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.

My Deptford High Street

Local design team Studio Raw (whose director, Rebecca, is a Crossfields resident), has just launched a new website all about Deptford, focusing on the high street and its environs via the businesses located in and around it.

"My Deptford High Street is a business support website that enables local businesses and customers to work together to create a vibrant and sustainable community network representing the wonders of Deptford. "

The idea is that local businesses get listed on the site by becoming members. They can then upload and maintain their own content. The site is in its infancy – many businesses are yet to take up the offer to freely advertise themselves. Some may need some help since although the site looks good and appears easy to use, it's quite sophisticated in its use of the latest social media techniques – which are still bewildering to many mortals, let alone local businesses (a few of whom do not have English as a first language).

The photography is great, and the site also looks set to be a place to find the latest news about the area, since there are links to local blogs, and the news page pulls in content from Twitter and from other websites where Deptford has been tagged. No doubt the South London Press will be heading here first to nick stories.

The idea is not new – there are plenty of high street directories online, but perhaps none as individually tailored, good looking or as sociable as this one. However, it remains to be seen whether the site will reflect the seedy underbelly, gritty reality and grinding poverty that sits besides the trendy new cafe culture – perhaps the blog links will contribute to a "warts n' all" overview (although the local bloggers do not really represent all of the community). But any newcomer who makes the move to Deptford having been seduced by the 'colour', 'vibrancy' and 'buzz', may get a shock when the eighth betting shop, fourth pawnbroker or poundshop superstore opens...

On the other hand, Deptford High Street needs all the help it can get. The Convoys Wharf development, should it pass planning in December (we sincerely hope not), would begin construction of its first phase (of three) in 2012. It would include 1,200 homes and a 'retail component' of around 20,000 sq ft, which the developers stress will be "local shopping to service residents' immediate needs rather than compete with Deptford High Street" (Estates Gazette - thanks for the link, Mushroom). In other words the 2-3,000 newcomers will not have to go anywhere near dear old DHS.

What to do with cars

Just what is Lewisham Council's strategic policy on cars? Let's look at their Unitary Development Plan, Chapter 6, Sustainable Transport and Parking.

Briefly, the policies are:

• To co-ordinate land use and development with the provision of transport and car parking, so as to minimise the need for car travel; provide good access to premises, especially in Town Centres; and safeguard the environment and amenities of residential areas. (STR.TRN 1)

To seek improvements to the public transport provision in the Borough, which benefit residents and minimises any adverse impact on the environment.(STR.TRN 2)

• To ensure that adequate and safe provision is made for cyclists, pedestrians and people with disabilities in new development and to improve access and facilities to and within existing land uses for people using them with particular reference to safety issues. (STR.TRN 3)

• To adopt an integrated car parking strategy which contributes to the objectives of road traffic reduction while protecting the operational needs of major public facilities, essential economic development and the needs of people with disabilities. (STR.TRN 4)

Generally it says let's keep cars to a minimum, let's expand our public transport networks.

Crossfields has seemingly generous parking facilities. It sometimes appears more so because some people insist on parking in non-parking spaces to avoid getting bird shit on their paintwork, leaving even more free spaces which are then used by those employed on Faircharm, who would otherwise have to pay for a parking bay on the trading estate.

There is an ample car park there, but as well as charging for it, owners Workspace intend to build a tower block of luxury apartments on it. Workspace have no plans to include underground parking (like there is at Creekside Village). At a TRA meeting earlier in the year, they said, "Lewisham Council's policy is to reduce car use in the area." In this instance, the UDP is working very much in the developer's favour, since without the luxury flats, Workspace say they cannot finance the redevelopment of the business centre (even though they are turning quite a few of their business centres into luxury home developments). There is little likelihood that the businesses and their employees will stop using their cars; they will instead be forced to use the surrounding area – Crossfields. Car-owners on the estate may find themselves subjected to a permit scheme.

Down at Convoy's Wharf, it is planned to have 2,300 car parking spaces. No sign of the UDP in operation here then. The high-rise blocks are designed to have two floors of parking (1800 spaces for residents). It is obvious to anyone who lives round here that the last thing we need is more cars on Creek Road and Evelyn Street, when traffic is often gridlocked.

Deptford Is... points out that "the recent granting of outline planning permission to the massive redevelopment of the Surrey Canal site around Millwall's stadium was inextricably linked to improvements in transportation at the site."  After a long local residents' campaign backed by Joan Ruddock, which hit the rocks when the Department for Transport refused to provide the funding to build the station, the developers finally agreed to stump up the cash. Deptford Is... says the transport improvements agreed are quite comprehensive in order to mitigate the impact of 2,400 new residential units.

