Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Road pollution testing goes ahead next week

In an attempt to provide clear and irrefutable evidence of the unsuitability of the green on Deptford Church Street as a site for Thames Tunnel works, local volunteers will be installing pollution testing tubes from Monday-Friday next week.

Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart are taking part in a large 'civilian' air quality testing project in Deptford and Greenwich – and still need more volunteers to help install the tubes. The tubes are fairly easy to install but need to be done at the right time and recorded properly – and Deptford has 50 tubes to put up. The installation must take place during on a weekday, so volunteers need to be free during the week.

If you'd like to help, please come to the 'briefing' on Sunday 5th January between 11am-2pm at the Pink Palace, Frankham House, Frankham Street. Volunteers will be allotted some tubes and a particular road where they can be installed, along with full instructions on how to do this. Email ddodeptfordh@gmail.com for more information.

Help is being provided by the Network for Clean Air, Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency, Joan Ruddock MP, Crossfields residents and members of Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart and the No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign.

Also see:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Download the NHS Choir's Charity Christmas single!

The marvellous Lewisham Hospital choir that came together for the BBC series Sing While You Work at the height of the fight against Jeremy Hunt's proposals to downgrade the hospital, have gone from strength to strength and now include NHS staff from Greenwich.

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir have now released a single for Christmas, with all proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support and local healthcare charities. The beautifully sung "A Bridge Over You" is a combination of Simon & Garfunkle and Coldplay songs – and really brings a tear to the eye!

To download the single or buy the CD, go to their dedicated website www.nhschoir.co.uk

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Local meeting about Thames Tunnel – Sunday 8th December, 6pm–7.30pm

 Pink Palace, Frankham House, Frankham Street SE8 4RN

If you want to know more about how the Thames Tunnel affects you and what you can do to stop it please come to this meeting.

Anti-austerity day at Goldsmiths College this Saturday

Some great speakers at this local event on Saturday 7th December. Click here to find out more.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Local Christmas markets, Friday 6th – Saturday 8th

Art Hub Studios Art & Design Fair
Friday 6th December, 4-9pm
Saturday & Sunday 7th & 8th December, 12-5pm
Art Hub Gallery, 5-9 Creekside, SE8 4SA
Buy direct from the artists and designers: Textiles, Jewellery, Glassware, Furniture, Art, Ceramics, Prints, Hand-crafted gifts, T-shirts – plus mulled wine and music! 

If, on a Winter's Day – Deptford Society Christmas Market
Saturday 7th December, 10am-4.30pm
Deptford Lounge, Giffin Square, Deptford High Street
The recently formed Deptford Society (sign up to their mailing list here) hosts its first event in collaboration with The Albany and Deptford Lounge. Featuring the monthly Giffin Square Food Fair, live music from Heart of Steel and Tidemill Academy school choir, performance art from Something Human, cooking demos outside Codfathers (11am-2pm) and interactive art installations along the high street.  
Plus local heritage project Build The Lenox will be showing off their restored 17th century ship's cannon, along with displays about Deptford's Royal Dockyard, 
the Deptford Shanty Crew will sing bawdy songs at 2pm, 
followed by talks about Deptford Dockyard from maritime historian  
Richard Endsor and children's novelist and black history expert S I Martin.
Also pick up a free glass of mulled wine when you join the Deptford Society!

Cockpit Arts Christmas Open Studios
Friday 6th December, 11am-9pm (FREE ENTRY), 
Saturday & Sunday 7th & 8th December, 11-6pm (£3 entry)
Cockpit Arts, 18-22 Creekside SE8 3DZ
165+ designer-makers, gifts, kids workshops, demonstrations, 
live music, mulled wine & festive fare.

APT Christmas Parlour
Friday 6th December, 6-8pm
Saturday & Sunday 7th & 8th December, 1-5pm
APT Gallery, 6 Creekside SE8 4SA
Drawings, paintings, prints & sculptures by APT artists + cards and jewellery

Little Nan's Christmas Market with Cocktails
Saturday 7th December, 12-6pm
Little Nan's Bar, Deptford Broadway
Featuring gifts, textiles, home objects, bags, clothes, vintage garb, hoodies & Ts, 
Little Nan's Hampers, plus cocktails & treats in the bar.

Coming up...

Deptford Wives Vintage Christmas & Craft Market
Saturday & Sunday 14th & 15th December, 10.30am-4pm
Albany, Douglas Way SE8 4AG
Ceramics, classy vintage items, jewellery, decorations, arts & crafts, leatherwork, T-shirts

Xmas Extravganza at New Cross Learning
Sunday 15th December, 1–7.30pm
Puppets, stories, Santa, jazz + surprise guests...and the NXL AGM somewhere in it all...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Volunteers and cash needed for local air pollution tests

Don't Dump On Deptford's Heart are joining forces with the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign in January to monitor the local air quality. This "citizen science" testing is scheduled to co-incide with official London-wide air quality monitoring at this time.

The local campaign against the Thames Tunnel shaft at Crossfields Green are looking for volunteers to help install the Air Quality Testing tubes on Sunday 5th January 2014 – and help collect them on Sunday 9th February.

Volunteers, in teams of two, will need to go round the area with a stepladder to attach the test tubes to lamp posts, and carefully record the time and date and photograph where they have been placed.

