Monday 26 December 2011

Greenwich pier redevelopment

With all the shenanigans and rebuilding going on along the Greenwich waterfront I usually avoid it like the plague. Last time I was there I was nearly run over by a man reversing a large digger across the public footpath without a banksman, right in front of a big sign that said 'No reversing without a banksman'.

But Christmas eve seemed like a good time to nip through on the Thames path and catch up with what was happening.

Here's some photos of what I found on the waterfront of our local World Heritage Site - the purpose of the structure being a new ticket office, and restaurant units to house Zizzi, Nando's and Byron chain restaurants (ie pizzas, chicken and burgers - albeit with great views).

Aghast at the thought that Greenwich Council had approved the designs for such deeply mediocre structures so close to the Cutty Sark and the Royal Naval College, I sought out the planning application. It was difficult to establish the details since none of the documents relating to the original application were available on the website, but the images shown below were sourced from the website of the original architect.

Here's the blurb, also from the architect's website:

On the embarkation pier in Greenwich, Conran & Partners are creating three new timber, glass and copper pavilions. The central pavilion forms a new ticketing kiosk and glass roofed waiting space for boat users, and the two outer pavilions contain restaurants and a café. A public roof terrace on each gives outdoor dining space and a new vantage point for the Cutty Sark away from the bustle of tourist traffic.

It remains to be seen whether the addition of the architectural fins/sunshades shown on the rendering will actually materialise - and if it does, whether it will improve the buildings by an acceptable degree.  One thing that is already clear is that the 'copper' cladding intended to be used on these 'pavilions' is not being applied - the gold coloured cladding (you can see it on the top right of the building in the first photo) is more akin to the material that graces the Deptford Lounge.

I sincerely hope that the facade we are currently seeing is not a 'value engineered' version of the original design - in such a prominent location it would surely be aesthetic suicide? Even the architect's renderings do not fill me with enthusiasm - it does look rather like a missed opportunity to create something stunning at this World Heritage site.

Update: I took this photo of the rendering on the hoardings when I passed the site the other day. As you can see it is very different to the original - gone is the copper cladding and the 'fins' have been cut back to little more than raised ribs around the outside of the building. Again I can't find any details of the changes on the Greenwich Council planning website.

Friday 23 December 2011

Betfred application turned down for a second time

While it's by no means the end of the saga, it's good to get news just before Christmas that Betfred's second application to open a betting shop on Deptford High Street has been turned down by Lewisham Council.

The previous application to open a betting shop in the former Halifax bank property was turned down earlier this year, after the planning inspectorate ruled that the change of use was allowed, but specifically excluded betting shops from this reclassification.

Betfred since submitted another application for change of use to allow a betting shop, arguing that the inspector's decision was unfair. With the application refused by the council, they will no doubt appeal again, so watch this space.

Monday 12 December 2011

Wavelengths customer forum

Since Fusion Lifestyle took over the management of Deptford's Wavelengths leisure centre I've noticed some creeping improvements (improved cleanliness) and some things that are still the same (those damned cold showers in the fitness pool).

However even with the ongoing problems I've noticed attempts being made to investigate and hopefully solve the issues, which is a good sign as far as I'm concerned.

If you want to find out more, the new manager of the centre is holding a customer forum next Wednesday evening between about 6pm and 8pm. Apparently this is planned to be a regular event which will be repeated once a month or so, at different times of day and on different days, to give as many customers as possible the opportunity to raise issues and ask questions.

I understand that work on the showers is under way right now and hopefully some time soon we'll no longer have to trek to the leisure pool for a hot shower, or shiver as we wash our hair. Plans for the relocated and expanded gym are afoot, with dance studio and additional class space, and Fusion is also putting forward proposals to rip out the famous 'health suite' and replace it with new facilities.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Creekside conservation area proposals

Lewisham Council has now made more information available online about its proposals to create a new conservation area covering Creekside and the Crossfields estate.

The character appraisal document is certainly worth a read if you have any interest in the history of Deptford, there's quite a lot of research gone into this and it explains some of the history of Deptford Creek and its many wharves, as well as the development of the Crossfields estate which is considered a fine example of London County Council's early social housing estates and marks the start of the redevelopment of inner city slum areas.

The council is holding a public consultation event next year at the Creekside Centre, on 7 January 2012 from 11am-3pm if you want to find out more about the implications this move would have for the area.

There's also an online survey with about four questions with yes/no answer options which are fine for those of you whose responses are cut and dried. If you want to contribute something a bit more useful there's also a box at the end for any other comments, or of course you can write direct to the planning conservation office, the contact details for which are on the council's website.

Naturally the creation of a conservation area should in theory offer protection against the loss of Creekside's unique character - although some commenters have already raised the issue of lack of enforcement on our other main conservation area, Deptford High Street.

On the High Street we are seeing a creeping erosion of the characteristics that make it worthy of protection, and enforcement by the council seems to be sorely lacking. Landlords are ripping out old windows and shopfronts with impunity, whacking in their replacement frames and solid security shutters without even bothering to wait for planning permission to be granted. And when planning applications are rejected, as in the case of Paddy Power's alterations to the former Deptford Arms, the council does not seem to be willing or able to enforce its own decisions.

With proposed changes afoot, such as Workspace's plans for the Faircharm Estate and rumours that Railtrack wants to replace our landmark lifting bridge (which no longer lifts but still acts as a landmark) it is unsurprising that the council is looking at ways to protect Creekside.

However the existence of the Creekside 'village' development and the fact that the other side of the Creek is in Greenwich borough does raise several questions such as: is it too little too late? and what (if any) implications would it have for plans by Greenwich to redevelop the other side of the Creek?

Friday 9 December 2011

Bugs and bats

Can't tell your ladybirds from your shield bugs? Got a keen interest in bats (whether in your belfry or elsewhere)? Want to know more about local wildlife?

In which case you're in luck; Lewisham's ecological regeneration manager, Nick Pond, is seeking keen naturalists who would like to get some free ecological training next spring/summer 2012.

He is currently managing a funded project called Rivers & People (which I wrote about earlier this year in relation to some of the events here) and wants to gauge local interest in training in survey techniques.

If there is enough interest to make the project viable, he wants to train naturalists in survey techniques so that the borough can encourage a trained body of volunteers to collect ecological species data and generate more complete records of protected species for Lewisham and its environs.

