Friday, February 2, 2018

Reginald Road & Achilles Street – trying to be heard and seen

At the Birds Nest roundabout
We first noticed this banner at the Birds Nest roundabout on Sunday 28th January, but it was apparently one of five that went up around Deptford on Friday evening.

Protesters were trying to highlight the plight of Council tenants whose homes (and businesses) are due for demolition to make way for new developments planned by Lewisham Council. Publicly owned green space (Tidemill Old Wildlife Garden) will also be lost. The Council defends its policy of demolition on the basis that more social housing can be built in its place as a result of it partnering with private developers who will of course build even more private housing as well. Never mind that the tenants themselves do not want their homes demolished.

On the overpass at Deptford Bridge DLR

Such deals are common across London Labour boroughs, the most controversial being the Heygate and Aylesbury estate regenerations in Southwark where very little social if any housing has been achieved and so many people have been displaced. The most recent controversy is the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) which has resulted in the leader of Haringey Labour resigning after Councillors who supported the plan to go 50/50 with Lend Lease were voted out in local elections to be replaced with new Councillors who opposed the plan.

At Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Reginald Road

We've covered the Tidemill and Reginald Road story quite a lot on this blog, the last post being an overdue report in November on the September planning decision, surely one of the most undemocratic planning meetings in the present administration's history.

We also caught up in November with what is going on at Achilles Street in New Cross – just the other side of the underpass. Tenants and leaseholders as well as businesses are fighting to save their homes, shops and restaurants, while the Council drags its heels on its plans – without giving any indication that they will change them in any way. As with Tidemill (where the publicly funded subsidy for the affordable housing was not secured till the very last minute) such delays are usually due to the Council finding suitable development partners.

Fordham Park end of the New Cross underpass

Fortunately, another writer is keeping us to date with what is going on at Reginald Road and Achilles Street. PHD student Anita Strasser has just posted on her blog Deptford Is Changing. She notes how tenants' mental health is affected when they have no control over their own futures, and how (often family-run) shops and businesses risk losing their livelihoods. The Council refuses to ballot those affected.

Deptford end of the underpass

The banners remind us of how difficult it is for ordinary people's voices to be heard. A recent YouGov poll found that 71% feel they have no control over the important decisions that affect their neighbourhood and local community.

The campaign to bring back the Deptford Anchor is being hailed by some as a triumph of "People Power", but people's lives were not affected or put on hold while the Council took almost five years to capitulate to the campaigner's wishes. Reginald Road tenants have been living in limbo for almost ten years since regeneration plans for Tidemill were first mooted. Tenants and businesses affected by threats of demolition cannot afford the luxury of waiting so long to find out their fate.


  1. Morons. Using words like cleansing and wonder why you're not taken seriously.

  2. @Feb 3rd 2018.

    No I think the word cleansing is quite appropriate. The area will lose most of it's cultural diversity. If in any doubt at all take a trip to the flats above the station that overlook 'Market Yard'. 95% white 90% middle class. Take a trip to the Job Centre 85% white 90% middle class. Same for London Velo and Little Nans.

    The official demographic figures for deptford are 42% white, 32% non white, which would include though not be restricted too African, Caribbean, Asian, Indian and Pakistani. If anyone anywhere can show me how that demographic is adequately or even half adequately represented in the clientele of the new bars and restaurants I'll buy a night out for you. In all of those places.

    I'm not against new things opening but the private sector in housing, retail and commerce always sets the pace for demographic change. Poorer people will be squeezed out. That would include most of the white working class, especially if they are in the private rental sector. (are you listening all you folk who bought your council flats with a 30% discount?) I don't think anyone would argue that any of the pounds shops or hair salons or phone shops largely run by non whites are making a fortune. And almost all of them rent rather than own their shops. Gentrification will force them away from the area. The council surely must have some responsibility in moderating rather than helping this clear out.