The Brockley Society

Brockley Central attended a recent meeting of the Brockley Society, to get a better insight in to the organisation’s work and its priorities, going forward. We hope to bring you a full interview with 'BrocSoc' very soon, but in the meantime, here’s a summary of what happened at the meeting, from Brockley Jon:

We couldn't help but get a sense of the surreal , as we supped our heavily subsidised pint and sat in front of the glitzy stage of the Rivoli. For much of the crowd, the draw was surely the chance tomarvel at the ballroom in all its glory, especially considering recent events. However, there was serious business on the agenda.

John Stewart, of Heathrow expansion opposition group HACAN Clear Skies, gave an engaging talk on the future of Brockley's skies. John stood bolt upright behind the Rivoli turntables and, with a shimmering wall of tinsel behind him, it looked almost biblical - somewhat fitting for the sermon he was about to deliver. According to HACAN, the Heathrow expansion will be bad news for South East London, as well as West London. If a third runway gets the go-ahead, and Terminal Six is built (although they'vegot to sort T5 out first), the near constant 'line up' of planes across the skies of Brockley is set to double, into two 'streams', turning over Woolwich and descending slowly over our heads.

Anyone living in the north end of Brockley knows that there are already quite enough planes disturbing our peace, so John urged us to make our thoughts known to our local MPs. The good news is that the current legal limit on the number of night flights will not change.

Stuart Woodin of the Brockley Cross Action Group gave an informative talk about Brockley Common, bringing us bang-up-to-date with the project's progression. There's little to add that hasn't already been covered on this blog, but hearing about the trials and tribulations from someone who is obviously passionate about the project made for interesting listening.

Considering the location, it was fitting that Gillian Heywood from the Brockley Society obliged with a short talk through the history of the Rivoli, drawing upon research from English Heritage already posted on the blog here. After this came a call for ideas as to what use the ballroom could play in the community. Then finally, a Q&A session, with topics ranging from Hilly Fields Fayre to the future of Brockley Police Station.

In reality, the Brockley Society is the Brockley Conservation Area Society, with a clearly defined remit to represent the interests of those who live within it (who have automatic membership).

There’s no doubt that BrocSoc did a great job in protecting the Conservation Area from redevelopment since its formation in the 1970s. It’s also clear that it has begun to address planning issues with renewed vigour in recent months. Meanwhile, the Summer Fayre is a local highlight, for which we all owe BrocSoc a debt of thanks.

However, it’s also clear that BrocSoc is at a crossroads. Brockley is changing and the BrocSoc needs to change too. At present, it lacks a long-term vision for the area – what kind of place do we want it to be? What initiatives can we organise to make things better? Defending the status quo is great up to a point, but it is also a wasted opportunity. BrocSoc has official status in local planning discussions, a newsletter and volunteers with a great knowledge of local issues – it could be doing so much more than it does at present.

What Brockley Central would like to see BrocSoc focus on is Brockley Road. Our high-street has been woefully neglected by Council and BrocSoc alike. Planning regulations are routinely ignored and there is no plan to improve it. Its fate is key to the fate of Brockley and as it’s part of the conservation area, it’s entirely appropriate that they should take a lead on its future, just as the BXAG has for Brockley Cross.

We’d also like to hear more from BrocSoc about their views on some of the big planning issues facing the Conservation area, such as the proposed redevelopment of the garage on Geoffrey Road and the mental health unit appeal on Ashby Road. And, who better to play an active lead on issues such as street trees and police signs than a proactive BrocSoc?

The impression we get is that BrocSoc members understand this and are committed to encouraging new members. As with many other local groups, they have too few volunteers and are keen for more to come forward. They also recognise their responsibility to drive recruitment and communicate more effectively with residents. The newsletter, while well-produced, is too irregular to be an effective tool for lobbying, when local opinion often needs to be mobilised much more quickly. They are planning to improve their website and keen to contribute to Brockley Central, which is all to the good.

If you’re interested in volunteering for BrocSoc, please email Brockley Central at the usual address and we will pass on your details.

76 comments:

Headhunter said...

I already deliver their newsletters along a part of Manor Avenue! (He says polishing his halo...)

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Have they not thought about expanding the conservation area, to encompase the neighbouring streets or specific houses? To get more members, and be more influential - be bigger.

