Friday, December 23, 2011

West meats East for the feast

In the high street, the Halal butchers next to Sharon's Grocery are selling braces of pheasant and partridge. Meanwhile regulars queue for their free range Bronze turkeys and assorted cuts at the ever-popular Wellbeloved on Tanner's Hill.

(Apologies to vegan & vegetarian readers).

Skipping on the garbage

A skip appeared outside Holden House today. No explanation... A chat with the caretakers later confirmed it's an overflow strategy for the holidays, gifted by Lewisham Council. Rules are: no fridges.

According to Lewisham's website collection days over the festive period will be "one or two days later".

Hence the skip.

So when the recycling bins are full, please bring your cardboard & wrapping paper and recycling stuff to the skip. Please do not put your food stuff rubbish in this skip.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Betfred refused again!

Good tidings! On 16th December, Lewisham Planning again turned down Betfred's application – this time for a "Variation of allow all A2 uses, including a betting office".

Reasons for the refusal were given as: "The proposed variation of Condition (1) to allow use of the premises for unrestricted A2: Financial and Professional Services including the use as a betting shop, would be likely to give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance including a risk of an increase in crime detrimental to the maintenance of a safe and accessible environment for local residents and users of the town centre where crime and disorder or fear of crime does not undermine quality of life or community cohesion..." See the application here.

Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to object.

Meanwhile, betting shops were mentioned in The Portas Review – An independent review into the future of our high streets published on 13th December (see p.29):

13. Put betting shops into a separate ‘Use Class’ of their own

I also believe that the influx of betting shops, often in more deprived areas, is blighting our high streets. Circumventing legislation which prohibits the number of betting machines in a single bookmakers, I understand many are now simply opening another unit just doors down. This has led to a proliferation of betting shops often in low-income areas. 

Currently, betting shops are oddly and inappropriately in my opinion classed as financial and professional services. Having betting shops in their own class would mean that we can more easily keep check on the number of betting shops on our high streets.

Hopefully the government will take note – and do the same with Pawnbrokers while they're at it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yet another hotel...

A browse of Greenwich Council's planning pages (to see what might be happening on Creek Road) brought up this application from Telford Homes, who are applying for a change of use from B1 Office to C1 Hotel.

Their proposal is for a capsule hotel of 109 rooms over three floors of Block B in the new Creekside Village.

The blurb goes, "The main element comprises pre-constructed hotel rooms which can be delivered to site in flat pack form and assembled quickly and easily within an existing building. The rooms require no external light source and can be formed in rows with connecting corridors and service runs being the only other significant element of site work."

Most of the rooms will provide accommodation for up to two people with a proportion of the rooms being designed to mobility standards. Unlike conventional hotels, this proposal will involve no ancillary uses – no restaurant or bar areas, lounge or conferencing facilities. There will be a small reception facility and a cafe serving continental breakfasts, coffee and pre-packed snacks – so there will be no need for a catering kitchen (or extraction systems, for local people).

This is a "stylish Micro Boutique room which will deliver the ultimate sleeping and in-room entertainment experience. The room ambience should be white/minimal/modern with a high level of comfort, mood lighting, climate control and the seamless integration of communications and entertainment media."

There are no proposed alterations to the glazed facade of the Creekside Village building, and where rooms butt up against windows, the internal face will have opaque window film.

The application promises that a private company will deal with waste which is expected to be recyclable plastics, cardboard, newspapers, tins and food tubs. However, each of the 109 rooms will have ensuite bathrooms and there are no documents supplied that refer to water supply and sewage displosal!

It all reminds us of the latest episode of Charlie Brooker's three-part series of satirical dramas, Black Mirror, ("15 Million Merits", screened on Channel 4 last Sunday) – a dystopian vision of a future powered by people on exercise bikes, where homes are simply small rooms made up of walls of screens and the only chance to escape is by going on a reality TV show. People have become TV-addled drones living their lives vicariously through a videogame avatar. Welcome to Greenwich!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Convoys Wharf update: Evelyn Assembly 14 December

Head of Planning at Lewisham, John Miller, will be at the Evelyn Assembly this Wednesday to talk about "regeneration" in Deptford. He will provide a presentation which shows the various schemes, environmental improvements and works in Deptford High Street.

Wednesday 14 December 
7pm – 8.30pm
2000 Community Action Centre
199-201 Grove Street

In addition, he'll be showing Hutchison Whampoa's proposed plans to build 3500 homes (only 15% of which will be affordable), and provide parking for 2300 cars (with no coherent transport policy) on the Convoys Wharf site. Local campaign group Deptford Is... will then present their alternative proposals which they would like to see form part of a heritage-led masterplan that recognises Deptford's unique and historical significance.

They would like to see the restoration of the original features of both King Henry VIII's Royal Dockyard and of John Evelyn's Sayes Court manor house and gardens. The illustration below shows how the present proposals plan to build over these.

To remind you of the site in question here's a map of the area.

Consultation #3: Crossfields and Thames Tunnel

A reminder that Lewisham Planning Service have organised a meeting for Crossfield residents to HAVE YOUR SAY on the Thames Water proposals to situate a construction site on the green on Deptford Church Street.

Tuesday 13 December, 7pm
Salvation Army Hall, Mary Ann Gardens SE8 3DP

The council wants to know what residents and businesses in the area think – our views will be reflected in the Council's official response to Thames Water. All residents received a letter from Lewisham about this in the middle of November, but if you have mislaid the letter or cannot make the meeting, there are a number of other ways to respond:

Email or write to:
Planning Policy, Planning Service, London Borough of Lewisham, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU.

The Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart campaign have also prepared a very useful crib sheet for those wishing to object, which also gives a bit of background information. Download it here.

You can also let Thames Water know your views at – this link will take you to their page detailing the proposals for Deptford Church Street. See also this page on the Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart website.

Consultation #2: Faircharm Trading Estate redevelopment

Despite leaflets in every door and posters in stairwells, only an estimated 40 people attended the Drop-In organised especially for Crossfields Estate by Workspace last Wednesday to view the latest plans to redevelop the Faircharm Estate. Perhaps 3.30-7.30pm was not particularly convenient for most?

The above visuals were kindly provided by Karakusevic Carson, the architects tasked with drawing up a plan for Workspace who want to knock down the present buildings and construct four new buildings that will house both business and residential units. There would be a decrease in the former use and a massive increase in the latter. Three of the buildings will be residential from the first floor up, including a 13/14 storey tower in the south east of the site, next to the Creek.

It was claimed that 30% of the housing would be affordable and that there would be parking for 60 cars. The new buildings fronting onto Creekside will be much taller than the present buildings – two floors higher than Crossfields, one-to-two floors higher than the APT building, and half the height of Creekside Village. The proposed tower would be almost three times as tall as Crossfields.

