Hard to Kill

Coulgate Street is Brockley's one unreserved regeneration success story. But Speedicars' recent move to deface the street with their rubbishy old signage has put them On Deadly Ground.

Since then, the Council planning office has been Under Siege from irate residents, Out for Justice.

The Council enforcement team's response has been swift, writing letters to all complainants to inform them that an investigation has begun, but that it could be some time before they can take an Executive Decision.

Speedicars is not Above the Law. It can only be hoped that the tacky signage is Marked for Death.

With thanks to The Glimmer Man.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

And yet, somehow, the world continuous to turn and life goes on.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, "continues"

A Lowly Cook said...

And yet you bother to post not one but two messages about it. I guess we should all only talk about Rwanda, Myanmar or revision of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Local stuff matters. Regeneration matters. If it doesn't, what are you doing on here?

Headhunter said...

Quite. All these people who continuously scream "NIMBY" such as anonymous 9:37am above should probably bugger off to the Guardian or some other such national/international website rather than bothering us here...

Bea said...

Lowly cook – well said!

I called the enforcement officer in charge of this yesterday – Jodi Sullivan – who told me that Speedicar’s had told him the sign was recycled (true) and had always been in use on that street (also true).

What they failed to tell him was that they had moved premises across the road and were now in the conservation area. This means they will have to ask for planning permission to put the sign up. However, the Council’s enforcement department is still waiting for Speedicars written response.

Tom said...

What we need is an Executive Decision and some Urban Justice!

Brockley Nick said...

If those signs were critical to Speedicars business, I might be more forgiving, but they are utterly pointless. The office is immediately visible to anyone coming from teh station, so that big plastic sign is overkill. The sticky-outy sign is ugly up-close and not visible from down the road - again, unnecessary. So it's not a question of persecuting the business, they are just being cheap, to the detriment of that whole street.

Anonymous said...

Shame that Nico, the taxi driver doesn't work there anymore.

Tressillian James said...

Bea - I received a similar response to yours - I really get the feeling that the council don't want to uphold the conservation rules - especially when it comes to shop signage.

Not to say we ought to give up - as I've said before the taxi firm has good patronage from Brockley residents - and can clearly see the effort put in with the regeneration of the station area - it needs to step up to the plate

Brockley Nick said...

I can't believe I missed Urban Justice!

APP&P Troll said...

But isnt speedycars present office a temporary location? I thought they were going to move back to the old premise once it has been completed.

If they are going to move again, then I can understand them waiting to develop and install better signage.

Wasn't the old premise also in the conversation area? I thought they had a notice up for a licence to develop within the conservation area.

Anonymous said...

What with the latest bookies, and this signage issue plus delays to the gallery it's almost as if a Black Dawn has ascended over Brockers.

Bea said...

APP&P - a map of the conservation are can be found here:

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6F7C1CDF-802C-4BFB-A94A-FA50D27317E8/0/Brockleyguidance.pdf

The flowerbed outside the station, the Common and the row of shops where Brocca is are in the conservation area. The block that was Speedicars, is not.

Although this is a temporary location for Speedicars (as in one to two years until the block of flats is complete) the building they are in is not a temporary structure nor does being there for a short while mean they can ignore planning regulations.

Headhunter said...

The council seems to have lost interest in the conservation area guidelines, or have they always been like this? Has anyone seen this bizarre application to shoehorn a house up against the side of 103 Manor Avenue - where Manor meets Geoffrey Rd?

There's a ridiculous little spot of land and someone wants to shove a 3 storey, glass and aluminium eyesore there, blocking light into the windows of 103! If they approve this, it's the end I tell you! It's completely out of keeping with everything around it!

http://tinyurl.com/5hua9h

Tressilliana said...

I think you can rely on the Brockley Society to object to that development.

Anonymous said...

the council looks after all of lewisham, remember, and so is necessarily responsive rather than proactive. Lets face it, with the issues raised on this site alone, we could probably monopolise most of their resources. So, until everyone is happy to cough up 100x the current council tax to pay for that sort of service, the priority 'queue' is established through complaints, lobbying, and reputational issues.

Its not a perfect system, but I'd rather live in an area where residents - neighbours - the community - are the people who identify problems and apply pressure accordingly, with the council there to create, ignore or enforce rules in respose; rather than an overzealous council with nothng better to do than fine me for whatever occurs to them. For instance, there was a thread some days/weeks back on this site about flytipping, with some people saying they feel its acceptable to leave stuff in your own front garden for others to pick through. Officially that might not be sanctioned, but most people don't mind, so no one complains, so the council don't prioritise it.

