Monday, July 12, 2010

ESTATE WALKAROUND: Cycle Path and Greening the Estate

Richa Mukhia: Design for London
Sue Lawes: Secretary of Crossfields TRA
Ruth: Chair of Crossfields Allotments Commitee
Other individuals from the Estate

WWM Architects have been commissioned to work on plans for the East West Cycle route by Design for London. This is part of a wider plan to develop walking and cycle routes between areas of Deptford and its surrounds.
They are also interested in plans to increase the use of and amenity of green spaces on Crossfields Estate. As well as including ideas for such development into their plans they have suggested the involvement of Greenwich Co Operative Development Association in helping to develop, fund and implement these schemes.
Proposals for East West Cycle/walking route:
Our initial position was to suggest that a route outside the Estate would be preferable to creating a new right of way. This suggestion was not met with much enthusiasm, in fact after it was raised the conversation continued as if it had not been made and we moved on to alternative ideas for routes that do go through the estate.
It was agreed that alternative routes that avoided destruction of the garden were in fact achievable. The most likely solution was the positioning of the cycle path on the basketball court side of the railway arches for at least some of its route.
It was noted that this has the advantage of the path not passing directly past the windows on the ground floor of Brown House. The only possible objection raised to this was the fact that there would not be a straight "sight line" from the station in Deptford to the Hapenny Hatch Bridge! It was however agreed that this was not a good enough reason to destroy a community garden.
Widening of the path,. improvements to lighting, changes in planting and the very selective removal of some ill, stressed or weak trees would, it was suggested, make the area feel lighter and less threatening. Replanting other trees with less light excluding properties, were suggested as ways to make the path feel and be as safe as possible.
We also discussed who would be responsible for the upkeep of these areas as this has been an ongoing concern. It was agreed that a map supplied by Lewisham which showed all the areas of the estate taken care of by Glendales and all areas taken care of by People on the estate would be essential.
However when asked what the proposals would included if the garden WAS destroyed...
no definitive response was forth coming. It would be hoped that any plans by the Architects would guarantee funding for the replacement of the garden on the estate. All that seems to have been mentioned so far is a woolly promise of some "land" somewhere unspecified.
It looks though as if they would expect us to arrange for funding etc of any replacement gardens/allotments on the estate ourselves. Perhaps the Architects could confirm exactly what they plan in this respect?
"Greening" Crossfields Estate
Claire from Greenwich CoOperative Development Group was interested in helping us to set up a properly constituted "Crossfields Green Spaces Association" which would enable us to apply for funding for projects on the Estate.
Areas of particular interest identified for development:
  1. Sue Godfrey Community Garden (including possible extension to include area behind the sheds adjacent to Church Street.) We need to consult with all interested parties. Particularly Sues family who have been involved in the running of the garden. We would also have to find out what the status of the garden is with Lewisham. There was someone being paid to take care of the garden. It would appear that this is no longer happening.
  1. Areas surrounded by Red railings throughout the estate:Claire said she could see no problem greening these areas as we wanted.
  1. Areas within the U shaped blocks. Any suggestions for what might happen here?
  1. And particularly the area next to the fantastic new BMX track at the Birds Nest end of the estate. This was identified as a potentially very exciting opportunity for development of a Green Space:
Ideas mentioned included for this area:
  • New Allotment / gardens.
  • Smaller mini allotments for people who don't want to take on larger allotments:
  • Community gardening:
We need to find out what people on the estate really want from this area. The more imaginative and involving the better:
  • Perhaps "Climate Change Gardens" Showcasing plants and techniques of water collection and recycling. where the allotments are fed by water capturing systems.
  • Community food growing projects.
  • Children's Gardens.
Any have other ideas anyone?
It would be great if this could act as a catalyst for a wide degree of community involvement.
As well as being a vital place for the Estate to enjoy.
A vibrant and enthusiastic group of gardens, green spaces and gardeners could provide education and involvement for as wide a range as possible of adults and children from the estate and surrounding schools/ colleges and other community organizations.
Perhaps the next step would be to invite Claire along formally to the next TRA meeting so we can start to decided on our possible next moves.
We have the opportunity to do some very exciting and wonderful things that will make Crossfields an even better place to live.


