Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Convoys Wharf update

We urge you to visit the Deptford Dame and look at the pictures she has uncovered in the Convoys Wharf planning application that show the height and enormous density of the proposals.

Also please see the latest post (31 August) from Shipwright's Palace.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Could Crossfields go solar powered?

Crossfielder Michele Petit-Jean sent us a copy of an email that was sent to her by freetricity a couple of days ago. It appears that, if given permission from Lewisham Homes, the estate may be able to get solar panels installed on its south-facing roofs (Frankham, Wilshaw, Holden, Farrer, Finch, Congers each have extensive south-facing roofs) for nowt.  This is the text of the email:

Free Solar Power – free installation – free maintenance and FREE electricity for 25 years!

Does that sound too good to be true?  Well, Freetricity have been supplying free solar power systems to residential householders throughout the Southern half of the UK for quite some time.  Now we can supply much larger systems to businesses anywhere in the UK – Also completely free!  (That really does mean no investment at all to you).

All you need to qualify for this completely free offer is a roof that is big enough (140 Sq. m. minimum for commercial installations) and it is facing due South or South West or South East.  Ideally, you will own the roof in question, but we can supply on any roof with the Landlord’s permission. For more information or to Apply on-line for Commercial installations, go to

You can still have free solar power from Freetricity if you are a sole trader working from home – that’s a standard residential installation for us anyway.  You still need a roof (18 Sq. m. Minimum for residential roofing), that faces roughly South and is not overshadowed, for maximum benefit.       Apply on-line for residential installations at

Why are we giving away free solar panels?

Freetricity’s partnership with a leading UK investment fund has created a scheme to enable hundreds of businesses to benefit from free solar energy.  The UK Government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) incentive scheme enables Freetricity to reclaim its capital investment (approximately £90-£150k) over the 25 year period that the scheme is due to run.  That’s why we can give you all the electricity the panels generate for the whole 25 years, for nothing!  And, you own the panels outright at the end of the 25 years.

This offer is limited to a first-come-first served basis, Installation is free and you can use the solar panels to generate your own free electricity, cutting your annual electricity bill by as much as 30% and helping you to meet your carbon reduction targets.

If you would like to discuss the Free Solar Scheme for Businesses in more detail, please contact me on 0203 167 2994 - or by email
Yours Sincerely
Michele has written to Lewisham Homes enquiring whether it would be possible for them to look into it - and they have apparently replied saying they would do so.   While it would probably be far too complicated to work out an equitable way of sharing the electricity directly between households, it would surely be possible to use the electricity to pay for the lighting on the estate and excess electricity could be fed back into the National Grid with the income from that to be distributed as a rebate on housing charges for every household on the estate.

Does anybody have any more ideas about how the electricity or the income from the electricity could be shared out?

And would anybody object to having panels on the estate's roofs?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cathedral application...another high street pawnbrokers...

Whilst scanning Lewisham Planning for details of the Convoys Wharf planning application (see earlier post), we came across another couple of local applications.

Firstly, DC/11/78175/X
The long awaited application from Cathedral plc for the development attached to the new Deptford station otherwise known as The Deptford Project...featuring a rather massive Richard Rogers building full of luxury flats, accompanied by alterations to the existing St Paul's House to provide low-cost a piazza etc...View the application here. The Planning Statement is here (78 pages).

If you got involved in any way with the "highly visual and participative consultation" process (a rather random sticky dot exercise), you might want to have a butchers at the The Statement of Community Views, which appears to show a majority in favour, although the process was so unscientific it would surely be impossible to say exactly what the community is in favour of. Apparently we want more tall buildings and luxury flats.

For more detail on the plans see The Deptford Dame.

Secondly, DC/11/77795/X 
An application for a change of use at 37 Deptford High St to a Retail Jewellers and Pawnbrokers, together with the installation of a new shop front (with an additional application for an illuminated sign). See here. As yet no documents to look at or deadline for objections. We'll be keeping an eye on this...Can anyone remember what was here before?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Local events this bank holiday

Saturday 27th August, 12 - 7pm
Urban Village Fete at Friendly Gardens
Lucas Street SE8 4QH
Carnival Arts • Soca and dance workshops • Join the carnival procession! • Clowns, Arts & Crafts, Face Painting • Under 5’s area • Cultural and dance performances • DJ MADCAP • Olympics & Tug of War • Football with Millwall Community Scheme • Fairground sideshow games and competitions • Community stalls, food and refreshments • All welcome!

Monday 29th August,  5-7pm
Music at McMillan Herb Garden
Lol Coxhill, Rob Mills, Tom Scott (sax trio)
Missing Puddings
• acoustic set from local festival favourites The Nearly Perfect

Coming up at the Herb Garden...

Sunday 4th September, 5-7pm
10 or 11 drummers from the south east London underground, evenly distributed so that the sound moves through and across the space in a dynamic and engaging sequence of rhythms, beats, textures and strategies.

Convoys Wharf planning application deadline 27 September

Lewisham Planning have put out the following notice (though it hasn't come through our doors yet):

A revised application to develop Convoys Wharf which may affect you or your property has been received by the Council as local planning authority. As you are a near neighbour, you are invited to comment on this application in writing by 27 September 2011 so that your views can be taken into account when the application is being considered. Your letter, fax or e-mail will be acknowledged, but it will not be possible for the Council to respond to your comments or any queries.

The Application has been submitted on behalf of Convoys Investment s.a.r.l. and News International Limited. A map showing the boundary of the application site is included.