The training for the funding will come from a Big Lottery grant called Access to Nature, and it will take place in a number of locations in the borough. These are likely to be the Creekside Centre in Deptford), Devonshire Road Nature Reserve SE23 and possibly at the Horniman Museum and/or at LWT Wildlife Garden Centre in Southwark.

For more info contact or call 0208 314 2007.

You might also be interested to know that Lewisham has a new blog for all things nature-conservation-related - you can find it here.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Creekside consultations

Consultation on two major schemes/proposals which could have a dramatic effect on the Creekside area are due to take place/start this week.

The first relates to plans to redevelop the Faircharm estate, which I have written about previously, while the second comes from Lewisham Council and is a proposal to create a new designated conservation area on Creekside.

Faircharm owner Workspace is holding an onsite drop-in session tomorrow afternoon and evening to consult over its redevelopment plans, while the council is about to launch its public consultation process for the Creekside conservation area.

Crosswhatfields has more details of both of these here.

Evelyn Assembly 14 December

Those with an interest in/passion for matters of planning and regeneration will surely be interested in the upcoming Evelyn Assembly which is taking place next Wednesday 14th December.

Lewisham Council's head of planning, John Miller, will be talking about regeneration in Deptford, followed by a presentation by local campaigners Deptford is... offering an alternative vision for the Convoys Wharf redevelopment.

Considering the amount of redevelopment taking place in Deptford right now, I reckon Mr Miller could have his work cut out keeping within the timings of the event (7-8.30pm) although the programme does say that "he will provide a presentation which shows the various application schemes, environmental improvements and works in Deptford High Street. There will also be an opportunity to see the proposed plans for the Convoys Wharf development, including drawings of what the site might look like and information about timescales and planning permission processes.
There will be an opportunity to discuss the development during table discussions as well as a chance for questions and answers during the feedback session."

It looks like a good opportunity to find out exactly what's going on in the town centre and immediate surrounds, as well as a chance to ask any questions you might have. The alternative proposals for Convoys Wharf are currently gaining a great deal of momentum, so it is a good chance to find out what's being proposed.

And if none of that appeals, hell you might want to attend just for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of those elusive Evelyn Ward councillors...!

2000 Community Action Centre
199-201 Grove St

Wednesday 14 December 2011
7.00pm – 8.30pm

Registration from 6.30pm;
free refreshments

Deptford soil at Utrophia

Utrophia's next show ‘Deptford Soil’ is an exhibition of work by local artists affiliated with the McMillan Herb Garden, a non-profit organisation which runs creative workshops for young people in the Deptford area.

This exhibition celebrates different aspects of Deptford culture and illustrates the personal creative processes born from residing in SE8. Exhibits are not confined to reflecting the physical nature of the area, or the people who inhabit it, but also explore individual responses to the greater world community through art, music and design.

Mick Bonfield, Carolyn Moon, Michael Tudor, Merlin Hayward, Richard Walker, Gordon Furn, Dave Aylward, Fred Aylward, Joy Bonfield Colombara, Dave Eyre, Diane Jones, Mark Moynihan, The Green Rebels

A series of events accompany the exhibition, to ease you gently (or perhaps not so gently) into the christmas spirit.

Saturday 10th December 7pm - prompt
Home Grown Film Night presents
Hide and seek (1972)
Deptford's 'Jack in the Green' (2006-2011)
'Gone house ghost house 117 elegies' (2005)
A split screen with live sound track from Rabbit.

Sunday 11th December 5-7pm

Wednesday 14th December 6-9pm
Mid View
Music from The Missing Puddings and The Conformists
Compere Joe Bazouki

Saturday 24th December
End of the Road 12-4pm
Music TBC

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Cockpit Arts, Faircharm Christmas Fair and 'Gifted' weekend!

This weekend sees a flurry of opportunities to shop local, with Cockpit Arts holding its regular pre-christmas open studios, and the second Faircharm Christmas Fair taking place at the same time.

Faircharm Christmas Fair

I always enjoy the Cockpit Arts open studios, and last year I was impressed by the Faircharm fair too, which is no doubt why my unusually cheerful quote has been used in the press release! (I've left it out to spare my blushes...)

A wide network of artists and designer-makers will be showcasing their work on 3rd and 4th December at Faircharm Christmas Fair. This event provides local artists and designers with a platform to exhibit and sell their work in Deptford. Members of the public are invited to explore working studios at Creekside Artists as part of their annual December Open Studio event. Visitors will also have the opportunity to browse and buy furnishings, fine art, fashion and jewellery direct from local artists and artisans such as Katie New, Kaori Homma, Ruth Solomons, HB Jewellery and London Kills Me.

Masons Catering, whose pop-up café was a particular hit at last year’s Christmas Fair, have now established a more permanent base within Faircharm. The cosy Creekside Café will host an exhibition of work by Creekside Artists and plans to serve seasonal treats throughout the Open Studio weekend, alongside their regular menu of Fairtrade tea, homemade soups, sandwiches, cakes and tasty coffee.

Faircharm Studios, Creekside, Deptford, London SE8 3DX

12-6pm Saturday 3rd December
12-6pm Sunday 4th December


Cockpit Arts

Our Deptford Open Studios (2-4 December) are part of GIFTED a weekend of art & design in Deptford.

60+ talented designers lovingly make very cool fashion accessories, jewellery, homeware and so much more. Each piece has a story to be told and visitors have a joyous time doing their Christmas shop. Come on in and see behind the scenes…

Christmas Attractions include:
- Heal’s Christmas Picks – gorgeous gift ideas
- Paper-cut Stories – workshops for kids by Sian Zeng
- Prize Draw – win a set of bespoke tree decorations by makers
- Mulled wine and organic winter pies by Hand Made Food

Deptford: 2-4 December
18-22 Creekside, London, SE8 3DZ
Fri 2 December (11am-9pm) and Sat 3 – Sun 4 December (11am – 6pm)


These events are both part of the South London Art Map's Gifted; a weekend of contemporary art & design in Deptford which is billed as:

An eclectic mix of art design featuring work by over 200 emerging artists and designer-makers, over two days, all in one postcode.

Find out more here.

Friday 25 November 2011

Lewisham Council consults on Thames Tunnel proposals

Hot on the heels of Thames Tunnel's own consultation process, Lewisham Council has announced its intention to hold two public meetings to gather comments on the proposals.

Planning permission for sites within the council's boundaries will not be decided by the usual methods, since the Thames Tunnel is considered as a nationally-significant piece of infrastructure. However the council will be making an official response to the proposals, and wants input from those people who will be affected by the plans.