Each kit (which includes a tube, bracket and cable ties) costs £7. This also covers the cost of the lab analysis. Since the campaign has no funds, it needs help from locals. If you are able to spare some cash to help pay for one or more of the tubes, please pledge it by emailing ddodeptfordh@gmail.com. The more cash pledged, the more tubes can be installed.

The campaign would like to place at least 30 tubes besides the roads that will be heavily affected by the Thames Tunnel construction traffic and the three year road closure of two lanes on Deptford Church Street. Since our air quality will be further affected by construction work at Faircharm on Creekside and potentially at Convoys Wharf off Evelyn Street, tubes will be placed at various points on Deptford Church Street, Creekside, Creek Road, Evelyn Street and along the A2 from Blackheath Hill to New Cross (or at least at Deptford Broadway).

Lewisham's own monitoring is not particularly extensive in the immediate vicinity, but unpublished results from Greenwich Council's monitoring showed that the air quality at the Creek Road end of Deptford Church Street is already well above safety levels.

Please help if you can! The tests will aid in establishing already existing high levels of pollution before proposed developments such as Faircharm, Thames Tunnel, Convoys Wharf and others begin.

For Lewisham Council's response to the Thames Tunnel proposals at Crossfields Green, see here – go to the documents section to read their Local Impact Report 2013.

Also see www.londonair.org.uk

Friday, November 22, 2013

Save Our Green!

Crossfields resident Nick Williams writes about the Thames Tunnel open floor hearing at the Ahoy Centre yesterday:

Super Sewer is bad for business and bad for our children, Planning Inspectors told

Hardy campaigners braved howling gales and freezing temperatures today to urge Planning Inspectors to ‘save our Green’ from Thames Water’s ‘super sewer’ plans for Crossfields’ Green, Deptford.

More than 30 activists from Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart protested outside the second session of the Planning Inspectorate’s inquiry into the Thames Tideway Tunnel on Thursday 21 November, at the AHOY Centre, Deptford Green. And many took time to give evidence about the damage it will cause to the local community and fragile economy of the area.

Local companies and their representatives explained how the tunnel work would blight business, and choke the recovery of Deptford’s High Street, already struggling due to the recession.

And, Patricia Chantrey, Headteacher at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School, situated just a couple of metres from the Crossfields site, called for Thames Water to recognise her pupils’ need to play, exercise and learn outside rather than to be confined indoors. When quizzed by the Inspectors about alternatives for St Josephs’ children, she said there was no way of mitigating the impact, which would be particularly acute for those with breathing difficulties or special needs.

Pointing out that air quality on Deptford Church Street is already significantly worse than recommended European Union levels, the campaigners argued that the controversial 46 metre shaft should be sunk in the Thames rather than one of the few green lungs for the neighbourhood.

“On every criteria, building the shaft in the Thames is the superior option,” said campaigner Nick Williams. “With some rational planning Thames Water could not only construct their tunnel, but by transporting materials by river, they could also massively reduce the environmental damage that this and other local development will inflict.” 

The alternative, proposed by Thames Water, is for spoil from the shaft and tunnelling work to be removed from site by up to 32 Heavy Goods Vehicles a day, forcing the closure of the whole of the western carriageway of Deptford Church Street. With several major construction projects already in prospect locally at the same time, HGV traffic is set to dramatically increase, raising road safety fears as well as concerns about noise and pollution.

“Thames Water argues that because there is already noise and pollution in the area, we will not be troubled by more”, said Williams.  “It is totally unacceptable, particularly when perfectly viable alternatives exist”.

The Planning Inspectorate, which has the power to recommend to the Secretary of State whether the £4.2 billion project goes ahead or not, will publish their decision in late summer/early autumn 2014.

Join the campaign at Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart
Also read a further report on the hearing at East London Lines
Sign the petition here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thames Tunnel Public Hearing: Thursday 21st November at the Ahoy Centre

Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart have produced a brief and very good document which contains the arguments against Thames Tunnel using the site at Crossfields Green. Download it here.

Apart from the demo being organised (8.45am) for the start of tomorrow's Thames Tunnel Pubic Hearing at the Ahoy Centre (click to find location), we understand the public may attend the inquiry itself even if they have not registered formally to speak at this "Open Floor Hearing", which is being held by the government's Planning Inspectorate (not Thames Water). If you decide to attend (registration is 9 - 9.30am), you will find the document useful.


Apart from the unacceptable rise in noise levels for the church, school and Crossfields residents, spoil from the shaft and tunnelling work will be removed from the site by hundreds of lorries, forcing the closure of the western carriageway of Deptford Church St, and reducing it to the two lanes closest to Crossfields. For three years.

Work will also start next year on Creekside at Faircharm Trading Estate, and Creekside itself will become the main route for up to 90 construction lorries per day. When the Thames Tunnel work starts in 2016, Creekside will be used as a rat run, so there will be no letting up on our exposure to gridlocked traffic on all sides.

In a recent survey by Greenwich campaigners "No to Silvertown Tunnel", it was revealed that Greenwich Council's own figures showed pollution levels at the top of Deptford Church Street where it meets Creek Road were on average 61.34 μg/m3 between Jan 05 and Jul 13. Readings above 40μg/m3 are in breach of EU air quality regulations.