A questionnaire accompanied the exhibition. Here are the questions for local residents:

1. Do you live locally / on the Crossfields Estate?
2. Is there anything you would like to see improved on (the) Creekside?
3. Do you have any comments on the existing buildings at (the) Faircharm?
4. Do you think more access to the Creek would be beneficial?
5. Would you come to a cafe/pub on the Faircharm?
6. Would Creekside & Deptford benefit from other evening venues?
7. We have designed the buildings to be mainly built in high quality brick with large windows. The architectural feel is both elegant and robust, is this an approach you support?
8. We are proposing a mix of both commercial, arts space and residential space. Is this something you feel is appropriate for Deptford?
9. Most of the buildings are 5-7 storeys in height, and are a similar scale to the Crossfields buildings. Do you think this is the right approach?
10. A taller building is required on the site to achieve a viable proposal. A 12-13 storey building is proposed to be located on the Creek edge, do you think this is the correct place? (please see the model)

So, there is a promise that we shall have more access to the Creek, and that we might welcome the addition of new cafes and bars, since it is claimed there will be no barriers to entering the development. However, considering the present security arrangements, one suspects that access to the Creek may well be restricted to the daytime, since the newly housed businesses (and possibly the new residents) may not welcome the local oiks wandering around their premises at night time. Drawings show potential cafes, bars and galleries situated inside the site, but it is also suggested these public spaces are actually placed on the main road, opposite Holden and Wilshaw Houses.

That idea – along with the height of the buildings fronting the development – will greatly impact those residents in Wilshaw and Holden who face onto Creekside. It was suggested there may be the possibility of securing mitigating Section 106 agreements that could benefit Crossfields directly, such as key-fob operated bollards at our entrances (to stop businesses and new residents using our parking spaces). Perhaps you have other suggestions – a resident has already suggested we have a fully equipped laundry, another has asked for a state-of-the-art community space that could house activities other than meetings.

Workspace hope to submit to Lewisham's Planning Department in February and say they will hold another consultation in January. Their plans are not entirely popular with the present business tenants, and Lewisham's Conservation Team are presently consulting over designating the area a Creekside Conservation Zone which would call for the buildings to remain as they are (see previous post where you can download the full proposal).

Click on the elevation drawing below to get an idea of heights and massing.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bats and Bugs!

Nicolas Pond from Nature Conservation Lewisham wrote to the blog last week looking for people interested in getting some free ecological training next year.  Having watched a bat feeding over Creekside before nightfall this summer and not knowing what species it was, maybe this course could have helped me identify it.  Here is his email and poster with his contact details:

Dear Crosswhatfields,

I'm writing to see if you can help me advertise some free training on your blog
I'm seeking keen naturalists who wish to be recipients of free ecological training that will commence next spring/summer 2012.
The principle intention is to train naturalists in survey techniques so that the Borough can encourage a trained body of volunteers to collect ecological species data and generate more complete records of protected species for the Borough and its environs.
Could you kindly host the attached poster on your blog and disseminate to your members and via any other networks as you see fit, many thanks

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deptford Soil at Utrophia

10th–24th December (Wed, Fri & Sat)

Deptford Soil is an exhibition of work by local artists who have an affiliation with the McMillan Herb Garden, a non-profit making organisation who run creative workshops for young people in Deptford. Events to accompany the exhibition as follows:

Saturday 10th December, 7pm
Home Grown Film Night
Featuring local films and live soundtrack from Rabbit 

Sunday 11th December, 5-7pm
8 or 9 drummers from the south east London music underground will be playing throughout the Utrophia space so that the sound moves across and through the space.

Wednesday 14th December, 6-9pm
Music from The Missing Puddings and The Conformists

Saturday 24th December, 12-4pm
End of the Road – music tbc

Utrophia Project Space
120 Deptford High Street 

More info at

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Consultation #1: Creekside Conservation Area

Crossfields residents may by now have received a document briefly outlining the proposal for the Creekside Conservation Area with an accompanying questionnaire. A larger and more detailed Appraisal document is available to download here, and if you didn't get the letter and questionnaire or have mistakenly lined the budgie cage with it, you can find it again here.

You can also take part in the consultation by going online at Lewisham's website here, or go straight to the online questionnaire here. Deadline for comments is 27th January 2012.

Before the deadline, the council intend to hold a public consultation event in the new year.
Saturday 7 January 
Creekside Discovery Centre

Ideally, there will be someone from Lewisham Homes present at this event to explain the implications to Crossfields residents.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recycling Revolution!

June wrote to us to make us flag up Lewisham's new recycling changes. It's all in Lewisham Life we told her, but she thinks you don't read it (and we said you don't read us either)...but here goes:

As well as everything before, you can NOW RECYCLE: 



- PLASTIC BAGS including SUPERMARKET CARRIER BAGS and PLASTIC SACKS...YAY! (about time, since you keep forgetting to take your own bag and the check-out staff keep loading them up and Deptford market and shop traders aren't happy unless they've given away a blue bag)

In addition you can also now add TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES, AEROSOL CANS (make sure they're empty), TAKEAWAY CONTAINERS (rinse first)...

Apparently we can also recycle our shoes, clothing, linen and curtains, but we're not sure if that'll go in our recycling bins...we may fall victim to the usual Lewisham "One Size Fits All unless you're posh with a garden" syndrome...Let's hope we are suitably catered for in due course with quite a few more recycling bins to take all this extra stuff that we're having to cart downstairs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Creekside Consultations

Crossfields residents are invited to take part in two consultations very shortly. Firstly, we are invited this coming Wednesday to view the plans for a redeveloped Faircharm Estate. Secondly, Lewisham Council will be seeking our views on their plan to designate Creekside a Conservation Area.

WorkSpace who run Faircharm Trading Estate hope to submit a planning application for the redevelopment of the site in 2012. Their architects have developed plans "that are going to deliver an exciting mixed use development that will retain the unique nature of the area whilst delivering new residential and workspace accommodation."

This Drop In session is intended to give locals an opportunity to view the updated designs. Of particular interest to Crossfields residents will be the heights of the new buildings and how the work will be phased – there is likely to be serious disruption whilst building work takes place, should planning permission be granted. However...


Lewisham Council notified the businesses on Faircharm Estate last week that it is commencing a public consultation on a proposal to designate the Creekside area – including the Faircharm Estate and Crossfields Estate – as a conservation area.

Lewisham's Enterprise Development Manager Paul Hadfield says the council's planning policy is to protect local employment locations such as Faircharm for employment uses in order to support the local economy. This is likely to affect Workspace's plans to redevelop Faircharm as a mixed use site (that will include yet more luxury flats overlooking the Creek, as well as employment space). It may also affect other developers' plans for the Lewisham side of the Creek.

The Council is of the opinion that Creekside is a place of architectural and historic merit, and its buildings and spaces should be enhanced and protected. It wants to know what local businesses think of the area and its buildings and intends to consult on its proposal between 5 December and 16 January 2012.

Crosswhatfields has been assured by Lewisham's Conservation Officer Regina Jaszinski that Crossfields residents shall also be receiving letters next week informing us of the consultation, and hopefully we shall find out what it will mean for the estate to become part of a Conservation Area.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Laundry thief

This jocular but angry sign went up at the foot of Holden's stairs this week.