Deptford's Crossfields Street site is not the only one in Lewisham - a second site at the northwestern extreme of the borough - Earl Pumping Station on Yeoman Street - is also being proposed.

Dates for the consultation are as follows:

Wed 7 December from 7pm; 2000 Community Action Centre, 199-201 Grove Street, Deptford SE8 3PG

Tues 13 December from 7pm; Salvation Army Hall, Mary Ann Gardens, Deptford SE8 3DP

Comments about either of the schemes can be made at any of the two events, although the one at Mary Ann Gardens is intended to focus on the Crossfields St site.

If you can't make it to the meetings, you can send your comments direct by emailing or writing to Planning Policy, Planning Service, London Borough of Lewisham, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU.

You can also comment online using the consultation process:

Closing date for comments is 19 December 2011.

Happy Mondays at the Amersham Arms

Jon has written to alert me to the fact that there are only two Happy Mondays left before the end of the year.

He and Holly Walsh are responsible for organising the stand-up comedy nights at the Amersham Arms, tickets for which are a bargainous £5 each if you buy them in advance.

November 28th, 7.30pm - Isy Suttie (Dobby from 'Peep Show') and Holly Walsh (Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 Out of 10 Cats), plus Doc Brown and Lloyd Langford

December 12th, 7.30pm - Josie Long (Never Mind the Buzzcocks) and Holly Walsh, plus Joe Wilkinson, Al Stick and Angela Barnes

Sunday 20 November 2011

Richard Rogers in Deptford

Suits were much in evidence last Friday when architect Richard Rogers visited Deptford as a guest of Cathedral Group, the developer intending to build Rogers' eight-storey block of apartments behind the station's listed carriage ramp.

(Please do click through and read the story; I haven't lifted the photographs but they are certainly worth a look if only for the outfits)

Of course Rogers, being an architect, shunned the suit, going instead for a striking combo of yellow bodywarmer, red jumper and green shirt. In a bizarre and surely unpredictable sartorial premonition, Cany Ash of Ash Sakula Architects (the architect for St Paul's House and the carriage ramp) also turned up in a canary-yellow jacket. Perhaps they coordinated their outfits in advance? Or is yellow the new black? It all left Richard Upton of Cathedral Group looking a bit out of touch with architectural style, having gambled on the black polo-neck jumper/jacket combo, which in former times would have stood him in good stead. It just goes to show the uncertain times we are living in.

Anyway I'm sure you didn't come here to read facetious comments about What Architects Wear.

Last time I wrote
about this development I couldn't find the design & access statement on the planning website, but I've been back today and found it. It's a little sketchy, to be honest; either the wrong version was uploaded or the architects are hedging their bets - there's quite a large number of pages which state 'model to be inserted' or 'drawing to be inserted'.

However I did manage to find some places where the drawing had been inserted, and present them for your comments:

Refurbished St Paul's House on the right

When you see the colour scheme of the residential block next to the carriage ramp, it seems possible that Rogers might have been making a cheeky reference to it with his outfit. And perhaps Ash was echoing the colour of the shades over the restaurant?

Octavius St is on the right hand side

Two things bother me in particular about this scheme; firstly the overlooking of properties in Octavius Street at the rear of the Albany. You can see from the last image that these houses will be totally dwarfed by their new neighbour.

Secondly, I'm concerned about the effect that the eight-storey building will have on the direct sunlight and natural light that the public area in front of the carriage ramp will receive. Any assessment of sunlight for such schemes only looks at how new structures affect the light reaching windows of existing buildings so it's difficult to get an accurate indication of what the effect will be at ground level.

But with such a tall block to the west of the carriage ramp, the amount of sunlight reaching ground level, particularly in the winter, will surely be heavily curtailed? I love the vision for the space, the visuals showing cafe culture in action with people sitting outside the restaurant eating their dinner in some kind of Mediterranean idyll. That may be the case during summer lunchtimes, but there won't be any evening sun to enjoy - and in the winter I can't imagine the public space getting much direct sunlight at all.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Music in the Engine House, Brunel Museum

The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe is holding a series of concerts in the engine house - next one is Wed 23 November and features Errol Linton and Jean-Pierre Lampe playing slap jazz and urban blues.
Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm start, and tickets are £10

Saturday 17 December 7.30pm (doors 7pm) £10
Ayanna Witter-Johnson

Award-winning Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a classically trained vocalist and cellist, a graduate of the Trinity College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. Check out the link below to listen to Ayanna's albumn Truthfully.

The museum also has two concerts with musician in residence Manu Delago on 7th and 14th December - for details see the poster below.

The Brunel Museum
Railway Avenue
Rotherhithe SE16 4LF

T: 020 7231 3840

Monday 14 November 2011

Upcoming fundraising events: Oxjam, New Cross library auction, Amnesty booksale

Well folks, it must be that time of year - this coming weekend sees several opportunities for you to dip into your pockets and offer whatever you can afford, to help various good causes.

In no particular order:

Greenwich Oxjam takes place at the Duke, just over the border in neighbouring Greenwich but still this side of the Creek, which counts as Deptford in my book!

Greenwich Oxjam
19th November 2011, £3 (£2 for students), 8pm-1am

Greenwich joins the nationwide Oxjam Festival with a night of blues and rock and roll featuring some of south-east London’s most exciting up and coming artists. Taking place at Greenwich Creekside’s The Duke (, a pub reknowned for its live music with past guests including Squeeze and Dire Straits. The line up includes:

The Los Dawsons
A hard-working, intrepid acoustic quartet from in and around Greenwich, who play music that encompasses 75 years of popular music, jazz, blues, swing, country, rockabilly & much more. They are endorsed by Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze and have been known to perform with him on more than one occasion.

Jonny Suitcase featuring Chantal Hill of the Cedars
An exciting collaboration between the Deptford one man blues band and the magnificent singer of recently signed Americana band the Cedars.

Rhiannon the Nightmare
Playing country punk sparkled blues, young Rhiannon has been clattering around the south east scene for a little while now. Recently she featured on the line up of Lewisham People's Day and regularly plays around the New Cross area.


Meanwhile the New Cross People's Library is holding a fundraising auction;

Saturday 19th November, at the library on New Cross Road.

Doors open 7pm for 7.30 start.
Come along and support the library by making a bid or just buying a ticket in the raffle (free glass of wine with your first ticket!)