Before publishing this I sent this to all involved for any comments and clarifications:
I received the following reply from the Architects WMM:
Not good news I'm afraid.

Dear John
Thank you for your notes recording your position on last Thursday's walk around the estate. I am sorry that I was unable to join you all on the walk. Arthur is on holiday this week and next, so I have chosen to respond as clearly as I can to two of the points you have raised;
1. It is our view, as the architects advising the client group on improvements to Deptford's public spaces and the legibility of the routes that link them, that locating the public footpath consistently along the southern side of the viaduct between Deptford Station and Halfpenny Bridge would be the most effective position. This would enable the route to be followed from the entrance/exit of Deptford Station, be clearly visible form Giffen Street and draws in the physical and visual presence of the viaduct to help define the route.
2. As architects, we do not 'guarantee' the funding of any of the possible aspects of the project being developed. We fully support the suitable relocation of the garden you have created, if this should be required, but it would not be fair to record that we guarantee the funding of this.
John, we are very committed to working with you to resolve the possible design works within and around Crossfields Estate, and we are working behind the scenes to help secure funding for the different aspects of the project. Please don't read my cautionary notes as aggressive, I would simply like you to place a fair record of our position on your blog.
Best regards
Stephen Witherford

And my reply... to which I am waiting for a response:


I have consistently been told that these proposals are in the very early stages and nothing is set in stone as yet. Is this indeed the case?

Your statement seems to imply that no change has happened in your position as a result of suggestions which Arthur brought back from the Walkabout?

Could you acknowledge whether routes more considerate of the wishes of the residents of the Crossfield Estate will or will not, be considered at all?

Can you tell us what suggestions have made that you have considered?
Is the position in this email likely to change when Arthur returns from his holiday?

As I tried to explain to Arthur surely a scheme that preserves a much loved community resource would look better on your web site than one that destroys one! Why not make this a triumph for community involvement and design compromise for the benefit of the community?

I am glad you are in support of replacing the garden with a suitable replacement on the estate. Though hopefully this will not be necessary. I appreciate your position re funding of course. What I really meant was to ensure that it would be included in any plans that did destroy the garden. I am also given a glimmer of hope by the phrase "should this be required".

Of course I do not see aggression in yr stance. You have your rationales and reason for the position that you take of course. As I said to Arthur and Richa I am all for co-operation and compromise...and hope that you are too.

I could explain to you how significant this garden has been to me personally in helping restore my mental and physical health after various long standing illness. I'm sure you would acknowledge the great benefits of gardening such as this.

I am very proud of the huge amount of time and effort I have put into this garden, bringing a corner of the estate previousley used for drug injecting and as a toilet back into cultivation. Making it a safer place where people want to be, and a place where children can play I would love to be able to continue with my 5 year plan for its improvement into an important resource that we are planning on developing for the wider good of the community.

I mention all this because I'm sure the human aspects of the decisions that you make might sometimes become a little abstract and distant to you.

Perhaps you could return the favour by placing a fair record of my position on YOUR web site!

Maybe you would be interested in coming to visit the Estate to discuss alternative plans and explain WMM's position personally to the Tenants and Residents Association?

Thank you very much for your time and consideration in this matter. Hope to hear from you soon.

John Rhodes.

1 comment:

  1. shipwright's palaceMonday, July 12, 2010

    Greening Crossfields.....not that its any of my business but.......

    Tree care and pruning of existing trees around the estate to offer more light to flats in the summer. allowing the laurel hedge to grow above the brick wall along Church street to filter visual and air pollution. extending the remit of greening to include planting trees along the central reservation of Church street and maximising the green roundabout outside the Bird's nest.