However, at Convoy's Wharf, no such comprehensive proposals are in place. Apart from a lack of new transport routes to and from the site to service 3500 homes, the proposal to accommodate 2300 cars can hardly be seen to fulfil Lewisham's objective to reduce road traffic. Nevertheless, Deputy Mayor Alan Smith is pretty gung ho about the development. Estates Gazette reports that "the deliverability of the scheme remains questionable for some, such as Joan Ruddock...But Lewisham Council's Smith is more upbeat. He says: 'I'm pretty sure it will deliver. As far as I can make out, the finance is in place and it is getting its figures to stack up.'"

The deputy Mayor has said off the record that Hutchison Whampoa paid over the odds for the site, and need the 3500 flats to return a minimum of profit. Conversely, he also has said the only reason HW were continuing with the project was because they are an extremely cash rich company that doesn't have to service a debt (the fate of some other developers).

There is now very little time for Hutchison Whampoa to consider sufficient provisions for improved transport in the area before their proposals go before committee. If Lewisham were serious about their sustainable transport policies, the answer would be simple: build fewer flats to relieve pressure on the roads, increase the PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) rating to free up more space to improve the environment and increase green public spaces, which in turn will increase the value and profitability of the development.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What to do with bikes...

Sylvia from Browne House wrote to the blog yesterday asking whether any of the sheds were free.  She says she would love to buy a bike but there are simply too many stairs between street and home.  I fear the answer will be no because, while many are unused, they've effectively been privatised.

But, as a regular cyclist, I appreciate her problem.  While there are a couple of stands dotted about the estate there is nowhere safe for cyclists to leave their bikes overnight. And when I get home from a ride, with the shopping I've picked up on the way home, carrying the bike, the shopping, the locks, the pump, the puncture repair kit up the 67 stairs up to my penthouse suite, with tired legs, I get to hate those 8 flights of stairs.  I count them like I used to count the hours doing night shifts, struggling through and only feeling I'm almost there when 6am is in sight.  And while I'm still capable of doing it, the time will come when I'm no longer able to do it. 

And, of course, not everybody wants to keep a bike for company in their living room!

If there is anybody who would be willing to release an unused shed or share/co-rent an underused one, please send Crosswhatfields an email, and I'll see whether I can negotiate a way of sharing a secured shed with her.

Quite by chance I was cycling along a back street in Battersea the day before yesterday and was astonished to see secured street parking for bikes.  And then, through a mysterious process of cyclosynchronicity - as I didn't have a camera on me,  the Guardian's bike blog published a picture of one of them the next day for me.

There are only 4 of them so far and it appears to be a Lambeth council initiative.  But we've got partial car parking spaces where trees effectively stop them being used for proper parking.  Ideal space for installing a few of these without competing against the car lobby.  There's room for about 4 bikes inside each one and there are lockable stands inside.  The outer cover also is locked so I guess participants share a key.

So, would the TRA be prepared to lobby for something similar - and they'd need to lobby because Lewisham Homes will make sympathetic noises before stymying the idea?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Betting shops and pawnbrokers again

(The vile) BETFRED

We regret to inform you that Betfred are back for a battle over 93-95 Deptford High Street. They have reapplied to Lewisham planning for permission to enable the premises to be occupied by any Class A2 use, including a betting office. See the application DC/11/78506/X and Betfred's covering letter here.

At the end of March, Lewisham Planning turned down their application to alter the then current planning class (A2 Financial) to lift the condition on it that said it was only to be used as a Building Society. Betfred then appealed to the government Planning Inspectorate.

On August 16, the government Inspector decided to lift the special conditions on the A2 Financial use – since there had not been a Building Society there for some time anyway (the Halifax had been a bank since 1997). However, he decided to allow all A2 uses but then applied a new condition to preclude its use as a betting office

This conclusion was based on the objections provided by local people and the police and their reporting of the high level of antisocial behaviour created by already existing betting shops (see extracts from the inspector's report at the bottom of this post). Although the inspector agreed the proposed betting office would occupy an empty unit and create jobs in line with national planning policy for sustainable economic growth (PPS4), he stated "there is no indication that this is the only viable use of the premises or of the employment that would be generated. Since the main aims of PPS4 also encompass safe environments, these factors do not outweigh the harm identified."