Lots include a week in a four star holiday home with a sea view near Trinity Sq, Margate (sleeps up to 10); one night in a homely B&B in Whitstable; Xmas hamper; Italian conversation practice; plumbing services; antique mirror; fashion items and loads more!


Finally Amnesty International is holding a book sale at the Church of the Ascension on Dartmouth Hill:

Quality books at knock-down prices
Amnesty International Book Sale
10am-4pm Saturday 19th November
Church of the Ascension, Dartmouth Row, London SE10 8BF

The Blackheath and Greenwich Group of Amnesty International is holding its annual fund-raising book sale on Saturday. Doors open at 10am.

The local group has collected thousands of books from a variety of sources, including publishers and book reviewers as well as individual donors. The quality of books – many of which are brand new – is exceptionally high, and there will be plenty of bargains to be found, from second-hand paperbacks to review copies of recently-published novels.

The book sale – now in its 37th year – is established as Amnesty International’s most successful local fundraising event in the UK, raising over £200,000 over the years.

The Blackheath and Greenwich group meets at 8pm on the second Tuesday of each month at St. Margaret’s Church, Lee Terrace, Blackheath.

Thames Tunnel meeting and Thames Water consultation

This week there are plenty of opportunities to find out more/question those in the know about Thames Water's plans to use land on Crossfield Street/Coffey Street as the site of an access shaft for the proposed Thames Tunnel.

On Tuesday evening local campaign group Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart is hosting a meeting about the proposals, at which Phil Stride - head of Tideway Tunnels at Thames Water - will present the plans and answer questions about them.

The meeting is being chaired by Joan Ruddock and it will take place on Tuesday 15th November between 7.30pm and 9pm at the Salvation Army Hall on Mary Ann Gdns, SE8 3DP.

Meanwhile Thames Water's own public consultation about this site will take place later in the week at the Creekside Centre on Creekside.

Thursday 17 November from 2pm to 8pm
Friday 18 November from 2.30pm to 8.30pm
Saturday 19 November from 10am to 4pm

Creekside Discovery Centre, Creekside SE8 4SA

Do note that if you cannot make it to the consultation events, you can give your views online here.

Friday 11 November 2011

Mike & Ollie

I hesitate to share this with you as I want to keep Mike & Ollie all to myself, but in the spirit of helping their business flourish (and also quite selfishly because I want them to keep coming back to Deptford Market) I give you Deptford's latest top nosh!

Mike is a very pleasant young man with all the skills of a chef but none of the outward signs. By which I mean no white apron and no angry swearing.

I've visited him a few times in the last month or so since he started coming to Deptford market on Wednesdays and Fridays, but never seen any sign of Ollie and did start to wonder if Ollie was the name of Mike's bicycle. However I've looked at the website and it seems that Ollie does exist, he seems to be in charge of gathering fruit and vegetables.

Every week at Deptford market and at Brockley market on Saturdays, Mike & Ollie offer a meat main, a veggie main, and a veggie soup, all of which come with a zillion tasty items and moreish homemade breads. They often feature fruit, vegetables and nuts which have been foraged from the local area, or picked with permission from overladen trees in Brockley gardens.

Dried figs, cobnuts, apples, quince etc are just some of the toppings, usually accompanied by spices, homemade yoghurt, fresh coriander and so on.

A couple of weeks ago the offering was the amazing lamb tagine in the picture - this week was pulled pork with flatbread, baba ganoush, sliced red cabbage, homemade yoghurt, homemade membrillo, chilli flakes and chopped cobnuts, and a few bits of crackling.

Mains are £4.50, soups £2.50. Go and buy from Mike, you will not regret it!
Wed, Friday on Douglas Way.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Local Government Association calls for curbs on betting shop clustering

A press release has been issued by the Local Government Association calling for tighter controls on betting shops. The LGA is giving evidence today to the Culture, Media & Sport Committee which is carrying out a review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Councils must be allowed to regain control of their high streets to stop residents being blighted by even more betting shops, council leaders said today.

Concerns have been raised by councils over the negative impact to high streets from a takeover of late night bars, off licences, fast food takeaways and bookies. However, councils lack the powers to intervene and this is causing misery for local people.

For example, on one street in Hackney alone, there are eight betting shops, which increases poverty in the community. Whilst in Liverpool, high numbers of takeaways and drinking venues are impacting negatively on public health and crime. No powers currently exist for local people to cap the numbers of premises they haven't sought for their local area.

Complicated and costly planning rules are also stopping councils taking control of their high streets. With betting shops – councils can only act to stop them setting up by giving a years notice of plans – otherwise they may have to pay out compensation.

Cllr David Parsons, Chair of the LGA Environment and Housing Board will tell the Culture, Media and Sport Committee today:

"The government must give councils new powers to stop betting shops setting up if they are likely to cause a public nuisance. The same applies to places which have been taken over by fast food takeaways, strip clubs and late night bars.

"At the moment, numbers cannot be restricted and this results in crime, disorder and misery for local people. The government should look to tackle this issue.

"Costly planning rules which are tying up councils from acting at the moment must also be addressed. These concerns are shared widely and this problem is not limited to disadvantaged areas.

"We are seeing a reckless gamble with our high streets which is contributing to higher policing and health costs, in addition to reducing the quality of life for local residents".

The comments come as the CMS Committee holds a review into the Gambling Act 2005 and its effectiveness in protecting children and vulnerable people from the adverse effects of gambling.

Meanwhile the Evening Standard has published a story interviewing Camberwell & Peckham MP Harriet Harman who puts the case quite succinctly.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Draw and be drawn

News from Utrophia of a series of free, drop-in portraiture sessions called Draw and be drawn, which sounds like a good opportunity for anyone interested in drawing who lacks the confidence to make a start, or the funds to take a formal class.

Andrew writes:
The mood is very casual and the level and amount of tutoring and input
from the organisers is dictated by the participants. In other words,
while it is as simple as the title suggests, there is potential for a
very interesting and rewarding project.

The focus is not on teaching figurative drawing but more on
encouraging experimentation in drawing, and trying to boost a
confidence in the ability to draw.

I would really like for this to be, on some small level, a meeting point
for the wonderfully varied inhabitants of and visitors to Deptford, with
contributions invited by anyone from experienced artists to first-timers.

The conclusion of the project will be an exhibition of the resulting
portraits, in the Utrophia project space, running from the 18th to the
26th of November.