Update: (And how could we forget!) If Hutchison Whampoa's application for Convoys Wharf is approved by the Mayor of London (see our previous post and sign the petition there), they will start work in 2014 (to go on until 2023), adding hundreds of construction vehicles to Evelyn St and Creek Road, and causing massive congestion which will of course tail back along Deptford Church Street. 

Thames Water's original site was at Borthwick Wharf on the riverside at Millennium Quay, where spoil could be removed by water. In a massive abandonment of their environment principles, they then switched the site to landlocked Deptford Church Street. We need to let them know we cannot tolerate the levels of pollution this scheme will bring, and insist they revert to their first chosen site.

In addition, see this report that says the proposed increase in household waste water charges (by as much as £80 a year) may generate after-tax returns as high as 24% for Thames Water, more than three times the estimated 7% return for other water utilities.

Please sign the petition here.

The Don't Dump on Deptford Heart's "They say, we say" document can be downloaded here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Convoys Wharf update – sign the petition!

Last week the decision on planning permission for Convoys Wharf was taken out of Lewisham's control when the Mayor of London stepped in at the developer's request.

Now that locals can no longer make their objections to the application, local campaigners Deptford Is have set up a petition to give a voice to the community so that we can let Boris know that we don't want this. 


See Deptford Is... and local papers. Also read this week's Private Eye (click on the image below).


Heritage versus housing

Deptford's MP Joan Ruddock, in response to the Boris decision to "call in" the application, has described the site as "a heritage jewel in London's crown". The site is also of international significance, which is why the World Heritage Fund saw fit to include it on their Watch List for 2014-2016.

Boris's glib soundbite to news reporters was that "London needs more housing". Don't be fooled by the notion that London's housing crisis can be solved by the building of 3000 more luxury flats.

Originally, the percentage of "affordable housing" in new developments was set at 50% by Ken Livingstone. But most developers now claim that their sites are not "viable" (= massive profits) unless they deliver affordable housing at below 15%. In the Convoys application it is 14% – an extra 500 units at 80% market rent (still not affordable to the people who keep this city running), bringing the total to an impossibly dense 3,500 units.

It is also feared that, like other major new housing developments, the units will be sold off-plan to foreign investors before going on the market in the UK. Overseas investors currently earn enough from the rise in property values they needn't even bother renting their units out to those who can afford the high rents.   

The developers and Boris

It's feared Boris will look favourably on this application, despite the GLA's own reservations to it in their report to Lewisham Planning (in particular from Transport For London).

The developer is Chinese conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, one of many holding companies owned by the 8th richest man in the world, Li Ka Shing. He also owns major utilities in water and power (ie, UK Power Assets who run much of the National Grid and London's power), fracking (via Husky, causing community uproar in Canada) and telecoms (3G and others – and they're currently being 'investigated' by the EU on their recent purchases of telecoms in Ireland and Italy), as well as major British container ports (see June 2013 post).

Boris Johnson has recently been courting Chinese trade. David Cameron is due to visit China next month "on a trade mission" and Li Ka Shing has been spotted in and out of No.10.  Boris is also mates with Rupert Murdoch. (Thanks, Transpontine). Having sold the site to Hutchison Whampoa, News International has a profit share in the sale of the 3000 luxury flats planned for the site.

And this week the PM launched the Regeneration Investment Organisation Advisory Board (RIO), "an inward investment body" with the aim of raising billions of pounds from overseas trading partners to "fund urban regeneration projects". Sky News reports, "Its remit has been borne out of a frustration expressed by many major overseas investors about the bureaucracy and complexity of finalising major deals in the UK". Like Hutchison Whampoa, for instance, who accused Lewisham Planning of making "unrealistic demands" and "unreasonable and unwarranted requests" that would damage their profit margins.

Lungs for the City
The application proposes to build over almost every inch of the historic site, which was founded in 1513 by Henry VIII as the home of shipbuilding for the Royal Navy (the Royal Dockyard that, along with Woolwich dockyard, preceded the grandeur at Greenwich).

To get an idea of the density, have a look round the development at New Capital Quay. That's 1000 flats with a ground space a third of the Convoys site. Imagine that x3. To get an idea of heights, look at the tallest tower at the new Renaissance development in Loampit Vale – that's 24 storeys, half the height of the 48 storey tower proposed at Convoys (the other two being 38).

Convoys also contains the remains of Sayes Court Garden, where John Evelyn's innovative horticultural theories were developed and  which led to the founding of the National Trust. It was his theory that trees are the lungs of a city.

Considering the latest reports by the No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign, in which it was revealed that pollution levels at the end of Deptford Church Street on Creek Road have been breaching European limits for nitrogen dioxide for more than eight years, his advice is worth remembering more than ever. (Thanks, Deptford Dame).

Especially since Hutchison's plans include parking provision for 2000 cars (all housed in the giant blocks of housing units) that will cause ever greater pollution and congestion on Evelyn Street. The only public transport will be a diversion of the 199 bus and a Thames clipper, putting greater strain on existing services. And don't forget the ten years of construction traffic.

