Thursday 26 April 2012

New Deptford Station opens

Deptford's new railway station opened to the public this afternoon and although the station project is still far from finished, with more canopy still to erect and the old buildings to demolish, I am confident that many regular users will be delighted with the new station. For a start, it doesn't smell of urine, a common complaint about the old station although oddly not one I ever had to make. Granted it didn't smell good and was often decorated with several days' rubbish, but even my sensitive nostrils rarely detected the whiff of wee. But I digress.
The temporary corridor to the station is unlikely to win many fans, being quite narrow and hence annoying when you are sharing it with a crowd, whichever direction you're headed in.
Dip in under the glass facade and you're in a lovely (comparatively) spacious ticket office area surrounded by brick, glass and steel, shiny new signs, noticeboards so far bereft of any posters, and a train announcement board that shows what you need to know at one glance (rather than the old TV screen at which you'd sometimes have to wait several minutes before it ticked round to the screen with the information you required).
One major disappointment so far - still only one ticket machine! I do hope that this is rectified soon, perhaps the one in the old station entrance is still there and they will be relocating it to the other side of the ticket office in due course? (can you hear the hope in my voice?). In fact I'm told by an authoritative source that the ducts are in place to enable a ticket machine to be fitted on platform one next to the lift, but it probably won't be installed until the carriage ramp development is finished (and someone else's arm has been twisted to pay for it.. is what I read into that!) But never mind the ticket machines - what's that I see in the distance? A lift! Yes folks, new lifts to each platform will surely be one of the most significant improvements for Deptford Station. People with pushchairs and prams, bikes, those in wheelchairs and anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs will no doubt be delighted that the station is at long last properly accessible.
So from the ticket office turn left to climb the stairs (or take the lift) for London-bound trains. The stairs aren't as forbidding as those in the old station - they are broken into shorter flights - but you've still got to get to the same height so it's still an effort I'm afraid. Think of it as your morning workout. Or come a bit earlier and take the lift.
Turn right for Dartford-bound trains and you get the full joy of the tunnel (which most people will experience from the other end, coming home from town). The newly-revealed brickwork is lovely and I do hope that I never tire of it. It makes the station reminiscent of those opened recently on the new part of the East London Line, even if the overall quality of the finishes doesn't quite live up to it. I'm not really sure why they put a barrier down the middle of the tunnel, as the flow of passengers is likely to be in one direction or the other, and anyway who takes any notice of those barriers even in busy underground stations?!
At the far end of the tunnel you ascend on several flights of stairs wrapped around the lift shaft and enclosed by some rather strange steel mesh which goes to the full height of the canopy of the lift shaft. I'm not really sure of the purpose of this mesh, but it's no doubt going to catch every slip of litter, every pigeon feather and every fag end and in due course will metamorphose into some kind of bizarre upcycled litter artwork. Let's hope they've got a giant vacuum cleaner tucked away to keep that mesh nice and clean.

The presence of the roller shutter next to the top of the carriage ramp is reassuring, given that I heard not too long ago that the council and Network Rail had still failed to agree on access from the top of the carriage ramp.
Like I said - a lift to each platform - and a nice touch that both have little seats next to them.
Plenty of security cameras (far left of the picture) and if they actually record footage or are linked to some kind of monitoring HQ, we're cooking with gas or at least have a gas supply that's hooked up and ready to go.
And finally, we have seats once again. Enjoy your morning commute folks, feel free to leave your comments below.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Stepping over the border

Just to prove that I don't spend all my time in Deptford, the last few days I've been over the border enjoying some of the sights and sounds of Greenwich. What with the marathon, the Olympics and the Cutty Sark, all eyes have been on our Royal neighbour of late. A spring stroll on part of the Green Chain walk gave me a good view across Woolwich Common to the temporary Olympic shooting venue, which is quite striking from a distance.

Closer to hand there was a rake of glorious cherry and blackthorn blossom brightening up the pathways of the common.

This evening I took a short trip to Cutty Sark Gardens to have a look at the preparations for the Queen's visit tomorrow, when she'll be cutting the ribbon on the relaunched Cutty Sark. There's been lots of sneak peeks over the last few days, one of my favourites blogged by a New Cross Fleece Station resident here.

The boat looks absolutely amazing standing proud above the slightly dubious 'sea' of glass, but do make sure you have your back to Nando's (or perhaps are standing on the roof garden) when you take your picture of her. Likewise do be careful if you are disembarking the ferry not to rush to get your snap of this World Heritage Site.

Sunday 15 April 2012

New Sainsbury's Local set to open on Creek Road

The battle of the supermarket giants looks set to kick off in Creek Road with Sainsbury's due to open a new 'Local' branch just a stone's throw from the Tesco Metro which set up shop a year or so ago.

I've not had chance to scope out the many empty retail units on Creek Road and see if there is any sign of the new shop yet, but it's my guess that it will be one of the units in the new 'Creekside Village', all of which have been vacant for some time.*

Whichever it is, they are recruiting staff so it won't be long before it opens.

Thanks to the commenter on the previous post for the spot.

*Updated (see comments); the new Sainsburys is to replace the Costcutter across the road from and head-to-head with Tesco.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Local news roundup

The tragic death of young student Olatunji Johnson Adeyanju (TJ) on 23 March was so thoroughly reported by Crossfields blog that I did not feel I could add anything to the story. You can read some heartfelt tributes in the comments of the post if you click on the link.