Betfred are now whining on about how the antisocial behaviour going on at other betting shops is not a good enough reason to disallow their own presence, arguing that the imposition of the new condition by the government inspector is unreasonable.

Objections need to be put in again. If you objected last time round this new objection can be an updated version of your old objection (with the date and application number altered), or a new letter that refers to your previous objection. Address it to – the planning officer in charge is Russell Penn. We have up until the beginning of December to get in objections but don't delay!


ALBEMARLE & BOND Pawnbrokers

Deptford Nightlife: the view from 37 Deptford High Street: three betting shops and another pawnbroker within spitting distance.

Three objections went into planning to oppose the pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond setting up shop at no.37 Deptford High Street (directly opposite another pawnbroker and two betting shops, and only a few doors down from two other pawnbrokers and three other betting shops). This many objections should have resulted in the application having to go before the Planning Committee, but it appears the planning department asked the applicant to withdraw part of their application, which was in essence a request for change of use but included drawings for a new shopfront. The planning team requested these to be submitted in a separate application. They were then obliged to allow the change of use from "sui generis" (no particular class) to "A1 Retail" as befits the council's own core retail strategy, and because pawnbrokers fall under the "Retail" classification.

Although the applicant may now set up shop, they may have difficulty getting permission for their modern branded shopfront. (See our previous post on Abermarle & Bond).


Extracts from the Planning Inspectorate's Appeal Decision on Betfred in August 2011:

21. Just because there may be problems in connection with other betting offices does not necessarily mean that these would be repeated in conjunction with Nos 93-95. The appellant company suggests that this could lead to a greater dispersal. However, this is a large unit and presumably it would not open unless the operator was satisfied that it would generate sufficient custom to make it profitable. If the appeal were dismissed then the current state of affairs would remain but, to my mind, an additional premises would simply add to problems and should not be supported.

22. Consequently the proposal would be likely to increase anti-social behaviour and 
disturbance although the implications for crime are less certain. The appellant company is critical of the Council for referring to the potential for harm to be caused in this respect rather than expressing certainty. It seems to me that it is not possible to be categorical but that the weight of well-informed evidence suggests that this outcome is likely to materialise. Put another way, it would be foolish to ignore the convincing accounts given or to assume that they would not be repeated in association with the proposed betting office.

23. As a consequence the proposal would make the High Street a less safe place 
for residents and other users of the town centre. In this way there would be a broad conflict with the intentions of criterion (d) of Policy STC4 of the Unitary Development Plan and also with the aims of PPS1. The same would not necessarily be true of every betting office but it is the conclusion in this case based on the evidence about existing operations in Deptford High Street.

See also Deptford Misc for more of the report, and, for a simple digest go to Deptford Dame.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Starbucks at Wavelengths

The sauna, steam room and changing rooms at Wavelengths were closed on Wednesday for a long overdue deep clean. Parkwood Leisure are gone, and in their place come Fusion Lifestyles. All council leisure centres, except in Downham and Ladywell, will close at 6.30pm on Friday 14th (tomorrow) for a "smooth handover". It will re-open at 7am Saturday morning.

Fusion Lifestyles will be running Lewisham's leisure facilities for the next 15 years. It is a registered charity and will be paying for the additional facilities to be added to the Wavelengths site (a new gym) now that the library has moved to the new Deptford Lounge. Fusion Lifestyle's facilities usually include a cafe run by Starbucks.

We know one New Yorker living on Crossfields who will be very pleased to hear this news, but the arrival of Starbucks is being met with less enthusiasm on the high street where cafe culture has recently taken an inexplicable upturn, with independent venues popping up all over the place. Wavelengths may see an increase in visitors due to improved facilities and Starbucks are undoubtedly well placed to serve a captive audience throughout the borough, but Wavelengths cafe is unlikely to be a hotspot for high street shoppers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rivers and People Project: Autumn – Winter 2011

We thought this sounded like an interesting walk: Roots and Shoots amongst the Suits – Creekside to Canary Wharf. "A meander to the mouth of the Ravensbourne, a tunnel below the Thames and a delve amongst the docks will see us arrive in the heart of the financial district where wildlife still clings on, nestled beneath the hedge funds". Meet at Creekside Discovery Centre at 2pm.

More walks listed below...