That way you get increased economies of scale (i.e. better organisation, distribution and fixed costs become lower, increased member subscription etc.) as well as the larger recognition (and not to provide the boost to self esteem within its members).... all good stuff!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

In relation to the above - the proportion of the 'new' revenue from new members would be spent on the existing conversation area. Thats the way the exisiting current area will benefit.

On - and get a better website.

lb said...

[AP] I think the Conservation Area is based on planning laws, rather than something being defined by Brockley Society, so they couldn't expand it. They could, however, expand themselves so that everyone within Brockley gets automatic membership.

Tamsin said...

I'm 90% sure you don't pay a subscription for membership. You can't, as a society, make it automatic if you live in an area and then ask people to subscribe - and the administration of collecting small subscriptions outweighs the financial gain.

What they could do is expand the print-run and delivery of the newsletter to ouside the conservation area (conservation area boundaries are a matter for the local authority).

What they need is more volunteers to deliver newsletters and lobby on particular issues so anyone vocal on this blog who has any time at all to spare should make contact and get stuck in. Starting with someone prepared to revamp and manage the website.

Brockley Nick said...

I really don't think the newsletter is the important issue, to be honest.

If something's really important, they can always speak to the local newspaper or SE4 magazine (I will devote my column to it if they want) or the various bloggers in the area to get the word out.

The important thing is to actually come up with a plan and make it happen.

And no, you don't have to pay membership fees.

Headhunter said...

The reason the Broc Soc operates within the conservation area is because they were originally set up as a lobby group to influence council planning decisions in the area and protect the "feel" of that part of Brockley with large back gardens, interesting architecture etc.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

So there is no commercial activity associated with the Brockley Society? Thats interesting. You need some sort of activity to fund long term requirements.

My understanding of conversation status is that any area can become one simply from arranging a petition and obtaining the majority of the residents signatures in favour. Therefore, I would of expected the Broc. Soc to actively compaign on neighbouring streets to 'expand' into that road/area. This will bring in new members, new ideas and a potential new source of income/support.

Interestingly, any house owner can make there house 'listed' grade 2 etc... thereby preventing any future changes even when sold. Many do not as this tends to negatively effect house prices.

Sarah said...

I've lived in Brockley for eight years, but never in the conservation area. I've always supported the area (it was me who set up SE4 magazine originally!) and felt strongly about local issues, but I've always felt slightly 'pushed out' of the Broc Soc because they only accept members who live in the conservation area. I find that a bit shortsighted - you can love the area and want to help without actually living in it. Of course, I'd love to live in it, but I can't afford it.

Increasingly what happens in the conservation area has a trickle down effect to the rest of Brockley. Perhaps if the society were to look at Brockley as a whole, especially as has been said, the main road, there would be renewed interest and volunteers.

Headhunter said...

Broc Soc is a charity, not a commercial concern!

Residents can lobby for conservation status in an area, but the final decision is made by the planning department of the local council (as far as I'm aware) who have to judge the area on its merits.

If they don't consider the area outside the existing Brockley conservation area to be of sufficient interest architecturally, it's unlikely to get conservation status. Most of the housing outside the Broc conservation area is, to be honest, basic standard Victorian stock. However I suppose that didn't stop the Hatcham conservation area (New cross) gaining status...

How can anyone list their own house as grade 2 protected?!? I think that is highly questionable! If it were that easy, surely the owner of the Rivoli would simply have listed the ballroom and would not have needed English Heritage to give its stamp of approval. My impression is that listed status is only gained through approval from EH!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

It maybe more complicated than that but the principle exists. My understanding is that there is a shortage - in london - of adequately graded property hence the council take a positive view on anyone who wants to list their house.

I also do not think it is wise for all of brockley to become a conservation area - it has many costs associated with it re. maintanance and a successful area needs a good mix of housing.

Funnily enough, someone mentioned about the conservation area becoming riddled with satalite dishes? I looked on my street, saw about 1 tiny black one. And I live outside the conservation area! Maybe the 'wrong type' of people are moving in there? the rich city yuppie types perhaps??

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

All property < 1840 is seriously considered: http://www.ourproperty.co.uk/guides/do_listed_properties_make_the_grade.html

The Broc Society really needs to have a commercial arm - most charities do! Even the church does. This could even mean putting money in a bank and using the interest (AND NOT THE CAPITAL) to pay for leafleting etc..

Tamsin said...