In an ideal world, the entire Convoys site should be planted with trees just to make up for the new IKEA being planned to go on the site the award-winning Sainsbury's eco-building at Greenwich peninsula, which will draw in traffic from miles around to unprecedented levels. (Thanks, 853 blog).

But Hutchisons were arguing over the necessity of widening New King Street to accommodate the bus making a two-way journey.

A people's history

The history of this site is amazing – it features loads of important historical figures (Drake, Raleigh etc), was the launch pad for some fantastic scientific discoveries (Cook, among others), and was built and designed by many celebrated pioneers in engineering and shipbuilding (Rennie, Penn etc), as well as being a place where ordinary people who worked in and around the dockyard have fantastic stories to tell (female shipwrights, black and Asian sailors), that were never recorded by Samuel Pepys who ran the yard for Charles II.

So much of Deptford's history has been buried and ignored (perhaps because of the shame of slavery), it is bursting to come through and speak to us. The site is monumentally multi-cultural – with links all over the world – as much as Deptford is now.

The archaeology

Many of the site's surviving below-ground structures (docks) will be buried under dense 12 storey blocks and 38-48 storey towers. The one remaining above ground structure, the Olympia Shed, will be overshadowed and hidden from view by the buildings closely surrounding it. You'll only be able to glimpse a small part of it from the river. Hutchisons were rejecting English Heritage's demands to open the view up.

The plans have been opposed by English Heritage, the Council for British Archaeology, the Naval Dockyard Society and other heritage bodies – not forgetting, of course, the local people who will have to live with ten years or more of building works and construction traffic.

The public space provision in the present application is laughable – a thin strip on the riverside and two strips on the sites of an historic dock and slipway, which are only not being built on because they're "protected". They could actually be listed by English Heritage, but not until the full archaeology report made by a commercial arm of the Museum of London which (had to be) commissioned by the developer has been published. It hasn't been published yet, despite the archaeology work being long completed – although not as thoroughly as it could have been (there is, according to Deptford Is, areas of the site yet to be uncovered).

English Heritage have recently listed the remaining walls on the site (including the river walls), which must make it the longest length of listed Thames wall in London. Meanwhile, with no full report, the archaeology of the site is not "fully understood". It would therefore be premature for the Mayor of London to make a decision until this report is published.

Local campaigners have emphasised the heritage of the site and how it can open up a tourism strategy for Lewisham, bringing in visitors from Royal Maritime Greenwich. Unfortunately, the owner of the site is so fixated on the simple formula of selling luxury waterfront residential units that it cannot envision the advantages of owning a site of world heritage – and the capital value that would add to a smaller number of units.  

Deptford Is are also advocating that an area on the site designated by the Greater London Authority (GLA) as a "protected wharf" (to be used for river business, very often simply cargo) should be developed as a Maritime Enterprise Zone incorporating boat building and repairs and other associated marine business that is presently lacking in this part of the Thames and which would bring great employment opportunities.

But this is strongly opposed by the developer, who will more than likely lobby the GLA, with Cameron, Osbourne and Johnson's help, to change the designation so that it can build even more luxury flats.

If you care about Deptford, you must sign the petition! This application must be opposed so that a better proposal can come forward – one that combines housing with a full appreciation of the site's heritage.

Update 18 Nov:  also see the Deptford Dame's take on the Mayor of London's new role in the process.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thames Tunnel update – call for help

Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart reports:

Dear friends,

The Planning Inspectorate hearings are almost upon us!

They will be hearing evidence on the Deptford elements at two separate sessions on Wednesday 13 November in the City, and on Thursday 21 November in Deptford. 

A couple of members of the campaign will be attending the 13th to observe, but following a quick meeting of supporters on Saturday, we’ve resolved to focus on the hearing on 21 November with a demonstration of our opposition.

So, we are now preparing a leaflet, a detailed briefing and some posters and are calling on all supporters to join us as follows:

•    Leafleting
11am Saturday 16th November:  Meet outside Wavelengths Leisure Centre, Giffin Street, Deptford to help distribute our leaflet and posters. 

•    Lobby the inspectorate!
8.45am Thursday 21 November 2013: The AHOY Centre, Borthwick Street, Deptford.

Even if you can’t get to the hearings, please spare an hour and help us get our voices heard.

For more info or to offer your help, get in touch with Deptford's Heart by emailing ddodeptford@gmail.com

Also see previous post.

Train carriage squatted, and Creekside cafe to close

Plans to move the train cafe to Douglas Square have been taking a long time, and we heard it could be up to a year before it is relocated. In the meantime, the Deptford Project developers Cathedral plc had now agreed to help the cafe business owner's storage problem by moving it to one of their other sites in Greenwich (yet to be redeveloped) so that building work can commence on the Deptford site. But at the end of last week the train was squatted.

This is the same notice as was pinned to the door of the old Job Centre (perhaps even the very same notice), which was squatted at the end of September, just as refurbishment work was about to start on the new pub that is planned for the building. Although a train is not a pub, it seems the same rules apply, and no-one except the squatters can enter the premises. The decking was due to be removed and donated to a garden project, but now cannot be touched since it would deny the squatters access to their new pad. The electricity supply was also due to be cut off, but the squatters say it would be a breach of their human rights to remove their only source of power, which means the cafe (not the developer) may be stuck with a large bill.