Speedicars signage: lets see what happens. I agree that the plastic signage is totally unnecessary and should be removed; and I'll be adding my voice to those who have already objected. In a perfect system, we'd see some result from that. But, of course the system isn't perfect....

Anonymous said...

Likewise, Brockley Society isn't some faceless monolith with capacity to act on anything and everything. If you think there should be a response forthcoming from Brockley Society, you should consider joining it and coordinating the action. Or find some other way of supporting it: donate money if that suits you better. Things don't happen of their own accord!

lb said...

I note that quite a few objections have already been received.

Actually, I'm not against inserting agressively modern buildings into historic areas; I think the idea of things being 'in keeping' can sometimes be taken to far, and that a well-designed contemporary building can be an exciting contrast to surrounding older buildings. And certainly far better than some dismal sub-Quinlan Terry bit of revivalism (usually carried out in shrieking orange brick, natch). I doubt this one is especially well designed (can't access the documents for some reason) but I'm very fond of glass, steel and wood, handled well.

Having said that, cramming a large dwelling on the site of a garage is probably taking things a bit far. I very much doubt this application will get anywhere.

Bea said...

Anon @ 11:02 – actually leaving stuff in your front garden to be picked over is perfectly legal as it is on private property (so long as it doesn’t become a health and safety issue – i.e. attracting rats). So there’s no way to stop your neighbour leaving their old bed frame and sofa in their front garden for years on end if they wish to do so.

The exception here is the conservation area which has an Article 4 attached to it where the rules are different and stricter.

But as you say, the council has to be notified by others if any regulations are being breached. I don’t expect them to be patrolling the streets to find them.

APP&P Troll said...

http://acolnet.lewisham.gov.uk/ACOLLATEDOCS/10577_1.pdf

point 1.5

According to the council committee who published this report, the old site is also within the conservation area.

If they have already had this sign up for a number of years, and its only temporary, I cannot see how the council will enforce this now.

I dont like it either, but you guys really need to be careful if you are going to take on a council.

APP&P Troll said...

Planning ref: DC/06/61492/FT

They also had to submit conservation area consent back in Nov 06.

Headhunter said...

I hope that application doesn't get through. I've already objected. I pass that spot almost every day and think this building would compromise the spacious leafiness of the area. The whole character of the cons area is epitomised by big brick built Victorian villas in spacious grounds with large trees. I think this build would also mean felling a couple of large trees next to the site. The spaciousness that attracted me to the area in the 1st place, drawing me away from looking at flats/houses further west would soon be lost if anyone is allowed to stick a house on any old small square of land.

I'm also not necessarily against sympathetic modern builds to contrast with the Victorian buildings, but I don't think they should be allowed to dominate, this one appears quite tall and doesn't blend at all judging from the artist impression sketches.

The site is right on a corner, near a fairly important junction and entry point into the cons area, so it's pretty sensitive.

Anyway, lets see what happens, hopefully the council'll refuse it, I know someone living in 103 and she is a bit concerned that the upper floors are going to effectively eliminate natural light entering part of her flat!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone picked up my Nico reference though.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see some defence of the Council (anonymous 11.02). Alot of people use this blog to slag the Council off rather than trying to work with them and understand budgetry constraints and pressures that they may be under.

Brockley Nick said...

@Andy

No-one is trying to "take on" the council, people have just contacted them to report something that breaks the rules and have asked them to investigate and enforce if appropriate. That's how the system is supposed to work - people are being "active citizens", helping the council to do their job.

Two years is an odd definition of "temporary" - it's two years of the area's life.

They have moved premises - can you point me to the legislation which says you are allowed to put up signs which would otherwise break planning regs, just because you've had them there a while on another building?

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon 11.26.

I did and was impressed by your knowledge of Seagalogy. I should have made that clear.

@Anon 11.27.

This thread is actually supposed to highlight the fact that the Council have taken action - well done Council. Let's see what happens next.

Bea said...

Yes, in the planning permission it says it is asking for Conservation area consent to demolish the building – but it doesn’t tie in with the map of the area – so not sure why they have asked for it?