The newsletter is important because the advertising it carries is, as I understand it, the main source of income for the Broc. Soc. - which funds the newletter - all very circular, but also other work. The Telegraph Hill Society is slightly different because it does not have a core of businesses in its area to provide such advertising. Members opt in and pay a fairly nominal fee if we ever manage to collect renewals - the newsletter is delivered to members only and has of late been sporadic to non-existent (our fault).

Where are you going to get enough capital to live off the interest?

Commercial activities need people to run them and the most a volunteer group such as the Broc. Soc or Telegraph Hill Society can manage is an occasional stand. The Broc. Soc. goes considerably better though with the Hilly Fields Summer Fayre.

Generally, one is back again to the chronic shortage of volunteers - but also, I admit, the difficulties of handing something on when both the delegator and delegatee are strapped for time. It is very difficult indeed for a small group of people to open out to newcomers without those newcomers feeling either that they are having stuff dumped on them or insufficiently empowered. The right balance is a very fine line that is extrordinarly hard to tread. More understanding needed all round.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tamsin

You'd think it would be an income generator, wouldn't you. In fact, the Society says that their income generator is the Summer Fayre and that the money generated by this event funds... the production of the newsletter. Given the amount of advertising it carries, this surprises me.

And the BXAG manages to operate without spending anything on operational costs (see the recent AGM report).

This is not a criticsm of BrocSoc, but the point is that the newsletter is a distraction from the key issues.

The Forest Hill Soc charges a voluntary membership fee and is very successful. If money is the issue (and I don't really see why it should be, other on capital projects) then that's a model worth considering.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Its exactly what you said - its cyclical!

You need to start with the basics then grow upwards and outwards. The initial capital can come from donations/advertising/grants etc... but where people - volunteers - go wrong, is that they spend it all in yr 1 and 'lack a long term plan' (to quote nick). Spend 50% of the income on current year plans - SAVE the remainder. The remainder will earn interest. You spend 50% of the interest and save the rest. Your capital grows.

Many people would rather spend everything in year 1 - i call it 'middle class volunteer' syndrome (i.e. make yourself look important by being 'seen' to be doing things - proactively spending money when you have it.

Anonymous said...

I live outside the conservation area and didn't even know about the 'Broc Soc' - I think I'm genetically opposed to any group like this though. This feels a bit like the Stepford wives to me and the short end of the wedge. The next thing you know is that you've got the society telling you you're in trouble because you've not cut your lawn for two weeks. What bothers me is about this is who are these arbiters of taste and decency who make the rules about what is acceptable or not? They sound like a bunch of curtain twitchers to me - if I had an oily old car engine I'd stick it on my front lawn in dirty protest.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I hope you dont live on Revelon Rd...

Tressillian James said...

Ridiculous. The Brockly Society has guidelines - they're from the council and they are pretty strict on what you can and can't do to your property in the conservation area. The Brockley Society actually polices the council to make sure it holds up it's own published standards. They don't create the standards

Most people who move to the area are actually attracted by the preservation of the houses. As are nost people on this blog. If anything Brockley Society needs to be sticter APP&P was right when he mentioned complaints about sattelite dishes - there are loads of illegal ones on the streets

Tressillian James said...

...or upholds...

Hugh said...

Those 'Brockley Foxes' restaurant reviews are legendary.

Headhunter said...

Anon 13:45 - Thank god you don't live in the conservation area! It's exactly this sort of "I'll do what I want, because I can and sod you all" selfishness which needs to be eradicated from Brockers!

Anonymous said...

Nick - The BXAG does have operational costs, but they are mostly swallowed by the members' personally.

The discussion about the newsletter may be a distraction from the key issues but it is a vital way of getting information out to its members as not everyone is on the internet. The BXAG does have a mailing list but would also like to have a newsletter. The main reason we don't is the lack of regular income (apart from the few people who have chosen to pay yearly or monthly subscriptions to the group). We did manage to produce a couple of editions a few years ago, but it was hard work traipsing round businesses to drum up advertising, and was something I couldn't find the time for again as I pursued the idea for the B MAx.

The Broc Soc very kindly promote BXAG's work in their newsletter, and I'm not sure anything would be gained by having another newsletter. However, maybe it would be useful (if the BXAG could find some income) to contribute financially to the Broc Soc newsletter so that it could have a wider distribution.

As to BXAG's potential sources of income, I thought long and hard as to whether the B Max should have paying stalls at the Children's Day, but it went against the agreed festival's ethos. However, the festival does have operational costs which are covered by funding, but the trick is to find non-allocated sources of funding where I didn't have to justify to anyone (apart from the BXAG committee) where this income was spent. This came from sales of CDs and raffle tickets and, as with all of B Max's income, is ring fenced for costs the festival occurs during the rest of the year. Whether there is a case to continue this or not, I don't know.