You can see the planning documents on the Convoys Wharf website (Lewisham Planning's website will send you here). Or download the summary here.

Objections can be made using an online form here.

The Deptford Dame has been following the development here.

We have been putting in our pennyworth here and here and here.

Shipwright's Palace has been campaigning to have the enormous historical significance of the site fully recognised and has written a marvellous story on how things could be here in Deptford in 2020, if plans for this site were to actually acknowledge the site's heritage.

Shipwright's Palace also lists "10 Good Reasons Why" the site's heritage should be fully acknowledged:

1. Deptford is the only royal dockyard with its Tudor plan extant. The undercroft of the storehouse, the dry dock, slipways and great basin are all structures that have their origin in the Tudor period c.1517. Nowhere else in England testifies to the Tudor and Stuart arrangement of a royal naval dockyard. Regardless of the condition of the dockyard’s intrinsic structures, which are incidentally described in archaeological reports as extremely good, the plan of these structures has remained unchanged for five hundred years.

2. Nowhere else on the Thames in London is as rich with five centuries of historic association with events of national and international significance and has so little at present to visibly demonstrate this.

3. Simply because the docks, slips and basins were filled in intact a hundred years ago it does not mean they should remain filled in. In particular their below ground position does not make them archaeology, they were built ‘below ground’. Building survey is required in order to fairly and fully assess their future potential. At Rochefort in France, docks filled in a hundred years ago have been successfully excavated and repaired.

4. Deptford was instrumental in securing and maintaining Britain’s worldwide influence, leading the world in industrial design, naval architecture and military technology. The position of Master Shipwright at Deptford was the highest ranking of all the royal naval yards.

5. Maritime technology including the construction of docks and basins was exported from Deptford to its immediate neighbours on the Thames, to the outlying royal yards such as Chatham and across the world. Expertise from Deptford was employed to create the basin at Chatham, the port of Dover and even as far as Australia, where Capt. Sir William Denison, who had built the basin slipways at Deptford, went on to built Fort Denison in Sydney.

6. The success of the dockyard at Deptford gave rise to the wider establishment of Deptford town, and it has been claimed, to the maritime status of Greenwich.

7. The dockyard at Deptford is a significant site not only for the United Kingdom but especially for countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Voyages of discovery by Raleigh, Drake, Frobisher, Vancouver and Cook as well as success in numerous naval battles including the Armada and Trafalgar were made possible by the technology and expertise of the infrastructure and dockyard labour at Deptford. As well as the ‘discovery’ of the antipodean nations, the first transports enforced and voluntary departed from Deptford. Deptford’s expertise contributed to the raising of the Russian navy for Peter the Great in the eighteenth century and for Catherine and Potemkin in the nineteenth century.

8. Deptford is yet to receive the benefit of statutory heritage policy formed in relation to naval dockyards, indeed it may be described as socially excluded from specifically targeted maritime and naval policy created by English Heritage in 1998, 2005, 2007 and 2011. Studies show that areas of social deprivation benefit from investment in their heritage environments. Heritage environments contribute significantly to the wider development of local economies.

9. A debt is owed to Deptford by the present inheritors of the statutory heritage agencies for multiple failures by the heritage agencies in the past, including the loss of the Great Tudor Storehouse of 1513 in 1954 and the demolition of the last of the c.1712 storehouse in 1984.

10. Deptford deserves the right to fair and equal access to statutory heritage protection applied to royal naval yards elsewhere in order to secure the economic benefits, the social benefits and the enjoyment of the cultural capital of its heritage environment. Research indicating the presence of phenomena such as the persistence of urban deprivation in particular areas of cities, suggests that poverty and social exclusion may be related to properties of the spatial structure of the physical form of the city.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Creekside Discovery Evening - Saturday 20 August

This Saturday the Creekside Discovery Centre is opening its gates from 6pm to 10pm to welcome all 'urban explorers' who fancy spending the evening pond dipping, hunting bugs and identifying wild flowers. Nature lovers can drop in when they like and from 7pm the barbeque will be fired up, so bring your own grub to put on the grill.

The Creekside Discovery Evening is part of a series of FREE events in August and September programmed by Lewisham's Rivers and People Project that includes walks along the Waterlink Way, bat hunting in Beckenham Place Park and drop-ins at Ladywell Fields and Cornmill Gardens.

Other events at Creekside Discovery Centre are:

Sunday 4 September 2-5pm: Wild trees
Wednesday 7 September 7pm-10pm: Creekside Moth Night
Saturday 10 September 2pm-5pm: Migrating Birds
Saturday 15 September 10am-1pm: Low Tide Walk in Deptford Creek

And on Saturday 24 September from 2pm-5pm there's a Family Fun Day in Sue Godfrey Nature Park.

Lots more info at

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Betfred lose their appeal! Yippee!

Fantastic news! The Deptford Dame has just informed me that Bill Ellson at Deptford Miscellaneous has posted about the the Planning Inspectorate's decision to REFUSE Betfred's appeal. 

Suffice to say, the Inspector found the evidence from local residents "compelling" and is allowing the premises to be used for any Class A2 Financial Use EXCEPT as a Betting Shop!

Well done everyone who helped to keep Betfred at bay.

The Dame has now posted the news with some detail.
You can also see the report on Deptford Misc, or go to the Planning Portal and click on 'decision' to download the relevant document.

