.
Parking was identified as one of the 'main issues' with the High Street as a result of consultation over recent years, although it's not clear from the information I have whether this is lack of parking, illegal and inconsiderate parking, too much parking, the level of parking charges or what. These are all very distinct issues which impact at different times of day and on different days. For example there may be a perception of insufficient parking provision on market days, but the other four days of the week the car parks are not used to capacity. Fewer people visit Deptford and of those who do, many use the High Street to park.
Illegal and inconsiderate parking is a separate issue, and one which is particularly problematic in the early evening and on Sundays when there is no parking control. I pity people trying to make their way along the northern end of the high street with pushchairs, mobility scooters or wheelchairs - they don't stand a chance with cars parked all over the pavement. Pedestrians take their lives in their hands walking along this section of the street at this time of day, with drivers mounting the pavement at speed to park while they nip into one shop or other because they can't be bothered to walk a few yards from the nearest parking space.
Rant over, let's move on. Ahem, where was I?
Here's what the council's flyer says about the proposals:
The council is looking at improving the physical condition and layout of the High
Street so that it is better equipped to accommodate traffic four days a week and a
the market three days a week.
Other ideas being worked on include:
• looking at ways to improve parking across the whole of the town centre which take into account current and future user needs and appropriate regulation
• recruiting an experienced Events And Town Centre Renewal Manager who will put on a set of events to showcase the town centre’s potential
• creating a new public space at the southern end of the High Street which could host events or seasonal markets while still providing vehicles with access
• designing a set of portable hoardings to show outdoor art exhibitions
• holding a competition to find five young apprentice market traders of the future, who will receive mentoring and a contribution to their start-up costs
• establishing a more effective process for collection and disposal of business waste, including recycling
• identifying solutions for the market’s future storage needs.
The southern end of the street (where the anchor currently resides) is earmarked for an overhaul; as yet there is no indication of what will happen to the anchor so if you think it should be incorporated in the new design, it might be worth feeding this back to the project team. Since it's about the only visible sign on the High Street of Deptford's significant role in maritime heritage we should certainly retain it, perhaps we should even be agitating for more!
As I understand it at this stage, the intention is to repave the whole street in a mix of paving slabs and asphalt (presumably similar to Douglas Way), and replace the wonky bollards (which house the electrical supply for market stalls) with rising power points as they have done in Douglas Way. Lighting will be enhanced to offer greater security at night time, and the clutter of street furniture, signs, etc will be rationalised and improved.
I'm delighted to see that funding has been allocated for a new town centre manager; we lost ours a couple of years ago and their absence has been apparent. The presence of new facilities and new businesses will hopefully give a boost to this role and enable them to capitalise on the ongoing improvements.