Tamsin's point about volunteers is a valid one, and something the BXAG/B Max/Brockley Common always suffers from. We discussed joining up with Broc Soc a few years ago precisely because both groups were struggling with a shortage of volunteers, but it was generally felt that we both do quite different things, namely to preserve as opposed to change/improve.
Moira

Headhunter said...

APP&P - Listed status is administered by English Heritage rather than the local council, so Lewisham Borough may have little say in whether a building is listed or not. Conservation aera status in any case is not the same as listed building status. Conservation areas are not of the same “rank” as listed buildings. The “ranking” starts with Grade I, then Grade II* and then Grade II, however I have heard that the government wants to do away with II* and down grade all II* bldgs to Grade II (despite opposition). There used to be Grade III and A, B and C categories as well.

It was nme who mentioned the satellite dishes in the conservation area. My neighbour actually called the council about this (after all it is their own rules that are being abused) and as usual.... They didn't respond...

Headhunter said...

.... Forgot to say, conservation area status is below Grade II listed status...

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, I think BrocSoc and BXAG have separate roles and its probably appropriate that they continue a separate existence, but cooperate as much as possible.

Re: volunteers, I quite agree and am pleased to say that one person has already emailed me to offer their services to Broc Soc. A number also contacted the Hilly Fields group after an article recently.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

You need to save!!!! Either generate additional income or cut expenditure for the long run and it really is that simnple!

You need to think more like a business and there is no significant overhead that is required. It may seem like that if you dont know what you're doing, but there really isnt.

A business would not put all its eggs in one basket in yr1.

Brockley Nick said...

Andy what are you talking about, who are you talking to and why are you talking to them like that?!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Im actually a member of the BXAG. Occasinally I get emails. I voluntered my services as a CA but heard nothing back.

Luke Peters said...

@ tressillian james said...

"The Brockly Society has guidelines - they're from the council and they are pretty strict on what you can and can't do to your property in the conservation area"

There may be guidelines but the council doesn't seem to enforce it in any way. *Puts on Ms Miggins voice* Have you SEEN how many street-level satellite dishes and double glazed windows there are at the lower (Brockley Road) end of Tressillian? No point having a conservation area if nobody takes a blind bit of notice - council and homeowners alike.

I lived in the Clapham Old Town conservation area for a bit and watched as my neighbour spent thousands replacing her front-facing windows with double-glazed sash only to be told (just one week after the job was completed) to reinstate the old ones by the council.

Is Lewisham council too busy/scared to do anything about it or does it simply boil down to the fact that the Brockley conservation area is no. 43525 on its list of priorities, pipped closely by no. 43524 - dog mess on pavements.

@ Hugh - Yes. I've wet myself on many occasion reading those.

Couple of my favs:

"Rogan Josh was large and tasty but Lamb biryani was thought to have too much rice and not enough meat and sauce."

"The shrimp starter was quite good, the vegetable starter good."

QUALITY.

You can't fault what the BrocSoc has done (and continues to do), but it definitely needs a facelift to reflect the wider community....

...or maybe this blog is just that.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I thought we were talking about the need to develop/reach goals for the long term?

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Hmmph... I may of lost the plot.... Ok, back to work :o)

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Hmmph... I may of lost the plot.... Ok, back to work :o)

Anonymous said...

what is it that people have against satellite dishes... what difference does it make to having an ariel on your roof.... we may want to keep our properties looking like they did a hundred years ago, but that does not mean the only entertainment people want is to read by candlelight

Tamsin said...

Grants usually come with specific spending agendas, particularly those large enough to generate more than a few pounds of income through bank interest.

Not many people in the conservation societies have much time for curtain twitching or complaining about un-mown lawns - it is as much as they can do to keep up with the remit from the Council to comment on relevant planning applications.

Hugh said...

Luke Peters - glad to know there are others out there who enjoy the Brockley Foxes' gastronomic warblings.

Gr8 quote m8.

Tressillian James said...

@ Luke - agreed about the sat dishes. The sad thing is that there are dedicated conservation area officers in the council - and you would think that there would be standard template enforcement letters. The mid section of Tressillian has loads too.