(Interesting to note that in the past the site was given planning permission to be a betting shop).

However, the old building was a modern single story structure where, although the signage was pretty hideous, it was in keeping with the style of the building.

The new location is obviously early Victorian and the signage is totally out of keeping and not within the current conservation area planning guidelines.

APP&P Troll said...

I agree with all your comments Nick, my concern would be that:

1. A precendance has already been set.

2. Its the same sign being used at both locations.

3. If it is not an eyesore from one side of the street, why is it opposite.

As with everything, the real issue is in the detail. I havn't read the complaints made by the public or indeed whether Speedycars is particularly bothered to change/remove the sign.

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm sure there must be some sort of clause somewhere giving the council some discretion in these matters. the Rule of Law is not black or white, but grey i'm afraid.

APP&P Troll said...

Bea, Yes - I noticed the betting shop refence!

Wasn't going to mention it, as if it came from me everyone would start attacking again.

PaddyOm said...

Is anyone surprised by Speedicars 'new' signage? I for one certainly am not. From what i can see there is absolutely no real enforcement of shopfront regulations by Lewisham Council on Brockleys high street. In fairness, look at Lewisham town centre itself to see how little they seem to care about commercial premises signage, the whole Borough looks a complete mess to anyone driving through it. I cannot think of one part of Lewisham Borough with a nicely managed and protected commercial streetscape, except maybe Blackheath? The Council seems too busy offering 'support' to its many lazy residents than worrying about a silly thing like regulating Brockleys streetscape. Attempts by proactive retailers like Erin from the Broca to improve the look of the streetscape get spat on by disinterested businesses like Speedicars who dont care and the Council will do nothing to stop that. The best thing to do is simply stop using the businesses who offend most. Speedicars phone operators are incredibly rude anyway, I stopped using them ages ago. I have to smile at their 'recycled' signage claim though, i.e they were too tight to buy a decent looking one so ripped the old one from their old premises. How funny.

lb said...

[hh] Well, i've just managed to get to the elevations and the upper floor appears to be glass-walled - I don't think the building would cut off a terribly large amount of light, if any. Also, it's set back on the same line as the existing building and is rather lower than it, so is unlikely to affect the front / rear windows at 103.

Having said that, I'm still not keen on it - it's just an undistinguished box, though admittedly I doubt a local firm working to a limited budget could have come up with much more. I also think using a large area of stock brick - to 'blend in' with the terrace - is a mistake; modern stock bricks are vile things (I'm not even that keen on old ones) and an unrelieved wall of them looks nightmarish.

I have a feeling it'll be refused anyway - at least in its current form.

Anonymous said...

LB - where can I see a picture of the building?

lb said...

[PaddyOM] Shopfront signage is often covered by something called "deemed consent", which means that the council doesn't really have the power to enforce much, unless there are special regulations (which may, for example, apply within parts of the Conservation Area). It's up to the businesses themselves to make their signs tasteful, which I would respectfully suggest is the actual reason that Blackheath shop signage is more restrained - very different kinds of shops to those in Brockley.

I also doubt the Planning Department, which is responsible for this sort of thing, is too concerned about supporting "lazy residents" (as you put it) to do much about this - that was a, well, lazy comment. It's likely to be that they don't have a great deal of leverage over the signs you're talking about, because of certian conditions under which they're automatically permitted.

lb said...

[anonymous] Here - you'll need a .pdf reader installed.

Anonymous said...

lb- thanks.

PaddyOm said...

LB - yeah maybe your right. Perhaps the Council has nothing to do with shop front presentation and it is the retailers themselves. Seems a bit mad if you ask me.

On a separate note, does anyone know if Degustation has shut down? Their shutters were down the last 2 days in a row after work and their fittings were out on the street. I did think it would be hard for both it and Dandelion Blue to survive, perhaps Degustation has fallen first. What a shame.

Bea said...

I so hope not! I was a regular there for my wine and bread as well as occasional treat.

Anonymous said...

paddy, calm down, it hasn't shut as far as I'm aware, I bought stuff in there last weekend and they said things were going well. No mention of it shutting.

Headhunter said...

Strange that they would be shut 2 days in a row, perhaps they're on hols. But why were the fittings out in the street? Also, wasn't there mention of the SOTH expanding into the space next door?

APP&P Troll said...

The lady in the SOTH told me it was going to be a flower shop!

