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 road...it 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 www.thamestunnelconsultatioin.co.uk.
Friday 18 November
Saturday 19 November
Creekside Discovery Centre, Creekside SE8 4SA
Post updated: 18 Nov 2011