Friday 27 November 2009

An update from your local MP

This morning I was delighted to receive a personal letter from Joan Ruddock MP.

Sorry, let me start that again.

This morning I was delighted to receive a personalised letter from Joan Ruddock MP.

Joan wrote to myself and the geezer to appraise us of all she's been doing for Deptford, just in case we should need encouragement to vote for her or her party in next year's election. (I assumed the latter bit myself).

Now, I've been accused of being a bit of a cynic in the past, even by my own parents, but let's analyse Joan's letter and find out what she has to say.

1. She's been working on the redevelopment of Deptford Station. Very hard. With lots of people. Including railway heritage experts. And has been doing for several years.

Yes Joan, I know that. You replied to an inquiry from me about the station more than 18 months ago, and basically told me not to be a scaremonger, and reassured me that plans were progressing. Pretty much the same thing as the latest letter.

2. She loves the Railway Carriage cafe. She loves it so much that she's actually forgotten its official name and is so busy loving it and being cheered by forthcoming christmas celebrations around the High Street that she can't remember why she brought the whole thing up, except to prove that she did walk down the High Street once a few months ago.

3. While she's on the subject, building work on the station is now going to start 'next year' following on from the work on Tidemill School. Most reassuring. Yawn. Haven't we heard this before?

4. But there's still a lot of unemployment in Deptford and she is working to try and keep the Job Centre on the High Street.

5. She is working with the police and council to try and counteract anti-social behaviour, and get a more permanent solution to the street drinking problem.

6. She wants your ideas so that she can do some more working. Please send them.

7. And if you've got a vote to spare, she'll have that too.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Plaque in Deptford for Dire Straits' first gig

Lifted from the News Shopper:

A BLOCK of flats in Deptford will be commemorated as the site where rock band Dire Straits first performed together.

The Performing Rights Society, which champions the nation’s songwriters, composers and music publishers, has announced the site on the Crossfield Estate in Deptford Church Street, will have a plaque unveiled there next Thursday.

It is rumoured the band will attend the ceremony.

Times for the unveiling have not yet been decided.

The event is part of the organisation's Heritage Award scheme which celebrates the first performances of the UK’s leading bands.

PRS Chairman Ellis Rich said: “Celebrating this country’s musical heritage is a great thing to do and these plaques will be springing up all over the country.

"The UK has given the world some fantastic songwriters and performers which enrich our lives and provide the music we love.

"I’m proud that their humble musical beginnings will now be marked for all to see.”

Just as long as they don't have to move the flying ducks ;-)

Convoy's wharf public exhibition

Convoy's Wharf is probably the biggest housing and redevelopment scheme to hit Deptford since the construction of the Pepys and Evelyn estates. The developers are holding a public exhibition on 5 and 8 December on the site (see below).

In 2005 Lewisham Council’s Strategic Planning Committee granted outline planning permission for an application by News International to redevelop the site for 450,000 sq metres of floor space, including approximately 3,500 new homes, 73,000 sq metres of employment space and major new cultural, creative and community facilities.

Just read that again in context, thinking about Creekside Village, currently towering over Creek Road, which has 801 apartments. The new development will have approximately 3,500. Granted it will be over a larger area, but the towers are likely to be as high, if not higher, and there will be more of them.

The rather bland renderings that the developers are using show extensively landscaped streets, but the scale of the structures is still visible if you peer through the greenery.

Hutchinson Whampoa says its proposal will be 'broadly in line' with the previous submission. It includes the following data:
* Approximately 3,500 new homes
* 26,300 m2 of employment space
* 23,500 m2 of leisure space
* 14,400 m2 of new cultural and community space
* 6,300 m2 of retail space
* 4,600 m2 of restaurants and bars
* 2,318 car parking spaces

Read the last one carefully. Consider how all these cars will get to and from the site.

I guess the purpose of the exhibition is to inform rather than consult - not being familiar with planning law I don't know the legal status of 'outline' planning permission, what level of detail it covers, etc etc and don't have time right now to educate myself, although I intend to try and do so in the coming weeks. If you want to read the previous documents and the strategic planning committee's decision, the documents are online here.

The first opportunity to start asking questions and finding out more is the public exhibition.

Saturday 5 December 10am-4pm
Tuesday 8 December 2pm-8pm

The exhibition will be in Convoys Wharf Warehouse 7 - access via the main entrance, at the bottom of New King Street.

On 5 December there will also be walking tours of the site, starting at 12 and 2pm.

The press release from developer Hutchinson Whampoa reads as follows:
Hutchison Whampoa have announced plans to move forward with the regeneration of Convoys Wharf, a key site for regeneration in the London Borough of Lewisham. The plans will see this largely vacant and underused brownfield site in Deptford brought back to life.
Previously used by News International to import paper, Lewisham Council resolved to grant planning permission in 2005 for the regeneration of the site with a large mixed-use development, comprising new homes, employment space, and new community facilities.
Hutchison Whampoa, the new owners of the site, are now looking to move forward with amendments to the existing proposals for Convoys Wharf, bringing considerable investment to the Thames Gateway and opening up a major part of Deptford’s riverside to the local community and the wider public, thus generating significant employment and major benefits to the local community and economy.
It is intended that consultation with the local community will take place over the next few weeks, before any amendments to the existing application are submitted to Lewisham Council by early December 2009.
Raymond Chow, the Managing Director of the Property Group of Hutchison Whampoa, announcing the intention to move forward with the development of Convoys Wharf, said:
“This is a hugely exciting project for Lewisham and the wider Thames Gateway area. We are looking forward to working with Lewisham Council, the GLA, and the local community to understand their aspirations for Convoys Wharf and how we can create a fantastic new future for this historic London location.”