Upcoming dates for drawing are 12th, 19th and 26th November, from 11am till 1.30pm.
Utrophia project space
120 Deptford High Street

Saturday 5 November 2011

Deptford landlords show what they think of planning law

A couple of months ago I wrote none too favourably about the new building being erected at 497 New Cross Road.

The actual structure bore little resemblance to the building plans that were approved by Lewisham Council for this site - which although not remarkable, were preferable to the shiny bathroom-tile type cladding that were put up.

The owners have now added insult to injury by sticking a bright red shutter on the shop front. It does rather feel like they are making a big two-fingered salute in the direction of the town hall. Tasteful huh?

In the meantime it has been brought to my attention that landlords elsewhere in Deptford have been cocking a similar snook to our planning system.
Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond which bought the former slot machine arcade at number 37 Deptford High Street put in a planning application for change of use of the unit, as well as for the replacement of the existing shop front. They proposed to replace it with a bright yellow aluminium facade, totally at odds with its location in the Deptford High Street conservation area.

With objections registered against the shopfront design proposal, Albemarle & Bond decided to amend the application to cover only the change of use to pawnbroker. Presumably the intention is to submit another planning application for the shopfront in due course.

In that case, let's hope our planners weren't going to insist that the existing shop front be retained, as it's too late for that - the shop front has already been torn out.

I'm experiencing a sense of deja vu, considering that some of the changes to the Deptford Arms were made by Paddy Power in advance of planning permission, which was never granted. The fact that they have not as yet been forced to reverse the changes is surely sending a message to other landlords in the area that they will get away with similar breaches.

Friday 4 November 2011

Thames Tunnel update: Deptford Church St selected as preferred site

With the start of the second phase of consultation on the proposed Thames Tunnel, Thames Water has announced that Deptford Church Street is now its preferred site for construction of an interception chamber to connect with the Greenwich storm relief combined sewer overflow.

In brief, this involves the land adjacent to St Pauls (bounded by Coffey Street, Crossfields St and Deptford Church St) being used to construct a 17m-wide shaft. This shaft will allow sewage which currently overflows into the Thames to be intercepted and diverted to the Thames Tunnel for transfer to treatment plants.

Although this land is stated in Thames Water's documentation to have no formal leisure use, its a classification that fails to recognise the site's importance as one of the few green open areas close to Deptford High Street.

Once work is completed and the shaft covered in, there will be permanent structures left on the site - a number of ventilation columns and a 'kiosk' which will house the controls for underground equipment. The kiosk will be 2.5m high (about 8ft). The columns vary depending on which of Thames Water's documents you read - either three ventilation columns, two 4m high and one 6m high, or four ventilation columns up to 6m high and a small diameter column (described as similar to a lamp post) up to 6m high.

Aside from the loss of the land and everything on it, the plans will impact in other ways on Deptford, and the documents available give some indication of this. According to the plans, the construction work will take about three and a half years; during phase two (the shaft construction, which will take about a year), some 24 lorries a day are expected to visit the site to carry out spoil removal and deliver materials.

During phase three (a period of about 18 months) the northbound half of Deptford Church Street will be closed to traffic while the underground interceptor chamber is constructed. Two-way traffic will be introduced on the southbound side of the road, although details about how this will be managed are so far sketchy.

The documents online (see link below) include some renderings of what Thames Water intends to do with the land after the construction works - they propose to landscape it and return it as a public space with gardens, lots more trees, benches etc.

This rendering shows the proposed view along Coffey St, with St Pauls on the left, just out of view.

This aerial render shows the proposed site with ventilation columns in grey on the left, and the kiosk in the foreground on Deptford Church St.

Local campaign group Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart is hosting a meeting about the proposals, at which Phil Stride - head of Tideway Tunnels at Thames Water - will present the plans and answer questions about them.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday the 15th November between 7.30pm and 9pm at the Salvation Army Hall on Mary Ann Gdns, SE8 3DP.

Full information and documents are available here.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

SE London at its best

Thanks to Transpontine for posting this film, made by Goldsmiths, about the joys of our little corner of south east London.

Stars lots of familiar Deptford faces; see how many you can recognise!

Saturday 29 October 2011

Tidemill Academy/Deptford Lounge delays drag on

As the construction of the public realm works in front of the new Deptford Lounge/Tidemill Academy grind slowly onwards, it's not yet clear when the relocated library will be ready for use. The library in Wavelengths was closed some weeks ago and at the time, Crosswhatfields reported that according to the library staff, it would reopen on Monday 31 October.

However the ground floor of the Deptford Lounge certainly looks pretty empty right now; unless they are planning a 24-hour shelf construction and book stacking exercise I'm not sure how they are going to pull that one off.

The new building was due to be ready for occupation in 'autumn 2011' so I guess there's still time for them to sneak it in before winter officially hits us.

Progress is definitely slow at Tidemill Academy, however. Originally planned to start this academic year in the new building, they are now not expecting to move until after christmas. But according to a story in the Evening Standard yesterday, the academy is planning to shut the school two weeks early in order to carry out the move, leaving parents with the difficulty of organising child care during this period.

The school has organised a playscheme for the two week period, according to the story, but parents will have to pay £100 per week for each child they send there; a shocking amount of money for anyone to have to shell out just two weeks before christmas, never mind the parents of children living in 'one of the most deprived parts of London' as Tidemill's own website describes it.

Friday 28 October 2011

Convoys in the news

The so-called 'Battle of Convoys Wharf' has been in the news this week, with a two-page article published in the Evening Standard arts section on Wednesday.

In this high-profile article, our old friend Kieran Long came down to south east London again and managed to write an in-depth article about some of the issues relating to the Convoys Wharf redevelopment without once mentioning how dangerous/shabby/difficult to reach this part of the city is. (If you recall, the last time Mr Long ventured this way to take a look at the Waldron Health Centre, he rolled out all the cliches in the book about New Cross. Hopefully he got them all off his chest last time and will prosper with his new-found maturity.)

Bitching aside, the article is worth a read as it's quite an extensive piece for a London-wide paper. Sure, there are lots of omissions - no mention of Sayes Court or Evelyn's influence, and scant detail about the extent of the dockyard remains - and Long's assertion that the 'scale and character of the spaces around the Olympia building will be fine' rings rather hollow without any clarification or back-up, but it's a fine way of raising the profile for the Deptford is campaign, and Long has made a decent effort to engage with the political and philosophical arguments.

