Friday 26 March 2010

The Royal Albert pub

Brockley Central has posted a very interesting interview with Richard Salthouse, the new manager of the Royal Albert pub on New Cross Road. He talks about the pub, its clientele, the area, and exciting plans for the future including expanding into the old shop next door to create more space.

I'm not going to plagiarise it here, hop on over to read it for yourself and contribute any comments or suggestions you may have for Richard. As you can see I've already weighed in with my own two penn'orth ;-)

Walks in Deptford

If you don't like walking by yourself or want someone to show you the best routes and tell you a bit about the sights along the way, make a note in your diary about the series of 'Keep healthy' walks starting on 13 April in Deptford.

All the walks will start at the 999 Club on Deptford Broadway, every Tuesday from 11am till 1pm and will run until September. Organised by Family Services UK and funded by the NHS, they are intended to encourage people to discover the physical and mental benefits of walking, as well as offering them company and some local history along the way.
Click on the image to see a larger version of the flyer with full details.

Meanwhile another series of free walks is being organised by the Creekside Education Trust and Lewisham Council, intended to improve access to our glorious Ravensbourne (the lower part of which you will see every time you cross the Ha'penny Hatch footbridge).

This Sunday you can visit part of the Waterlink Way on a guided walk which starts in Ladywell Fields and will take you as far as Bell Green. Meet at 2pm by the cafe/rangers lodge in the northern field.
I can thoroughly recommend the Waterlink Way, I cycle it occasionally and it offers a very unexpected green oasis through a large part of Lewisham borough.

Future events for the coming months include guided walks and wades, conservation days, river clean-ups, education events, environmental training and family fun days. You can join the mailing list if you email Chris.McGaw at lewisham dot gov dot uk.

Going for a song

This Saturday sees the second Going for a song 'vintage open mic/vintage market' event at the Amersham Arms in New Cross.

It happens on the last Saturday of every month - according to organiser Julie, last month's was a roaring success. "We had all sorts of singers / musicians and performers playing everything from Fats Domino to Johnny Cash with a little Nina Simone, Dolly Parton and George Formby in between. Though the emphasis is on the 'vintage open-mic, and local Goldsmiths music students feature highly on the bill, we welcome everyone from legendary ukulele players to local vocal hipsters," she says.

"On the jumble /vintage market side of things we've got some ace stallholders – having just confirmed Adamadamadam (a new t.shirt designer just featured on 'Skins'), 'Bon Bon Books' who make notebooks from vintage trash pulp novels, vintage men's clothing from London fashion blog and women's vintage clothes, shoes, accessories from a plethora of lovely local retro beauties including Belle Coco in Crystal Palace.

"So it's a South East London affair with cakes to die for (the guinness cake made by Julie Madly Deeply sold out in seconds last time), music to swing to and bargains to bag. I've even just come back from Berlin myself with a host of GDR vintage German movie posters!" Julie says.

"It's 12-6 this Saturday, free entry and watch out for photographers from Elle Finland who are doing an article on us!"

The group has a blog here or you can contact Julie about stalls (there are vacancies for next month's event) by emailing goingforasongjumble at gmail dot com, or Tanya for music questions on goingforasongmusic at gmail dot com.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Deptford art on Spoonfed

Never been round Deptford's many art galleries and wondering what you've been missing?

You can get a flavour from this article over on Spoonfed.

Better still, do something different this Friday by visiting some of the galleries that are open late for Deptford Last Fridays. Or if you need a guide, the next Deptford Art Map Walking Tour is on Saturday 10 April.

More details here.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Squeeze at Greenwich Borough Halls

Darryl of 853 blog made it to Greenwich Borough Halls yesterday to see some of the original members of Squeeze unveiling a plaque in their honour.

He's posted a great little film of the impromptu gig. Hop on over for a singalong.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Le Wei Xiang, Lewisham

One of my favourite London foodie bloggers has been down Lee High Road for a Chinese meal - I know it's a bit outside of my manor but definitely close enough for a trip if your mouth starts watering.

Read Meemalee's fulsome review here.

She wasn't too impressed by what she found in New Cross though!