No one was in when the site security guard let us into the yard on Saturday to take these photos. The developer's schedule will now be held up until they can get a court possession order. Not that they have seemed to be in any hurry to get started since they got planning permission several months ago.

Meanwhile, another local cafe is about to close, also thanks to redevelopment – the Creekside Cafe on Creekside, part of Faircharm Trading Estate. Their lease is up and there's no point in renewing it, since some time in 2014 building work will begin to turn a thriving employment zone into luxury housing. This will last three years or more and bring great disturbance to Crossfields residents. Unfortunately, a Lewisham Planning Committee agreed earlier this year that Workspace plc cannot make enough profit for its shareholders by simply providing actual workspace.

Creekside Cafe's situation differs from the train cafe in that its owners (Mason's Catering, already a fairly successful catering firm based on Deptford Church Street) knew nothing about Workspace's plans to turn Faircharm Trading Estate into luxury flats and chuck out the businesses that the cafe serves when they took on the tenancy. The train, on the other hand, was initially supported by the developer, who paid for its installation as "meantime use" on the site. In return, Cathedral ingratiated itself into the community with its branding, whilst boasting the cafe's successes as its own. Until, that is, they got their planning permission and wanted rid of it.

The same clever developer did the same last year with the pop-up Mvemnt Café by Greenwich DLR, which was run by Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency, who knew the limits of the project – to cash in on the Olympic pedestrian traffic to Greenwich Park. Perhaps a fine example of "meantime use". Cathedral hailed it as a great success, though we hardly ever saw or met anyone there (since most Olympics punters were herded away from it and all the other Greenwich businesses).

It seems "meantime use" can only work if the business can be easily relocated or closed down. But even then, a planning application can take a long time to come to fruition, and there are often delays in building phases once permission is got, so any business who takes up a "meantime" offer suffers enormous insecurity about when they must move out. In the meantime the business may have become established in the community, sorely missed as a community resource when it's gone, and the business itself left with debts it has no chance of recouping if it cannot easily relocate. And even if they can, like the businesses being chucked out of Faircharm, relationships in the community built up over many years are severed by a move to another borough or town.

Meanwhile, Creekside Cafe has only been around for a relatively short time, but their cheap and tasty food proved popular with and highly convenient for local artists, craftspeople and residents – and those Creekside businesses who haven't yet been forced out by Workspace's new plans for Faircharm.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tunnel Vision

 If the congestion caused by Thames Water’s work in Deptford Church Street has disturbed you over the last few days, it will give you a small glimpse of what’s to come once the Thames Tunnel works get underway. The chief difference is that instead of lasting three days, the Thames Tunnel work will last for three years!

In order to build the Deptford spur of the so-called ‘super sewer’, Thames Water plan to sink a shaft on the green space between St Paul’s Church and St Joseph’s primary school. It will be some 46 meters deep and 17 meters in diameter. Spoil from the shaft and tunnelling work will be removed from site by hundreds of lorries, forcing the closure of the whole of the western carriageway of Deptford Church Street.

No Crossfields resident needs reminding that this space is one of the few leafy open spaces in Deptford. It is close to St Joseph’s and Tidemill schools, the church, the High Street and us. Turning it into a construction site will deeply affect the community here, particularly our children.

To add insult to injury the consultation process was deeply flawed. The Deptford site was only introduced halfway through the consultation phase, leaving little time for anyone to understand the impact. In spite of their boast that between 50-75% of the spoil and building materials will be carried by river, Thames Water opted for landlocked Deptford Church Street site over the original proposal which was for Borthwick Wharf on the riverfront. It’s a massive abandonment of their environmental principles, particularly as other infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail and the Olympic Park construction, have proven just how effective water-borne carriage can be.
As if that wasn’t enough, Thames Water's own evaluation criteria in their Site Selection Methodology, specifies that areas close to schools, residential areas and historic buildings would not be used.

The issue has now been referred to the Planning Inspectorate who are examining the issue and have the power to recommend to the Secretary of State whether the decision should be upheld or rejected (but not, apparently, to be amended). So the likelihood of overturning the decision is slim. The Inspectorate will be hearing evidence on the Deptford elements at two separate sessions:

• Wednesday 13 November: America Square Conference Centre, 1 America Square, 17 Crosswall, London EC3N 2LB
Thursday 21 November: The AHOY Centre, Borthwick Street, Deptford SE8 3JY

BUT before you get too excited, it is important to understand that this is severely limited:

• You can only ask questions or make points to the Inspectors if you have already registered;
• The Inspectorate has already decided that their inquiry will not discuss issues of principle or about any alternatives. This means that the case of the Tunnel itself cannot be challenged.

However, the scope of the inquiry will include the specific design, sites, routes and operational processes proposed in the application. So the expectation is that we can argue against the selection of the site.

Efforts are now underway to revive the Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart Campaign, in order to demonstrate the extent of local opposition.

A decision is expected in late summer/early autumn 2014.

Thanks to Nick at Farrer House for this post

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hurrah! Victory for Lewisham Hospital!