Castell House stairs experiment

This notice appeared at the foot of Castell House stairs a couple of weeks ago. Nothing happened for a while and people wondered what was going to happen. Were they going to paint the stairs? Whatever Lewisham Homes was planning, it was long overdue since the stairs have been in a right old state for a very long time now. Repairs Rep Raphael will tell you that the main problem is the cleaning procedure that leaves behind the remains of the mop and the residue of a highly corrosive detergent (that has also stripped the paint off the bannisters), and there would be little point in repainting the stairs if this procedure isn't improved upon. Anyway, later in the week, some guy spent four hours (according to the caretaker) sanding off the old paint surface, down to the original granite, on the first flight of stairs. We wonder what will happen next –  will there be paint going on top? Are all the stairs to be sanded down? That would take an incredible amount of time and labour!


We popped in the new Deptford High Street cafe Deli-X on Saturday. It's where the Bear Space cafe used to be. The space has been opened up, with the delicatessen stuff at the front along with beautifully displayed fruit and veg, and the main seating area behind some book shelving, stretching out to the back doors which open onto patio garden as before.

We had tea and cakes – the tea was served in fine china with a tea pot, which seems to be all the rage these days. Teapots are a big feature at Deptford's other two new cafes: Come The Revolution on New Cross Road and Blossoming Together at the foot of Tanner's Hill (previously the Deptford Deli). We also had some very good coffee – to rival that of the presently undisputed favourite coffee meisters The Waiting Room.

See the Deptford Dame's post about Blossoming Together.

Deptford's Future: have your say...

Convoys Wharf Drop-In: Tuesday 11 October, 5-8pm, St Nick's Church

St Albans being launched at Deptford Dockyard in 1747. Painting by John Cleveley the Elder

If you want to attend the Drop-In on Tuesday here's some questions to ask Lewisham Planning and the representatives of Convoys Wharf s.a.r.l.

1. We are still unclear as to exactly what, apart from a new school, the Section 106 agreements are for the site.

2. What would happen, should the archaeological excavations which are currently ongoing, turn up something of importance? Surely a 46 floor tower block could not be built over such potential finds. If Lewisham grant this application without conditions in place, the developers could easily disregard the findings.

3. This is the last stage at which Lewisham can apply conditions to the development that ensure the very best results for the people of Deptford. Are you aware that this application is different from and, not as the developers suggest, an amendment to the previous 2005 application?

4. Are you aware that this site is now predominantly residential, and mainly luxury housing at full market price, when it was originally recommended in a report commissioned by Lewisham to be only 25% residential?

5. Why has the number of affordable housing units shrunk from 25% to 14%, when the London Plan asks for 35% to 50%?

6. Where are the employment opportunities except for in the short term? (Even the Olympics site has failed to employ more than 10% of local people). Where are the future alternatives to jobs in retail and catering?

7. Does Lewisham have a plan for a post-recession Deptford that isn't just creating a dormitory for jobs in the City or rental income for foreign investors? What does Lewisham want to see in Deptford? Don't we have enough residential developments already?

8. With so many different entities representing the developers (Hard Hat, BPTW, Aedas etc) is it possible to know who is giving the orders about the massive density of these proposals?

9. Why has there been so little public consultation?

10. Why is the history of the site given so little consideration with this application going in before the archaeological excavations have finished? Has Lewisham Council not realised the enormous potential of the site as of national (and international) significance in Britain's heritage? If they have, why have they not conveyed this more strongly to the developers, backed up by other important (and willing) authorities and national bodies?

11. Can you perhaps confirm that the application is being rushed through in order to avoid potential loss of revenue due to the possible application of the Boris tax (the mayor's Community Infrastructure Levy to pay for Crossrail)? Or is it a fact that nothing may actually be built for some years and means this is tax won't apply (if it ever comes into existence)?

12. The latest plans are ridiculous: Wind tunnels theatening river navigation as well as residents and visitors. Very tall buildings – not just three exceptionally tall towers – but most buildings blocking sunlight not only on the site but for all existing and surrounding housing.

13. Practically non-existent green space and reduced access to the river. Green areas showing on the application are in fact raised gardens above carparks. There is very little public space (green or otherwise) left in these new plans.

14. Parking for 2300 cars – really stupid, when one fire in a small town house on Deptford Broadway causes our local road networks to stop moving for three days!

15. No additional transport plans in place – and no chance of getting any if the recent experience of trying to get a station at the Surrey Canal Road development is anything to go by. Everyone will be getting the riverboat according to the developers. 3500 flats – a potential 6-9000 people plus all the workers coming in to support the site's commercial business. Is this not more than proof of how out of touch these developers are?