It serves as a warning to the rest of us that there is someone going round in the middle of the night stealing laundry off washing lines. According to a resident in Castell, it's not a new thing and has been happening with regularity over the past four years. The theft usually takes place in the wee hours, and the last time we heard about it happening, the thief even emptied someone's recycling bag to carry off their stolen load (leaving rubbish all over the stairs)...

So don't leave your best stuff out to dry overnight!

Friday, December 2, 2011

GIFTED weekend on Creekside and beyond

This weekend sees a confusing array of local venues opening to showcase arts and crafts, offering the chance to shop for unique Christmas presents for friends and family. Mulled wine, mince pies (and a price cap on some work) are available at some venues. It is also SLAM Friday tonight, so some venues are open this evening. We have tried to make sense of all the different details for you here.

Unfortunately, Blogger has been on the blink all day, so this post may be too late to alert you to this evening's activities.

On Creekside…

COCKPIT ARTS designers open their studios to sell fashion accessories, jewellery and homeware.  Unfortunately there is a £3 charge to get in but entry is free all day today (until 9pm).
18-22 Creekside. Open Fri 11am-9pm (FREE), Sat & Sun 11am-6pm (£3).

FAIRCHARM CHRISTMAS FAIR has over 40 stallholders selling furnishings, fine art, fashion and jewellery. There is also a pop-up exhibition, and CREEKSIDE ARTISTS are opening 20 working studios. There will be live music at 4-5pm on both days.
Block A, 8-12 Creekside. Free entrance and parking. Sat & Sun 12-6pm

ARTHUB GALLERY is showing affordable (All work no more than £250).  
Private view tonight 4-9pm.
5-9 Creekside. Free. Exhibition runs 3-4 & 10-11 December 12-6pm

APT GALLERY also has a salon-hung show of studio members' work (everything from £20 to £500). Private view tonight 5–8pm.
6 Creekside. Free. Sat & Sun 10am-6pm 

Stepping out of Creekside…

Gifted@ARCH has some bargain deals on art materials and recent paintings by selected artists on display.
17 Resolution Way SE8 4NT. Sat & Sun 10-5pm

Art & Design Weekend @ BEARSPACE is showing over 200 prints and design objects by leading emerging artists as part of Print & Design Now.  
Private view tonight 6-8.30pm.
152 Deptford High St SE8 3PQ. Fri 10-8.30pm, Sat  & Sun 10am-6pm. (Exhibition runs till 16 Dec).

ArtDog Gallery@THE DUKE is showing three artists' work.
125 Creek Road SE8 3BU. Open 12-10pm.

Shop@NUMBER 82 will have artists gifts and special editions.  
Private view tonight 5-7pm.
82 Tanners Hill SE8 4PN. Fri 5-7pm, Sat 10-6pm.

Other venues…

Art exhibitions at Lewisham Arthouse, The Agency, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, cueB, The Old Police Station, Trinity – check the South London Art Map for details. There is a Private View and "after-party" at the Old Police Station tonight till midnight.

Pay What You Like guided tour...

South London Art Map is running a guided tour on Saturday 3rd at 2pm (tour lasts two hours). Attendees will also receive half price entry to Cockpit Arts. Pay what you can (suggested donation £5). Meet at Bearspace, 152 Deptford High St SE8 3PQ.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I remember when Crossfields was just fields...

Top: Late resident Sue Godfrey in Greenwich Park (Moore or less...)
Bottom: Sue Godfrey in the nature park named after her with the old South East London school behind.  

Well, obviously I don't, none of us go back that far.  But it must once have been true.  Even more recent times get forgotten too.  Many residents on Crossfields - those who have lived here for many years or who have family who lived here before that - will have already forgotten much of what it was like to live in the area back in the day.

An email that arrived in the Crosswhatfields inbox last week might give us a chance to catch some of those memories before they disappear for good.  Goldsmith's University student, Anna Merlini, is doing her anthropology dissertation on on memory and geography in New Cross and Deptford and is hoping to get in touch with local residents who would like to share their recollections of everyday life in these areas. ''Involvement in the project would entail taking part in short conversations about personal memories, commenting on old photos of the neighbourhood, or creating a memory map.''

Anna has asked us whether any of our blog readers would like to participate in the project.  And she is happy to collaborate with the blog so that residents' tales don't disappear onto a library shelf in academia but remain accessible to present and future Crossfielders.

In her words:

Do you live in New Cross, Telegraph Hill or Deptford?

I am a BA Anthropology student at Goldsmiths College, writing a dissertation on memory and geography in New Cross, Telegraph Hill and Deptford. 
I am looking for local residents who would like to get involved in my project, taking part in informal, short conversations about their memories and recollections of everyday life in these areas.

If interested, please contact me at 

Of course, Crosswhatfields would be equally pleased to receive emails which we will pass on to Anna. Or if you prefer, you can simply tell us your tales in the comments box below.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Betfred objection deadline 6 December

As we reported in October, Betfred have reapplied to Lewisham Planning for the site at 93 Deptford High Street after having their appeal to the Government Inspectorate turned down.

This has meant a campaign-weary community having to repeat their previous objections. Presently there are 23 objections filed on the planning portal for application DC/11/78506/X. Last time there were 84.

Hopefully the smaller number of objections will still be enough to support Lewisham should they be minded to turn the application down again, but if you can spare some time in the next week and don't want to see an eighth betting shop opening on our high street, please write in to object. The target date for receiving objections is 6th December.

If you don't have time to write an objection, there is a petition you can sign at Come The Revolution Cafe on New Cross Road. But a petition only counts as one objection...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Mondays at the Amersham Arms

Jon wrote to tell us about the comedy club he runs with comedienne Holly Walsh at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. Here's the line-up for the last two nights of this year...One of the evenings features a Crossfields resident (but you'll have to go along to find out who)!

Monday November 28th, 7.30pm
ISY SUTTIE (Dobby from 'Peep Show') and HOLLY WALSH (Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 Out of 10 Cats), plus DOC BROWN and LLOYD LANGFORD
buy tickets (£5)

Monday December 12th, 7.30pm
JOSIE LONG (Never Mind the Buzzcocks) and HOLLY WALSH (Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 Out of 10 Cats), plus JOE WILKINSON, AL STICK and ANGELA BARNES
buy tickets (£5)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pawnbroker update: Want instant cash now? YOU BET!

Last month, our appeal-wary planning department were obliged to give permission for Change of Use to the fourth pawnbroker on Deptford High Street. Abermarle & Bond's new premises is opposite Ladbrokes, William Hill, and another pawnbroker, The Money Shop. It is quite near Paddy Power and Better, and not far from three other pawnbrokers – in fact there will now be four pawnbrokers within 50 metres of each other.

