Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Deptford Jack in the Green May Day, Friday 1st May

Deptford's Fowlers Troop take to the streets as always this May Day with their Jack in the Green procession. They'll be assembling at the Dog and Bell at 11am on Friday morning and setting off to Greenwich to end up at the Ashburnham Arms (25 Ashburnham Grove) by 4.30pm (via the Lord Hood, Plume of Feathers and Richard 1st pubs along the way).

The picture above was taken in 2006 to commemorate the 1906 photo (below) taken by Thankfull Sturdee. The Jack is the tall chap in the middle, dressed in garlands of leaves and flowers.

Perhaps because of their affiliation with the City of London Jack in the Green (whose troop like to cause mischief on a working day), the Deptford Fowlers Troop stick solidly to May Day itself rather than moving the parade to the bank holiday like other revivals of the tradition in Hastings, Rochester and Whitstable. Those weekend-long celebrations draw large crowds and include a lot more local residents dressing up and painting themselves green. However, the Deptford Jack is purportedly the tallest and heaviest of all the modern Jacks!

Catch 'em (or join them) 'dressing the Jack' on Thursday 30th at the Dog and Bell from 8pm. And if you're about on Friday, follow or join in the parade. Check the route here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Deptford events coming up...

The big event this weekend is the London Marathon on Sunday which Crossfielders can watch from the end of the road – unless they're running of course. Get down to Creek Road at around 9.15am to see the elite runners or catch the charity runners from 11ish. But before that, there's...

New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 
Friday 24th April – Sunday 3rd May 
37 free films in 17 different venues over 10 days, run by volunteers with more than 40 people curating events. Most of the larger venues or most popular films are already booked up (the first night in particular), but check to see what's left at the website – some events can't be booked so it's first come, first served. One such film we would recommend for loyal Deptfordians is Hide and Seek, a children's film shot in Deptford in 1972, showing on Wednesday 29th at the Big Red Pizzeria (but don't be fooled, it'll be in the container in their back yard, not in the pizzeria itself). Otherwise see you in the queue at the Job Centre on 3rd May...

Deptford Food Festival
Saturday 25th April, 9am–5.30pm, Giffin Square 
The first of what is now to be a weekly street food market. The Deptford Dame points out this is the third time it's been tried and fears there may still be not enough demand to make it worthwhile for the traders themselves. Not being an evening event, it's certainly not as trendy an event as Lewisham Model Market which returned to Lewisham High Street last week, but as a food-orientated attraction it's not as poncey as the Deptford Brunch Club and you can do a bit of shopping as well.

Co-incidentally, The Secret History of Our Streets – featuring Deptford High Street in the first episode – is being repeated on BBC4 (catch it on i-Player). The documentary uses film footage from Hide and Seek (see the Film Festival above), funnily enough. When Secret History was first broadcast in 2012 it caused controversy locally. We had our own critical opinion of the episode's inaccuracies (here, here and here) having originally helped contribute to its making in 2011. Also see Deptford Misc's take on it. But it's worth watching to hear how Deptford High Street was once the "Oxford Street of south London".

That reminds us of the meeting held back in early February at The Albany for shopkeepers and market traders, convened by local councillors (who all happen to be Lewisham Labour) to discuss how to increase trade in the high street (or rather, combat the decrease). Traders think business is lost because of parking charges – it's free to park on a Saturday after 1pm but they'd like free all day parking ("like what you get at supermarkets"). Maybe the new Asda can pay for the free parking...

Another demand was for public toilets–  the Lounge was built on the site of the previous public loos and doesn't open until 10am. Most demands were led by People Before Profit (in an open attack on the Labour councillors); PB4P touched on a subject that was of no interest to legitimate businesses when they called for an end to frequent harassment from the UK Border Police.