In the meantime, here's a cover that I'd very much like to see. This poster appeared at the end of Ffinch St yesterday, I don't know if it's anywhere else but hopefully the artist responsible is willing to spread the love a little more widely around SE8. Give us all something to smile about. (If you click on the photo to make it bigger you can read the speech bubble; Mr Hawkins is saying 'Nothing here mate').

Sunday 23 October 2011

Convoys Wharf - what are the alternatives?

I have been following the Deptford is.. blog very closely over the past few weeks, where campaigners are not only exposing the poor thinking and lack of imagination behind the current proposals for redevelopment of Convoys Wharf, but are also putting forward alternatives for discussion.

As far as Hutchison Whampoa's planned development above ground goes, there are serious issues with the proposal such as the density and size of the proposed buildings, the associated 'transport planning' (which I have to put in quote marks because quite honestly it is laughable, especially compared with the improvements proposed by the applicants behind the recent Surrey Canal planning application), the continued scaling back of any commitment to providing a feasible working wharf, the pitiful amount of public open space that is being incorporated, and the lack of any kind of attempt to integrate the development with Deptford itself.

When you start to find out about the heritage of the site itself - the royal dockyard established by Henry VIII which saw the construction, fitting out and launch of many, many famous ships through three centuries of maritime development, as well as advances in civil engineering which were reflected in the dockyard structures themselves, and the influence that John Evelyn and his famous gardens at Sayes Court had on the English landscape movement, as well as the formation of the National Trust - it is truly incredible that the proposals seek simply to build over this history for ever.

The Olympia building - a cast iron structure covering two slipways which led into the great basin - must be retained as it is a listed structure, but HW's proposal has the building hemmed in on all sides by tower blocks, and all but cut off from the river, making it impossible to read the significance of the structure in heritage terms.

In fact the slipways beneath the building and the walls of the great basin still survive, they are simply filled in. The slipways which lead into the river are still there; the double dry dock is still there and Deptford is.. fully expects ongoing archaeological investigations to confirm that the huge mast ponds are also still intact.

While the archaeologists claim they have uncovered (and now filled in again) the site of Sayes Court, there is some dispute as to its location, and the jury is still out on this. Nonetheless, no garden archaeology at all has been carried out on the site of his famous gardens, which have been roundly ignored.

Deptford is... is holding a public meeting on 4 November at which the campaigners say they will reveal some of their proposals for an alternative vision of future Deptford.

'Suggestions include building a Restoration warship using a combination of traditional and modern ship-building skills, and recreating the historic garden as an innovative and productive public open space. The ideas put forward in this exhibition focus on activities which encourage collaboration between the existing community and its new residents, helping to meld the development into the vibrant neighbourhood of Deptford.'

Take a look at these websites about the Hermione and Sayes Court Garden to get some inspiration.

While I know that many public bodies and indeed some of our local politicians have expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the current proposals, and are concerned about the impact it will have on the site, there does also seem to be a lot of shrugging of shoulders and some councillors saying that the developers cannot make the figures stack up unless they build at this density.

In fact our very own deputy mayor and chair of the regeneration committee, Alan Smith (Catford South ward), effectively approved the density when he told Estates Gazette back in June that he didn't believe the borough would have any trouble absorbing the 'more than 6,000' new homes that were planned (this is in fact a huge underestimate by my reckoning as it only looks at three developments). He said 'if anything we will be underproviding' and added 'as far as I can make out, the finance is in place and it is getting its figures to stack up'.

Other councillors, in particular some of those who represent the residents in Evelyn ward, the area  most directly impacted by this development, seem unwilling to engage with their electorate about the proposals.

It may be that Lewisham Council is also nervous of a protracted legal battle with HW's lawyers, which might ensue should the development be refused. But let's not forget that this development will have an enduring impact on this part of Lewisham; if the council lets itself be bullied into a hasty or inappropriate decision, we will be living with the ramifications for decades to come.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Mayor calls for planning controls over betting shop boom

Thanks to Ian who alerted me to this press release issued by the Mayor of London a couple of days ago, which gives Deptford's betting shop clusters as an example and highlights the fact that a prevalence of such premises 'could put people off shopping in and visiting those areas altogether'.

The proposals by Boris - that national planning law should be changed so that operators were required to apply for planning permission for each specific premises - would be useful in reducing the instances where betting shops can just open up in former bank or pub premises without having to apply for change of use planning permission (as in the case of Paddy Power at the Deptford Arms). If this change to national policy were made, Boris says he would 'consider' altering the London Plan policy 'to encourage boroughs to identify the kinds of business clusters they believe are beneficial or detrimental to high streets and town centres'.

It's not clear how much weight this would carry for local planners seeking to reject such applications, but it's a start. It's also interesting that with the Mayor of London making it an issue, it is effectively gaining some kind of cross-party support.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today written to Communities Secretary, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, to call for a change in national planning law to help control the proliferation and clustering of betting shops, which has caused mounting concern in parts of London.

They have grown in number with an increased supply of premises such as vacant banks and pubs that do not require planning permission to be used as a betting shop. Betting firms are attracted to busy high streets and town centres with a ready supply of such premises. This has resulted in clustering in less prosperous areas like Hackney, which has 64 betting shops in the borough, 8 in Mare Street alone, and Deptford with seven betting shops on one street. With less than 10 per cent of Londoners using betting shops the Mayor believes this can negatively impact on the vitality and viability of town centres and the quality of life of those living nearby. High numbers of betting shops with long opening hours increasing concerns about community safety could put people off shopping in and visiting those areas altogether.

The Mayor proposes that betting shop operators wishing to open up a new outlet should be required to apply for planning permission for the chosen premises, which would allow proper consideration to be given to each proposal for a betting shop and its effect on individual centres. If the Government changed planning policy in this way he would consider altering his own London Plan policy to encourage boroughs to identify the kinds of business clusters they believe are beneficial or detrimental to high streets and town centres.

The Mayor said:
"I recognise that betting shops have an important role to play in our culture and provide entertainment to many people. But there is a balance to be struck between having betting shops as a part of the high street retail mix and the negative impact they can have on shoppers and visitors when they start to dominate.

"Requiring operators to obtain planning permission seems a sensible way to achieve the checks and balances needed to ensure our towns remain attractive places to visit, shop and spend time in."

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Surrey Canal station/Surrey Canal redevelopment

Last week Lewisham Council's strategic planning committee agreed to grant planning permission for the massive redevelopment of the land surrounding Millwall Stadium, known simply as Surrey Canal (subheading: London's Sporting Village).