However, as the Dame recently pointed out, Lewisham Planning did not grant permission for them to change the shopfront, and asked them to apply separately for this. But barely a day had passed after Change of Use was granted (from Sui Generis to A1 Retail) before Abermarle & Bond had set about refurbishing the shop. The shop is almost ready to open (the picture above was taken last week). The target date for their application to be decided is 27th December 2011, but a new shop front is already in place – in time to cash in on the Christmas trade.

The applicant's flagrant disregard for local planning rules is also demonstrated by the distribution of leaflets in the local neighbourhood which confirm the fact that they are first and foremost a Financial Service and NOT a retail outlet:  "Say NO THANKS to banks" "Quick cash loans" "No hassle and no credit checks" APR: 581.9%.

Pawnbrokers are classed as A1 Retail as long as the other services they offer (cheque cashing and pay day loans) remain ancillary to the main use as pawnbrokers/jewellers. But selling jewellery is now a small part of the service since people are selling and pawning their gold rather than buying it.

The Telegraph reported four days ago that Abermarle & Bond said the value of gold it had bought off customers had increased by 83%, adding that the market for retailing gold jewellery remained very weak. It continued to prefer to scrap second hand jewellery if this generated a better return on capital.

Cash loans on jewellery are often third on an advertised list of services, after Pay Day Loans and Speed Loans. Pawnbrokers are no longer simply a place to get a quick cash loan on some jewellery or prized possession, but have instead become extremely aggressive loan sharks. They are part of the cycle of poverty, and not, as they claim, any part of the solution – since a high interest loan can easily spiral out of control, especially when the lender is situated in the immediate vicinity of bookmakers. Abermarle & Bond's advertising "Want instant cash now? YOU BET" is a not very subtle nudge.

Pawnbrokers are also extremely poorly regulated and monitored, hence their nickname "robber's shops" (no pun intended) – who knows where the gold they are buying has come from? And they inevitably set up shop in poor areas where there is a desperate need for cash and people have no credit ratings. Abermarle & Bond's financing is by Speedloan Finance, a sub-prime small loans company specialising in making loans to people who have difficulty maintaining repayment schedules.

We need better alternatives to banks and better solutions to debt management than this new breed of pawnbroker can provide. Like the betting industry, the corporate pawnbrokers are set on a massive expansion in – or, rather invasion of – Britain's poorer high streets, aiming to make huge profits from the recession.

Their present DUBIOUS planning class as A1 Retail (because they sell jewellery) allows them to pop up wherever they like – usually next to bookmakers (for obvious reasons). Local authorities across the country are unable to turn them down in the shopping areas they have designated to be RETAIL ONLY (that is, not Financial Services).

Joan Ruddock MP is leading the fight to stop the corporate Betting Shops by attempting to introduce a Bill to give them a Planning Class of their own. The same should be done to curb the invasion of sub-prime loan sharks masquerading as jewellers. Write to your MP now!

See previous post on Abermarle & Bond here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deptford's Heart Campaign present petition to Thames Water

On Saturday morning (November 19th), Liberty Mosse from Don't Dump On Deptford's Heart campaign presented a petition totally nearly 850 signatures to Nick Tennant, Communications Manager for Thames Tunnel. This was the third and final day of their consultation drop-in at Creekside Discovery Centre, which, according to Thames Tunnel, had over 130 visitors.

The petition objects to the proposed use of land in Deptford Church Street as a construction site to intercept the Deptford Storm Relief tunnel.

Also at the Drop-in on Saturday, Crossfields resident Jim Kirk grilled Thames Tunnel reps and consulted the full version of the Preliminary Environmental Report, only part of which can be found online. Jim writes:  

"I was looking for figures about the impact of noise and vibration on Farrer House, which was mentioned, with Congers House, on page 103 of this large "reference only" document. It stated that Farrer House had five storeys. It actually has four. In tables on subsequent pages containing the figures I wanted, Farrer House is not even mentioned although Congers House is. It seems therefore that despite being just as close to the proposed site as Congers House and the (storm relief) tunnel itself passing under its back lawn, the effects of noise and vibration on Farrer House have not even been considered or recorded in this document. I pointed all this out to the Thames Water people there and they promised to do something about it. I told them that as this document firstly attributed a non-existent extra floor to Farrer House and subsequently ignored its existence altogether I had some justified doubts about its general accuracy."

Jim would also like to see any Cost Benefit analyses of the Borthwick Wharf and Deptford Church Street sites so that he might evaluate their data and conclusions, but has yet to be furnished with the details.

Those who missed the consultation can find out more by downloading the relevant documents from the Thames Tunnel website – not only about the site on Deptford Church Street, but also the site at Greenwich Pumping Station, just the other side of the Ha'Penny Hatch (work on which will last over five years). At times during the latter's construction, work would be continuous, and most of the materials to and from the site will move via Norman Road. But it appears the footpath, whilst being diverted, will remain available to use.

A right pea souper

The fog that hung over Deptford and Greenwich yesterday resulted in the welcome disappearance of the looming tower blocks that now surround us.

A lone figure walks in the Creek...

...and down by the river at Greenwich, north London has vanished.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thames Tunnel worksite on our doorstep – say no!

Further to our previous post, we urge everyone who lives on Crossfields or Deptford to visit the Thames Tunnel consultation exhibition at Creekside Discovery Centre, which runs until 4pm on Saturday (see details at the bottom of this post).

Although we've been carrying news of Thames Tunnel's proposals for some time now and the local opposition against them, readers should know that up until recently, the site opposite Farrer and Congers House had been presented by Thames Water as an alternative to a preferred site at Borthwick Wharf down on the riverfront (click on the image below to enlarge).

Now that Phase Two of the consultations have begun, the Deptford Church Street site has become the preferred site. For us, then, this is really Phase One – and the only phase – of any consultation about this site. It's time to speak up!

Thames Water are now saying they prefer Deptford Church Street because there will be less disruption to residential areas. Much work will involve material (or spoil) that is dug up in the construction of an 'access chamber' being transported away from the site in lorries, and the access from Borthwick Wharf to the main road is via Glashier Street through the Millenium Quay development. Not particularly nice for those residents. However, Thames Water boast in their literature that, in general, much (between 50-75%) of the spoil being taken away from such work sites (or new material such as concrete being brought in) will be carried by river. What better site could there be than one on the waterfront?

Meanwhile, at the Deptford Church Street site, all spoil dug out and materials arriving will go and come by road, with no river to lighten the load. Church Street will be reduced to two lanes during a large part of the construction (over three years). There will be noise and dust continually. And here, there are not only a large number of residential homes surrounding the site (as there are at Borthwick Wharf), but also a primary school, several businesses and a listed church. This contradicts Thames Water's own Site Selection Methodology, as pointed out by Crossfields resident Jim Kirk, who says, "Its evaluation criteria specifies that areas close to schools, residential areas and historic buildings are reasons not to pick a site."  Thames Water have argued that we're already used to noise and dust from a busy road and railway. Right, so we want more?

