Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome to the new Deptford Job Centre

...or rather welcome to what's been happening on the Job Centre site.

This is an architect's impression of how the site will look - two restaurant-type sites on the ground floor and a number of live/work spaces built up to 2 storeys above.  Permission for this went through over a year ago in June 2009.

Here's a seating plan:

Deptford High Street to the left, Tomi's Kitchen is the top left-hand grey blob, with the restaurant (and flats above) wrapping themselves around it with the western boundary on Resolution Way (top).  The central bar is where the New Deal inquisitors now work.( Illustrations from here)

It appears that there was an initial planning application way back in November 2003, and the planning committee (B) was clearly taken with the idea of how it would improve the look of the area for people emerging from Deptford Station.  I quote: ''The choice of materials and the detailing referred to in the accompanying material should result in a striking new addition in an important part of Deptford High Street, due to its position in relation to the station and the proposals on the other side of the road''.  (Page 43, para 3.3 here)  This continues in the next paragraph, 3.4 with ''Moreover, the added height of the development would mean that it would add interest from the railway and act as an important marker for the High Street and or Deptford as a whole.''     Quite coincidentally, improving the appearance of Deptford High Street entails the removal of lots of unemployed people from the area.
Station view

I didn't know anything at all about this when I spoke to my mole in the jobcentre today.  Of course, I knew about the on-off nature of the closure and when I read  ''Local MP secures promise on Job Centre'' on Joan Ruddock's website I knew that the game was up.  Because the only ministerial undertaking to keep a full jobcentre service in Deptford was  if a suitable building could be found.  So I asked when the closure was expected to happen.  Some staff are already being relocated but the lease runs out in November.  And I learned something interesting while I was at it.  According to the mole, when the last government gave the ok to renew the lease, the job centre management kept on adding, adding, adding to the expansion upstairs taking the cost up to several million pounds.  Yet under the last government there was never a budget for this empire building.  However, they have a convenient scapegoat now that they're now longer in power. 

And another snippet, that I can neither confirm nor deny, was that it was the then Deputy Mayor for Labour, Heidi Alexander, who signed off the change of use to hot food and drinks.  I don't know whether this is true, but I do know that when the application was finally agreed Mrs Alexander had responsibility for Regeneration, which includes the environment, waste management and economic development.

One thing that it is really hard not to be cynical about though, is how Joan Ruddock could use her ''success'' at staving off the jobcentre closure as part of her achievements as MP for Lewisham Deptford when the woman who's now her neighbouring MP in Lewisham East had been the deputy mayor for Lewisham at the time that new use and development was being discussed.  At to make it odder, Heidi Alexander used to be Joan Ruddock's researcher.  So they're neighbouring Labour MPs, they necessarily had a close working relationship, and Alexander was in power when the plans went through.  And yet Ruddock claimed she'd saved it.  I find I can't quite believe that she can't have known that it was already a done deal.


  1. Sceptical IllusionFriday, August 20, 2010

    So are you saying that councillor Alexander thought moving the unemployed out of the area fell under her brief for ''waste management?''

  2. The replacement looks nice - a welcome addition to the street.

  3. Yeah, anon, looks like there'll eventually be a cluster of nice buildings near the nice new station. Regeneration has been a long time coming.
    But where are people gonna sign on now? Does anyone know?

  4. Nice person, re where are people going to sign on now...Deptford Dame posted in June that people would have to sign on in Catford.

  5. What with Tidemill going Academy, it's all looking a bit like Economic Cleansing...always the price of 'Regeneration'.

    Quick definition: "The methods used by government or those in power to make those pesky poorer people get up and move from the geographic place they live. It could be higher property assessments, highways through poor neighborhoods, higher costs for food, shelter, and even water. If poor people can't live in a certain area then economic cleansing has occurred. It is often subtle and no one ever admits to doing it. It is the final market solution to poverty in any growth oriented prosperous community."


    "But the stalled economy, and the stalling developments, offer us a chance to demonstrate a different approach to economic and social development. One that works with local communities instead of replacing them with the ‘creative classes’. Perhaps we can challenge the basically unsustainable short cuts to economic development with sustainable long term approaches to community development."

    Probably not.

  6. I'm a bit confused. Not sure what you mean by "the job centre management kept on adding, adding, adding to the expansion upstairs taking the cost up to several million pounds." (I thought there was a church there!)

    If the powers that be have known about this all along, how come another building wasn't found? Surely it didn't have to be as massive as the present one?

    Does it mean people won't have to sign on as regularly cos it's so far away? (increasing dependency)
    Or they'll have to make extra special effort to get to Catford? (and pay for bus fares?)

    Or can they sign on in Greenwich or New Cross?
    Can they sign on in the new library lounge thing when it's built?

    If so, this would all make sense.

  7. I thought there was a church upstairs too. Not signed on for a long time. You probably think I sound like a Tory, but when you don't earn very much and you're really short of money but can't sign on and you pass the job centre and see the dogs tied up outside (I can't afford to keep a dog, I'd love to but I'm working all the time anyway) and some nice motors (can't afford a car either, let along a jeep with darkened windows) it makes you larf to think people might have to make more of an effort to get their money.
    Mind you I probably won't be able to afford a drink in the new wine bar or restarant or whatever it is going to be either.

  8. Is that true?
    Catford? That's miles away!
    I heard they were going to knock down the town hall and build some kind of super council thing there. Is that all part of the master plan? It doesn't do much for me. I'd rather be part of Southwark or Greenwich or Deptford could be a borough on its own? Once we've got the station et al can't we get divorced from bloody Catford? And keep Deptford real.

  9. From what I understood, the bulk of the benefits claimants will be redirected to Rushey Green - just beyond George Lane - with a smaller number being bundled off to Forest Hill. That will be a fair amount of bus fares.

  10. @ Confused,

    ''I'm a bit confused. Not sure what you mean by "the job centre management kept on adding, adding, adding to the expansion upstairs taking the cost up to several million pounds." (I thought there was a church there!)''

    As far I understand any of this, when the job centre management was looking at extending the lease for 124, it involved letting side bit go (the side further away from Tomi's kitchen)and expanding upwards. There were plans for expanding into DWP training suites upstairs, for example.

    The church on the first floor was on a shorter lease - they have long since gone, god knows where...

  11. A low paid workerSaturday, August 21, 2010

    I have to pay to get to work - why are people moaning that they have to pay to get the bus for a free cash handout?!

    Free money has been too easy for too long.

  12. @ a low paid worker - the money they will have to spend on a bus fare to get somewhere else to sign on could be much better used to get them to a job interview, surely?