Thursday, September 26, 2013

Deptford Anchor spotted, among other things...

This is where the Deptford Anchor is, and where it will probably stay.

It's in the Oympia Shed at Convoys Wharf, courtesy of Hutchison Whampoa. Covered in cobwebs and pigeon shit. Why?

The council officer in charge of regeneration of the high street told us over a month ago that it will probably end up being 'part of a new development' – so here it is, in the hands of the least likely people to care about the history and heritage of Deptford, but who have probably got the best security.

The anchor's safe here, that's for certain. This place is so secure that visitors to London Open House at Convoys Wharf on Saturday had to SIGN IN with an exact time, and stay within the bollards and not stray off-piste or else they'd get a severe telling off, and then SIGN OUT with an exact time when they left.

That was apparently due to Health & Safety, yet not every visitor was given the flyer that carried the disclaimer that Convoys Wharf Properties and Hutchison Whampoa had absolutely nothing to do with you breaking your leg crossing the massive blue electrical cable that crossed the bridge to the pier where you could buy coffee and tea (and not much else) off a sole trader for £2 a hit and imagine what it would all be like when built.

Probably not very nice, since the imaginary tall buildings behind you might triple the wind factor on the pier. Oddly, we tripped ungainly on the electrical cable cover, which was exactly where the outgoing and incoming Directors of Hutchison Whampoa Properties European Division (Messrs Benyon and Hayden) spent most of their time on site....both armed with cameras, taking pictures of each other to pass the time on their trip hazard watch.

The signing in and out for visitors was probably very useful for Hutchison & Whampoa to claim they had completed yet another public consultation and be able to give figures, whilst manipulating all the actual consultation they did.

For instance, they asked visitors what we would like to happen in the Olympia Shed as though they had no ideas of their own. They did have some ideas, but as we understand it, English Heritage have firmly suggested the fabric of the building cannot be interfered with too much, although this wasn't fully explained. This is almost the only bit of the site they are not allowed to build on (so far), but now they've been told they can't turn it into the glass palace they envisaged last time round.

They intend to make a profit out of it somehow, so God knows why they were asking Open House visitors, who may be less likely to offer up the sort of ideas that could come from others less interested in architecture, such as a duplication of the Millennium Dome (cinemas, music venues, restaurants). Open House visitors might have chosen more heritage-related ideas, but we shall never know, since even when you put your name down just to be updated, you never are.

Here's a grumpy Henry VIII looking to get arrested...

Bill came over from London Open House at the Master Shipwright's House to have a gander and frighten the developers. (For a report on Open House at the Master Shipwright's go to Deptford Is...). Bill was part of the original campaign against excessive redevelopment at Convoys that began as soon as the previous owner Rupert Murdoch began putting in plans, that culminated in 2005/6 with Murdoch selling the site to Hutchisons. Deptford Is... are continuing Bill's and others' work through the Build The Lenox and Sayes Court Garden projects.

Here's a NEW misleading model of Terry Farrell's masterplan for the redevelopment of the Royal Dockyard of Henry VIII that was on show at Convoys Wharf. Note the weird disappearing 48 storey building which for some reason is totally see-thru and almost invisible. Do they imagine we will not note its presence when it is built? 

The other two 38-storey buildings are about seven times the height of Crossfields. This is not about providing more much needed housing for London. These are luxury homes. Are there not plenty of them already?


  1. Most of the new "homes" being planned and built in Greenwich and Deptford are likely to be sold to wealthy overseas investors looking to make a tidy profit, or for second and third homes for wealthy business people's trips to London. These things will not help locals find somewhere affordable to live and it won't address the need for houses (for, you know, families to actually live in).

    The result will be more people priced out of the area, ghost towns with no sense of community, and inhabitants who will feel no sense of attachment or responsibility to the community they've joined. In fact, judging by the designs, they will be separated from the rest of the community anyway (in North Greenwich too: riff-raff and affordable housing down one end, the rich at the other where they won't have to look at them), in a kind of fortress.
    If the luxury housing madness were to be properly controlled and reduced, we could have real homes, better architecture, keep the community, keep our history and protect greenfield sites - but then that wouldn't make any money for the 0.01% I suppose.

    Thanks for keeping everyone updated.

  2. You ask 'Are there not plenty of them already?'

    The answer is probably no. I don't think anyone would disagree that we need more homes here, but there is actually a very large proportion of social housing vs private housing in the borough already. It's areas like Chelsea and Westminster that need more social housing to address the balance - looking at a macro economic picture, areas like Deptford need more private money coming into it. This will bring investment into the area which anyone benefits from. Just my opinion, and I'm sure others here won't agree.

    1. Your argument would have more validity if homes for the wealthy were more integrated into the fabric of the community, but they never are, are they! In this case, it'll be a bubble of exclusivity at the expense of what is probably THE most important heritage site in the country.

      LESS housing of any kind and more employment opportunites via marine enterprise and heritage tourism, plus more open and public space as a result, is what is required here.

      But building luxury homes is the only tool developers are prepared to use to turn a massive profit. Their short sighted greed is our loss.

  3. its not that tall its London... i.e an international financial centre and capital .. if you want to live in the country then live in the country

    1. It will be the third tallest residential building in the country after the two new residential towers planned for Canary Wharf have been built! And Deptford is not an international financial centre. Where are all the low paid workers who service the City supposed to live?! In the country?