The Court of Appeal has ruled Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt did not have power to implement cuts at Lewisham Hospital. During the summer, a judge ruled Mr Hunt acted outside his powers when he decided the emergency and maternity units should be cut back. The government turned to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to get the decision overruled.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trees down on Crossfields

On Crossfields, four trees came down in last night's storm. Two were between Browne and Castell (a bit of a wind tunnel). One of these narrowly missed a parked van, whilst the other was caught by a cable. As far as we know the cable did not cause loss of power or phonelines.

Another tree came down between Holden and Wilshaw, causing considerable damage to a car. This tree had been fenced off previously, awaiting tarmac repairs that had already taken place around the trees at the Browne/Castell entrance.

One more was uprooted on Farrer House lawn, where lots of branches also fell. Another two trees lost branches around the ballcourt.

There were blocked drains at Finch, where workmen had to clear a lot of leaves to get to the drain.

By early this evening, the fallen trees had been cleared, and we noticed more damage at the back of Holden.

Update: Tuesday 29 October
Although the fallen trees next to Browne & Castell have been removed (and chipped this morning), and some debris and leaves have been removed by sweepers (aided by young men who must be on Community Payback), the entrance to the estate at Browne & Castell remains closed. The gate is taped. This is presumably due to the cable which is still hanging low across the path. The cable is likely to be the responsibility of a utility company, so we can most probably expect this entrance to remain unuseable for some time. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

World Monuments Fund puts Deptford Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden on their "Watch List"

Local campaigners Deptford Is... were excited to be part of this BBC London News report which went out on Friday and Saturday last weekend. It was available on iPlayer afterwards for only a very short period, so lots of people took to recording the iPlayer output (which accounts for the buffering in this recording)...

The publicity centred around the announcement last week that the World Monuments Fund had included Deptford Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden on their list of places to watch, which also includes Venice and Syria among other places around the world which they consider are under threat.

In this case, the threat comes from Chinese developers Hutchison Whampoa, who want to build 3,500 flats on what is now known as Convoys Wharf. 3,000 of those flats will be luxury apartments sold off-plan to overseas investors. Their latest application is presently with Lewisham Council, to be decided early next year.

Dr Jonathan Foyle (CEO of WMF-Britain) said: "2013 is Deptford’s 500th anniversary, and today the site awaits residential redevelopment. Yet Deptford’s most imminent threat comes from the failure of existing proposals to fully acknowledge and respect the heritage assets that the site has to offer. Incorporating the extensive archaeology and combining this with unique public spaces has the potential to strengthen Deptford’s local identity whilst securing this lost piece of the Thames jigsaw. It would also improve awareness of the little-known existence and overlooked history of the dockyard and gardens on a national stage."

The campaigners were particularly pleased at how the news team reported the story, but we noticed a a couple of inaccuracies that could have misled the viewer. The BBC team said there would be 3,000 "homes", rather than "3,000 luxury homes plus 500 at 80% of market rent". This gave the impression that the problem with London's housing shortage would be helped if building went ahead, which is certainly not the case.

And as we have pointed out before on this blog, Hutchison's present masterplan is misrepresented by this image, which was used in the broadcast:

In fact, the site will not be as "green" as this. Nearly all these areas will be private gardens above carparks, so most of the site will be private, as follows:

Still, at least they got most other details right, unlike some local newspapers, and the Deptford Is... team must be congratulated for their work in raising the profile of the incredible history of the site which led to the World Monuments Fund's listing.

We wonder how the Chinese would feel if Barratts went over to China and built a massive private luxury development on the Great Wall of China?

Finally, Creekside Village fills one of its retail units...?

Seen in Greenwich blog have posted about a new deli/restaurant about to open in the seemingly unlettable retail units at Creekside Village, temporarily named Borgo London (a pretty common name for an Italian restaurant, but it appears not to be a chain)...

"We are a family-run business (local to Greenwich) planning to set up a deli selling fresh juices, coffee, breads, ham, cheese, pastries, salads and the like to eat in or take away for those evenings where you can’t face the kitchen!

"As locals...we want to create a relaxed environment where people can hang-out and enjoy fresh, local produce. We have a license to sell alcohol, so we are currently sourcing some great wines and craft beers, to serve alongside delicious sharing plates, such as charcuterie boards and a selection of antipasti.

"We think our business will really support locals in providing a great social space and a place to eat and drink. We like to think of at as restaurant meets home kitchen…a place to indulge in affordable, simple food/drink whilst situated in a relaxed and friendly environment. We want to keep the menu small and flexible to offer customers the best seasonal foods and to minimise “restaurant-style” fuss of huge menus and wasted food.

"Please let people know that we are opening in order to make living in Greenwich and in particular Creekside better! We want to provide people with a great social space, affordable & delicious food and drink, friendly customer service adapting to local desires and to give confidence to more businesses so that we can help regenerate the area and make it a vibrant and awesome place!!”

Seen in Greenwich blog sees the new venture as a rival for Jamie's Italian in the centre of Greenwich, but if it's reasonably priced and they create the atmosphere they promise, it'll likely be the Big Red Pizza Bus who'll have to up their game...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Loving the river...

Last chance to see Estuary, an exhibition at the Docklands Museum (or Museum of London, Docklands), just a hop away on the DLR (West India Quay) or an easy walk or cycle ride via the Greenwich foot tunnel.