Developer Renewal is planning a large-scale redevelopment of the site, which intends to deliver some 2,400 new homes, as well as new sporting facilities, retail units, cafes and restaurants and 'business incubation and creative space' whatever that means. It's difficult to work out from a brief trawl through the site, what will happen to the businesses that are located in the Surrey Canal triangle. Perhaps they will simply disappear as if they were in the Bermuda triangle...?!

Among all the doom and gloom of Deptford's ongoing redevelopment battles, it's good to see something positive emerge from a planning application. The area will finally get a much-needed link into London's overground system, with Renewal committing to top up the funding needed to build a new station at the site.

The planning documents state:
Renewal has confirmed that in the new Surrey Canal Road Rail Station they will bridge the funding gap to ensure its delivery at the outset of the development, improving accessibility to the local area in the early stages of development.

I can only assume that they must have read my comment back in May ("Surrey Canal Station, which would be right next to the site and has been proposed as part of the second phase of the East London Line extension, needs extra funding before it can be built. With this in mind I would expect the site developer to top up the pot so that its construction can be assured.") and have clearly acted upon my instructions ;-)

Joking aside, for once it makes perfect sense. I only found out very recently that TFL had actually agreed to include a 'station box' in its designs for the new line at this location. Construction work is well advanced already, and now when I pass it on my daily cycle commute, I'll no longer experience huge feelings of futility and anger against the world at the stupidity of such a missed opportunity!

Renewal's Surrey Canal website provides a couple of images for us to muse on, although how accurate they are it's hard to know - this is only outline planning permission after all. I'm sure there will be a lot of local people getting excited at the sight of the corner of that logo peeking out from behind the sculpture, although the rendering of the station - and in particular the colour scheme - does seem to have been put together by someone having a bad acid trip.

New Betfred planning application 93-95 Deptford High Street

When Betfred appealed against Lewisham Council's decision to reject its application for 93-95 Deptford High Street earlier this year, the Planning Inspectorate in fact allowed Betfred's appeal but placed certain conditions on it.

If you remember, the former Halifax premises was allocated to A2 use, with the condition that it was only occupied by a building society. Betfred applied to widen this to the full, current A2 use, a crazy classification for 'financial use' which puts banks and building societies in the same class as betting shops.

When the council rejected this application, Betfred appealed it. The Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal, but with the proviso that the premises should NOT be occupied by a betting shop. In his conclusion the inspector said that if another betting shop were to open, "It would be likely to give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance to local residents and users of the town centre. There is also a risk of an increase in crime. As a result use of the High Street would become less safe and pleasant."

Betfred has now submitted another planning application to again extend the usage class to full A2 use, supporting its application with the defence that it was unfair of the inspector to penalise Betfred for a situation that already exists. Naturally this deliberate misinterpretation of the inspector's decision is simply an attempt to say 'they are all doing it, why can't we?' and invoke fairness of competition etc as a way of forcing the issue.

Of course the inspector has nothing against Betfred per se. As befits his job responsibilities, he simply took an holistic view of the planning case, and considered the impact that allowing this application would have on Deptford High Street, the people who live and work there, those who own the businesses, those who use the shops and cafes, and those who pass through Deptford.

The inspector used evidence from local residents and business owners, and from the police, licensing officers and so on, to reach his conclusion that the opening of another betting shop would not be beneficial to the safety of the high street, to the level of crime, or to the street's long term viability. In fact he went further than that, he said that it was likely to have a negative impact based on past evidence.

All the betting shops already established on Deptford High Street claim that they adhere to the appropriate legislation and security measures that they are required to observe. It's more than likely that they do. However it is undeniable that since Paddy Power opened its establishment at the former Deptford Arms, right opposite Ladbrokes and within yards of William Hill, creating a critical mass of betting shops, the high street has become a less safe and pleasant place to walk along.

So please, if you agree that we don't need any more betting shops, send your objections to the planners. The application is number DC/11/78506/X (click to link direct to it) and objections should be sent as soon as possible.

If you objected to the last application, feel free to dig out your previous letter and just amend the date and planning application number before sending it in (in the comments Bill suggests that it would be better to amend any previous objection, starting your letter along the lines of 'in my objection dated XXX I said (and here quote your previous objection in full) and reiterating that the same concerns apply now). It is worth reading the covering letter from the applicant (click here to download) if you want to ensure that you are directly addressing the points that they raise.

The full text of the inspector's judgement can be read on Deptford Misc here.

Monday 17 October 2011

Deli X

It's hard not to admire the confidence of someone opening a new deli and cafe on Deptford High Street at the height of a recession. With lots of new apartments springing up in Creekside and elsewhere, as well as many more to come, it may be canny business sense but I'm still not entirely convinced that Deptford has the market to support such a venture. All the same, I wish Deli X the best of luck with their new venture.

The two women running the new business have had the premises altered to remove the partition between the front and back of the former Bear Cafe, and extend the counter to make the shop area larger. This means it's much less cramped in the front part (and consequently less daunting to enter) and a whole lot lighter in the cafe area at the back.

The front area is a shop-cum-cafe counter; there are shelves and fridges full of posh pasta, continental groceries, organic butter and Neal's Yard cheeses, as well as a selection of fruit, vegetables and herbs for sale. The type of goods - and the accompanying prices, it has to be said - are strongly reminiscent of the Deptford Deli (RIP).

The cafe area is furnished with a rather random selection of sofas, chairs, enormous, huge wooden desks which look rather like office surplus, and coffee tables. In the back yard there are folding chairs and tables if you are lucky enough to catch the sunshine there, and I guess to accommodate smokers. Most of the dining chairs are upholstered in a very vibrant fabric which is fun when seen in isolation but does seem rather incongruous in the company of the wishy washy blue upholstery of the pair of sofas on the raised area of the cafe.

So far the food menu is limited, offering (very tasty) quiches - meat and veggie options - with fresh salad; cheese platters, or homemade pizzas on focaccia bread for example. Prices are under a fiver for the quiche and salad, which is good value for what you get. However it would be even better if they offered a larger portion for a couple of quid more, to accommodate those like myself who have larger appetites/suffer insatiable greed when faced with good food. I understand the menu is under development, and am eager to see what else they will serve. There is a suggestions book on the counter if you have particular groceries you seek to purchase.