Everyone present thought better signage was needed and one lady shopkeeper bravely suggested that the 47 bus takes a detour (presumably up Frankham Street and down Giffin Street) which is a brilliant but probably impractical idea. The Chair of the High Street Traders Association – who got the anchor removed and to which most traders do not belong – suggested French foods or farmer's markets in Giffin Square. So here you are! Not French cheeses, but lovely street food! Make the most of it! Naturally, you'll be walking or catching the bus to our famous high street, since there's still no all-day free parking. That's probably just as well since Deptford Church Street is usually gridlocked on Saturdays with people trying to get to Surrey Quays and Lewisham shopping centres – or Millwall FC at home...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How can we make Deptford a better place to live, work and play?

DNA is a small local group of people who have got together to create A Neighbourhood Plan for Deptford. The Neighbourhood Plan idea has grown out of the Localism Act and the DCLG (Dept of Communities and Local Government) funds the charity Locality to help and advise communities on how to create a plan and achieve other objectives – such as saving buildings or places as Assets of Community Value, or helping local campaigns and social action, or those who want to set up social enterprises. Have a look at the Locality website – it's hard to believe it's funded by this present government!

Locality are helping DNA (Deptford Neighbourhood Action) through the process of creating a plan, and the first thing they must do is identify a few things, such as: the area they want to cover, the existing organisations who can contribute, priorities for residents and businesses, and that (perhaps indefinable) thing, Deptford's identity. It's a huge task and they need your help and input! As the video shows, they simply can't do it without you.

Saturday 18th April, 3pm-5pm at The Albany
Locality will be there to explain how Neighbourhood Plans work and invite your ideas about what is important for Deptford. Everyone is welcome.
If you can't make it on Saturday afternoon, but want to contribute in the future or show your interest or support, you can register your interest here.
A Neighbourhood Plan, once complete, becomes a statutory document that the Council must take into consideration. DNA see it as an opportunity to give local people a voice and influence in Council decisions. As a lobby group, DNA will be able to access grants via Locality and start making some changes which you can have a say in.

Such a plan cannot block developments and it can't override any formally adopted strategic plans the local authority has in place. Even the Council itself overrides its own noble aims when faced with market forces or central government interference. A Neighbourhood Plan can't change everything, but it could change some things, and the Council will have to listen.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fifty shades of grey: new developments will cause massive increase in road pollution

(Click to enlarge)

We have drawn a map of the up-and-coming new developments about to happen on Creekside, Deptford Church Street and locally which shows the routes their construction traffic will take in the not-too-distant future.

The map has been updated since last week when it was included in an objection made by Crossfields TRA to Lewisham Planners on the Kent Wharf application (see previous post). Kent Wharf goes before the Strategic Planning Committee on March 5th (end of next week), so please get your comments into Planning by then. You may wish to makes specific comments on the heights, the overshadowing, the canyonisation of Creekside and the paltry lack of affordable homes, as well as noting the lack of an overview of all the developments on the Creek that will impact on local infrastructure.

You can read the Crossfields TRA objection here. An oversight means it omits another large development which is now included in the map above: Lend Lease's 'The Wharves' on Evelyn Street, currently in 'consultation'. Go to www.thewharvesdeptford.com to find out more (also see The Deptford Dame). Drop-in exhibitions are being held on Sat 7th, 10th & 12th March – details here

All these developments intend to use Deptford Church Street to gain access to the M25 via the A2. No less than four will use our narrow and quiet back street, Creekside. These include Faircharm 'Creative Quarter', Kent Wharf, Greenwich Creekside East and Creekside Village East. See previous posts here (Faircharm) and here (both Creekside Easts).

The TRA objection was also sent to the Councillors on the Strategic Planning Committee and Sustainable Development Select Committee, who have consequently expressed an interest in hearing more from local residents on the issue of construction traffic pollution and its effects on the health and well being of those living, working and visiting in the neighbourhood. So please let the Councillors know what you think!