Update: We sent an email out with the news to petitioners and got some happy responses:

Cool. Well done, great job! Nick • Excellent news! Cllr Bell • Brilliant, well done for alerting everyone. Sue Really great news thanks! Richard Fantastic news! Lea • Why don't we stage a finger nosing parade outside? Marianne • Great news! A step in the right direction. Thanks! Caroline • Well done! Alison Thanks so much for the good news! Susan • Yippee. The system works :-) Gus • That's fantastic, this is what happens when people unite for a worthy cause. Nathan • Great campaign and good news! A little rejoicing here too! Father Paul • That's fantastic news. John • Well done. Emma • Great! Billy Fantastic! :-D Anton • Yes Yes Yes!!! Thank you. Sybar • Blimey! Someone in the planning inspectorate with common sense, perception and decency…Until the maggots at Betfred find a loophole. But meanwhile I agree, Yippee, toot toot! Julian • That is indeed excellent news. RH Joan Ruddock MP • Yahoo even! Good news! Cheryl • Yes yippee! Fantastic news! Well done for seeing this one through Anne • That's amazing – people have the power! If only we had more. Thanks for letting me know, that's great news and really inspiring. Keep on keeping on! Anita • Thanks you for this heartening news! And also thank you for all your hard work in bringing about this great result Nuala • Yeepeeee. All your efforts pay off. Well done. Raj • That's brilliant news Hazel • Great stuff! Mike

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tenants have no water for 6 days followed by water torture

We reported on Monday 8th August that on one side of Wilshaw House, tenants had been without water to flush loos and cold water in the bathroom for three days. We also reported on Friday 12th that this matter had been resolved by Wednesday 10th.

However, we learned yesterday that the matter is far from resolved. For some tenants, normal service was resumed on Tuesday, but others could not flush their loos till Wednesday evening. A leaseholder called Lewisham Homes on Wednesday afternoon and was told the problem was because the ball cock in the water tank had stopped working, and they had no spares to replace it with. They had sent off for the part and it would take a while but perhaps be fixed by Friday.

The choice was whether to keep the water turned off (no toilet flushing) or turn it back on – but, said the LH guy, 'there might be some leaks' – if the water went back on in flats where people were out but had left the taps on, they might experience flooding.

The water was turned back on. And so from Wednesday and ongoing, there has been water cascading from an overflow pipe onto the porch roof below then bouncing onto the area in front of the porch, necessitating the use of an umbrella to get to the first floor or to access the ground floor flats either side of the stairwell.

This is equivalent in noise levels to five days of non-stop rain.

The very same thing occurred at the end of June at Castell House. Stickman posted on June 30th that the water tank in Castell had been leaking for three days. Both he and the caretakers had reported it. He'd been told by Repairs that it wasn't 'an emergency' and would be fixed the following day. Nine days and gallons of wasted water later, on Wednesday July 6th he reported that Repairs had denied that anyone had contacted them the week before, suggesting the first time it had been reported was the day before. They told him it was now classed as an emergency and someone would come and fix it on the following Monday, making it a total of 14 days that residents had had to endure the sound of water crashing onto a tin roof and splashing onto the forecourt.

After that, any sane person would expect Repairs to have a few spare ballcocks, valves and other plumbing necessities in reserve for just these sorts of occasions. But they quite obviously do not. If the job is contracted out, then the contractors should be sacked.

We are also alarmed to realise that our bathroom cold water comes from the water tank rather than direct from the mains, and is therefore not drinking water. What have we been cleaning our teeth with all this time?

Update Tuesday 16th August: The water was turned on this morning, apparently, although it was not clear then whether the problem was actually fixed. But ground floor residents were able to flush their loos. It is probably a co-incidence that Cllr Paul Bell (who sits on the board of Lewisham Homes) was referred to this post yesterday afternoon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bins and weeds etc #2

The bins, the bins...

On Wednesday 27 July we got a letter from Caretaking Services telling us: "As part of our continuing drive to improve the standard of cleanliness on your estate, we have appointed a contractor to clean the Rubbish Chute, Bins and Bin Chamber to your block. The cleaning will be carried out on 1st August – 5th August between 9am and 4pm. Please do not use the chutes while cleaning is in progress."

And about time, too, we thought (see post on 29 July).

But alas, no Rubbish Chutes, Bins or Bin Chambers were cleaned in the week of 1st-5th August. What with the riots an' all, we forgot to ring Caretaking and find out why it never happened...

All weeds are wild flowers...

On Friday 29 July we also reported that Glendales hadn't shown up for a while and our estate was getting greener by the minute. The Monday after, a Glendales truck was spotted parked up next to Holden at around 2pm. The guys were hanging by the van, smoking and doing something with their phones. They were still doing this 20 minutes later...then it looked as if there was some action – one of them was seen with a long gardening tool over his shoulder. This is part of the area they were supposedly dealing with:
BEFORE (Monday 1st August):

AFTER (Friday 12th August):
Not much change there then. 
Here's a nice Dandelion (Taraxacum aggregate)...or is it Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)?

Concrete flowerbeds

We also reported two weeks ago that the ugly concrete that was badly laid into numerous empty tree-beds around the estate was to be removed. But nothing's happened...

A week ago, two patches of badly laid concrete were covered over. Turns out they had been dug up and relaid – more neatly this time, but still an ugly solution, when the beds could have been used for plants.

Morrisons – gone but not forgotten

British Gas sub-contractors Morrisons finished work on the estate on 22nd July (three weeks ago)...we wonder if they are coming back to pick up the stuff they left behind...(a huge pile of hardcore, several plastic posts, and a few large boxes containing big yellow pipe joiners)...?


