Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Deptford High Street North consultation : Wed 3rd Feb, 3pm – 7.30pm

Lewisham Council are working in partnership with TfL to deliver improvements to the north part of Deptford High Street and are presently consulting. An exhibition of their consultant Project Centre's initial ideas are on show tomorrow at Deptford Lounge from 3pm – 7.30pm. The exhibition boards are also available to view and comment on at the Council's "consultation portal".

As the Deptford Dame has already commented, the plans appear to fall short of preventing the road being used as a rat run or being safer for pedestrians and cyclists. An early bird, she is particularly concerned about the speed and quantity of traffic in the early mornings that thunders up Giffin Street to get to Edward Street (which it uses to avoid Evelyn Street). She points out that introducing a narrow one-way entry from Evelyn Street will not stop the Edward Street rat run. And that there is already a 20mph speed limit in place but it's ignored in the early morning when there are no parked cars for speeding vehicles to negotiate (overnight parking is not permitted).

We can verify that the rat-running continues all day and is especially bad in the early evenings when the traffic is going in the opposite direction, with a different but equally detrimental effect: rather than speeding dangerously it is stationery. This is because of the TOTAL FAILURE of the new TfL 'improvements' at Deptford Broadway, where traffic light sequencing seems to favour the east/west running A2 at the expense of north/south traffic (some of which is local, but mostly it's trying to get on to the A2 and now far fewer cars are allowed to feed in each time). Despite this the A2 still backs up to New Cross just as badly or worse than it did before.

Daytime tailbacks in high street
Early evening tailbacks on Giffin St, outside Wavelengths

The Broadway scheme was introduced with the benefit of finally providing properly signalled pedestrian crossings and to introduce cycle lanes (which have reduced the space for vehicles). The result is peak-time gridlock along Deptford Church Street in the early evenings, and of course an increase in rat-running along Deptford High Street, Giffin Street and Creekside, where traffic backs up as it queues to get onto Church Street. The 47 bus might as well throw away its timetable at rush hour as it sits queuing with the cars and increased number of construction vehicles, from the Birds Nest to the Broadway, without the luxury of a dedicated bus lane. No need to labour the point about the chronic effect of stationery diesel vehicles on the health of residents living adjacent to both Church Street and the smaller roads and children attending the local schools.

We warned Thames Tideway Tunnel about the potential for gridlock and rat-running in this area in 2012 (here and here for examples) when they proposed a partial closure of Deptford Church Street to accommodate their works at Crossfields Street/St Paul's Church. Our argument was based on the occasional closure of Rotherhithe or Blackwall tunnels or accidents anywhere on the surrounding network. As we pointed out at the time, TTT's plans were backed up by out-of-date traffic data provided by TfL, but the St Paul's site got the go ahead and the partial road closures will still go ahead. Only now, thanks to TfL's appalling traffic management at the Broadway, horrendous tail backs are a daily reality and can only get worse.

Evening gridlock on Deptford Church Street due to TfL's Broadway junction light sequencing
An accident at the Broadway on 18 January: Deptford Church St north lane closed for hours

Perhaps the new sequencing is to stop traffic heading south into Lewisham via Brookmill Road where it will meet the horrendous Lewisham Gateway, but whatever the overall plan, it doesn't inspire confidence for the high street north proposals. TfL are offering £2.8m to implement the scheme; there is also £500k from section 106 funding for Convoys Wharf available purely for high street improvements (and separate from the improved Evelyn Street junction which will come later).

Meanwhile, a local business in Ffinch Street, Shultz-Wiremu, have commented that high shops near them had received a request from the Council asking for access to their basements, presumably as part of a structural survey of the above ground pavements. But the shops had no idea why their basements needed surveying and had no knowledge of the consultation on this new scheme. Shultz-Wiremu are appalled at the increased frequency of construction vehicles using the high street and, like the Deptford Dame (who reckons that none of the people devising the scheme, or those advising them, "have done their homework"), they feel the proposals emphasise trivial issues whilst not fully addressing the main problem. Hopefully the consulting team will learn something of value from the people attending the exhibition (or filling in the online survey) who actually use the street.

The intention to repeat the paving plan implemented in the south of the street (where pavements are extended into the carriageway to accommodate parking) may at least put a halt to the present congestion (as well as the usual driver fuckwittery that goes on with parking spaces) whilst it is being built, though it will be a nightmare for residents and traders. Paving works in Douglas Way and Giffin Square were swiftly followed by repaving the south end (as a result of the timing of two different funding awards), but the whole thing took so bloody long that trade as well as traffic was brought to a standstill. It is not clear whether the south street improvements have proved a success – it has very little traffic now that it is one way. It's proposed the north end will remain two-way up to Edward Street, but with some parts narrowing to slow speeds. What effect this will have on the articulated delivery vehicles visiting Poundland and Iceland is anyone's guess. The plan is dotted with trees all the way up; these would be situated in the extended paving (presumably avoiding basements and utility services) and may also prove an obstacle to impatient drivers. Or not. Local suggestions include a ban on diesel vehicles and, more radically, closing the market gates at rush hour.

But any successful reductions on the high street will just make Deptford Church Street and Creekside worse for Crossfields residents...


Road surfacing works have been taking place in Deptford Church Street. Contrary to popular belief this road is Lewisham's responsibility although it is part of TfL's Strategic Network. The work began at 11pm and went on till 4am last Thursday and since then has started as early as 9pm – and the road has been partially closed as each lane is dealt with. There is no doubt that the work is required and is being conducted fairly efficiently, but some of the machinery being used is so loud it can be heard two blocks away in people's living rooms. There was no notification to residents and no notice of road closures. God only knows who is responsible.



  1. I think the Deptford High Street consultation is an opportunity to ask that the Anchor return to the High Street. They are planning some public art at the Station as well.

  2. Who's "they"? No mention of Public Art at the consultation. The anchor should go back where it was. Another one can go at the station and another at the north end, and one in Giffin Square too!