APP&P - no-one is asking people to go back to candlelight - you can have sat dishes, only they have to be located on the back of the house. This can be done in all cases without effecting viewing - but people want them next to their living rooms to avoid cables running through their house. Please note that arials are also not allowed on the front.

Tressillian James said...

or aerials....spellcheck has ruined me

Tamsin said...

@Moira
You are quite right - and there is a similar split in Telegraph Hill with the Telegraph Hill Society, the Festival, the Centre and the Friends of Telegraph Hill Park all needing volunteer input. The key is for these bodies to co-operate and that is where individuals with a finger in more than one pie can be useful.

It does, though, mean that with so much going on the volunteers are spread very thin on the ground!

Headhunter said...

Anon 15:08 - Problem with satellite dishes is that they're usually bolted to the front of the house. if the building is split into flats, sometimes each flat has 1, which means that in some cases there are 4 satellite dishes stuck to the front of Victorian buidlings and further, some people seem to have extra large satellite dishes which are even worse!

Re double glazing, someone I work with here had uPVC sash windows put into their flat in a conservation area near Notting Hill, then council there responded in a matter of days and they were forced to remove them!

Headhunter said...

Anon 15:08 - Problem with satellite dishes is that they're usually bolted to the front of the house. if the building is split into flats, sometimes each flat has 1, which means that in some cases there are 4 satellite dishes stuck to the front of Victorian buidlings and further, some people seem to have extra large satellite dishes which are even worse!

Re double glazing, someone I work with here had uPVC sash windows put into their flat in a conservation area near Notting Hill, then council there responded in a matter of days and they were forced to remove them!

Anonymous said...

What is remarkable about the conservation area?There are some nice bits and there are some crap bits. Much like the rest of South East London. If the conservation status was really worth it's salt it would have prevented the majority of houses under it's umbrella from being converted into flats.

Headhunter said...

Anon 17:13 - If you can't see the difference between the conservation area architecturally and the rest of Brockers or SE London then you probably need glasses

Why should there not be any flats inthe conservation area? Strange idea! There is certainly not enough demand for houses the size of those in the cons area in Brockley with teh result that if they were forced to remain as 1 hom, they would probably fall derelict...

Luke said...

@ anonymous said...

"What is remarkable about the conservation area?"

I don't think anyone said it was remarkable but, come on, would you really want to see anything but those glorious old houses and trees lining the streets of Wickham, Breakspears and Tressillian?

A group of people in 1973 didn't think so either and thus gained conservation status to preserve the diminishing architectural and leafy quality of a London area.

I agree that turning many into flats can have a negative effect but what about those houses that would have otherwise fallen into disrepair. I bet there are dozens of people renovating groups of flats back into houses of former glory too...

And anyway, London needs flats to house its ever-expanding and workforce...

Brockley Nick said...

Many of the best-kept properties in the conservation area are flats and there is curremtly a tremendous amount of work being done to rennovate flats in the conservation area.

Anonymous said...

The grand houses of Brockley were built for big Victorian families and their servants. At a time when manual labour was cheap and labour saving appliances did not exist.

Brockley has changed over past 110 years and the houses were converted for use by singles and small nuclear families.

How well these conversions were done is an issue. It seems standard practice to remove troublesome original features and divide houses into flats with several small rooms.

Conservation seems to apply only to the outside. Interiors are regularly butchered and the public sector is as much to blame as private developers.

Danja said...

Conservation seems to apply only to the outside

Conservation does only apply to the outside - it's a streetscape thing. Listed building control is there to preserve internals, where that is appropriate (obviously that's a lot more of an onerous restriction on the landowner, so should be used less frequently).

Lady said...

We recently had a satellite dish attached to the chimney stack (tressillian) to avoid putting it on the front of the house (you're allowed it on the back of the house but the signal comes from the other direction here in tressillian). my boyf was prepared to pay the few hundreds of pounds needed for a man to hire a ridiculously high ladder to scale the four storey victorian architecture carrying another ladder in his left hand which he then placed across the roof, scramble across that one and sit on the chimney stack and screw the thing on. Thankfully it was a clear day. Sky installers refuse to do it. But my boyf is an avid football fan and he would only agree to move into Brockers with me on the condition we got sky installed. And I would only let him install sky if he respected the BrocSoc rules and didn't make the front of my lovely house utterly hideous. And we're probably those city yuppie types you're talking about.

Yes it's a shame all of these houses are rapidly turning into flats, but that's what comes of banks being prepared to lend people five times their salary and pushing property prices way up. Where would we all be living now if these houses were still houses?