Finally, water...

We reported on 8th August that Wilshaw House had had no water in the bathroom and loo for 4 days. Water was finally turned back on after six days on Wednesday this week.

Right. That's enuf moaning. (No it's not – see the next post!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Emergency Demonstration

Everything appears to be more or less back to normal today in this neck of the woods, with an almost full market and shops reopened. Lots of sirens still to be heard however – Creek Road and Evelyn Street sound very busy...

We reported that yesterday evening a number of people gathered for an informal street meeting at the junction of Reginald Road and Deptford High Street in response to the rioting. According to Brenda in Kim's there were a lot more than the 40 people we'd been told of, and they stayed until around 1am.

A group called DEPTFORD UNITED was formed from this meeting and they have now organised an 'emergency demonstration' to march this evening at 6.30pm from the anchor at the top of the street to Lewisham Town Hall. The Anti-Cuts folk from Social Centre Plus are marching "against all attacks on our communities, and the government and council cuts which leave our youth desperate and hopeless." All are welcome to join.

UPDATE 21.48: Meanwhile, Brockley Central has an interesting post on how Eltham people have responded to the riots. Eltham remained untouched, but due to the gathering of people ready to defend it, Greenwich council has announced closure of town centre pubs "so as to deter outside groups from diverting police resources."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Deptford Update

Please note that the Thames Tunnel meeting this evening is cancelled.

3.30pm: Meanwhile, rumours that the rioters were coming back to the high street today at 1pm led to the police asking shopkeepers who had bothered to open today to pull down their shutters. Two or three pairs of PCs patrolled the street whilst a police van drove slowly up and down. The rumour was the rioters were coming down from Bermondsey. People were hanging about waiting, and a couple of shops continued to trade (obviously prepared to defend their property). A couple of kids on bikes lazily entered the street at around 2pm. Nothing happened. Later on the street was quiet and the police had left.

However, that rumour about Wavelengths that was doing the rounds yesterday had meanwhile turned to reality. We have been told that around 2pm whilst the high street waited for the next onslaught, a bunch of kids swarmed into Wavelengths and proceeded to piss in the pool.

Transpontine has written up his stroll round the neighbourhood today and ends with a story from The Times in 1886 about some rumoured Deptford riots.

Meanwhile, amidst the lockdown, we hear that around 40 people joined this evening in the high street at around 8.30pm for an informal "We Love Deptford High Street" gathering (organised by those folk from Socialcentre Plus)...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tenants have no water for 3 days while London burns

Tenants in Wilshaw House have been without water since Friday. No water to flush the loo. No water in the bathroom.

The problem was reported on Friday. Today someone came and parked their Lewisham Homes van outside 41-60 Wilshaw House, leaving the engine running for half an hour (are they pretending they're stuck in traffic somewhere?) whilst they sat inside the van chatting on the phone. Result? Still no water.

Meanwhile, London's Burning. But not, as yet, in Deptford. A Greggs in Peckham was set on fire which Channel 4 claimed was in Deptford High Street. There's not a lot of any value to loot in Deptford, but an hour or so after the misreporting by Channel 4 (and the resulting hyperbole on Twitter), the windows of the HSBC were smashed and a bin was turned over. Oh, and Tescos.

Shutters were down on almost all shops by about 6pm, and at around 8.45pm when this blogger went to take a look, there were just a few rubberneckers, some with quite flashy cameras, hanging around outside the HSBC, some walking freely up and down the high street. A group of kids seemed to be waiting for some action, and a couple of boys on bikes were hanging about in the road at the Ladbrokes end. Someone said they'd seen a Twitter post about a proposed attack on Wavelengths, but this was part of the same hype about the fire at Greggs (what are they going to do at Wavelengths, go for a swim?).

We dearly hope the high street is not subjected to arson later on, but we are quite happy to see all the bookies looted.

Brockley Central has been doing a fine job of keeping local people updated. It appears there has been some looting in New Cross but Twitter hype about the Venue being alight are (unfortunately) false. Some comments are a bit Daily Mail, but some are very funny, even though this isn't really a laughing matter.

10.30pm: a friend who lives on the high street reports small gangs of black youth have been gathering. No police up till now. It's all going on up at the HSBC and about to kick off with one lone police wagon.

Whilst slightly fearing for our friend's life should a fire break out, we agree that there are three major and obvious things about all this:
1. There's a Tory government
3. Torys cut Youth Projects and Youth Clubs and Youth Provision.

11.00pm: Kicked off in Woolwich. Had to leave the house.

2pm: Back after a recce...Sick of television coverage, we had gone to join the onlookers at the high street. A car was on fire in Douglas Square. It appeared to have been er..taken away from the Chinese takeaway nearby, since a calm but obviously disturbed Chinese lady seemed to be the owner. Police stood in a group outside the HSBC with a van further down outside Barclays. The burning car was still on fire but smouldering like a neglected and dying bonfire.

We found that considerably more damage had taken place than we'd previously seen earlier on. The tally at this point was: HSBC, Barclays, Greggs, Samuel jewellers next to Corals, HandT Pawnbrokers, Fish Brothers Pawnbrokers, Ladbrokes, and Tescos. It seems the attacks had been sporadic (but well aimed for political statement, financial advantage and sugar rush) – Greggs had been raided at around 8pm but we'd not noticed when we saw the windows at the HSBC earlier.