The website is here, and there is a feedback page if you can't make it to the exhibition.

Quite aside from the architecture, some things to consider are that this site occupies a large part of Deptford's riverfront. It is a great opportunity to give residents greater access to the river, to open up new vistas and green space, and to improve the Thames path for walkers and cyclists. It should not be just an opportunity to see how high you can stack your real estate and how many flats you can market as having a river view.

Transport is a major consideration and one which I know many locals are concerned about - not just how our overstretched rail line and DLR are going to cope with this increased population, but also the fact that the developers are intending to provide a huge number of car parking spaces.

The developers claim they will be creating 1000 jobs during construction and 2000 in the finished development. What kind of jobs will these be? Will HW be supporting any apprenticeship or training schemes so that locals will be able to compete for these jobs?

The site has one listed building, the Olympia Warehouse, which will be retained and redeveloped as a 'cultural and community hub'. Being the site of the first Royal Dockyard it also of immense historical importance.

The website for Convoy's Wharf includes a page showing the companies involved in the project, so you can see what kind of projects they regard as demonstrating their best practice.

Over the coming months I'll be following this closely and will report back regularly.

Monday 23 November 2009

Deptford station: the greenest in London?

It's easy to knock Deptford Station - no doubt it was a grand sight in its heyday, when the carriage ramp was in use and daytrippers came from far and wide to visit one of the city's first suburban railway stations.

These days we are (still!) awaiting the start of the grand station refurbishment and reconstruction, which has been in the pipeline ever since the Dame washed up in this manor (and probably even before then!). But it's good to see that in the interim, the powers that be have decided that the station should try to adopt a more environmentally-sensitive image.

So I ask, is Deptford the greenest station in London?

Admire the green roof.

Marvel at the water feature.

Enjoy the sensitive landscaping (repeated at intervals around the station buildings, arches and bridge)

Incidentally most of the greenery is Buddleia, which is great for attracting butterflies. Let's hope that the damage it does to the structure of the station is made up for by the boost to butterfly habitat. Or perhaps this is an extreme and very long-term environmentally-friendly way of demolishing the building?

Monday 16 November 2009

Cosi filming at St Paul's church?

News on the grapevine that there will be filming in St Paul's church tomorrow for Cosi, I presume it is this romcom starring Richard E Grant and Sarah Brightman. I don't know whether either of them will be present though.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Stephen Lawrence Centre

The lovely glass which forms the main facade of the Stephen Lawrence Centre on Brookmill Road has finally been replaced. A large part of it was smashed shortly after the centre opened, and it has been boarded up for some time.

The glass was designed by artist Chris Ofili which explains why it has taken so long to replace. It adds a lovely texture to the facade of the building and nicely offsets the rest of the cladding, which is rather utilitarian. However I do think that the glass is best seen at night, when the lighting inside the foyer makes the patterns stand out so much more. Photographs such as the cover picture in the Blueprint article, which you can see here, show the interior lit and patterned beautifully in sunny weather.

If you click on my photo to enlarge it you can see some detail of the pattern.

I do wish that the Centre would interact a bit more with its immediate community - I would love to get the chance to see inside the building, and perhaps even to use it for a night class or something. There's an interesting short film on the centre's website about some of the courses they run for children, but I can't help wanting to be more involved and to contribute in some way.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Deptford film club

Are you an avid film-goer? Do you get sick of traipsing to Greenwich, Surrey Quays or Canary Wharf to see a film? Bored of getting the DVDs from the bottom of your list on Lovefilm?

A couple of Deptford residents are hoping to set up a film club in the area which would show something a bit different to the standard fayre: 'classic films, world cinema, art films, that sort of thing'.

It would be 'a Deptford version of Bethnal Green's Close Up but less austere' they say.

And they want to know if you are interested in the idea, and what sort of films you would like to see!

Visit the blog here, or go straight to the online survey here.

The first screening is intended to take place in December or January, although venue and film are yet to be decided. Get along to the survey and have your say!

Convoy's wharf

Building magazine has a story about the planned redevelopment of Convoy's Wharf. Revised plans are expected to be submitted for planning permission soon, and the developer says that it intends to start consulting with local people in the next few weeks.

The Dame has already been contacted by the PR firm working for the developers, and hopes to bring further details in due course.

Meanwhile if you are a member of any local community groups or residents associations in the area, make sure that you get the chance to have your say. As soon as I know more I will post to the blog.

Progress report

Watch out over the coming weeks and months as I keep you updated with progress on the new Tidemill School. Demolition is now all but finished, the site is enclosed, and the ground level at the front part of the site is graded and ready for action. A couple of mounds of concrete remain to be crushed and (presumably) recycled as aggregate or fill.

I do hope that the contractors find a better solution to total closure of the footpath on the north side of Giffin Street. It's not always easy to cross the street and use the other side, especially in the rush hour when cars race down the High Street, which serves as a rat run at this time of the morning.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Interface review

Deptford's burgeoning art scene gets some attention in this review in Interface.

Galleries such as Bearspace, Gallop, SE8 and APT are praised for their 'lack of pompousness' (eek, sack the sub!) as well as the fact that they do not limit themselves purely to selling art.