If you love the River Thames, this is for you. It's an art exhibition about the Thames from London to the sea, and there are paintings and photographs, but actually, it's the films that make the entry price  (NONE! It's FREE!) alone worth going. The most engaging films are on the 3rd floor away from the main exhibition. Called "Portrait of a River" you'll find a series of short films all made by Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, which bring contemporary life on the Thames into sharp focus, in contrast to a more historical but also engaging film downstairs by William Raban.

Larsen's series of films are unpretentious and not at all "arty" and Deptford gets a mention with a little film about the Ahoy Centre's activities, but don't expect much about south of the river. Our time is coming (or at least it's nearer than it ever was).

The Museum is also housed in a restored warehouse, and worth the visit alone. Around and about, you'll see construction in the area continues unabated, with more towers going up (and luxury flats sold off-plan before a single piece of concrete has been laid).

This show finishes next weekend (27th October), so don't miss!

Meanwhile, a new show opens at the National Maritime Museum on Monday: Nelson, Navy, Nation  The Story of the Royal Navy and the British People, 1688–1815. It's the 18th Century, and the exhibition explores "how the Royal Navy shaped everyday lives as it became a central part of society and turned sea-faring heroes into national celebrities."

The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 by Denis Dighton circa 1825 © NMM

It opens on Monday 21st because that's apparently Trafalgar Day. Obviously we'll reserve judgement having not been privileged to preview the show, but on the main webpage for the exhibit, there's a link to "bustling dockyards" and it doesn't go to Deptford, but to a picture of Plymouth. Doh! What is wrong with these people? Oh well, Deptford wasn't the only Royal dockyard, of course. It's just simply the most forgotten. What a scoop they missed! Still, if they've managed to conjure up any atmosphere regarding dockyard life, you can apply it to Deptford.

The good news is this is also FREE! And on Monday, if you're about, there's a Sea Shanty crew The Scorpian Band promenading around 11am, 2pm and 3pm. There are also a host of other free activities going on for the duration of the exhibition (no idea when it ends) and of course there's lots more exhibitions and events going on at the Museum other than this one – for instance, the now permanent show Traders: the East India Company and Asia which, in our interpretation, shows us how capitalism took root after the state sponsored piracy of earlier years, and whose practices are easily recognisable in 21st capitalism, proving history repeats itself to our detriment...

To get a flavour of the Nelson, Navy, Nation exhibition check out the video at the BBC News Magazine. The video ends with Cleverley's painting of Deptford Dockyard (the one that is pictured in the mural at the top of Frankham Street) and the words: "in order to understand where we are now and the particularities of our relationship with the maritime world – and with national identity – you cannot ignore what was happening then".

Deptford on telly!

We just got a ''newsflash'' from Deptfordis about the Convoys development's appearance on BBC television news.  Apparently it's only available to see before 6:59pm this evening (Sat, 19 10 13) so if you can, have a look here.  I'm sure it will find its way onto Youtube but for now....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two new musical projects to get involved with...

First up, it's the FEMALE UKULELE CLUB (or FUC for short!). Meeting next Tuesday 5-7pm in The Bird's Nest for some informal uke practice. No experience required – except you'll need to be female and own a ukulele!

Meanwhile, a DEPTFORD SHANTY CREW has just been formed, aiming to be "salty sea-farin', knees-up East Endin', all inclusive, non-exclusive, homespun, raucous fun". If you're into singing, especially folk tunes about Deptford, get in touch with the Crew via DeptfordShanty@gmail.com.

Black History Month

Black History Month is already upon us, with lots of events across the country and of course in London.

Go to the Black History Month website to find out more. In particular, go to their Lewisham events page to find out what's happening in our area.

Many of the Lewisham events are at The Albany or Deptford Lounge. We're already too late to mention Soweto Kinch who kicked off BHM at the Albany with his music and dance piece over the first five nights of October.

But not too late to mention Crossfields resident Jan Blake and her show at The Albany on Friday 18th October. The Old Woman, the Buffalo and the Lion of Manding is based on a Malian folk tale The Birth of Sundiata Keita, told across West Africa as a story of kinship and battle. Renowned and highly respected storyteller Jan recreates the story (with music from Kouame and Raymond Sereba) told from the point of view of Sundiata's mother and her grandmother...

Check out the video trailer and further details on the Albany's website.

Frankham House...a short story...

If I were here I would face so much. So much would be different from before. That is what I thought. So much that I feared I would confront. That is what I believed. So much would challenge me. That is what I hoped. And in my hopeful state I saw me rising above all the challenges that came my way. I would hurdle the challenges. A champion hurdler – that would be myself. In Deptford.

Yes. In Deptford.

Why in Deptford?

Because to my parents Deptford was hostile territory.

Slumming – my Mother said.

Slumming – my Father said.

They both talked to me about the slums of Deptford.

National Front and heroin addicts – they both said that. They talked to me separately. They used the same words – almost the same words. They had a script – or, that is how it seemed.

To read more....go to smokealondonpeculiar.co.uk

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Lost Cat and a Council Tax Consultation.


Tosh went out to play as usual on 2nd October but hasn't been seen since. He is a very friendly cat and is not shy of people; he has distinctive black markings on his nose, chin and the undersides of his paws. If you think you have seen Tosh anywhere, I would dearly love to have him back...