I'd happily help out with BrocSoc but surely, if it is to achieve anything, the council as prime landowner in the area should have a representative in the Soc, fighting for the same cause and certainly not ignoring the rules.

andy pandy pudding said...

I have to be honest - even though its nice to have a conservation area on your doorstep, alot of the streets within it have some sort of pre 1973 council block on them. Esp. the main roads. I also think there are alot of nice roads outside the conservation area where actually they are better conserved then the ones within the conservation area!

The only thing that living in a conservation area does is give some sort of credibility to preserving what was there. Maybe other areas didnt form a conservation area as they havn't been butchered as much pre 1973? Thats my thought for the day.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lady - great, please drop me an email and I will put you in touch. If we can get two new volunteers as a result of this article, that will be a great result. Given that BrocSoc is currently run by only a handful of people, it will be a real benefit.

Marisa said...

Sarah I agree with your comments about being pushed out of the Brockley Society.

I approached them when the Council had plans for residents parking (CPZ) but because I live just outside the conservation area, they didn't want to know. We were petitioning several streets; Arabin Rd, Braxfield Rd, Comerford Rd etc. and thought it would be good to pull resources. After all if the council was going to introduce CPZ just outside the conservation area onto these roads then we would all be parking in the conservation area! It's a shame we can't work as a whole society for Brockley?

Also the Broc Soc did not want to know about the proposed betting shop, again because it is outside the conservation area. Do people in the conservation area not use the shops on Brockley Road?

Brockley Nick said...

@Marisa - I think this is the sort of thing that needs to change...

Tyrwhit Michael not Road said...

My impression of the Broc Soc over 20 years or so living here is that they are against all change whether good or bad.

An current example is the proposed extension to a house on Hilly Fields Crescent.

I have looked at the proposals and then walked up to Hilly Fields and looked at the site. I have come to the conclusion that it will probably be an improvement and fill an unsightly gap.

Are such things debated in the Broc Soc or because it repesents change is it automatically wrong?

I would volunteer and go along and influence all of these subjects, but I'm afraid I don't care as I am going to retire to the Yorkshire dales in 10 years time.....or am I in the wrong thread?

Headhunter said...

But the Broc Soc does and always has concerned itself with the conservation area. Earlier in this debate we were saying that they needed to focus, get an aim, now we're saying they need to spread their wings and look at all roads far and wide?

Good grief - it's only run by a handful of old folks as far as I can tell! You'd think they had an army at their beck and call!

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Anonymous said...

There is also 'Local' listing of buildings, which is decided by the council. Where it fits into the scheme of things I'm not sure.

Tamsin said...

@tyrwhitt Michael
Ten years is quite a way ahead - go along and influence and then bring in other like-minded people before you disappear Northwards.

The basic tenet of planning in Conservation Areas as laid down in the UDP (and which probably derives from national legislation) is that any new development must be such that "perserves or enhances" the area. So modern is not de facto bad, however it has to be very good quality modern and there is a debate that can go on forever (Dan?).

The Council are consulting on their Conservation Areas - I think a couple at a time, they "did" Telegraph Hill about a year ago. Part of the consultation is whether the area should be extended (or presumably reduced) and what buildings should be locally listed. Brockley should be somewhere on that list.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

if you look at the general principles applied in planning decisions, developments have to fit a number of criteria; i.e. enhance the streetscape; in proportion to, and in keeping with neighbouring buildings etc..

I fail to see any real difference between normal planning principles and that especially stated for the conservation area. Surely, council planners judge applications on a one to one basis? I really do no think that they would say yes to a development in one street, then say yes to another 2 streets away due to the same arguement being put forward.

Amanda said...

Maybe if the Brockley Society changed their name to more readily match their remit, there'd be less issues. The society was set up to look after the conservation area, yet the name implies the whole of Brockley (which seems to encompass more areas than I initially thought).
I sense certain people seem to be a bit hung up on the term "conservation area" and it seems to be generating some resentment. It really shouldn't be like that.

The conservation area does need specific attention some of the houses within it have been badly treated. It's not about preserving the area in aspic but it's about not having a free for all. I think it's right that the internal aesthetics and arrangement of the houses are NOT a focus, but we've seen recently how developers can go OTT; with one average Victorian semi being turned into 7 studio flats. Imagine someone like that let loose on some of the houses in the conservation area.