TJ's funeral will take place on Tuesday 24th April at St Paul's Church in Deptford, and his friends are asking people to make a contribution to the cost of the funeral rather than sending flowers. Contributions can be made at Albyns Funeral Directors on the high street, or handed in to Vicky at the Armada Community Centre on McMillan Street.

At the other end of Deptford, some slightly more heartening news that the planning application to demolish the Lord Clyde pub in order to build more flats has been refused.

Bill has the full story over on Deptford Misc, along with some history of the building. It's more than likely that the developer will appeal, but for the moment the pub and the community boxing club that uses the upper rooms has had a stay of execution.

Just across the boundary in Greenwich, demolition of the old Norman Road light industrial site has begun in preparation for its redevelopment into The Movement, a planning application that received permission more than a year ago. The site will be mixed use including two hotels, student accommodation, residential units, 'incubator' units for start up businesses, a health club and so on. Full details are on the Greenwich planning portal.

I haven't really kept up with this major redevelopment since there's so much else going on in Deptford, but here's one of the elevation drawings for your delectation. This is the elevation facing Norman Road, one of the taller blocks that will house residential units.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Dirty habits

Local resident Jade contacted me recently to bring her petition to my attention; she's asking people to support her efforts to highlight the problem of anti-social behaviour in New Butt Lane North. This little stretch of lane is the bit that runs around the back of the Paddy Power between Reginald Road and Hales Street, and is being treated as a (very) public toilet by the groups of people who hang around on the corner.

Jade is a resident of the lane, and as she explained in her email, she is not normally the campaigning type. "To be honest I was not going to start a petition or write any letters even though I was beginning to get very frustrated with it. I changed my mind though when I saw a woman with her knickers round her ankles crouched down in broad daylight - doing her business! Very upsetting especially with kids running around after school!"

She has set up a petition which she is asking people to sign, to show their support for her campaign.

She has also written to Boris Johnson and Mayor Steve about it, and recently received a response from the neighbourhood community safety service on the latter's behalf, explaining the steps the council is taking to address the problem, which it believes is due to the groups of street drinkers using the lane.

"Last year, the Safer Lewisham Partnership introduced a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) across the whole of the borough. The DPPO gives the Police and other accredited officers powers to help them crack down on drinkers who disturb and intimidate other residents through their anti-social behaviour. The order does not ban drinking in public places but enables police officers to ask people to stop drinking where they are causing anti-social behaviour, nuisance or annoyance. In addition an Officer has the power to ask that person to surrender the alcohol and any other opened or sealed container in their possession.

The DPPO can now be used in tandem with Police Dispersal powers that allow Police Officers to disperse individuals causing alcohol related disorder from a particular area for up to 48 hours. If the individual returns to the area within this time they will be arrested. The enforcement of these dispersal orders will begin shortly and it’s hoped this will have a significant impact on the drinking habits of the problematic drinkers in the High Street area.

Officers from the Council’s Neighbourhood Community Safety Service are gathering statements from local businesses, residents and visitors to the area about the impact of the problem on the community. We are already aware of some of the key individuals that are causing alcohol related anti-social behaviour and the intention is to target these people using various agencies such as the Council’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team so that we can look at addressing their behaviour and offer the opportunity to sign up to treatment services.

Of course, enforcement does remain a consideration and the partnership will continue to work together in seeking Anti Social Behaviour Orders, where appropriate, against prolific drinkers in order to ban them from the area and prevent further alcohol related disorder.

A further action from the Safer Lewisham Partnership will be the introduction of Responsible Retailer Agreements with off licenses in the High Street. These will encourage the responsible sale of alcohol and remind retailers of their duty not to sell to those already intoxicated or to those individuals who are likely to cause alcohol related disorder outside their premises.

Finally, I’d like to tell you about a new scheme being introduced by the Council called The Deptford High Street Charter. This scheme seeks to encourage local businesses to sign up to a commitment of working with the Council and Police to improve the safety and environment of the High Street and the surrounding area. The Charter outlines what the Council and Police are doing to keep the High Street safe and tidy, and asks businesses to pledge their commitment to reporting crime, anti social behaviour and environmental issues such as fly-tipping and poorly disposed waste (anonymously if preferred)."

Some of this backs up the 'zero tolerance' approach witnessed by Crosswhatfields in recent weeks and is a welcome step; whether it will be effective in the long-term is another matter. Enforcement cannot be carried out 24/7 and even if it was, the problem would simply move elsewhere.

Is it time for a more practical solution - pop-up urinals as seen elsewhere in the UK?

It's obvious that the presence of groups of street drinkers in this location is exacerbating the issue, but in my experience they are not exclusively the problem.

I also live close to the high street, on a main walking route for shoppers, and regularly witness individuals urinating at the side of the street (in the middle of the day) as if this was something normal and acceptable. They are often in full view of a block of 20 flats. These are not street drinkers, they are just selfish individuals who can't be arsed to walk to the public toilets or wait until they get home. If it was down to me I would have them flogged publicly and made to stand where they have urinated for at least 24 hours.

But until I'm voted into power on this ticket, perhaps you would consider showing your support for Jade's petition; while heartened by the response from the council she would still like to keep it going to demonstrate that other local people support her efforts.