Lewisham Planning officers' agree there is going to be a huge problem, which is why they have been asking developers to use Deptford Creek wherever possible and requesting that they design their construction management plans with regard to the timing and approach of other developments. However, both the current live applications (Kent Wharf to LB Lewisham and Essential Living to LB Greenwich) do no such thing. We have yet to hear any fully justified reasons why Deptford Creek (or in the case of Convoys Wharf, the river) cannot be used. Objections from locals can help to strengthen the planning officers' requests, so please find the time to object before it's too late.

To recap: the Kent Wharf development will be 143 units with a 16 storey tower; Essential Living's Greenwich Creekside East is for 249 (two towers at 21 & 10 storeys); there will also be Creekside Village East by Kitewood (244 flats, two towers at 25 & 10 storeys); and already passed is Faircharm Creative Quarter (148 flats, a 12-storey tower + commercial space). In all the total affordable housing included across these four is a mere 20%.

The Faircharm development intends to utilise 180 HGV trips a day in and out of their site on Creekside. A similar useage (or higher) can be expected from the other sites. Deptford Church Street will be used by Thames Tunnel (who plan to partially close it), Convoys Wharf, Tidemill, and later on, three four other new developments.

Lewisham Cyclists have now been alerted and were surprised to learn just how many proposed developments will be using roads that the new 'Cycle Quietway' will have to traverse. The new cycle routes which TfL hopes to have up and running by late spring 2016 are aimed at encouraging less confident cyclists to get on their bikes more frequently...

Pollution is already at dangerous levels in the area, and can only get worse. The map below shows the results of our Citizen Science Air Pollution Study in February 2014 when we measured the Nitrogen Dioxide levels in the area and found them to be way above the European legal limit of 40μg/m3. Inevitably, the Kent Wharf application underestimates present levels and considers itself in isolation to any other development in its contribution to raising those levels – they'll be using "less than 200 HGVs" so no need to worry! But with four developments happening at the same time on Creekside the number may well reach around 600.

And that is just Creekside. The implications for the south of Deptford Church Street, Deptford Broadway and Blackheath Hill – where all this construction traffic will converge and where we recorded levels twice the European legal limit or higher – are too hideous to contemplate.

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Creekside East + Greenwich Creekside East

As we reported in December, there was an exhibition of Kitewood's plans for one of the plots behind the Laban on 10th and 12th January. These plans can also be viewed on their website.

Whilst there is a live application in for Kent Wharf (see previous post and put your objections in now!), it may be a couple of months before Kitewood's application for Creekside East hits the Lewisham planners' desks.

The main thing to note from the above visual (apart from the appalling height of the tower) is that it excludes the towers that will sit besides these buildings as part of the redevelopment of the third plot of the Creekside Village development – Essential Living's Greenwich Creekside East. That application is sitting with Greenwich Council but has not been 'validated' so is not yet available to view in detail is now available to view on the Greenwich Planning Portal (Ref: 14/3795/F). But we did a quick montage using an image from their website:

(click to enlarge)

Back to the Kitewood plans: there are two buildings: a 25-storey tower by the waterfront and a 10-storey block behind it. At 25%, the percentage of 'affordable' housing here is higher than what we've come to expect (ie 13% at Kent Wharf, 14% at Convoys Wharf). However, it will be housed in the smaller block that is hemmed in by three buildings: Essential Living's 10-storey 'Family Block' on the waterside, the existing Creekside Village buildings to the north, and the 24-storey tower to its south. They will have a south westerly view from the upper floors though.

(click to enlarge)

Creekside East has 224 flats: 111 x 1-bed, 84 x 2-bed, and 29 x 3-bed and a mix of sizes across the site. Lewisham's strategy for Creekside as a 'creative hub' means Kitewood have included "a number of affordable commercial spaces that would be perfect for start-up businesses or artists studios". We pointed out that the commercial spaces in Creekside Village West had never been let or sold and were told that Kitewood's spaces would be much smaller without the ridiculous ceiling heights.

There will also be underground parking – the same as in the existing Creekside Village (West). How they can manage this when Bellway Homes cannot offer such a facility at Kent Wharf is anyone's guess. Considering the congestion on surrounding roads, some might suggest there should be no parking here either.