Joan Ruddock chaired a packed hall at a public meeting on Tuesday evening at the Sally Army Hall. Although as Chair she remained impartial, as MP for Deptford she believes the proposals are not acceptable. Although some Lewisham councillors were present, notably Cllr Alan Smith, no local councillors attended the meeting where presentations were made by Thames Water and the Deptford's Heart campaign before a heated debate took place which went on until 9.30pm. See the report at East London Lines.

The previously chosen site at Borthwick Wharf is actually within the borough boundary of Greenwich, bang next door to the riverside development Millennium Quays on one side and a dormant new development, Paynes & Borthwick Wharf, on the other. So Lewisham council have not had to shed too many tears in loyally mustering up support for the Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart campaign against the new preferred site in Deptford in opposition to the previously preferred site in Greenwich (what we call north Deptford). Overall Lewisham supports the plans for the Tunnel, since the Deptford Overflow Sewer is one of the top five offending overflows in London, but if they had had to choose between two 'Lewisham' sites, it might have been a different story.

Not in my back yard

For Crossfielders and all those inhabiting Deptford Church Street this is a NIMBY NO BRAINER – there is no point in pondering which site is going to be least affected when you're faced with three years or more of major disruption. We do not have the option of the river, and don't forget that we will also soon be subjected to yet another building project when the council begin developing the old Tidemill School site. So stand up for yourself, your friends, family and neighbours and VOTE AGAINST this proposal. Unfortunately, it is a case of Us or Them.

Go along to the exhibition at Creekside Centre and pick up a Comments Form. Fill it in there and then, or take it home to fill in and Freepost. By all means, stop and chat to the army of Thames Water representatives who will try to answer your questions. If it is a quiet period, you may find yourself surrounded by fifteen people who may all answer your question differently at the same time – rather intimidating. Stand your ground.

One guy told us today that it wouldn't be lots of lorries, and that some of the vehicles used would be quite small. In that case, mate, go and build your stink pipe by the river! Deptford Miscellaneous has an interesting post that may appeal to your sense of injustice: "Here in Deptford the previously preferred bore site near Borthwick Wharf, where spoil could have left by river, has been replaced by a site in Deptford Church Street, where spoil will leave by is hard not to suspect that...sites near middle class riverside developments have been replaced by sites in poorer areas."

If you haven't got time to hang about at the exhibition, there is plenty of literature to take away, plus some free DVDs featuring different aspects of the project. Don't forget the Comments Form. Or comment online at

Friday 18 November 
Saturday 19 November 
Creekside Discovery Centre, Creekside SE8 4SA

Post updated: 18 Nov 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Public meeting #2: Tue 15 Nov: Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart

Come and hear about Thames Water's 'Super Sewer' plans for the green area between Crossfield St and Coffey St on Deptford Church St.

Don't Dump of Deptford's Heart
Tuesday 15 November
Salvation Army Hall, Mary Ann Gardens SE8 3DP

Thames Water is also staging public exhibitions all over London as part of its Phase Two Consultation, but they have already declared the area next to St Paul's church as their preferred site (see the Deptford Dame's report) in this area. They will be in Deptford later this week (see below).

Those concerned with the implications of Thames Water choosing the site in Deptford Church Street and how it will affect us should attend the first meeting tomorrow being held by the Don't Dump On Deptford's Heart campaign, so that you are better informed when you visit the Thames Tunnel exhibition at the end of the week.

Thames Tunnel public consultation
Thursday 17 November
Friday 18 November 
Saturday 19 November 
Creekside Discovery Centre, Creekside SE8 4SA
24hr helpline: 0800 0721 086

All comments and views must be submitted by 10 Feb 2012, after which Thames Water will formally submit their application for consent to construct the Thames Tunnel.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Public Meeting #1: Mon 14 Nov: Ken Livingstone

Some Crossfields residents got a flyer through their door, as did folk in other parts of Deptford, but some blocks got missed out, so here's the details:

Ken Livingstone
Monday 14 November 
Lady Florence Hall (Deptford Broadway)

Ken wants you to elect him Mayor of London in 2012 and needs to know what you want him to do to improve London. Billed as a Tell Ken event (in which Livingstone spends a day in a London borough listening to local residents), we're invited to tell him "our priorities for the area" and voice "our concerns about transport, policing, student fees and the economy".

Ken has lost much of the popularity he enjoyed in the days of the GLC, and to some his glory days are over, but this blogger is old enough to remember those days, and witnessed significant change and improvements in the lives of Londoners (notably enlightened policies on transport and housing, and a celebration of cultural differences that kicked out racism) – only to later see a Blairite government (of which our present borough council administration was and still is a flagship) embrace an agenda that worked against those the Labour Party purported to represent.

We know Ken has already made it a priority to deal with the betting shops, but now so has Boris. But will Ken, for instance, reverse the plans for Crossrail that involve taxing those boroughs who do not benefit from it? Will he take up the cause of local people in their objections to the plans for Convoy's Wharf, even though he is a self-confessed lover of skyscrapers?

Ken's ticket has always been transport (pun unintended), but for Deptford the issue is likely to be housing – that's the issue that regularly fills Joan Ruddock's surgeries to bursting point. Note, it was Ken who introduced the requirement for new developments to be 50% social/affordable housing, a policy that was soon watered down (even in his time), but which has now reached dire levels with Lewisham's leadership willing to go with 15% "affordable housing" (which none can afford) at Convoy's Wharf (let alone the other developments Lewisham has rubber-stamped this year).

Still with housing, maybe you're a council tenant threatened by Cameron's proposed policy on downsizing and would like to see a stronger opposition? If you're worried about unemployment or youth unemployment in particular, please pose your questions now. Perhaps you'd like to see a JOB CENTRE back in Deptford, and a new London Mayor put pressure on the appropriate authorities to provide one, by hook or by crook and no excuses.

Maybe you'd like some support if you're worried about the Thames Tunnel decision to plonk their work station on your doorstep for the next 10 years (see

Or maybe you eschew local difficulties for wider concerns and you'd like to see Britain pull away from the EU (though you may have very relevant local experience) and want to know where Ken stands? (Expect to see him toe the party-line there). Perhaps you'd like to see better representation of ordinary working people in London in the face of an overwhelmingly banker-friendly government and totally useless local councillors, but are not sure if Ken is up to the job?

Get your questions ready. If you can't make it on Monday, please leave them here in the comments section. There is surely something we've forgotten. More info and a chance to comment directly to Ken at

Meanwhile, here's the list of candidates for the 2012 Mayoral elections, to be held on 3 May, if you didn't know already.

Boris Johnson Conservative
Ken Livingstone Labour
Brian Paddick Liberal Democrat
Jenny Jones Green
Lawrence Webb UKIP
Carlos Cortiglia BNP

Whoever wins will be opening proceedings at the Olympics...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Diwali celebrations at the Maritime Museum

Saturday 12th November 11.30am-6pm
FREE Family Day at the National Maritime Museum
A family-friendly day of performance and storytelling, activities and workshops, film and music, to mark the Hindu festival of Lights and British maritime connections with India.