We met a Deptfordian who works in Peckham who told us it was completely nuts in Peckham – anybody and everybody were just walking out of shops with anything they liked. He was drinking from a can he'd found on the pavement in Rye Lane. He'd been chatting to a Jamaican shopkeeper there who had suggested some Asian shopkeepers might be 'taking advantage of the situation'. That is something that'll never be televised. Unlike the old lady telling them all off in Hackney:

We debated the question of bored youth (he is a youth worker) but he said it was everyone, not just the youth, who were looting in Peckham. But he agreed the loss of the EMA didn't help.

We walked down the street. The police, who initially had been on guard, were more relaxed and not bothering to stop anyone taking photographs, or stop anyone passing. They were guarding the banks, Greggs and HandT pawnbrokers. It turned out that some places had been robbed but owners had managed to pull down broken shutters after the event. We were pleased to see that no one was guarding William Hills further down, the door front opened out with a sheet of broken glass.

Tescos had broken windows but appeared to be secured, with first floor windows boarded up. Which begs the question, why were the police still having to guard the other places at taxpayers' cost?

We chatted with a couple of shopkeepers who were standing outside their own premises. Having survived the looting, one had sent his family to stay somewhere else and faced a sleepless night fearing an arson attack, whilst the other had called in a van load of family and friends to stand guard. You really wouldn't want to mess with those guys.

We got chatting opposite Tescos to a couple of white guys who were on their way home from town, and were joined by a young mixed raced couple on bikes. The first two were asking the question Why? What's going on? It's not just black kids surely? We put it to the young couple who were obviously local. They said it's cos everyone's bored, and because the kids have lost their EMA.

But how come the kids know which places to attack, we asked – not just the obvious looting targets like Currys etc but impossible places like banks and food places like Tescos? They said they'd got a message on BB last weekend about where to meet and what to do, like everyone knew where to go and when, and this wasn't the end of it.

We mentioned Birmingham and Croydon. Birmingham, the girl said, was mad, they were very bad in Birmingham, they'd attacked a children's hospital, that was really bad. (?) It would be Bromley tomorrow and she reeled off a list, and it could go on all summer. They had an invincible air about them. Maybe there's some new drugs we don't know about. It surely couldn't be politics giving these young people that whizzy self confidence.

As we walked away, we wondered how kids who couldn't survive without the £35 a week EMA could afford Blackberrys. If BBs were that cheap, maybe we should get one? But, it seemed perhaps you only need one person with one among many to spread the word....We speculated on the nature of viral messages: that it must be pot luck whether your BB owner and message recipient was a leader of people (possibly even a designated and recognised lieutenant of a potential army, or a gang leader) or just a loudmouth showoff...or maybe just someone charismatic and influential....or a copper....

We walked back up the street and bumped into some neighbours and went to their flat for a beer. In true Deptford style, the appropriate music went on to accompany the rolling news (though unfortunately these neighbours were far too sophisticated to put on The Clash or else they had already played them earlier). By then trouble had started in Liverpool. We didn't fancy the police's chances there. A shopping list had probably been scrawled on Friday night. It was cheering to see Camden was finally in the mix. Media panic and Notting Hill coming up, oooh scary.

We debated who were behind the Blackberry messages...We looked on Facebook, someone said "Gangsters at the top, gangstas at the bottom". Hmm. And,  "Cameron's coming home to his Big Society...The Big Rioty Society" there were the usual japes from the Daily Mash: "With the economy plunging once more into the abyss, middle income professionals keen to maintain their standard of living are now learning how to smash a really big window, grab a Dualit toaster and run like fuck."

Another post caught our eye: "Money-Free Shopping: At last the working class have re-entered the arena. BIG TIME. THE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN TORY BRITAIN HAS BEGUN! LOOT NOW WHILE SHOPS LAST! The SHOPPING WITHOUT MONEY craze swept across London overnight – and likely to spread to the rest of FIRESALE UK over the next few days. While the Tory toffs holiday in Tuscany effective wealth redistribution is taking place...''

Whilst we warmed to the sentiment, we wondered if the whole thing might be a covert operation to rehearse the police for 2012 and security measures beyond (had the police really failed or are they just underfunded?), or a clever terrorist attack (no message other than anti-capitalism that has harnessed and exposed the true nature of street capitalism). Either way, it wouldn't be long before tear gas or the army had to be brought in. The agonising analysis that the media and the chattering classes will now indulge in must surely be a cue for a holiday.

Back at home, the pictures on the Beeb of the activity in Woolwich are horrific, mainly frightening because of the armoured police vehicles employed. Thank God Deptford has not had to go through that (crossing fingers and touching wood). They tried to make me go to Woolwich but I said No, No, No. 853 Blog has some footage. Here's one of the shocking videos he's posted:

It reminds us that some people have been missing a football season all summer. It's just about to start again, is it not?

Here is a map of London Burning.

Doilum has some pix of Deptford – he got there a bit earlier than us. Here are ours...

Starting at around 8.45pm, HSBC has a brick positioned to show you the best way to keep your money safe...
Burning car in Douglas Square
 Police guard HSBC and Barclays
 Empty jewellery boxes from H Samuel's
 Greggs plundered for doughnuts and crisps
 H and T Pawnbrokers
 Doughnut tray, crisp packets and jewellery boxes
 Just one small flame now in the headlight

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Don't Dump on Deptford

Last Saturday a protest was held outside St Paul's Church against Thames Water's proposal to situate next to the church a work site to connect the 'local combined sewer overflow' (CSO), known as Deptford Storm Relief (which runs under the length of Deptford Church Street) to the proposed Thames Tunnel project.