The interesting thing to note from the above plan is the waterfront space between Kitewood's plot and that of Essential Living's, right on the borough boundary with Greenwich (a thin black line demarcates the boundary). We were surprised to learn this patch of land belongs to Lewisham Council, and no one appears to know what they plan to do with it. Originally (see below) this was going to be a theatre.

Design-wise, Kitewood have stuck with the original architects of Creekside Village, Squire & Partners. In 2011 the Deptford Dame described Creekside Village as a "leering lump of steel and glass", and it looks like we're to get more of the same. The young architect from Squire & Partners working on Kitewood's development was possibly just starting big school when these designs were first mooted. Back in 2010 we reported on Squire's plan for the entire site:

(click to enlarge)

The 2010 website for "The Creekside Village" is still live, and the embedded promotional video – made with the 2012 Olympics in mind – is available to view in all its glory, along with some animations. Oh how we laughed at the time! This was how Creekside East was to develop:

A similar view is available on  Essential Living's website and we've added to it an outline of Kitewood's 10-storey "affordable housing" block:

(click to enlarge)

All of the developers clustering in Creekside seem highly reluctant to show their buildings in relation to neighbouring proposals. That's a shame, because they could do a much better job of it than us – below, a Creekside East elevation visual on which we have crudely drawn in some other buildings:

(click to enlarge)

Update 22 Jan: The Dame has just discovered that Essential Living's Greenwich Creekside East application is now up for viewing on the Greenwich Planning website. She has already commented on their December exhibition and may have more to say once she has digested the plans.

Update 23 Jan:  A quick look at Essential Living's planning application and their Transport Assessment in particular:

They are not revealing full details on their Construction Traffic plans. They will be using the same route as Kent Wharf – off Copperas Street and onto Creekside then up Blackheath Hill to the A2 (because HGVs are not allowed in Greenwich town centre). They say: "At this stage the level of traffic that is likely to be generated during the construction of the proposed development is not known." We know that Faircharm will generate 80-90 HGV trips along Creekside and Bellway Homes claim they will only add 25 to this traffic. It is likely Greenwich Creekside East will generate at least the same as Faircharm. And Creekside East the same. Plus construction workers' vehicles.

So, with FOUR developments being built at the same time, there is a potential 275 HGV trips per day along Creekside over two years. Add to that the Thames Tunnel work on Deptford Church Street (140 vehicles a day of which 64 will be HGVs) and the construction traffic from Convoys Wharf which will also be using this route.

Apart from the lack of detail on Construction logistics, Essential Living's Transport Assessment is almost an exact replica of Kent Wharf's with regard to Parking and Public Transport. Both developments will be car-free – although Essential Living has an underground carpark with 13 disabled spaces (not all of which will be used) – and neither's residents will be eligible for "on-street parking permits in existing CPZs". Everyone will be cycling to work, naturally. Both use the same TfL figures and have conducted similar parking surveys to show how much on-street unrestricted parking will be available, despite their intention to market to "would-be suitors" that there is minimal parking.

Essential Living say statistics show that 65% of Greenwich residents do not have a car and have applied that rate to their development so that "there could be up to 90 vehicles associated with the proposed development. Based on parking provision of 13 spaces this could result in 77 vehicles parking off-site...It is evident from the on-street parking survey that only some of these vehicles could park on the surrounding highway network during the day [in fact, their survey shows daytime parking maxed out at 103%!] whilst the significant majority could park overnight".

Just as both applicants provide drawings which omit the other proposed developments, they also present these figures in complete isolation: each claim there is ample overnight on-street parking for their own residents without admitting these spaces will be shared by FOUR new developments.

As for Public Transport, how much more overcrowding can we stand? We're reminded of the Clapham Junction resident commuting into town, who gets the train to Tooting every morning (the opposite direction) so that from there he can actually get standing room on the Clapham Junction train back into town.

More soon...