Thursday, January 28, 2016

Smoke on the Thames Water!

Thames Water's first contribution to local community infrastructure has ignited passions locally. The smoker's den, constructed by Murphy's on Crossfields Green, seems a very unpromising start to the £4bn super sewer project, being built soon on our doorstep.  The plywood shed at the corner of Coffey Street and Crossfields Street (pictured above) seems designed to shelter the teachers of St Joseph's from the elements as they take their daily drag.  We can only hope that the tunnel itself is constructed a little better, though we know that it's of equally limited value!  For full story see here.

Monday, January 18, 2016

High street HSBC bank to close

Those with accounts based at our local branch of HSBC should by now have received a letter from the bank stating their account will be transferred to Lewisham branch*. The Deptford High Street branch is due to close in April, apparently because not enough people are using it. Of course, the increase in online banking means many current account holders may not use the bank for anything other than cashing the rare cheque or using the cash point. There are now three or four alternative free cash points they can use, and cheques can be paid in at any branch.

But many high street traders are not at all happy about the closure, as most of these small businesses can't afford to operate card transactions and rely on the bank for depositing cash takings. One cafe owner complained that he had not that long ago had to move from the Halifax (closed in 2010) to the HSBC and would now have to change to the one and only remaining bank, Barclays, which is well known for its long queues. The alternative is to spend extra time legging it over to Lewisham (and back). Another trader declared that "when a bank shuts, so does the high street".

More worrying, though, is the future of this modestly handsome old building that sits at the civic heart of the street. As with the Halifax, its planning class is A2 Professional Services (eg Financial services) and the most likely new tenant or owner could well be a betting shop or pawnbroker (who somehow fit into this category). The old Halifax (rumoured to be soon taken over by an expanding Greggs) eventually escaped becoming a Betfred because of a special condition in the building's planning permission (only discovered by Lewisham Planning after a long and concerted community campaign run by this blog and assisted by Dame Joan Ruddock in Parliament and after Betfred had already appealed against planning refusal).

Perhaps empire building pub managers Antic will step in to create a new bar instead. Or might we see another Vietnamese or Asian restaurant? Perhaps it could be turned into an Asset of Community Value or a branch of London Mutual or Lewisham Credit Plus... Either way, we can't have another a betting shop! Perhaps a change of planning class can stop this?

*They may not have a letter since the Royal Mail has been spectacularly bad recently – we've had experience of more than two letters posted in the middle of November only turning up last week!