Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Amber Tree Café and other high street news

Meet Jolanda and Virginia at the Amber Tree Café, a new delightful new addition to the south of the high street (number 45). Proprietor Virginia is Lithuanian and the cafe has got off to a great start, offering a varied lunch and breakfast menu (eat in or takeaway) at very reasonable prices. Virginia says all their food is handmade, freshly produced and uses only natural ingredients, and the cafe's speciality is their amazing homemade cakes, which include gluten free, dairy free and eggless recipes.

Co-incidentally, you can watch a live performance of traditional Lithuanian music at 1pm on Saturday 27th at the Deptford Lounge. Part of Deptford X festival, more info here.
Amber Tree has replaced the ill-fated Slices pizza restaurant which set up shop around the same time as the Pizza Bus down the road – the latter may have usurped Slices' USP. In a similar manner, the lovely Lithuanian women's lunchtime trade may about to get unwanted competition. A couple of doors down, the former Abermarle & Bond is now being refitted, and the builders have told us it's to become a new (franchised) branch of Subway, the bread-based food outlet that seems to be set on massive expansion.

At least it's not another pawnbroker. However, Subway don't offer hot meals and homemade cakes like Amber, or spicey Caribbean bites and breads like the great Chaconia bakery opposite, but the new store may give Percy Ingles another two doors down – and Greggs up the road – a run for their money.

Abermarle & Bond went bust earlier this year after the price of gold dropped dramatically last year (although their main trade was in Pay-Day loans). When the branch opened in late 2011 it became the fourth pawnbroker on the high street in a betting-shop-and-pay-day-loan cluster, as we reported at the time.

A later addition to the cluster was Cash Converters which took over the old Halifax premises, after locals campaigned against it becoming a Betfred (and which the Council managed to stop due to an unusual planning clause that applied to the building). But along with Abermarle & Bond, the Deptford Cash Converters branch has now inexplicably closed, having denied earlier in the year that their "Big Sale" was a "closing down sale"...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Deptford X 2014 26 September – 5th October

The theme of this year's Deptford X festival, set by the lead artist-in-residence Bob & Roberta Smith, is What is the Value of Art? "Bob" will be esconced in the temporary Deptford X 'headquarters' in the former cafe at the now closed-down Faircharm trading estate on Creekside. Visitors will be encouraged to contribute their own ideas to create a collective statement around the theme. 'Bob' heads up The Art Party, a loose grouping of artists and organisations concerned about the Coalition's reduction of the role of the arts and design in schools.

The festival launches on Friday 26th September with local galleries open late. On the first weekend, there'll be Open Studios at APT & Old Police Station, with Lewisham Arthouse, ASC and Acme opening their doors the following weekend. During the festival activities at the HQ will include sign painting, badge making and screen printing, plus performances from local musicians, all culminating in a special event on Sunday 5th October.

For more information on participating artists, venues and events go to the Programme page on the Deptford X website. Follow on Twitter @DeptfordX.

Update: a printed map will be available on Friday to help you navigate the various venues and exhibition times. It can also be downloaded from the Deptford X website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Deptford Gardens Festival + Open House London at the Shipwrights' Palace

Two local events this Saturday 20th September:

Deptford Gardens Festival at Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, 12-6pm
Celebrating all things green in Deptford, a day of music, games, performances and creative workshops. Assembly who run the garden are joined by urban fete & fun providers Madcap Coalition, plus gardeners from the Wonky Prong (Crossfields), Deptford High Street Community Garden (Coffey Street) and Sayes Court Garden CIC, the team hoping to build a Horticultural Centre of Excellence at Convoys Wharf. And...The Purple Ladies, Hula Hoop Workshops, Treehouse Art Lab Workshops, Ping Pong with Serve & Return, art installations, and pizza direct from the Assembly oven!
Entrance to the garden at Reginald Road

Open House London at The Master Shipwrights House, 10am-5pm
If you haven't yet taken advantage of the annual opportunity to have a look round this famous Deptford building, now's your chance. See this post from the Deptford Dame to give you an idea. The Lenox Project CIC put on quite a big show here last year with firing cannon, re-enactors and art stalls. This year they'll be exhibiting their restored cannon, providing tea and cakes and talking up their project – an added bonus for Open House visitors who will also be able to view plans and images of the Royal Dockyard in the riverside residence. Watergate St SE8 3JF. See the listing here.

Other Open House buildings in and around Deptford include Lewisham Arthouse, the Richard Hoggart Building at Goldsmiths College, The Seager Distillery Tower, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, Deptford Green School, Deptford Lounge, and Fordham Park

Open House London gives public access to 800 fabulous buildings – both old and new – all over the city for one weekend only. Pick up a FREE brochure at Deptford Lounge.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thames Tunnel decision – a blow for Deptford

You may have heard on the news that the government have given the go ahead for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. And if you visit this blog often you'll know there's been a local campaign to stop Thames Water building a 17m wide 48m deep shaft on the Crossfields green space on Deptford Church Street.

The campaign initiated by Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart started in 2011. This year we reported in detail the well attended Open Floor Hearings held by the Planning Inspectorate at Deptford Lounge in February. Also that month, along with a small number of Crossfields residents and others, we took part in some air quality testing to map the pollution levels on Deptford Church Street, surrounding areas and beyond. We announced the shocking results in May. The aim was show to how the partial closure of Deptford Church Street required to build a tunnel shaft at this site would have a severe impact on local residents.