16. OUR HERITAGE: The building over of Deptford's history: John Evelyn's house and gardens, most of King Henry VIII's dockyard (more of which is appearing as the archaeology continues) leaving nothing really for Deptford citizens to engage in and be proud of? Despite the part Deptford played in this history, it plays second fiddle to Greenwich and is very little mentioned even though it is exceedingly well documented by Deptford residents John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys, and is more than deserving of a Heritage Status of its own.

17. This is "outline" planning permission that is being sought for a "masterplan". There are no drawings to approve, in fact the visuals provided in this application are extremely poor. This is because if it is passed, the layout of this site will be set in stone, but "parcels" of the site may be sold off to other developers to build what they like (up to an approved height and width).

At the Archaelogical walk around the site on Saturday 8th October, the man in charge of the Museum of London dig, Duncan Hawkins, showed  around 60 people where his team have been excavating. This is one of the original slipways.
Behind is the Olympia building, the only building above ground to have been preserved.

Below: inside the Olympia building; the excavations of the Great Storehouse: and a visitor holds apparently the only relic found on the site so far – a piece of Roman pottery. You can read a fuller report on the walk at Deptford Is...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cockpit remove part of Love Over Gold mural

We posted back in August that Cockpit Arts had contacted Crossfields Tenants & Residents Association (TRA) to tell them that they intended to replace the doors in the centre of the Love Over Gold mural.

The TRA Chair said he would write to Cockpit's Studio Manager, Beckie Kingman, to request that the mural be reinstated on the new metal doors in whatever way possible. He was also going to provide Cockpit Arts with the contact details of the artist responsible for the mural, Gary Drostle.

The doors were removed prior to Deptford X and replaced with a metal grill, as part of artist Adrian Lee's piece Survival Instinct (which wasn't part of the official festival). Now that Deptford X has finished, the grill has been replaced with new powder coated grey doors.

We spoke to Beckie today and she said she had not received any communication at all from Crossfields TRA.

We asked her what research had been done to find out the history of the mural, for instance, had the artist been contacted? Although his name is painted on the mural, Beckie said she had contacted Lewisham Council to find out who to get in touch with about her plans, and Lewisham had directed her to Crossfields TRA.

The old doors are presently standing outside in the wilderness garden behind the new doors, unprotected from the elements. We stressed the heritage of the doors to her, and she offered to bring them inside. We also talked about the possibility of reinstating the missing part of the mural on the new doors, rather than worry about preserving the old doors. We've now spoken to Gary Drostle and he'd like to do this, but ideally as part of a project that restores the entire mural to its previous splendour.

We wonder if Lewisham can find some funding for this? Or perhaps the London Mural Preservation Society can help us...If you feel strongly about this, please write to the and drop a line to Lewisham Arts Service.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fire brings traffic to standstill for eight hours

The A2 either side of Deptford Bridge station was closed just after midday today as the fire brigade arrived to tackle a fire at the buildings on the parade next to the DLR station. The road was closed off and traffic quickly became gridlocked, with queues stretching to New Cross Gate, Surrey Quays and throughout Greenwich and delays of up to two hours.

There were six engines (from Greenwich, Forest Hill, Lewisham and Old Kent Road) dealing with the blaze – but strangely, most of the time only one hose was trained on the fire, which is reported to have been brought under control by around 4pm. The road remains closed this evening.

Update 8/10/11: Road remains closed. Traffic still utterly congested at peak times, not helped by the closure of the top of Creek Road where traffic is diverted via Norman Road due to Southern Gas works. How fucking long does it take to find a gas leak?

Also, how long does it take to put out a fire in a narrow town house with six fire engines.

Plus: who owns the building? Is it the same owner as next door who already had a fire earlier this year and lost their upper floor and roof?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Convoys Wharf update: 'Drop-In' - Tuesday 11 October

People who put in objections to the Hutchison Whampoa proposals for Convoys Wharf have been invited to a Drop-in session to "enable an assessment to be made of the areas of concern before the application is considered by the Council's Planning Committee". Local ward councillors are also invited, as are the applicants (or their representatives). If you are still thinking about writing an objection, this will be an ideal opportunity to find out a bit more. The 'Deptford Is...' team will be there to counter any misinformation.

Date: Tuesday 11th October 2011
Time: 5pm – 8pm
Place: St Nicholas' Church Hall, Deptford Green SE8 3DQ


Meanwhile, before this meeting, there is an opportunity this coming Saturday to look round the archaeological remains on the site in a walk organised by Museum of London.

Date: Saturday 8th October 2011
Time: 10.30am
Place: Meet at the main gate on Princes Street