Monday 22 March 2010

Crossfields blog

Welcome to the latest Deptford blog, Crosswhatfields; aimed mainly at residents of the Crossfields estate but naturally also concerned with many of the subjects covered on this and many other local blogs.

I look forward to the view from the other side of the high street!

43-81 Greenwich High Road

I've been meaning to write about this for ages, but have lacked the stamina. It's a long tale and I'm not going to go into the full details, just offer some info and links for those immediately affected by it to be able to investigate further.

If you do, you will find not only is it a salutary tale of how little power our elected representatives actually wield, but it demonstrates how loopholes are there to be exploited by developers should they so wish to do so.

Information is difficult to find on the Greenwich planning website, since the development does not yet have a name, and even when you do find the relevant pages (try searching for applicant's name 'Reefmark', or for the full set, under address 43-81 Greenwich High Road) many of the applications don't have documents attached. And when you do find information, it can be confusing and difficult to unravel for anyone with only a basic understanding of the planning process. Hence I apologise for any misunderstandings or confusion arising from my interpretation.

The trail of planning applications goes back as far as 2001, when an application was lodged for a mixed use development consisting of five buildings of 3-7 storeys. In June 2002 the same developer applied for "environmental impact assessment opinion for redevelopment of the site to provide 26,711 sq.metres of commercial space for B1 and B8 purposes and 98 off-street parking spaces".

Certain types of development require that an environmental impact assessment be carried out by the developer, but while some cases are cut and dried (eg nuclear power stations etc) there are many that might only require it under certain conditions - for example if the site was in a particularly sensitive location. If the developer is not sure whether an EIA will be required, they can ask the council to give an opinion on this. The results of this application are unclear - it seems that it went to appeal, but only last year, and the information suggests that still no decision has been made.

Later that same year, Reefmark made a further application to develop the site for 26,711 sq m of B1 (office & light industrial) and B8 and 98 off-street parking spaces, and this application was approved.

Scroll forward to 2005 when an application was lodged by for another environmental screening opinion, this time in relation to a development of 37,160sqm of student accommodation (700 beds), a 150-bed hotel, a food store with flats on four floors, office space and commercial/warehouse space. This application - made by an independent planning consultant - was 'refused'. I assume this to mean that the council would require an EIA for such an application. Keep the details of this development in mind, they may become familiar in due course.

The following year the application that forms the basis of what is currently being built, was submitted by Reefmark. This was for outline planning permission for 'demolition of existing buildings and redevelopment ... to provide a mixed use scheme comprising of 8,075sqm commercial accommodation (Class B1 office, B1c light industrial and B8 distribution), a 102 bed hotel and 226 residential units'

Greenwich Council refused planning permission, but the developer appealed and permission was granted by the Secretary of State in October 2006. The number of residential units was revised to 227 and the developer gave certain commitments as part of the deal:
The developer undertook to "preserve the heritage of the site by:- 1. use of (or if not physically possible, retaining) the lettering from the Merryweather building; 2. preservation of artefacts of the industrial usage of the site in the landscaping of the development, in particular a gantry as identified by the representatives of the Greenwich Conservation Group and Ashburnham Triangle Association; and 3. the erection of a storeyboard/plaque visible to the public detailing the history of the site."

Various other applications follow, mostly relating to the submission of reserved matters that were included in the decision to allow the application - noise, building facade materials, archaeology, landscaping etc.

It's difficult to find images of the development, the documents on the planning website are mostly technical drawings and Galliard Homes has nothing on its website except lots of information about Greenwich. You might think you were buying a property in a very grand building if you looked at this!

However a bit of sleuthing did lead me to the architect's website where I was able to find these renderings of what's to come.

The top one shows the view from Devonshire Drive, the bottom one is the facade along the High Road (see Mumford's Mill in the background). However don't take this as read; imminent decisions might see a Tesco's or Sainsbury's sign popping up along that frontage.....(read on)

Here's the elevation of the development from Greenwich High Road. To get an idea of the scale, click on the picture to make it bigger and you can see the existing building - the old Rose of Denmark pub - in the middle.

However this wasn't the end of the story. Last year Reefmark & Premier Inns applied to increase the size of the hotel from 102 beds to 150 beds - ie 50% larger than the original. This was approved by Greenwich Council, with 20 conditions attached - from the quality of the facade materials to the parking arrangements and construction hours. For once, a lot of documents are available here if you click on 'documents' at the top of the application.

