Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book benches in Greenwich

If you've been in Greenwich recently, you'll have come across the 'book benches'. Organised by Books About Town, there are 11 benches in Greenwich situated around the town, in the park and by the river, as part of the Books About Town Greenwich Trail

The benches are all designed by local or famour artists and based on literary tomes relevant to the area where they're placed. There are four Trails (Bloomsbury, City, Greenwich and Riverside).

One of the best situated – and most sat-upon, admired and photographed – benches is right by the river in Cutty Sark Gardens and we're proud to say it's by long term Crossfields resident, Michele Petit-Jean (pictured by her bench above). Illustrator, puppeteer, author, musician and multi-talented artist Michele chose to illustrate Samuel Pepys' Diary with a marvellous rendition of the Great Fire of London, which Pepys recorded at the time.

All the BookBench sculptures will be sold at public auction on 7 October at the South Bank, with proceeds going to the National Literacy Trust.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Deptford Garden Party and Press Call this evening 7pm

As reported in our previous post last Friday, the community garden which has a lease on the open land next to St Paul's Church planned to begin building their garden last weekend, but Thames Water's proposals to dig exploratory trenches in the area threatened to scupper their schedule.

They decided to go ahead and start building anyway, and on Sunday with eight volunteers in tow, they had managed to complete construction of six of the eight planned wooden containers that will become soil beds for vegetables and herbs that any locals who want to get involved may grow here. Two more containers will be built today, and in celebration...

'Deptford's Open Garden' will hold a Ceremonial Opening this evening at 7pm. 

Everyone is welcome to attend. It will be a lovely evening – bring a bottle and refreshments, a friend or two, blankets, musical instruments, outdoor games stuff, and enjoy this bit of open green space before it's gone! Arrive at 7pm sharp for a press photo call, if you can!

Since the news, the gardeners have negotiated with Thames Water to keep the willow circle space accessible during the works. TW's 5-week programme of digging exploratory trenches was postponed from Monday but will start tomorrow, so this is the last chance to see and use the space before it is fenced off and works start.

Locals have been opposed to Thames Tunnel's proposals to build a shaft for the super sewer on this site and wished it to be kept for communal use. The Secretary of State is still to decide on whether Thames Water (aka Thames Tideway Tunnel) can have permission to use the site.

In the meantime, with TW's full co-operation, the gardeners can start growing stuff alongside the company's trench digging.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thames Tunnel works threaten Willow Circle and Community Garden

Although the Secretary of State has yet to make a final planning decision on the sites chosen by Thames Tideway Tunnel for all the works required to build the super sewer (expected in September), this doesn't stop TTT continuing to investigate the site on Deptford Church Street.

Last week Crossfields residents got a letter from TTT informing us that they intend to carry out "ground investigation works on Deptford Church Green to locate underground utility services and underground obstructions". There will be seven trial trenches dug to a depth of up to 3 metres, the area would be fenced off, and the work will begin this coming Monday and last 4 weeks. They enclosed a plan (see below).

But it seems that Crossfielders may have been the only people to receive this information. The last people to know are Deptford High Street Garden Association, the new leaseholders of a small part of the land, who only found out through their Crossfields friends. The proposed works rather conflict with their plans to start building their container gardens on the site this weekend.

Lewisham planners have agreed to let TTT dig the trenches without either giving the Association any notice. TTT ought to know about the association's intentions since it made several representations during the consultations. Lewisham Planners ought to have known about the Association because Lewisham awarded them the lease to create the garden there.

The Association's lease is only for the 'willow' circle area. The circle was built by Utrophia in the summer of 2012 to demarcate the area where TTT want to build their 17metre wide shaft. It was most recently used as a magical after-show dance space by French theatre company Rar Woulib as part of Greenwich Festival in June. 

From the plan, it appears the trenches are narrowly avoiding the willow circle area. The Association were unable to get hold of anyone at TTT this week until today when they failed to get it confirmed that the circle would be protected. In fact they were told the whole area would get pretty messed up and driven over by diggers, and TTT couldn't guarantee that anything would remain.

A case of plant machinery supplanting planting.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More roadworks!

These roadworks at the Giffin St junction opposite Castell House started on Monday. Traffic is presently reduced to a single lane on the southbound stretch of the dual carriageway.

What are they for? We asked the foreman. He told us they're putting in a cycle lane, adjusting the position of the present traffic lights, adding a cycling waiting area to the crossing, widening the pavement (?!), taking out part of the central reservation on the south part of the junction and adding another set of traffic lights (so there will be two crossings at this junction).

He showed us his instructions from Greenwich Council which included a plan of the junction improvements and said he expected it would take about 6-7 weeks.

There's no mention of these works, however, on the Greenwich website. Nothing on Lewisham's site either, but a link to Transport for London's list of roadworks across London shows the job with a reference number, plus a start and end date (8th August – only 4 weeks).

Neither Browne, Castell or Cremer House residents have been notified of these works. During the day they'll be affected by sounds of drilling etc, and in both rush hours, a slowing down of traffic outside their homes. There may be an increase of traffic in Creekside due to rat running, which will affect other residents. A quick email to Greenwich Council's highway department was responded to with "we aim to respond to your enquiry within five working days".

The same query to Lewisham, requesting a copy of the plans, was more forthcoming but not particularly helpful: "The work is being done by Greenwich's contractor as it is part of a larger set or works being carried out, but is being paid for by L B Lewisham. I'm afraid I do not have access to the plans, the officer who is dealing with the scheme is recovering from an operation and is unlikely to be back in the office for another month."

But anyway, now you know! The consolation is that the school holidays are starting soon, which usually results in a decrease in rush hour traffic.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bellway Homes at Kent Wharf

If anyone living in Finch House missed the Bellway Homes consultation held at the Laban on 2nd and 5th July, go to to see how the proposals will affect you.

To comment you are asked to download the 'feedback form' and return it by FREEPOST or by email before 21st July. You can also email or call 0845 460 6011 for more information.

A detailed planning application will not go in till the end of the summer, when the actual design of the buildings will be more refined – so it is pointless to comment on the look of the buildings in these drawings at this stage.

On the website, click on 'to view the exhibiton boards' and scroll down to The Proposals: "Bellway Homes is promoting a residential-led development of one, two and three bedroom apartments along the road (Creekside) and the waterfront. Along Creekside the proposals are predominantly five storeys high with a set back sixth storey, on the waterfront there is a six-storey element. There is also a 12 storey element, which reflects the taller buildings at the south end of the road and across the river. This arrangement helps reduce the impact on the Laban Building opposite."

At the consultation we were told the 'luxury' element of the development will be the 12-storey building on Creekside. This is apparently at the request of the council – originally this building was proposed to go on the waterside. The upper floors of the 12-storeys will offer views of both the Creek and St Paul's church and its surrounds.

Finch House residents will also be affected by the five storey blocks proposed on the opposite side of the road from them. Of the 134 'private and affordable' units proposed, it was not clear how many will be affordable.

We were also told they are 'looking into' using the Creek for the transportation of materials to and from the site. Also there will be an increase in traffic (and parking) from construction workers. Since this will affect us all, we look forward to viewing the reports which will accompany the detailed planning application scheduled for September.