Friday 9 March 2012

Deptford High Street regeneration plans

I reported a couple of months ago that Lewisham Council had been awarded £1.5 million funding from the Mayor's Outer London Fund for its proposals for improvements on the high street.

Improvements are way overdue in my (humble?) opinion, so this was music to my ears. I'm pretty convinced that you're in greater danger of personal injury in Deptford from block paving trip hazards than you are from street robbery or attacks, and the sooner they get rid of that wonky paving slab outside the Cod Father's, which squirts fishy water all over your foot if you aren't vigilant, the better.

The funding depends on the council stumping up £600k of match funding, but apparently approval of this is just a formality. The project team is planning an exhibition at the Deptford Lounge from 15 March - 1 April and on Wed 28 March members of the team will be on hand to answer any questions from 11am to 4pm and from 6.30-7.30pm. I do hope that the exhibition will be comprehensive and clear, otherwise we will all be fighting to talk to the project staff during that precious hour on the Wednesday evening.

Parking was identified as one of the 'main issues' with the High Street as a result of consultation over recent years, although it's not clear from the information I have whether this is lack of parking, illegal and inconsiderate parking, too much parking, the level of parking charges or what. These are all very distinct issues which impact at different times of day and on different days. For example there may be a perception of insufficient parking provision on market days, but the other four days of the week the car parks are not used to capacity. Fewer people visit Deptford and of those who do, many use the High Street to park.

Illegal and inconsiderate parking is a separate issue, and one which is particularly problematic in the early evening and on Sundays when there is no parking control. I pity people trying to make their way along the northern end of the high street with pushchairs, mobility scooters or wheelchairs - they don't stand a chance with cars parked all over the pavement. Pedestrians take their lives in their hands walking along this section of the street at this time of day, with drivers mounting the pavement at speed to park while they nip into one shop or other because they can't be bothered to walk a few yards from the nearest parking space.

Rant over, let's move on. Ahem, where was I?

Here's what the council's flyer says about the proposals:

The council is looking at improving the physical condition and layout of the High
Street so that it is better equipped to accommodate traffic four days a week and a
the market three days a week.

Other ideas being worked on include:
• looking at ways to improve parking across the whole of the town centre which take into account current and future user needs and appropriate regulation

• recruiting an experienced Events And Town Centre Renewal Manager who will put on a set of events to showcase the town centre’s potential

• creating a new public space at the southern end of the High Street which could host events or seasonal markets while still providing vehicles with access

• designing a set of portable hoardings to show outdoor art exhibitions

• holding a competition to find five young apprentice market traders of the future, who will receive mentoring and a contribution to their start-up costs

• establishing a more effective process for collection and disposal of business waste, including recycling

• identifying solutions for the market’s future storage needs.

The southern end of the street (where the anchor currently resides) is earmarked for an overhaul; as yet there is no indication of what will happen to the anchor so if you think it should be incorporated in the new design, it might be worth feeding this back to the project team. Since it's about the only visible sign on the High Street of Deptford's significant role in maritime heritage we should certainly retain it, perhaps we should even be agitating for more!

As I understand it at this stage, the intention is to repave the whole street in a mix of paving slabs and asphalt (presumably similar to Douglas Way), and replace the wonky bollards (which house the electrical supply for market stalls) with rising power points as they have done in Douglas Way. Lighting will be enhanced to offer greater security at night time, and the clutter of street furniture, signs, etc will be rationalised and improved.

Designer BDP, which was responsible for much of the North Lewisham links project (including Douglas Way, Margaret McMillan Park, New Cross underpass etc) is working on this scheme, which gives me mixed feelings albeit erring on the optimistic side. No 'experimental' wonky lights please.

I'm delighted to see that funding has been allocated for a new town centre manager; we lost ours a couple of years ago and their absence has been apparent. The presence of new facilities and new businesses will hopefully give a boost to this role and enable them to capitalise on the ongoing improvements.


Anonymous said...

The regeneration itself is obviously awesome...but I do not think that parking should be so high up on the agenda. As you highlighted, when it is not market day, there are plenty of spaces. Deptford is never going to be the place where you do a ‘big shop’ and need a car to move it. Management of the local roads could definitely be improved upon though.

The recruitment of an Events and Town Centre Renewal Manager is a great bit of news, recently a few people have highlighted ideas/events for Deptford but it is really hard to get them off the ground. An events manager would be very helpful and a great aid to the local community.

The young market apprentice competition is also a good little idea and I hope to see it implemented.

I’m guessing that the whole south end regeneration of the anchor will also help disperse some of the local drunks – unless of course it is designed to make supping Special Brew outside more comfortable. Please keep the anchor though; it would be really sad to lose it!

Is there any more information on the scheme online or is it just a case of wait for the exhibition at the Lounge?

Anonymous said...

I hope the new controllers will stop the spread of cheap food and goods all over the pavement, particularly next door to Kims (paper shop) by the turning where the street furniture intrudes so much.

Anonymous said...

The most important element,I believe, is to stop the rat-run morning traffic that is such a danger to pedestrians, especially school children. The gate that goes across on market days should also be there in the morning and the evenings. the lollipop lady who mans the crossing at St Paul church could bring the barrier across at Giffin Square.
By doing this the new school access would be a safer environment and the air quality for residents be enhanced. Traffic wishing to proceed down the Edward St entrance can come around the north end of the high street. Fewer cars would then pass up the high st and the corner of Giffin sq can act as a turning space or better still cars will proceed out of the street from the southern end on non market days.
why not?

Anonymous said...

Good to hear they are starting to address the state of the street, it's really terrible at times and not pleasant to walk through. As a resident, it would be nice to see the Anchor at the South end of the street stay in some form, however the council need to address the big problem of the alcohol abusers who seem to be permanently fixed to it! Why not make the whole street an Alcohol free zone? It would make it a far pleasant environment for everyone!

Anonymous said...

Amazing - only Lewisham council could make the town centre manager redundant (how much was that payout I wonder?!) and then employ someone to do the same job a year later! what a joke.

Anonymous said...

Another nail in the coffin for my beloved Deptford High Street.

Wonky bollards, dense traffic during the day - thats what makes the place great!

Alcohol free zone! Ha! How about a 'wish this greenwich/brockley brigade' exclusion zone.

Again some people who comment on this blog just miss the point time and time again. Makes me so sad.

Just. Hangsing said...

Trees along the pavement of the high street? That will make them look nice! Plus some fauna by the anchor!!! To make it look more desirable (Too much concrete for the alcoholic to sit on!)

Anonymous said...

Dame...Just to correct you on a minor point above, BDP were not the designers for New Cross underpass, this was in fact designed by The Landscape Partnership, who were also the design consultants for the new Fordham Park.