But more ominously, Reefmark recently made yet another application, having suddenly decided that the development should be remodelled to include a RETAIL STORE (read food store) and RESTAURANT! They didn't really need any business space here, the developer has clearly decided (although they haven't given any justification for this) and in fact it would be much better used by (whisper the name) Tesco's or similar.

Greenwich Council refused this application, giving four very strong reasons; change of use (ie you are taking the piss surely, this isn't what we gave you permission for in the first place?!); detrimental impact on Greenwich town centre shopping; noise impact and traffic impact.

Once again Reefmark has appealed the decision, demonstrating that it doesn't give a monkeys about what it was given permission for. It wants to build a supermarket and it's damned if it's going to be thwarted in this. You might remember, assuming you are still awake at this stage, that the idea of a foodstore in the development was mooted some years previously, but then dropped when it was not welcomed. Obviously these operators know that there's more than one way to skin a cat.

There is still time to object to this, should you wish to do so. The deadline is 2 April 2010.

The case has been referred to the Planning Inspectorate and you can find the details here. Register your objections by emailing the caseworker via teamp3 at (replace 'at' with the @ symbol of course).

*Having just gone past this development again and noticed the London & Quadrant Housing Association/Greenwich Council logos on the hoardings for the first time, I realise that the politics of it all is much more complicated than I first thought.

Deptford extra

The latest issue of The Gate Post - the community newsletter produced by the New Cross Gate Trust - includes a pull-out section 'Deptford Xtra' in the middle with some interesting information about Deptford. Strange to receive this kind of information via the newsletter from another part of the borough, but hey ho....

1. Apparently the building work on the station is due to start in May this year and complete in 'summer' 2011 (the sound of bets being hedged there). The cost of £6.8 million is coming from Lewisham Council, Network Rail, and the Thames Gateway.

Here's a new image I hadn't seen before, and which I find rather confusing if the truth be told.
My last note about this suggested that the contract was going to be awarded at the mayor and cabinet contracts committee on 3 March but I can't find any announcement of this. Either they are still negotiating details, or they have delayed it further, shock horror.

2. In addition to the revamp of Margaret McMillan Park, improvement work to Fordham Park has started (hmm, I will have to nip over there and see) and the underpass which links the two will be improved, as well as pavement, signage and lighting improvements to Clifton Rise, Amersham Vale, Pagnell Street and Watson Street. All part of stage 1 of Lewisham Links.

3. As well as the well-overdue landscaping of Giffin Square which forms part of the new Tidemill School plans, the southern end of the High Street is in line for improvements - plans due to be revealed in the summer. Let's wave goodbye to the shoddy block paving and wonky bollards once and for all! I'm slightly suspicious that this improvement work isn't being extended along Douglas Way, it suggests to me that the council has other plans for this part of the town centre. Otherwise it would make total sense to do it all together.
Work on the High Street is expected to start in 2011.

4. There's a tiny bit about landscaping of public spaces around the Pepys estate with a picture of the underwhelming and potentially maintenance-heavy 'sculpture' that they intend to erect.

5. Finally an article about the various major planning applications in the area - Convoys and the Wharves I've written about, Marine Wharf is still to come once I've properly investigated and dissected.

If you don't get it through your door, you can usually download this publication from the New Cross Gate website but it's not up there just yet.

Friday 19 March 2010

Panda Panda

Panda Panda, 8 Deptford Broadway (apologies for lifting the photo from your Facebook page btw!)

Latest cafe/restaurant to open in Deptford is Panda Panda, which managed to sneak in unnoticed by the Dame until a couple of nights ago when I walked past it to Deptford Bridge.

This is a very exciting addition to Deptford's eateries, and very nicely complements my existing favourites - the daily specials and fast service of the Albany cafe; the consistently tasty but rather slower-paced Deptford Project, and the Mediterranean-inspired flavours of the Deptford Deli.

Panda Panda is billed as an 'oriental sandwich bar', but don't let this fool you into thinking it's just chicken sandwiches with some nasty imitation-thai-curry sauce included.