The site in question is a triangle of land next to Coffey Street, right opposite Congers and Farrer House. As Marmoset posted recently, the site is also close to two schools, and, of course, the historic St Paul's. The protest last Saturday was led by the rector, Father Paul Butler, and Cllr Alan Smith, Deputy Mayor – which means it has the full support of the Lewisham Labour group and Joan Ruddock MP.

Mr Smith, a civil engineer, was keen to point out that although this first protest was called Stop The Stink, it is not a bad smell that is going to be the problem – the campaign is therefore now known as Don't Dump on Deptford. See the protest covered in the South London Press.

The Deptford Dame has just posted her own analysis of the situation which helps to explain what the proposals may entail (and dispel one of two fears of protesters). As she points out, Thames Water still have to present more detailed plans for this site.

If you want to know more, come to the public meeting on Tuesday 9th August at 7.30pm, at the Salvation Army Hall in Mary Ann Gardens.

At the consultation held at Creekside Centre in June, Thames Water reps told us that their preferred site for these works is Borthwick Wharf, but there is opposition from the Environment Agency and local residents.

Plans to use Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey and King's Stairs Gardens in Rotherhithe as work sites for other connecting tunnels have also been met with vigorous local opposition.

Meanwhile, Hammersmith & Fulham Council are against the entire Thames Tunnel project, and have launched a Commission to address whether the Thames Tunnel is the best solution to making the river cleaner, supported by Southwark, Richmond and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Wandsworth council are also opposed  and Tower Hamlets has recently joined the Commission and supports the SaveKemp (King Edward VII Memorial Park) campaign in Limehouse.

The Save Your Riverside campaign at Chambers Wharf says an alternative put forward by Ofwat, apparently based on world class research, is estimated to solve the overflow problem at only 52% of its cost (the Tunnel is estimated to cost £1m per metre). The campaign also points out that Thames Water customers face significantly inflated bills for the long term as alternatives are brushed aside.

Local news digest 8:16 News reports from a Save Your Riverside press release that the cost of the Tunnel "would have to be paid for in full by Thames Water customers, not its shareholders. For the next five years every Thames Water customer, from the Cotswolds to Kent, would have to pay an additional estimated £80 annually on their water bills (assuming no overruns for a project whose estimated cost has already doubled since its first draft), potentially pushing some people into 'water poverty'..."

Furthermore, "Once built, the Tunnel, paid for by the public, would end up as an asset on Thames Water's balance sheet (principally owned by Australian Investment Bank Macquarie). They would be in a position to continue to pass on maintenance costs for the long term to their customers, who have no way of voting with their feet, due to the regulated monopoly nature of the Thames Water arrangement."

(You can download the latest copy of 8.16 News here).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lewisham Homes loses client data

Financial website reported yesterday that a contractor for Lewisham Homes left a USB memory stick in the pub. Apparently there was information on 20,000 residents on the stick, 800 of which included bank account details. It also included details of 6,200 tenants of Wandle Housing Association.
The stick was unencrypted.

The report doesn't name the subcontractor, and suggests that although Lewisham Homes will more than likely have a clause in their contract with the subcontractor about protecting sensitive data, they don't seem to have a way of checking this.

Residents would concur that monitoring its sub contractors has never been one of Lewisham Homes' strong points. reports that Lewisham Homes issued a statement: "In March 2011, without our knowledge, one of our contractors took confidential information and put it onto a data stick which he subsequently lost. This was in breach of our Data Protection procedures and as a result of this breach the contractor has now been dismissed."

Other IT websites carrying the story report that the memory stick was handed in to the police, and the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) believe the data was not misused. Acting head of enforcement at the ICO said, "This incident could so easily have been avoided if the information had been properly protected."

Both housing bodies have agreed to ensure that all portable devices used to store personal data are encrypted, with all staff to follow existing polices on the handling of personal information. All staff, including contractors, will also be monitored to make sure they are handling personal information securely. (

Both bodies avoided a fine. The ICO will only enforce a monetary penalty when it believes there has been noticeable damage to affected parties ( Apparently it acts on just 1.4% of data breaches and only fines 0.15% of offenders. (

Often recipients of incorrect bills for fictional repairs and services, residents might also agree that IT is also not one of Lewisham Homes' strengths.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Crossfields Gardeners Meeting on Saturday 13th

If you're a keen gardener and want to meet other gardeners on the estate, pop along to the Crossfields Green Spaces meeting on Saturday 13th August at 2pm, in the Creekside Cafe over in Faircharm.

Essentially this is a meeting to plan the next few months of activities (among other things) but it will be informal and friendly. More info at Crossfields Green Spaces website.

(Apologies for getting the date wrong!)

Damien Hirst invited to curate new Deptford Gallery

The Deptford Dame reported on 22 July that the developer of the old Seager Distillery site had applied to Lewisham Planning for Change of Use in a revision of their plans for "Holland House" (what is now left of the original Seager building).

The already approved plan for a large art gallery and six floors of offices above it was to be ditched because the developer had been unable to attract any takers for the office space. Instead they had expressions of interest from a couple of hotel chains for the entire building, so now they want to move the gallery round the corner to a new building on the site that used to be "Norfolk House" (presently scheduled to be housing with offices at ground floor level).

