Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Deptford Demolition: Tidemill in Planning again

The Tidemill scheme is up again before the Strategic Planning Committee this Wednesday 27th September, 7.30pm at the Civic Suite, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford. 

Local campaigners are hoping supporters will join them outside the town hall at 6.30pm "to demonstrate the strength of opposition to these plans".

It’s likely to be a lively meeting, so if you’re free, please show up and lend your support by filling the Council Chamber with your opposition – or even sceptical amusement and horror, as the planning process is probably one of the best examples of democracy gone wrong that exists close to home. If the decision goes against him, he can appeal knowing the Council does not have the legal resources to fight it. Oh, hang on, this is a Council-led scheme! It would be a brave Councillor who opposes it in favour of the community! Not many of those about.

This is about the Planning Application TO DEMOLISH: 

the council block at 2-30A Reginald Road
– 74 mature trees and the entire Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden 
– the former caretaker’s house on Frankham Street (which should be a heritage asset as part of the old school)

All in order to construct 209 new flats. Nothing wrong with building new homes, you might think, but at what cost? There could be another way, but architects Pollard Thomas Edwards couldn't find one, because the brief they were given by the Council didn't allow them to. Their job was to satisfy the planners' and developers' brief and no one else's.

One of the main constraints was how high they could go. 6 storeys is probably too high for the area, but when it's at the expense of green space, maybe they could go a bit higher near to the high street? The Deptford Project by the high street went to 8 storeys, no problem, in a Conservation Area. So what about the top left corner on this site near the high street, where valuable parking space is being removed – couldn't that go higher? 

The plans for Tidemill were drawn up in 2015 but were set in stone much earlier. Meanwhile, there is now a new development popping up at No.1 Creekside more or less opposite this scheme. It's not as though the Planners don't know about it, they went on to GIVE AWAY yet more green space to itIt wants to be 12 storeys high and surely affects what could happen on the Tidemill site. (More on No.1 soon).

The Tidemill scheme was deferred by the Strategic Planning Committee last September, mainly because the developer was not offering the affordable housing he promised. But the GLA have recently stepped in at the last minute with a huge subsidy, so that part of the problem has now been sorted (at our expense, whilst maintaining the developer’s profits at well over 20%). 

The scheme will now achieve about 41% affordable housing, but only a tiny number of socially rented homes. With 59% more private housing being built, the percentage of affordable housing in the borough (and certainly social housing) will increase in deficit. 

To top all that, the land is being sold at less than half price. Lewisham is practically giving it away. (Again, at our expense, whilst maintaining an inflated profit for the developer). We wrote about this in more detail in March 2017.

The other issues for deferral still remain: Right to Light for existing residents in Frankham House and Reginald Road; allocation of amenity spaces (too many private and gated gardens and loss of the Tidemill Wildlife Garden); and concern for the tenants in the council block to be demolished and how they will be reallocated (e.g. their transfer to a housing association with no like-for-like accommodation or secure tenancies).... 

There have been no improvements to these issues after a year. Council officers and the developers insist they have consulted with the residents of 2-30A Reginald Road (but they haven't, and the tenants and leaseholders still don't want to leave their homes). They have had meetings with the garden team but the meetings have been farcical, with north London landscape architects BDP attempting to mimic the features of a mature Tidemill garden into small pocket gardens because the developer and Council would not shift on the building layouts. 

The Council's argument against the garden was that it was only ever 'meantime' use, but the campaigners argue that: 

• It (literally) grew out of a highly successful publicly funded collaborative project in the late 1990s between the old Tidemill School (its children, parents and teachers) and local organisation Deptford Discovery Project working with government-backed green space innovators and facilitators, Groundwork UK, with assistance from Mowlem (who were building the DLR at that time) and supported by Lewisham Council. The most important aspect of it was the contribution the children made to it. Leader of the Council and subsequent Mayor, Dave Sullivan opened it. It seems Lewisham can't remember or celebrate its own achievements.

• In its recent incarnation managed by Assembly, the garden has been cited by the GLA as a celebrated case study in its newly launched Greener City Fund (August 2017). See

• The garden can cater for children and adults alike to explore nature, wildlife, gardening and growing, in a safe space on their doorstep. It did this when it was part of the school, it did this when Assembly took it on, and it can do it again. It is not a "useless brownfield site", as described by the Council. 

• The tree canopy currently protects the high street from up to 50% of the pollution created by traffic in Deptford Church Street. The Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) readings in the garden and near the high street are 30 micrograms per cubic metre, as opposed to 62 at the Bird's Nest pub (the legal EU limit being 40). 'Particulate matter' readings taken by Goldsmiths academics, Citizen Sense, also tend to back up this theory (though we'll have to wait another two months for their data to be published).

Monday, September 18, 2017


Admittedly we’re getting a little typecast here, but Crossfields Estate will soon make another appearance on Link Up TV

We'll be in an as yet untitled short film about a rapper trying to escape gang culture.  The project, which is being filmed today in front of Farrer House, is being directed by Andrew, a former resident.  It's not Dire Straits but perhaps there'll be another blue plaque here soon! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Consultation on redevelopment of No.1 Creekside this Thursday 14th Sept

You are invited to a public exhibition to view proposals for the redevelopment of No.1 Creekside. (This is the MOT site near the Birds Nest, as well as the tree-lined land next to it).