This food is fresh, tasty and delicious and as well as offering Vietnamese-style sandwiches with fillings such as char siu pork, chicken satay and vegetarian options, it sells noodle dishes (topped with peanuts, coriander, chilli, fish sauce and lime juice, natch), soups and salads, summer rolls and fish ball sticks. The dishes are assembled to order and with as much or as little chilli as you like.

What I particularly like about Panda Panda is its range of fresh fruit juices, teas and desserts. If you are feeling adventurous, try the 'Dancing Tea' which comes rolled in a tight ball. When the hot water is poured on (in a glass rather than a mug!) you can watch the flowers and leaves unfold, very pretty and charming. Other drinks include Bubble Tea with mango or watermelon, iced tea, chocolate milk shakes (choose from 15 different chocolates!) and rainbow tea.

There is a range of desserts that I intend to work my way through. Mango sago, Taro coconut, Tofufa and Tong Yun (glutinous rice balls filled with red bean) as well as fresh fruit salad and a range of Chinese cream cakes.

You can eat in as well as take out, and the interior is clean and tastefully decorated. Opening hours are Tues-Sunday, 11am till 11pm, so you can even go there for dinner.

Prices are very reasonable - baguettes start at £2.95 and you can snack on fish ball sticks for just £1.45. Puddings are mostly £2.45 each, drinks start at just £1.45 for English or Jasmine tea.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Tidemill school progress

A few recent photographs showing that on most parts of the Tidemill School/Deptford Lounge site, the structure is coming out of the ground already.

Over by Wavelengths, however, it's going down into the ground - offering a chance to see the piles that were being installed when I last wrote about it just before christmas. You can see the row of concrete columns formed by the piles, which have now been exposed and are basically acting as a wall to stop the earth collapsing into the hole while construction of the basement proceeds.

Saturday 13 March 2010

A peep in the tunnel

If you weren't able to get tickets for the Thames Tunnel opening or couldn't make the dates, there are some interesting subterranean glimpses offered by those who did, one of which was local blogger Darryl over at 853. You can also read a report by Peter Watts here.

Caroline and Ian were not far behind.

Plans for a school at Convoy's Wharf

Readers might be interested in a post over on Green Ladywell detailing the answers to various questions asked of the Mayor & Cabinet, one of which relates to plans for a school at the Convoy's Wharf development. I know that this is an issue that many of my readers are concerned about. I say you 'might' be interested because of course the answer is rather bland, not surprising considering that elections are in the offing.

Question by Councillor Luxton of the Deputy Mayor
Further to my question in June 2009, have Council officers had any recent discussions with the owners of Convoys Wharf about the proposals to build a school on the site? Have the discussions focussed purely on primary school provision, or have officers discussed including some secondary school provision? Please can you also confirm whether any discussions have taken place with Greenwich Council about Lewisham using the now closed Charlotte Turner Primary School, which is almost adjacent to the Convoys Wharf site?

The Council is now in ongoing discussions with Hutchison Whampoa, the owners of Convoys Wharf, regarding their proposals for the site. The Council is seeking to secure the delivery of a primary school on the site together with a contribution to the cost of providing off-site secondary school places.

A variety of options are currently being considered about how to expand our primary place as well as ensure sufficient decant space is available for our building programmes. Officers are liaising with their counterparts in other boroughs so that a strategic response can be taken across borough boundaries.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Old Seager Distillery

I took these photographs last week and started doing some research into the planning process that the Seager Distillery project went through with the intention of writing a thorough and detailed explanation of why we have yet another tower block edging up against the borders of Deptford.

But it's a long and torturous story, and time is not on my side at the moment, so I will paraphrase with the hope that someone will comment and fill in the gaps.

This is the start of the 26-storey tower that forms the main building of the Distillery development by Galliard Homes, right next to Deptford Bridge station.

What you are seeing at the moment is about a quarter to a third of the full height. Next to the main tower will be a 9 storey block, next to that a 5 storey block and next to that a 3 storey building. On the other side will be a 5/6 storey building.

Please excuse the poor quality of the following images, I failed to find anything useful online; these are pictures of the pictures that are posted on the hoardings.