In the cafe they are serving top quality brand Monmouth Coffee - going head to head with the Waiting Room's Union Coffee - but initial experience suggests their baristas need to up their game a bit. My 'cappuccino' was more akin to a latte, and although the hint of coffee was a very pleasant hint, it was all but drowned by hot milk.*

However I did get the impression that the young staff were in training when I had my coffee last Saturday; I'll be going back in due course to check if progress has been made. My fundamental requirements - good quality food at reasonable prices - have been satisfied and I look forward to future visits.

Crosswhatfields has also reviewed Deli X. Deli X has a facebook page here.

*updated: a takeout cappuccino I had a few days later was excellent, perfect strength level and good balance of milk to froth

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Blossoming together

New cafes are popping up around Deptford as if it was going out of fashion - with 'Deli X' having just opened where the Bear Cafe used to be, I thought I'd better first write about Blossoming Together, a new 'craft cafe' and art gallery which opened a few weeks ago at the bottom of Tanner's Hill, in the premises of the former Deptford Deli.

The owner Cinzia Callegari has replaced the long deli counter with a small dresser on which a range of delicious looking cakes are displayed in glass cake stands. She serves daily lunch specials containing produce from her allotment, and also runs craft courses in the cafe where you can learn how to make pocket books, needle felting or pegloom weaving, or even find out about wholesome foods for children.

I dropped in a couple of times recently during Deptford X, and was welcomed warmly both times. Cinzia's coffee is excellent - I would venture it's almost as good as the coffee served at the Waiting Room (they set the standard in flavour as far as I'm concerned) but edges closer by the fact that it's served with homemade biscotti and you can enjoy the peaceful surrounds of the little square outside - and sunshine if you are lucky!

I also sampled one of the magnificent cakes on offer - perhaps a little pricey at £3.50 but extremely tasty - and tried out a cup of tea, served in one of her lovely vintage teapots and made with loose leaf. It prompted fond memories of the vintage
teacups that Deptford Properly used to favour...

Blossoming Together

Friday 30 September 2011

Southern Gas takes a breaker to Deptford's new pavements

Remember all those weeks of inconvenience we suffered when the pavements just north of Douglas Way were being renovated? Well this morning it felt like a bit of a deja vu moment as I walked down the high street to find more bloody barriers blocking the pavements and some chap with a jack-hammer carelessly breaking up all the brand new paving stones outside the Vietnamese cafe.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Community garden planning meeting

Public engagement is rife in Deptford at the moment, where we are proving that we don't need expensive consultants or government quangos to encourage us to 'engage with local issues' and 'get involved' with improving our environment.

As well as the ongoing campaigning being carried out by Deptford is.. against plans for Convoy's Wharf, another group of local residents is holding a meeting next with the intention of establishing an organisation to set up and run a community garden on the land that Thames Water wants to use for a shaft for its Thames Tunnel project. The group has already been given a modest grant by the Evelyn Local Assembly to print publicity material, and is hoping the meeting will give more people the opportunity to get involved in the process of establishing and maintaining the garden.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Talking walls project

Right opposite where Peter Anderson's new mural is being painstakingly applied to the wall of Douglas Square, a contrasting mural was today having its finishing touches applied on the side of the Albany.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Wharves gets planning permission

Lewisham council last week voted to approve a planning application for the redevelopment of the old scrapyards and industrial land bounded by Evelyn Street, Grove Street and Oxestalls Road down on the Pepys Estate.

The council's strategic planning committee granted outline planning permission for the whole site, and detailed planning permission for the first two phases, which are on the southern side of the site, covering plots 1-5 (shown in yellow and blue on this map). This link has the agenda for the meeting which includes a link to the committee report on the application.

Convoys Wharf: planning objections workshop

If you are considering writing a response to the Convoys Wharf planning application, but you just don't know where to start, you might be interested in a new group that has been set up called 'Deptford Is..'

Friday 16 September 2011

Deptford station progress

Steelwork for the new station building has started going up over the last couple of days, and will no doubt soon give a good indication of the size, scale and location of the structure.

According to the original schedule, completion is due on 2 May 2012. No indication yet as to whether they are on target or not, but the work does seem to be progressing to the schedule they originally set out.

497 New Cross Road

A trip to the south end of Deptford High Street this morning revealed that building work on the site on New Cross Road, right next to the Little Crown pub, has moved on apace after having been stalled for years since Mr Video's old store was demolished. I noticed it as I gazed up at the beautiful blue sky.

Unfortunately what I saw was not beautiful at all - and I recommend those of a sensitive disposition to browse elsewhere right now.

Deptford open house

Don't forget it's open house weekend this weekend - the once a year opportunity to have a good snoop inside public and private buildings, and even homes, that are not usually open to the public.

In SE8 there are four properties open to the public, although tours of the Laban Centre (now labouring under the moniker of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) require booking so you've probably missed those.

Deptford community garden plan

The 'Don't dump on Deptford' group who are opposing Thames Water's proposal of using the green space next to St Paul's Church for construction of an access shaft have launched a plan to create a community garden on this bit of land.

They propose to build a community herb garden and orchard on the site, with the intention of beginning before the public meeting with Thames Water on the 15th November.

The organisers say:
"It is hoped that such an immediate and substantial voluntary effort from the community will demonstrate the strength of feeling about retaining this green space and will create a symbolic barrier to Thames Water's proposals. Crucially it will also provide an ongoing focus for the campaign, which might play out over a long period of time, with the garden continuing to raise awareness and galvanise support for protecting this open space.

It is also intended that the garden will go on to provide Deptford with a wonderful green facility long into the future, turning this often overlooked space into a valuable resource that is open to all to visit and to garden in. It is especially hoped that local schools will get involved and that it will become a place for young and old to share the satisfying activity of gardening, growing produce and supporting local wildlife.

With support from a local landscape architect Roundfield, they are putting together designs for use of the space and now are trying to raise funding and support.

On Saturday 17th September the local Evelyn Assembly will be allocating funding for the coming year. The Community Garden is asking for £500 to cover the cost of printing publicity flyers and to kick off a fund for plants and seeds. But they will need to gather enough votes to be selected to receive the funding as they are competing with many other causes. Anyone can support the bid, just turn up at the meeting tomorrow and cast your vote.

Date: Saturday 17th September
Time: 10.30am for registration. (No vote if arriving after 11am)
Location: 2000 Community Action Centre, 199-201 Grove St. SE8 3PG

The organisers are also planning to hold a public meeting at which they will explain their plans so far and invite ideas from local residents about the best way to develop the garden.

A date has not yet been set but if you are interested, keep an eye out on the local blogs and we'll keep you informed.