About satellites, I don't like to see them, but to me the removal of trees is way more damaging to an area, in general terms.

There's a lot of purpose built housing in the area, the people who live within them should not be excluded or should be actively welcomed and encouraged by the BrocSoc.

lb said...

The real future risk to the conservation area is of people building over the large gardens at the rear of existing properties (or even attempting building entire new properties on them, as I noticed from one notice pinned to a lamp post recently). This would be very tempting to developers and radically alter the area's character.

Having said that, looks as if property prices might go througgh the floor anyway. Ha!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

I wouldnt worry too much about that in brockley IB, we have permanent structural changes on its way to negate much of the downside.....

Amanda said...

And if we get runway 3 there's another change that could well affect the positive impact of overground.

I have to say that the despite the negative impact that it will have on me, I do want Heathrow to have a third runway. It NEEDS it so badly.

Another reason why need trees they help dampen noise, though obviously it will be marginal aid, in light of a third Heathrow airport.

Anonymous said...

Whereabouts is this plane noise affecting people in Brockley? I live on St Asaph road and don't notice the planes.

deskbound in central london said...

I think this post and the subsequent discussion present a fascinating account of community involvement and volunteerism these days. Brockley's dearth of volunteers for local groups, inspite of evident, avid interest in them, is far from unique. Anyone actually on their local school's Board of Governors? (Why?)

We have been so lucky in Brockley to have people like Moira investing so much of themselves in the area; also Broc Soc through the years, BXAG and people like Erin at the Broca, who is organising the fun run. But a lot of us feel limited to armchair (desktop?) commentary like "Trees are good and no one should chop them down". A valid sentiment, but not much use, really, without some kind of action behind it, or a sense that someone with power to act is reading.

Its been really interesting to note, over the past few months, instances where our griping on this blog has led to something. Councillors Dean and Sue are certainly ahead of the game in engaging with the community through fora like this; and its great that even some Council staff have been paying heed. But there's still a mis-match between how WE (people who care about Brockley, but are chained to keyboards and office chairs) engage with local issues, and where the Council and other decision-makers and influencers need and expect our input. The structures they work within evolved with a different kind of interaction in mind; and probably before two-income households were the norm in this country and others. There are so many simultaneous local and national consultations going on that following them is a full-time occupation on its own. Who has that kind of time? And that's just passively responding to questions posed - let alone actually coming up with an idea and organising to make it happen, a la BXAG.

Does this make sense to anybody? I just think that Nick's ongoing call for volunteers for various groups - though admirable, and as noted, occasionally fruitful - is a sticky-plaster over a bigger issue. I don't volunteer because I know that due to myriad other commitments - a demanding job, family overseas, a household to run - I will end up unable to follow through. Should I feel bad about this? Am I not trying hard enough? Should I start taking amphetamines so that I have the stamina to sit through Broc Soc meetings, on top of everything else? Or is something else going on..?

Brockley Nick said...

@Deskbound - a lot of interesting points.

I think its encumbent on groups that need volunteers to make it easy for people to volunteer (eg: have a website with up-to-date contact details). But volunteering isn't for everyone, nor should people feel guilty if they can't volunteer. Here are some things you can do to improve your area without volunteering:

1. Shop locally
2. Invite friends to visit you and take them out locally
3. Vote in "business of the year" type polls
4. Email your Councillor on issues you're passionate about
5. Leave your comments on threads like this one (The Council, and other organisations, do read them!)
6. Go to Brockley Max (etc)
7. Tell your friends about Brockley Max
8. Sponsor someone running in the Fun Run
9. Pick up some street litter or send some photos of flytipping to Love Lewisham
10. Take your family to help with the Hilly Fields flower planting
11. Make sure you try out the new film club, when it opens

etc

There's loads of little ways people can contribute.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Headhunter said...

LB - At the moment I don't think there is any threat to the large gardens of the conservation area. Those at least are well protected by conservation area status and a real cornerstone of the area.

There've been many applications over the years to build houses and apartment buildings on gardens and along the mews between the main streets of the cons area but so far all have been rejected.

If cons area status is in place to protect the feel and look of an area and we're not even permitted to install uPVC glazing, then I think demolishing a large Victorian house and building a block of flats in its place and over the garden is pretty unlikely to happen...

Headhunter said...

Anon 12:26 - I live on Manor Ave and sometimes there's already a massive amount of plane noise overhead. I think it's usually when there's a wind from the west (I could be wrong on that). Sometimes it's literally 1 after the other like traffic in a traffic jam. If we have any more it'll be unbearable...