It started as a 27-storey block with a 17-storey block next to it as well as the other 5/6/2/3 storey blocks. A total of 261 private residential units, 116 'affordable' units, 11 live-work units, and 4,646sqm of commercial space, including a restaurant and art gallery. 62 car parking spaces, motorbike and cycle parking and a 'viewing gallery'.
In 2007 planning permission for the initial scheme was refused on 14 different grounds.
I paraphrase:

1. buildings too high for surroundings (streets, open land, listed buildings) and poor quality cladding would look shoddy
2. same buildings would have a detrimental impact on view from Point Hill
3. buildings would overshadow its neighbours
4. density of development too high, low standard of accommodation such as single aspect dwellings and rooms without windows
5. too many studio/single bed flats, not enough larger units
6. not fully accessible for wheelchairs
7. insufficient percentage of affordable housing
8. insufficient number of parking spaces for development, would impact on neighbouring streets
9. not permeable enough (ie creates a barrier to movement through the new development)
10. the proposed Section 106 Agreement (ie the contributions developers pay to improving amenities and transport links in the area) not generous enough

The four other grounds relate to its impact on the Ravensbourne River in terms of flooding and habitat conservation, and failure to meet guidelines for child play-space.

Pretty damning huh?

Luckily it didn't take much alteration in the layout to satisfy the authorities that some of the most serious of these items had been addressed. Admittedly Galliard Homes did submit about a dozen more applications relating to the scheme, but the changes to the building heights - specifically the main tower - were modest to say the least.

The new scheme is a "26-storey residential tower and 5/6 storey building fronting Brookmill Road, a 5 storey stepped building rising to 9 storeys adjacent to Broadway Fields, a 3 storey courtyard building, single storey roof extension on the Seager Building fronting Deptford Bridge....comprising 161 private residential units, 58 affordable homes, 10 live/work units and a total of 4,047 square metres of commercial floorspace, a restaurant and art gallery together with 108 basement and surface level car parking spaces, associated motor bike/scooter and bicycle spaces, a link bridge to the DLR Train Station and landscaping.

In November 2008 the new scheme was granted planning permission.

I know that Lewisham planners read this blog and that some of our councillors do too. If anyone wants to comment (anonymously if you wish) on how a 27 storey tower is overshadowing, detrimental to views and out of scale with its surroundings while a 26 storey tower is not, please feel free to do so.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Thames Tunnel walk through and Fancy Fair

If you've always wanted to explore Brunel's Thames Tunnel on foot, you can do so this weekend on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th March as part of the East Festival. Tickets are on sale here, more information here.

If you're not so keen on being underground, a recreation of the 1852 'Underwater Fancy Fair' will take place at ground level on Friday and Saturday evening next to Rotherhithe tube station at the Brunel Museum from 6pm to 10pm.

Audio books on loan

Having just joined the library again after (ahem) a couple of decades of absence, I was thrilled to hear about the new audio book service that has just been introduced.

Library members can download audio books from the library website, which they can 'borrow' for two weeks. When the time is up, you don't even have to remember to return them, the files automatically delete themselves! Just make sure that you have finished listening, although I guess you can always 'borrow' it again if you haven't. All you need is a library membership and a broadband connection - and something to listen to it on of course.

I was surprised and impressed by Deptford's rather modest bricks-and-mortar library at Wavelengths - I enjoy browsing the shelves and picking up things I might not otherwise come across, and it's great to be able to try them out without buying. I'll admit I have a bit of a weakness for cookbooks and in the past I have been seduced by good-looking publications that end up being useless or impractical.

Of course it's quite different these days from when I was last a member - you can borrow CDs and DVDs these days as well as books, and the free internet on offer is always popular. The library is open late a couple of nights, and also has a drop box in the foyer where you can return your books on the way to the gym or swimming pool!

Ken Loach at the Albany

Fans of Ken Loach can take part in a Q&A session with him at the Albany tomorrow (Wed 10th) as well as seeing a screening of his film 'Looking for Eric'.

The £5 ticket price also includes screenings of two short films:

Bale by Al Mackay
'On a long summer’s day in rural England, two groups of teenagers find a remote hide away where fun and games soon lose their innocence.'

N25 by Treasa O’Brien
'On a London nightbus, passengers face their moral dilemmas when confronted with danger in the form of gender violence.'