Thursday 14th September, 3-7pm
Creekside Discovery Centre, 14 Creekside SE8 4SA

If you can't make it to the Bluecroft consultation on Thursday, you can email them for information at or call 020 3900 3676. You might ask why you only heard about the exhibition via this blog, rather than, say, a flyer through your door.

In order to provide context for what's going on at No.2 & 3 Creekside, this blog referred to No.1 Creekside in a recent post about plans for No.2 and 3. This linked to previous news about the No.1 site (e.g. when it was first bought by Bluecroft Property in 2014, and then when Lewisham Council gave them the strip of publicly owned green space next to the site).

The planning application for No.2 and 3 is for temporary meantime use of the land at No.2 whilst the owners wait for Bluecroft Properties (now called Bluecroft Creekside Ltd) to reveal their plans at No.1 – apparently so that any permanent redevelopment of No.2 can be designed in keeping with No.1. In other words, if Lewisham planning allow 'Bluecroft Creekside' to build tall and dense, the precedent will be set for 'Artworks Creekside' to do the same at No.2.

Rather than leaflet Crossfields – or at least the blocks who will be affected most (Cremer, Wilshaw and Castell) – Bluecroft's consultants emailed a pdf to the TRA last Friday (so less than a week's notice). Presumably the TRA and local blogs are expected to disseminate the information on Bluecroft's behalf (as we are doing now!).

Old Tidemill Garden 20th Anniversary event this Sunday

Campaigners for the retention of the Old Tidemill Garden intended to celebrate the garden's 20th birthday in July, but the event was postponed at the last minute due to a day of torrential rain! Join them instead this Sunday 17th from 2pm.

See our previous post for more information on the campaign and how the garden came to be created 20 years ago.

This event is scaled down in size and ambition from the original, but still offers the opportunity for young and old to enjoy this beautiful secret green space. There's an emphasis on participatory music making later in the day and you're invited to bring your own picnic and musical instruments – so join in or just enjoy the vibes. Rain, rain, stay away!

Planning application for No2 & 3 Creekside

Following hot on the heels of our previous post, Artworks now have a Planning Application in to redevelop No.2 & 3 Creekside. See the Deptford Dame's take on the situation, and find the application here for case number DC/17/102047. Read the "Design & Access Statement" (dated 7 Aug).

OVERSIZED people create a false impression of the impact the containers will have
on the streetscape (p.54 Design & Access Statement)

The obligatory notice that should get posted to the nearest lamppost (or gate in this case) was put up by the applicant over a week late, and the boating community on Theatre Arm – as neighbouring residents (and therefore statutory consultees) – received no notice at all.

A complaint to Planning has resulted in the deadline for objections being extended to 21st September.  So there is still time write to quoting the Ref: DC/17/102047 (include your name and address).

Essentially, there is no reason to object to the land at No.2 being used to accommodate some light industry or creative uses, but this could be done in a much less dramatically dense manner than currently proposed (e.g. a maximum of two storeys with fewer containers) and be considerably more sensitive to the present residents on the wharf, leaving them the space under the DLR they currently enjoy.

Restoring the land to its previous use as a working yard would be an improvement, but as Mushroom noted in our previous post, the yard is an eyesore because the owner has deliberately let it get that way over several years. He also pointed out that the Conservation Area Appraisal strongly opposed the impact of shipping containers on the Creekside streetscape. At three storeys, the impact will be considerable. And instead of using bright colours for the containers, they have chosen a depressingly dark grey.

We also note that the applicant refers to its potential tenants as "commercial office space and retail" (p46), which is a slight twist on the idea of the "creative hub" they bang on about elsewhere.

There will be no walking in the road as it will be full of cement mixers heading to Sun Wharf.
The road will be shrouded in darkness (p.55 Design & Access Statement)

And not content with simply providing overpriced workspace for small business (which would fulfil the Cultural Strategy of the Council for this area), the owners are intent on maximising their profits (extracting wealth out of Deptford), by turning the yard into a night-time economy hotspot. Without any regard for their present neighbours, the boat dwellers.

The No.2 land is constantly referred to as the "Big Red site", which apparently provides "social facilities" for APT, Art Hub, Cockpit Arts and Laban (p.9), even though it's been closed for years after going 'bankrupt'. When it returns, it will be surrounded by a number of pop-up food outlets and an outdoor cinema (p.15), all of which will be open late – and all will be serviced "out of operation hours" (i.e. between 2am and 8am).

The boaters are mentioned only twice in the Design & Access Statement (p6 & 15 of a 61 page document), both times in the context of how the Conservation Area Appraisal referred to them as permanent residential moorings that have "helped to retain the function and flair of the historic wharfs...and make an important contribution." But as our previous post revealed, Artworks are intent on pricing them out, restricting the number of boats they can berth, and removing their access.

A Photoshopped view of oversized people standing next to a totally imaginary wharf
wall overlooking an existing barge (p58 Design & Access Statement)