ERIN: 07863 196345
MARTIN: 07718 035218

- 0 -

Crosswhatfields has just  received details about a consultation Lewisham is conducting about the Council Tax reduction.  There's room on the form for comment, whether you see the world in terms of workers and shirkers or think that it may be deeply perverse to get the poorest sections of society to pay for the mistakes of all those clever bankers.

Here's their text:

Media Release: 8 October 2013
Ref: MR321

Consultation on Council Tax reduction

The Council is now consulting on its Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2014/15, and also the additional support available to help certain vulnerable people to pay for their Council Tax.

In April 2013 the Government abolished the Council Tax Benefit scheme which helped those people with no or low income to pay their Council Tax. In its place the Council introduced its own local Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

The Government reduced the funding Lewisham Council gets for Council Tax Reduction by £3.2m and the Council had to make some difficult decisions about how to continue to support those people most in need.

The effect of passing on the cut during the current 2013/14 financial year has meant all working age residents having to pay an average of £2.71 extra Council Tax each week. If the scheme remains unchanged in 2014/15 as the Council proposes, it is likely that this amount will not change.

Before details of next year's scheme can be confirmed, the Council is consulting on its proposal to continue to pass on the government cut in grant to those of working age and continue to protect pensioners.

The Council welcomes the views of Lewisham residents and is conducting a short online survey at www.lewisham.gov.uk/counciltax.

Consultation opened on 3 October and closes at midnight on Sunday 3 November 2013.

A paper copy of the survey is available by contacting Housing Benefit on 020 8690 8444.


Gavin Jones | Communications Manager | Communications Unit | London Borough of Lewisham T:  020 8314 6082 | M:  07753 772724 | W: www.lewisham.gov.uk
Keep up to date with the Council by following us on Twitter

If you know all about the reduction and want to go straight to the survey, you can go here:
Fans and foes of Ian Duncan-Smith

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Deptford X continues till Sunday...

Photo by George Avvakoumides

The Deptford X banner "Art Makes People Powerful", created by a flash mob of artists in Giffin Square last Saturday (see video) now hangs on the front of the LESOCO building on Deptford Broadway.

We wonder if Art Can help Make Powerful all the highly qualified staff who have been made redundant (at Southwark, at least, without any renumeration packages) as a result of the merger of Lewisham and Southwark colleges and education cuts in general.

Meanwhile, this weekend there are Open Studios and an Art Quiz at the Dog and Bell on Sunday as well as a multitude of gallery shows and shop takeovers. We like the installation at the new Vinyl cafe in Tanners Hill – called Soft Wax, it looks at music and culture of the Jamaican diaspora at the end of the 1950s. The new cafe is lovely, and there's a secondhand vinyl shop in the basement, along with the exhibition.

On Saturday at the Albany (10am-4pm), artist Bernadette Russell asks "Is it possible to change the world just by being kind?" in her interactive show 366 Days of Kindness. The idea is that members of the public can write a few words about how a kind act from a stranger touched their lives, on a ticket which is attached to a balloon. The balloons are then released at the end of the day.

There is still much for us to see, and too much to cover in detail, but we especially like Deptford Is Forever, who have given out paper bags to high street shopkeepers and market traders with a tattoo design printed on them that says "Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor". The design is lovely, and to pay for the free bags the group has also had printed some T-shirts and cotton shoppers that locals seem to be snapping up. The T-shirt has the Deptford Is Forever logo on it (see below, the shirt being worn by Niaomh from the Deptford Community Cookbook team). You can pick up your T-shirt for £10 at Kids Love Ink, the tattoo parlour at 138 Deptford High Street.

The Waiting Room Coffee shop, Little Nan's bar on Deptford Broadway, and Ralph at High Street Flowers also have some cotton shoppers for sale apparently (£5), and the group commissioned High Street Flowers to make a "ghost anchor" to hang in the window.

Not only that but the group have organised a day of FREE tattooing (a little anchor of your choice) at Kids Love Ink. That's tomorrow and is apparently oversubscribed – those wanting to take up the offer had to book today, or else take a chance tomorrow. Participants will be asked for a donation to Deptford Reach, the project that looks after Deptford's street drinkers and anyone who's hit hard times, and Build The Lenox, the local project that wants to build a replica 17th century ship at Convoys Wharf.

The Deptford Is Forever "Anchor Fest" continues on the weekend with a musical procession along the high street at around midday-2pm which features a huge cardboard anchor made by Arthouse artist Laura X Carlé that was last spotted in the My Deptford show at the South Bank and seen by anyone attending London Open House at the Master Shipwright's House. The procession gathers at the Dog & Bell pub at 12 and aims to end up before 3pm at Lewisham Arthouse on Lewisham Way, where there's an exhibition and Open Studios all weekend.

We also hear that Little Nan's will be having a bit of a "Deptford Is Forever" night on Saturday, with nautically themed cocktails, some of which will feature Pusser's rum, the preferred drink of the Navy which used to be stored in Deptford Dockyard.

The group certainly seem to have run with the Deptford X theme Art Makes People Powerful, and have an informative website about the Anchor and the Deptford Dockyard (some of which has been taken from this blog). But whether the Deptford Anchor returns to the high street and its environs is another matter...

More info at www.deptfordisforever.net
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