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

@deskbound. I am actually a school governor, albeit not present at all the meetings and I dont have kids!

Try to help whenever you can, thats my motto.

Anonymous said...

I think that often when people see a request to volunteer, they are not clear about what will be required of them in terms of time, commitment, skills etc.; the spectre of their lives disappearing into a community black hole can put them off. The refrain of 'there's nothing I'm able to offer' is a common one, so it's incumbent on organisers to try and encourage those who feel they have no useful skills. Often once someone makes that initial commitment, enthusiasm takes over and they stay.

As organiser emeritus of the B Max, I struggled every year to find enough volunteers (although that's another black hole as something as big as a festival needs hundreds), and maybe I was guilty of not being clear enough. What was clear I hope, was that the person offering to spend half an hour delivering programmes in their street was as important as those who put on an event, and I tried to let people know that by thanking them via email if not in person, and by holding an after party for volunteers. Working with volunteers requires different skills from managing staff and is something most of us learn 'on the job' making many mistakes along the way.
Moira




Moira

Glenda said...

I got fobbed off by Broc Soc too about parking permits. I was actually told i live in the wrong bit of Brockley (Braxfield road). It seemed a shame not to unite on a common issue as we both had the same views (we were against permits)
The failure of the Broc Soc to respond to the council (and they were formally notified by the Planning Dept. when noone else knew) about the Change of Use at former Homeview was an argument used in the Planning Dept's favour as to why A2 Use was granted. (Giving way to a betting shop which is actually in the Conservation area) Given the hundreds of people in and out of the conservation area who expressed their protest about the perceived misinformation on this it is surely time to review who Broc Soc represent?

Kate said...

Well said Moira, I think that making it clear exactly what people could do and when and how much time it would take is a really good way to make volunteering seem less intimidating to newbies.

For example there was a really good turn-out for the BXAG station clear-up a few weeks ago, and at least part of that in my opinion is down to the fact that it was pretty clear where people should go and at what time, what was involved, and when they'd be finished. I think it's only natural to be worried about volunteering and then letting people down (I know it's something that deters me from the more open-ended appeals for volunteers) so having clear, time-limited opportunities can draw people in.

desk-bound in CL said...

I agree that there's lots of little things one can do locally, that can be worked into the average routine (shopping, emailing a councillor, etc), and that there's some obligation on organisers to make volunteering accessible and appealing. (There's a lot of literature on this, and entire organisations like Volunteering England and NCVO that do a lot of work on it).

However I still see a gap between the buckets of energy, thoughtfulness and community spirit on Brockley Central, which has scores and scores of regular contributors, and the local council's approach to consultation and involvment. And again, I certainly applaud everyone - named and un-named, Amanda, who give their time, energy, head-space, hands, feet, money, whatever to the community, there are many more people who could contribute, but don't. Take voting as an example. Why are voting numbers so low, and especially among younger people? Is it the fault of the younger people, some inherent flaw in them; a flaw in the choices they are presented with; or something else -- the process itself? What would it take to really involve people in civic processes?

fabhat said...

regarding the love you local business did everyone see Broca was a runner up in best buiness, and shortlisted for two other catagories. Proud certificates in the window!

Anonymous said...

that's it. It's war. BXAG neo-cons versus the BrockSoc in-cons.

Anonymous said...

This is my debut on BC but I felt compelled to comment on the NYE event at the Rivoli. As an avid supporter of our local community it felt like the perfect choice of venue to bring in the new decade with my friends. Unfortunately, the evening was a real let down because the DJing and service at the bar was so badly managed. Part of the charm of the NYE event there is that it appeals to all. Its great to see families enjoying themselves and people dancing with there elder relatives. However at £25 a pop it was a shocker. Every time one of my group went to the bar (with the same order) the prices were varied. I was rather intrigued by the methods used to clean glasses and the DJ either played the same songs over or there were embarrassing gaps in between.

I did not attend with high expectations, but some basic standards would have been a real bonus. What a shame. I loved the jive night I attended there but I can't see myself going back unless I take Agi and Kim with me and have my Ipod in my ears.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Rivoli was a bit steep for NY(it was under 20 quid a couple of years ago), one of the reasons we didn't go, plus we got fed up of all the kids running around and the DJ wasn't great. This event is run by the owners whilst other events are not, so do try the salsa night and vintage ball (if there is another one).

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