Whilst the final decision on the Thames Tunnel was in the hands of the Secretaries of State, the Deptford High Street Garden Association began to develop a container garden on the Deptford Church Street site.

The campaign by Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart (with assistance this year from Joan Ruddock MP, plus Joe Dromey and Brenda Dacre who have since become New Cross councillors), the opposition of Lewisham Council, plus the work done by a few folk on Crossfields, all seems to have made an impression on the Examining Authority. In their view "the use of the Green as a work site would be a serious loss to the local community" and even with the mitigation measures proposed by Thames Water, there will be significant impacts on St Joseph's School and St Paul's Church. But...

The Secretaries of State Decision Letter and Statement of Reasons can be found here. A paragraph on Air Quality mentions the local air quality testing we did in February:
"(para 28) The independent Deptford air quality surveys contained within representations from J.Ruddock MP / S. Lawes agree with the findings of the Applicant that Deptford’s current air quality has pollutants in excess of EU targets. The Report states that the construction phase of the tunnel will add to pollution levels in Deptford. The ExA conclude that this increase will not be substantial and the Secretaries of State agree with this and are content that the impact is acceptable". 
The section on Deptford Church Street can be found in paragraphs 113-115:
"113. The Secretaries of State accept that the ExA’s examination revealed limitations with this site, particularly in terms of loss of open space in an area of deprivation and in respect of noise impacts on St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School and on St Paul’s Church, for a period of three and half years during construction."

"114. The Secretaries of State acknowledge that the ExA consider the loss of open space at this site to be a matter weighing against making the Order. They agree with the ExA, that Crossfield Amenity Green is not surplus to requirements and that even the temporary period in which it will be used as a work site will represent a serious loss to the community. However, the Secretaries of State agree with the ExA that the impact will be mitigated and the adverse impact on the landscape will be reversed . They also note that it will be open to the local authority to secure with the Applicant through the consent process under section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 23 1974, additional mitigation measures in the form of noise enclosures, to help minimise noise impacts predicted on receptors."

"115. The Secretaries of State agree that the alternative sites considered offer no less significant impacts, that the need for, and benefits of, the project overall outweigh the adverse effects and the temporary loss of open space, and are satisfied that impacts are mitigated as far as practicable since some disruption is unavoidable in a project of this scale."
The actual Planning Inspectorate's recommendations on which the Secretaries of State have based their decision can be found here. Skip through the huge report to page 357 to find out what they said about the site at Deptford Church Street.

Because campaigners had focused on the only alternative presented by Thames Water (another 'interceptor site' at Borthwick Wharf) the panel restricted themselves to considering only that alternative. They did not look in detail at previously suggested alternatives. And they did not think Borthwick Wharf was suitable either because it was so close to people's homes. Never mind that one residential home at Millennium Quay was given the same weighting (as a "receptor") as one whole school of a few hundred children at Deptford Church Street!

The panel noted that Thames Water had not presented the alternative "of avoiding the use of an interception site by redirecting the storm overflow direct to Greenwich Pumping Station, which is only approximately 400m from the Deptford Church Street site". Unbeknownst to us, the panel questioned Thames Water on this but they demonstrated that such a proposal was much worse – including the requirement to demolish the Birds Nest pub!

The Planning Inspectorate concluded that "a suitable alternative is not before us" and consequently the government have approved the Deptford Church Street site.

Now, as the news sinks in, there's a bit of fighting talk about judicial reviews on the whole project, or trying to get better mitigation locally. If you want to contribute to the debate, get in touch with our local councillor Joe Dromey.

But the Thames Tideway Tunnel isn't the only juggernaut heading our way. Whilst the development at Convoys Wharf (which, from a Crossfields point of view, will bring hundreds of HGVs thundering down our road) can be partly blamed on the policies of the current Mayor of London, Lewisham Council's own plans for our little area are not that short of a steamroller...

London Design Festival in Deptford

The London Design Festival is an annual event which both celebrates and promotes London as the "design capital of the world". It starts tomorrow 13th September and runs till the 21st. Check out events all over the city at the LDF website.

Three local events include:

The Living Installation in Giffin Square
Sat 13th September, 9am-4pm
Local designer Linda Florence will create a 60s living room in the square and fill it with stuff she's sourced in Deptford Market and the high street. More info at deptfordhighstreet.com and thelivinginstallationdeptford.tumblr.com

The Intertidal Cinema at Deptford Creek
Sat 13th 9.30-10.15pm, Sun 14th 9.40-10.40pm, Mon 15th 10.15-11pm
Hannah Fasching shows two films she has made about Deptford which overlay local peoples' narratives onto scenes of its architecture and landscape. Both can be viewed from the Ha'Penny Hatch footpath – one film is screened in an arch and another is cleverly projected onto the river bed.

Contemporary Craft & Art Weekend at Greenwich Market
Sat & Sun 13th & 14th September, 10am-5.30pm
Designers and makers will be demonstrating their crafts, including rag rug making, ironmongery, furniture making. For more info see Meet the Makers. Plus up to 80 designer makers in the market and exhibitions at the surrounding galleries.