The day culminates in a lantern-lit outdoor procession in Greenwich Park led by local outdoor arts company Emergency Exit Arts at 4.30-5.15pm. To take part in the procession, join the lantern-making workshops at 11am-1pm and 1.30-3.30pm at the museum (all ages welcome).

Since Diwali was actually 26th October (!) the day's events are really about flagging up the new gallery at the museum, Traders: the East India Company and Asia, which opened in September. If you haven't been to the museum for a while (or ever), the new wing and exhibition are well worth a look.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ha'Penny Hatch – local landmark threatened

 The Lifting Bridge at Ha'penny Hatch  Photo by Deptford Visions

Whilst 500 years of Deptford history is under threat from a multi-national company operating out of Hong Kong (we refer, of course, to Convoys Wharf) and by mostly all accounts supported by a weak and vain council leadership ready to trade heritage and local people's needs for some quick and easy Section 106 money that may never be spent in Deptford, more recent signs of the area's industrial heritage are now under threat.

The lifting bridge at Ha'Penny Hatch lies under the jurisdiction of Network Rail. Rumour has it (yellow jackets and suits were spotted with technical equipment and were cross-examined by a local) they are considering its removal, due the potential costs of maintaining the structure, which obviously, should it become unsafe, may cause quite a hazard to train travel. Network Rail reckon they don't have enough cash to maintain the old iron structure.

Many people refer to the lift bridge as the Ha'Penny Hatch, but the name actually refers to the lower crossing on the Creek. The bridge was built in 1963 to replace the original bridge dating from 1838. The Greenwich Phantom has a marvellous story on the history.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Radio London talks to Crossfields resident

Crossfields resident, artist and art lecturer, Tidemill parent and anti-Academies campaigner (among other things), Leila Galloway, along with fellow parent Esther, were caught on the hop on Wednesday when BBC Radio London picked up on an Evening Standard story that Crosswhatfields (among others) had covered.

They contacted us to speak to them. Not always fast to react, we fielded the message to Leila, and the mothers were later that afternoon recorded live talking to reporter Jonathan Savage, who had picked up on the story that Tidemill Academy will be charging parents £20 a day for a play scheme when the school shuts early before Christmas so that it can make the move into the new Deptford Lounge accommodation.

Listen again here. This blogger gets a headache listening to the Radio London evening news show, so advises you fast forward 6 minutes in for the 4 minute slot recorded in Deptford with Leila and Esther.... and to a quite good intro and pretty accurate synopsis from Jonathan Savage  – go Jon!...

See previous story...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Workspace kick out artists' group

Ever since Workspace announced plans to redevelop Faircharm Trading Estate, most of its tenants have been facing an uncertain future. Cor Blimey Arts & Core Gallery – who have been developing their practice, activities and events for the past seven years into a blossoming international programme – are the latest to come up against the inflexibility of the landlords.

Like all the other shyster developers, Workspace will no doubt be marketing their new development on the basis that it is situated in the heart of Deptford's vibrant and thriving artist quarter, as they contribute to a gradual squeezing out of grassroots artistic and educational activity.

In a statement today, Rosalind Davis spoke on behalf of the studio and gallery's management:


If anyone thinks community isn’t important, the recent ‘sign or get out’ debacle between Cor Blimey Arts/Core Gallery and our landlords Workspace at Faircharm Trading Estate will prove otherwise. On Friday, October 28th 2011 we were given the ultimatum to sign a financially constricting and binding contract to remain in our studios – or get out by Monday October 31st.

We gave notice on our existing lease three months previously with the understanding that we were still negotiating terms on a new lease. It was insinuated that although our current lease would expire on October 31st, negotiations would continue after this date until an agreement was reached – a flexible agreement suitable for artist led spaces such as ourselves.

However, it was with great surprise and dismay that, at the eleventh hour, we were presented with a ‘sign or get out’ ultimatum from Workspace. This demand came late on Friday evening, before the weekend when there would be no management personnel on their premises to answer our questions. To put their email into context, Workspace had kept us waiting for a reply to our previous correspondence for three weeks – this despite previously pleading with us to stay until 2013 at which time the whole complex will be redeveloped.

Our position became untenable. Faced with possible eviction and damage or loss to our materials, equipment and artwork, we moved off site. Over the seven years Cor Blimey studios has been based at Workspace, we have supported artistic achievment and excellence, enhancing Deptford’s artistic community in the process. Unfortunately this has clearly not been recognised by Workspace.

Workspace finally responded on Monday morning saying they wanted to keep us on the site, even suggesting we move all our work back in once negotiations have finished. Do they have any perception of how artists work and the financial constraints we are all under ? Simply hiring vans to move our materials is the equivalent to some artists’ entire studio rent for a month.

At times like these, community is where strength comes from. Our studio community has shown tremendous steadfastness, courage and sheer hard work in the face of these dreadful circumstances. Deptford’s larger arts community have mobilised, with artists including Margaret Higginson, Graham Crowley, Michaela Nettell and Rich White helping us move into a temporary location nearby. Furthermore, the many messages of support we have received from across the world has been phenomenal. For this, we are deeply grateful.

The Core Gallery ethos is generosity, integrity and nurturing artists. We have had outstanding exhibitions and fantastic events, and are proud to have strong principals and a great many supporters who admire them too. Cor Blimey Arts and Core Gallery are not just physical spaces – they will continue long into the future.

In the new year we will be re-opening at a new site, continuing our internationally renowned programme of exhibitions, talks, events and support for artists. With our deep felt thanks and appreciation to our community. We shall keep you posted! In the meantime, there are some DIY Educate events left this year which we would love to see you at.

Rosalind Davis, Core Gallery & DIY Educate Manager, the Core Gallery Management Team and Cor Blimey Studio Artists 


Meanwhile, Brockley Central reports on the influx of new hotels on Greenwich High Road, provoking this anonymous, accurate, but somewhat depressing comment:

"(Deptford High Street) is quite simply a very poor high street in an impoverished part of London with a market that sells a great deal of sub-standard merchandise. It has been like that for the last couple of decades.

I guess there a plenty of people who would like it to be better and talk up every new development. Maybe they have invested in the area and are patiently waiting for it to take off so they can cash in. The station is being renovated and there half way down an odd looking building seems to have taken root. But it is always one step forward, one step back.

The High St is colonised by bookies, street drinkers very much in evidence and the area is beset by social problems. Creek Road has been developed and turned into a canyon lined by yuppie flats. The marketing makes much of its proximity to Laban Dance School, while at the same time boxing it in. At the other end we have a Travel Lodge tacked onto another gated community of yuppie flats used as a dormitory by workaholics who spend most of their waking hours at Canary Wharf. The smattering of artists holed up in plywood cubicles fashioned out of redundant warehousing has yet to engender a chain of vibrant bars and nightlife along Deptford High St. It is no Brick Lane.

Deptford is grim and I remain unconvinced that these developments will improve the area any more than previous efforts to tart the place up."