The Dame pointed out that objections needed to be filed by 3rd August. Meanwhile, Brockley Central debated the merits of having a hotel rather than office space. The developer's application admits the hotel will only employ 44 people rather than a potential 153 or so in the offices. All in Brockley drew, as the developers wanted them to, the obvious conclusion: that 44 is better than none.

The point everyone seems to be missing is that over 100 Housing Association tenants were displaced from Norfolk House plus three times as many artists, designers, creatives and related businesses from the old Seager Building, in order to make way for this large development back in the early part of this millennium. Lewisham Council recognised this, and built provision early on into the Section 106 negotiations with the developers.

Section 106

For those who don't know, Section 106 is a legally binding contract whereby the local authority secures community benefits to mitigate impact on existing communities and ensures new infrastructures are built to accommodate new residents if required and specifies how land may and may not be used or even how construction and future activities may be carried out. But much of the too-ing and fro-ing since then (in which time McDonald Egan sold the development with planning permission to Galliard in 2005) has been about the height of the new tower.

However, a Section 106 deal was done in 2009 that included:

•    £250,000 enhancement payment to regenerate the surrounding area, in particular, Broadway Fields which adjoins the site.
•    £100,000 towards local employment initiatives.
•    Provision of subsidised employment space and gallery space.
•    Public access to the part of the site adjoining the river to be made available, creating a through route from Broadway Fields to Deptford Bridge and the DLR station.
•    Green Travel Plan

We have seen the improvements to Broadway Fields, but we wonder what happened to the '£100,000 towards local employment initiatives' and the 'provision of subsidised employment space'? Might that not have been put into the 'office space' to encourage its uptake?

The marketing report referred to many times in the new planning application was not available to view on the Planning Portal, but we find it hard to believe much effort was put into marketing the office space. We suggest the developer looks at the Tea Building in Shoreditch to see how it's done properly. The Tea Building has a full house of creative businesses, two galleries, a ground floor restaurant, AND a hotel with a swimming pool on top.

It didn't happen overnight, it wasn't cashing in on the Olympics (if it was, it was very insightful). It took some years, but it was popular from the beginning. The advantage in its proximity to the City is nothing compared to the degree of imagination its owners, investors and occupiers have shown in its development. Which only goes to expose what an unimaginative bunch we are dealing with here in Deptford. Galliard probably always had boring chain hotels in mind (possibly its own subsiduaries or partners) when it bought the development.

Meanwhile, the gallery...

In their application, Freshplant (aka Galliard) state that the "bulk, height and massing of the consented scheme has been retained in the proposed scheme." Meaning, the gallery round the corner is the same size, innit.

However, the ground floor of Holland House is in fact double-height, the same as a double decker bus. There is also a mezanine floor. The height is around 6m with glass frontage of about 4m.

The height of the space offered at the new Norfolk House is about 3m throughout. See the difference in this drawing of elevations North to South, Broadway to down Brookmill Road. The section far left is Holland House, far right is Norfolk House (click to enlarge).

Mainly because of this height advantage, the original gallery space is around 547sqm. The new space is 281sqm, just a little more than half originally gifted.

Not only that, but it's round the corner. This is what the new Norfolk House looks like (click to enlarge).

As the Dame says "rather than giving it the promised high profile location on a major traffic route, with the opportunity to signal Deptford's art credentials to the wider world, the developers want to tuck the gallery out of sight in a smaller, uninspiring space with limited marketing potential".

The brief moment...

We saw the following drawing somewhere with  A R T   G A L L E R Y  written on the top floor glass instead of the later added  H O T E L  but we can't find it now, so here's the hotel version.

The now defunct Creative Lewisham concluded in their Creative Hub Investment Plan in 2005:  

"There is brief moment when we can work with developers, educators, would be entrepreneurs and cultural animateurs and deliver a truly integrated creative hub, one that will deliver growth and sustainable economic regeneration not only for this area but also for London as a whole.

“The prize for getting it right is an integrated sustainable creative hub, a ladder of opportunity for all, an area that is a major destination for cultural tourism, an economic powerhouse that will persuade graduates to stay and start their businesses, an incubator that will help turn a communities culture into gainful employment, a growing powerhouse that will be able to make a real difference to the overall economy of the area.

“Or it could become a dormitory…”

Lewisham Council's own stated vision to achieve a thriving, dynamic and creative economy by 2020 outlined objectives to "support Deptford and New Cross as a City Growth Area with a business-led economic strategy attracting entrepreneurs and new companies, creating business and jobs and supporting existing firms."

Reality is a dish best served with a side order of reflection, a dash of humility for digestion and a sense of humour to pay the bill at the end of the meal.*

Obviously a banker-led recession and a council-cutting Tory government have got in the way of any idealism on the part of our glorious leaders. We wonder how the plans for knocking down a perfectly beautiful Civic building (the Town Hall) in Catford are coming along....

And how their decisions are affected by Boris's new tax on any new developments decided on after April 2012 that taxes the council – not the developers – £35 per sqm...(quick decisions to be made on some large scale developments? Convoys?). All to pay for Crossrail apparently.

We have watched the arts in the borough develop over the last 30 years and lost count of the number of times the council has taken credit (beyond what they have funded) for the many grassroots arts initiatives in the Deptford area, and then sold the story on to developers who have used the bohemian 'artists' quarter' buzz to sell glass boxes to make huge profits.

That brief moment again...

