Sunday, 3 October 2010

Proposed improvements to Douglas Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


John said...

Just a suggestion...have you ever considered asking to be put on the on the Council's amenity list for Deptford? That way you would always be guaranteed of being informed about consultations. You could then inform your readers.

Deptford Dame said...

Thanks for the suggestion John. I know I'm on the mailing lists of various people at Lewisham Council, but haven't heard of this one. Which department/individual should I approach?

John said...

Having just done some research on the Lewisham website it would appear that I may have incorrectly assumed that Lewisham had an amenity consultation list. Most councils do keep a list of residents' and business associations etc. but to what extent they are used is dependent on each council. If a scheme or planning application comes within the catchment area of an organisation they are usually included in the public consultation. This may not happen at Lewisham. I'd recommend contacting a ward councillor to find out what the protocol is. Sorry I couldn't be of more help!

John Rhodes said...

Well not only do the North Lewisham Links proposals reach as far as The Albany they reach as far as Greenwich via Crossfields.
The Architects WWM told Crossfields TA that they are re tendering for an umbrella Project called the Creekside Urban Park which covers: Improvements outside the Albany. St Pauls Churchyard. Crossfields Estate, Creekside Centre, Sue Godfrey nature park and the Area next to the Water Pumping station on the Greenwich side of Ha'penny Hatch.

You can read about the Crossfields proposals at

keith said...
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keith said...

Ive just clicked onto the website. your approach to your immediate environment is a great example to others; I think you guys and your neighbours should be consulted on the proposals for Convoys; the planners need some good ideas to throw at the developers.