Deptford Presents: Alternative Visions – extra date

For those unable to attend on Friday evening, the Deptford Is... exhibition Deptford Presents will also be open on Saturday 5th November, 9.30am – midday.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Plenty of residents – few tenants

JP writes to Crosswhatfields:

At the AGM of the Crossfields Tenants and Residents Association, held on Thursday October 27th at the Pink Palace there was an interesting turnout.

Among the twenty or so in attendance, there were only two Council tenants; I was one of them. The remainder were three officials and more than a dozen leaseholders or 'residents', i.e. people who lived in flats that had been bought from the council at some stage.

This turnout in no way parallels the composition of who occupies the flats. I do not have access to the figures but I think at least 50% and maybe 70% still house council tenants. The questions I want to pose are, 1) Does it matter? 2) Why does this imbalance exist? and 3) Is there a way of increasing tenant participation?

1) I feel it matters a lot. All the 'Elected Posts' except Gardening Rep are now held by leaseholders, i.e. Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and their deputies as well as our voice on 'Lewisham Homes Committees'. Although our interests coincide on many fronts, surely property owners have different principle interests (some might even say different principles) than tenants. Think about it. I fear to go further and don't want to antagonize people some of whom are my friends but will offer just two examples. Why should leaseholders be interested in Cameron's mooted scheme on under-occupation? Why should tenants care about rising maintenance charges?

2) Are council tenants apathetic by nature? Some certainly are, though myself and at least a few others are not. Are they made aware of the TRA and what it does other than by brief notices posted monthly, in English only, at the bottom of stairwells? Most regular attenders of TRA meetings, whether tenants or residents, have been living here for twenty or thirty years; do we do enough to attract more recent arrivals or is the TRA becoming a cosy club for old timers. I remember that a few years ago when the baseball court by Farrer House was an issue, several teenagers came along and at least one was extremely articulate and would have been a considerable asset to the TRA but they have long gone; was anything done to keep them interested and will anything be done if a similar situation recurs? (e.g.explain about public speaking experience, CV points etc.)

3) Please try to spread the message to tenants that they do have a role to play and they should have an interest in their immediate environment and by participation that they can help to improve it. Individually, we must encourage people to attend and if they do come, make them feel welcome and comfortable and part of something worthwhile. Ask yourself, what can I do?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Convoys update: Nothing here, mate...

We Laughed Out Loud when we saw this on the Deptford Dame's blog on Friday, and since then we've seen lots of the spoof posters in the high street. The Dame was posting her views on the coverage that appeared in the Evening Standard (in Wednesday's rag) about Convoys Wharf, written by a renowned architectural commentator (viewable online here).

A friend had already sent us a link to the piece with the quote "his arse must be sore from sitting on the fence" – since journalist Kieran Long seemed to yo-yo between support for the development and sympathy for the campaign against it. The Dame is a tad more polite, see her post here. Campaigners Deptford Is... took something positive from the Evening Standard feature, despite being described in the piece as 'vague'.

OK, this blog is biased, but you could hardly describe the opposition to the present proposals as vague. The people of Deptford know both what they want and what they don't want. Much of their wants and don't wants were recorded in a survey commissioned by Lewisham Council and conducted by Ipsos Mori in 2008 and reported in 2009.

They said: Less Traffic Congestion, Better Transport Links, More Green Spaces, More Youth Provision, Better Social Housing, Celebrate Heritage Assets to Enhance Local Identity and Pride, among other things. You can find the Summary and Recommendations here (they're hidden in the final pages, scroll to page 10 of 18). The rest of the 90 odd pages of the report can be found on the North Deptford regeneration page on Lewisham council's website.

Anyway, none of these requests are fulfilled in the latest masterplan for Convoys Wharf.

If you're mystified by the Private Eye cover, the joke refers to the lamentable excavations being conducted on the Convoys site by Duncan Hawkins, leader of the archaeological dig commissioned by the developers. Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa say they have employed the top people to do the job: none other than the Museum of London.

We note that the MoL provide "Preliminary risk appraisals and assessments for planning" for developers. Level 1: Historic environment risk assessment: Is heritage going to be a significant risk to my site – are there any showstoppers? (3 working days) Price on request. Etc.

Of course none of that would have been required at Convoys Wharf, since there is already so much on record, there is hardly any need to look for proof that the dockyard existed. The site itself IS a showstopper. The fact that the old slipways and basins have been buried in concrete by News International (and the MoD), and above ground structures such as Sayes Garden and the Manor House, and the Tudor storehouse, were knocked down, is unforgiveable. As Keiran Long acknowledges "Most jaw-dropping of all is that...a Tudor storehouse was demolished and its foundations concreted over..."

The MoL also offers developers an On-site Conservation service that advises on the preservation of archaeological deposits in situ, along with "mitigation strategies and reburial of structural remains and archaeological features".

But hang on, Hutchison Whampoa didn't go to the Museum of London to get the work done – they went to private consultants CgMs, run by Duncan Hawkins. Naturally, the last thing the developers want is for anyone to find any significant artefacts among the significant remains, since they plan to pretty much build over all of the site (excepting the still standing and listed Olympia building). Any significant finds would require a halt in proceedings and a bit of a rethink.

What is this, if not significant findings...

To cut a long story short, Mr Hawkins has been digging up the concrete that News International and the Ministry of Defence have poured in over the years, and declaring nothing of worth to be found, and then filling the holes back in to be built over.

Some local historians and archaelogists also claim he has been digging in the wrong places. This claim has been backed up by people who've been working on the dig, as well as informed analysis from other local experts and those from further afield who attended the open day to view the excavations in early October.

A more in depth and passionate view of the (deliberate or careless?) mistakes being made can be found on the Shipwright's Palace blog: Entrenched Positions: An Archaeological Dig To Reveal? Stay there long enough to read the next post Sold Down the River and other posts, and then you will get the joke if you haven't by now.

Below is a picture of people attending the aforementioned open day. It's been suggested they might be engaged in a "L.S.Lowryesque" search for the foundations of Sayes Court, which have been totally misappropriated by the developer's archaeologists CgMs

Oh, and who buried it all and still has a stake in the profits?

Delays in Lounge and Tidemill School openings

The Deptford Dame reports delays in the opening of the library in the new Deptford Lounge building. Originally it was due to re-open tomorrow. Staff at Wavelengths told us this is due to a problem with the under-floor heating, which had to be re-dug up...You can still use Lewisham Library or renew online at, or phone 0208 314 6399.

In a great example of Localism – getting information from the horse's mouth, in the total absence of any news from the council itself – staff also say there is a delay in the refurbishment of the old library which is to become a massive gym, and confirm that there will be no cafe facilities (so no Starbucks). The good news is that for those who don't qualify for a Lewisham Plus Card, membership will now be more flexible (not tied to a 12-month contract), and will give access to other facilities in the borough.