There should be a prestigious gallery on the main drag into Deptford. The Deptford-led South London Art Map initiative that won Arts Council funding (in a famine) is a prime example of how good it could be. SLAM covers Bankside, Peckham and Deptford. That's Tate Modern, South London Art Gallery and....what? What is there in Deptford? Lots of little spaces all spread out. APT have a big space and put on a pretty good show sometimes, but they're hidden away and by all accounts don't want to be a public gallery.

A robust high profile programme of work in a large and visible public gallery would bring more visitors to the area and to existing studios and small galleries and contribute to Deptford’s own economy by being the Jewel in the Art Tourist crown. With its double height this could be a great sculpture space and place for big work.

But obviously, funding would be required for such a venture....

A handful of people responded to the Dame's call to arms and lodged an objection with the Planning Department. Section 106 aside, Galliard are trying to go back on what was granted in their planning permission. As one objector said, "If Lewisham let this through, it sends a message to developers that in an initial application they could agree to any terms that made it an acceptable proposal but after the development had begun they could change their proposals and get away with it."

All drawings by BUJ Architects as submitted to Lewisham Planning.

*Thanks to Paul Clayton for quote

(This post was edited 21.53, 5.8.11)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cockpit Arts threaten Love Over Gold mural


With the Deptford Dame and Transpontine highlighting an up-coming mural walk by the Mural Preservation Society, we thought we'd chip in with our pennyworth.

Crossfields TRA recently received a letter dated 22 July from Beckie Kingman, Studio Manager of Cockpit Arts, Deptford:

Re: Replacement of doors in ‘Love over gold’ mural

I am writing to inform you about the work that is needed to the doors that form part of the ‘Love over gold’ mural.

We are aware of the importance of the mural to the local community.  However the situation is that the doors and frame are rotting and need replacing. The current doors are also braced from the inside (no viable lock) meaning there is no access to the garden area behind the wall. Our proposal is to replace the frame and doors with metal security doors – powder coated mid grey to match in with that part of the mural. This will ensure the security of the building, whilst also giving us limited access, both for events and maintenance works.  We plan to eventually clear the garden so that the doors can be opened up at certain occasions (i.e. Open Studios) for the community to enjoy. We would hope to display the original doors in the garden area.

Before installing the new doors, we are very happy to be involved with the Deptford X Project.  From 23 September to 2 October we will be featuring an installation by the artist Adrian Lee called Survival Instinct.  The doors to the overgrown garden will be removed and replaced temporarily with a study mesh panel. Please see the attached document describing the event. Following this, the metal security doors will be put in place.

We do appreciate the importance of the mural but we do have to replace the doors and frame as each year they worsen resulting in an ongoing security problem. We feel this plan is sympathetic to the mural as a whole.

I look forward to hearing back from you. If you have any other queries or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Knowing that the rules of Deptford X are that artists may not make contact with a venue prior to being selected, and also that the selected artists for this year's festival had not yet been announced, we called Deptford X to verify Ms Kingman's statement. Not wishing to pre-empt any announcements by Deptford X (due at the end of this week) or jeopardise the working partnership between Cockpit Arts and Deptford X, we can only suggest that Ms Kingman may have been a little presumptious in her schedule for door replacement.

Meanwhile the TRA will be writing to Ms Kingman to request that if the doors are to be replaced, then this part of the mural should be reinstated on the new metal doors. An alternative might be to mount the old doors on the new ones. But there appears to be no proposal in the letter above to reinstate what is in effect the very epicentre of the mural – the queen in her counting house counting out her money.

To help them in this, the TRA will provide the contact details for Gary Drostle, the artist responsible for the mural's design and installation back in 1989. Mr Drostle is more than happy to be involved in the maintenance of the mural, supervising the cleaning and reinstating of the areas of the mural that have been filled in with render (by Cockpit), and to reinstate the image on the doors that Cockpit want to replace. Perhaps funding can be found for a youth arts project to carry out the work under Mr Drostle's supervision. Needless to say, no attempt had been made by Cockpit Arts to contact Mr Drostle.

This is not the first time Cockpit have wanted to get rid of this much loved mural. Gary says, "You'd think an organisation like Cockpit would be supportive..."

See this post to read the part played by the mural in the history of Crossfields' Estate.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August workshops for kids at Creekside Discovery Centre

15th - 19th August 2011, 10.30am – 2.30pm


Deptford Creek, London's Grand Canyon, is one of the few wild areas in this city. Deptford Discovery Centre has organised a week of exploration and artistic challenges. Go for a low tide walk, fish for crabs, try some photography, make art installations out of rubbish, take a boat ride and make new friends. Complete the week, get a certificate and have plenty to tell the rest of the class in September. 

Run by trained, CRB checked staff. Bring a packed lunch and join in the fun. 
£3 a session or £10 for the week
Book now on 020 8692 9922. Places still available.

Mondays - Photography Challenge - photography training - orienteering - wildlife
Tuesday - Mud Challenge - low tide walk - net fishing - microscopes
Wednesday - Boat Challenge - boat trip - water games
Thursday - Art Challenge - hunting for junk to create a masterpiece
Friday - Thames Challenge - tidal foreshore walk - finding treasure

Creekside Discovery Centre, 14 Creekside, Deptford SE8 4SA
Funded by London Borough of Lewisham


It's pretty much confirmed now, as work starts on the 'luxury apartments' in the McDonald Egan building that once housed the Job Centre, it's going to be Poundland on the ground floor.

Some developers can be so cynical.

Fortunately, there's a lovely frontage provided by Utrophia next door...