  4. Tall is the way its going to be in future so I guess we had better get used to it. I don't blame the developers. They're only doing they're job. Its up to the council to use its powers to help create a better mix. That said we have to be realistic. We seem to want it all ans say this type of enterprise and that, but if its not viable its pointless. I'm also a bit bored of all the negativity. Perhaps, just perhaps, there may be some great benefits to this scheme. Generally I support it and I live right next door.

  5. Fair enough, anonymous, I respect your views but to say the developers are only doing their job doesn't mean those who don't like it have to just accept it and shut up. It may not be nice to listen to negative views but this scheme once built will be here for ever, so a few negative voices now is a tiny price to pay if it prevents a badly designed scheme.
    I do agree that the council needs to act more. The negativity is, by definition, not much fun but staying quiet and hoping for the best won't work either. The developers will only respond to pressure and if there is none, the scheme will be terrible and 100% in favour of the money men. With some pressure they may just have to give something back instead of just making money for themselves!

    Regarding the earlier comment, If I had the money maybe I would move to the country, but for those of us stuck in the area it's about trying to make the best of what we've got here, and that includes a viable community. I'd rather have no investment from millionaires and a thriving community where ordinary people can live, than another wealthy fortress where the bankers make even more money and give us nothing but more traffic. Maybe there will be benefits, but what we're hearing right now is not reassuring.

  6. As a city worker, I do wish people wouldn't stereotype. Yes I may have a few quid to spare at the end of the month and have been lucky in my career to date (coming from a very working class background), but I've lived in this area for years, have friends here and spend quite a considerable amount of money here. It really does annoy when people start spouting 'rich bankers' without actually knowing any. Next time you get off the train at Deptford, drop your preconceptions about us living in a fortress and look around - we are just like you - you will see us shopping in the High Street, standing in the queues at the Poundshop and supporting the local cafes and restaurants. Yes, shockingly we look just like you and care for the area just as much.

  7. Anonymous says he lives next door. Presumably he's got no problem with the next ten years or more of his life being interrupted by the continual noise of construction on the site and excessive construction traffic on the back roads and on the main road. Just ask anyone who lives next to the Paynes & Borthwick construction site, which is after all, right next door to Convoys, what they think about all the banging and noise going on all week and weekend.

    Let's hope he's young enough to enjoy what he considers to be the benefits of the scheme – such as another two thousand cars using his quiet back roads.

    Perhaps Anonymous works for the developer and doesn't really live next door?!

  8. A banker - fair enough. No offence intended with my comment which was maybe a bit harsh. Funny how a minority, eg some bankers, doing very bad things can result in people getting worked up and making sweeping generalisations that take in decent folk too. So, you are right and I shouldn't generalise! Mind you, I stand by the other things I said about why the development will be a divisive and short-sighted scheme. The symbolism of the public anchor in the private clutches of the developers says it all.

    1. Before you withdraw, Joe, you must first insist on our friend's definition of Banker. It's something we must all do too. Trader might be the problem. Yet that is a term and name that can be applied to us all too. We all Trade, and some of us are able to Sell better than others. Hell, most of us are content to just Like something if we've nothing to Sell ourselves.

      To distract us from Bankers, we now have Shareholders as a dirty word, and rightly so. The concept of shareholding was a great concept that has been tarnished HISTORICALLY beyond belief by greedy get rich schemes (massive bubbles of hysterical buying), and now we are finally hearing, "It was the Shareholders what made us done it. They wanted 40% and held us to ransom! That's why we're raising prices, don't blame the company."

      Capitalism is so fucked. If our Banker friend subscribes to his love of Deptford without giving us some reflection on his experience then we are no richer.

      We require his further input to determine whether he has fully understood the rules of engagement when talking about Deptford.

    2. And Joe, I agree and will quote you about the anchor.

    3. Capitalism is fucked? Unlike Gordon brown's socialism which was such a success... He left the country on its knees.

    4. Sorry Sue but I think you posting is quite rude. It is not for you to set questions and demand answers before you determine who you think should be allowed to live and be part of Deptford.

  9. # Junebug, how right you are.

    As I understand it, the public transport links on the site are the best they can do. A bus, a Clipper and Deptford Station for 10,000 people trying to get to work. Parking for 1800 cars, so that'll solve the Evelyn Street gridlock then.

    Where's the new tube station you might ask. Well HELLO.

    Apart from the cost, there's the very big problem of THE ENTIRE SITE being of NATIONAL HISTORICAL significance BELOW GROUND.

    But, hey, these docks (that you can't presently see because the MOD and Rupert Murdoch buried them beneath concrete) aren't that deep, so the archaeology of the site is no excuse for not building a new Tube line.

    Just build it deep. And give us back our Royal Dockyard,

  10. What a brilliant idea! Build down! That would be TRUE luxury housing, the ability to live underground in a flood plain!

    1. Amazing idea. The most expensive housing would be underground (due to the costs of building it, and after all, where the rich would like to be after some idiot has pressed the button). Like. For further analysis.

    2. Don't be daft. You can't build 48 storeys down x

  11. So if the anchor is staying at Convoys Wharf, why don't we lobby for another anchor for the High Street?

  12. Got to agree with much of what you say, Sue! The current version of capitalism, or however you want to define it, is messed up, to put it mildly, and benefits only an aggressive minority, while everyone else has to put up with the consequences. But that's another discussion! And btw it's interesting how Murdoch's role in this story has been downplayed...
    The transport issue will become very serious and I don't think people are aware of the problems that may occur.
    Right, I'm off to check my offshore bank account.