The Dame also reports the delay in the opening of Tidemill School as an Academy, resulting in a scandalous alternative for parents, who will be asked to pay £100 a week to place their kids on a playscheme whilst the school closes early for Christmas to facilitate the move to the new building. The story was reported in the Evening Standard, the South London Press and by local campaign Parents believe that if the school were still under local authority control, free child-care would have been provided. A bullish chairman of governors, Keith Geary, said "there's no obligation for us to provide this service."

This is typical of the attitude of the Tidemill Academy governors, some of whom have no links with education at all. Crosswhatfields recently caught a glimpse of the new facilities at the new site, which look fantastic. Geary and his like would have us think these facilities are part of their Academy vision, but in fact they are intrinsic to Lewisham's vision for the area that involve the old school site being redeveloped, with the building of 400 flats due to start in 2012 (bringing the total number of new homes planned for Deptford to around 6,500).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Crossfields Tenants & Residents Association AGM

Crossfields TRA had their AGM on Thursday evening. It was a slightly shambolic meeting due to the unruly nature of Crossfields folk and the absence of the Chair who had only that day announced his resignation via a letter to the vice chair and the repairs rep. Although we are unable to disclose here the reasons for his resignation, we are sure everyone who has known Hugh Johnson in his role as Chair of Crossfields TRA will want to thank him fondly for his work on their behalf.

Elections took place under the patient and firm guidance of Lewisham Homes' Community Involvement Officer, Joy Burnett, with some help from Gloria Biggs, Administrator for the Lewisham Tenants Fund, resulting in some new faces on the committee. The new Chair, Castell House resident Tim Wilson, hopes to bring about some changes that will spark up new interest in the work of the TRA and pride in the estate, and welcomes all Crossfields residents (tenants and leaseholders alike) to the next meeting on Thursday 24th November.

Friday, October 28, 2011

In Transition 1.0

DIY Deptford Action Group, a project set up by Utrophia, is staging the first of a programme of Sunday Screenings, looking at various documentaries about transition "and general world saving activities". They're inviting anyone to come to the project space on Deptford High Street on Sunday evening "to discuss and concoct future projects and ways in which Deptford could become the Cuba of London..."


In Transition 1.0
Screening with discussion and food
Sunday 30 October, 5pm-8pm
Utrophia Project Space
120 Deptford High Street

DIY Deptford on Facebook
DIY Deptford at Utrophia

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Alternative visions for Convoys Wharf: Friday 4 November

Deptford is... have announced a date for a showcase of proposals for the Convoy's Wharf site that they would like to see incorporated into the overall design.

Deptford Presents...Alternative visions for the King's Yard
Friday 4th November
6.30-10pm, Presentation at 7pm
The Master Shipwright's House
Watergate Street SE8 3JF

The organisers say, "With elements ranging from local to international significance, and opportunities for education, work and leisure, Deptford Presents proposals which have the capacity to inform and infuse the wider design to create a world class place for London."

Inspired by the wealth of heritage on the site, suggestions include: building a Restoration warship using traditional and modern ship-building skills (based on two highly successful European projects which rejuvenated the fortunes of the towns they are based in, bringing skilled jobs, tourism and community pride); and recreating the historic garden of John Evelyn's Sayes Court as a fantastic public space.

To get a preview of these ideas have a look at these 'Deptford Is...' links:

The Hermione Project
Rebuilding the 18th century ship, the Hermione, at Rochefort, France

Sayes Court Garden campaign
Imagine walking through this garden...

© Modelling by Robert Bagley and Roo Angel 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our Deptford High Street

A project such as (see previous post) may help draw attention to a less desirable aspect of our main shopping mall – the over population of betting shops.

The Deptford Dame has recently posted about the Mayor's call for planning controls over betting shops. Boris has finally joined the cross party campaign spearheaded by his rival Ken Livingstone (and Livingstone's campaign manager, David Lammy MP), and other Labour MPs such as our own Ms Ruddock, to change the national planning law to help control the proliferation and clustering of betting shops.

According to the BBC, the Green Party's Darren Johnson says Boris had dodged taking action when he replied to a question from the Greens in a May 2010 London Assembly meeting, preferring to offer the same excuse for inaction that the government and the betting industry has long been giving (that the issue can be dealt with by a local authority's own planning powers).

Boris told Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, that having so many bookies so close together could negatively affect the vitality and viability of town centres and the quality of life of those living nearby. "There is a balance to be struck between having betting shops as part of the high street retail mix and the negative impact they can have on shoppers and visitors when they start to dominate."

The bookies are reported to have reacted angrily to the news. A statement issued by the Association of British Bookmakers said that it was a myth that there had been a sharp rise in the number of betting shops in London. Meanwhile, the ABB, along with William Hill and Ladbrokes are lobbying the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee to remove the limit on the number of Fixed Odd Betting Terminals allowed in their shops. In July 2011 they presented written evidence to the Committee's review of the Gambling Act, saying that betting shops "support the vibrancy and footfall of the high street and pay a higher level of tax" and urging them to "mitigate against the heavy tax and regulatory burden that Licensed Betting Offices face". Despite evidence to the contrary, the ABB did not accept there was any widespread problem with minors gambling in their members' premises, nor that problem gambling was an issue. They also requested a liberalisation in the maximum permitted number of gaming machines since "there is no evidence to link them to problem gambling." (

The ABB boast that the industry voluntarily donates £5m a year towards helping fund the education, research and treatment of problem gambling. Small fry when Betfred, to name but one corporate tax dodger in this industry, turn over £3.5bn and recently paid £265m for the Tote (and their online gambling business, growing at a rate of 80%, is based in Gibraltar to avoid tax).

Whilst the industry was lying and whining to the Select Committee in July, Joan Ruddock presented a bill to the House of Commons proposing to change the planning class of betting shops and allow councils to place a cap on the number of them in any area. Ideally they would be taken out of the A2 Financial Services and put into a class of their own. Joan told the Commons that "a turf war is now under way, as bookmakers, including new entrants, seek to seize a market share." (See our post in July, Joan speaks for Deptford). The ABB said in response, "Extra regulation on our industry would be wholly disproportionate. Local authorities are already able to have their say on betting shops through the licensing process. Under the Gambling Act, councils have the power to decline licensing applications where there is hard evidence that a bookmaker would have a negative impact in a community."

All lies, damn lies. As we have already seen with Betfred, Paddy Power et al, the Licensing Law as enshrined in the 2005 Gambling Act was written by bookies for bookies, and no local authority dares to turn them down. It is only at the planning stage that councils can wield any power – but only if a Change of Use is being applied for. If the premises was already classed as A2 (be it a pub or a bank), planning can do very little except request modifications to shopfronts and signage. The industry is prepared to bankrupt local authorities in constant appeals whenever a decision goes against them.

In the unusual case of Betfred in Deptford High Street (where there was already a condition placed on its A2 useage), the planners could turn them down; they then appealed to the government inspector and lost, and are now trying again, no doubt in the hope that when they are turned down and appeal again, they will get a different inspector – who may let them through. They have enough resources to try and try again, wasting vast sums of public money in the process.

Please write an objection. See the application DC/11/78506/X and Betfred's covering letter here.