All these rumours, its crazy!

lb said...

[Paddyom] I think the thing is that they have to strike a balance between practicality and enforcement of planning control. I think the spirit of the 'deemed consent' regulations is that small businesses - of which most suburban high streets need all they can get - should be able to put up essential signage without going through complex, expensive consent procedures, or without employing the services of a skilled traditional signwriter, an expensive and dying breed.

Also, having to approve every bit of shop front signage would involve a lot of extra work for the planning authority - which would ultimately reflect in your council tax burden.

I agree that most modern, cheaply-produced PVC signs are very ugly, but there's not much that can be done about them under present legislation. They're cheap and quick to make (and presumably are produced within the size limits allowed under deemed consent), so small businesses will usually choose them. The most that can be done at the moment is to enforce certain rules in conservation areas, on listed buildings, and in other special cases.

PaddyOM said...

I hear ya LB.

Its just that I travel a lot with work especially to France and Germany and it saddens me that they seem to manage it so much better over there. The difference really is startling. The presentation of their shop rows is on the most part, organized and presents well. Maybe their retailers realize how awful and gaudy plastic signage looks and hence they choose not to use it. Its funny how over here a retailers image seems to take second place to the price of a sign. I am sure tasteful designs could be cheaply sourced if retailers were actually interested. Maybe the arrival of Portland wont be as bad as some expect as their signage actually looks OK. Who knows. I am one of these 'lets make Britain Great again' hippies who cant let go to this ideology...

Regarding Degustation its probably not shut at all, sorry if i paniced anyone and please keep shopping there! I just thought i would mention it in case someone knew something i didnt...

Oh God work is so boring!

lb said...

I agree that both large and small scale urban planning in Germany and France has always seemed more enlightened and advanced than ours; the British come across as slightly embarrassed by their large cities.(On top of all that, Germany in particular was kinda forced into rethinking its urban environments from scratch after most of them were flattened by Bomber Command and/or the Red Army). It's noticeable that architecture courses in the UK generally focus on major European cities as case studies.

Anyway, our high streets are a bit of a mess nowadays. Too much traffic is one part of the problem (and associated with it, a huge and growing assortment of road signs - driving through Streatham the other day I noticed just how much information you're bombarded with when driving). Then again, British governments have historically tended to support private car ownership even in urban centres, so no surprises there. Another problem is the number of plate-glass frontages slapped on buildings since the mid 1960s - we tend not to notice these nowadays, but they have a huge effect on the streetscape. Shop signs are another element, as is the quality of street furniture generally, which is usually poor.

Add to that the proliferation of out-of-town shopping complexes, with the result that a lot of town centres are dying on their backsides (as happened in the U.S. through the 1960s and 1970s) and it adds up to a pretty depressing picture.

APP&P Troll said...

Maybe Nick was right, you need to have 'active citizens' who actually care about these things.

Its not just companies who are at fault, their goals are quite transparent - to make a profit.
But what about the population who use them? The French to me are generally much more forthcoming about their views. Maybe they simply wouldn't tolerate disgusting shop fronts.

Tressillian James said...

The shop signage in Brockley is not under 'deemed consent' but is regulated - as is the appearance of the shop windows etc. I think the understanding is that old business established before article 4 will not be asked to change - but all new businesses could be.

See the wording below from the council website:

"Many alterations to existing shopfronts, illuminated
signage and new shopfronts all require planning
permission. In conservation areas the requirement
to preserve or enhance the historic or architectural
character of the area applies to commercial premises
as well as housing. New shopfronts should usually
be in painted timber with traditional elements such
as stall risers, timber fascias and traditional lettering
or signwriting. Security shutters should be of the
open grille type with the box concealed behind the
fascia. All architectural elements such as console
brackets, pilasters and floor tiling should be repaired
and retained. Aluminium shopfronts, internally
illuminated plastic signage and luminous colours will
not be permitted. For further information please ask
for our shopfront supplementary planning document."

lb said...

[tj] It's regulated within any of the conservation areas of Lewisham, as Clause 4 doesn't apply within such areas, but I don't think such powers apply anywhere else.

Tressillian James said...

[lb] I'm not quite understanding - the shops are within the conservation area - even those on Brockley Road. Therefore they are regulated? Is this how you also see it - or am I misunderstanding?

Bea said...

TJ - I think lb meant to say,

"It's regulated within any of the conservation areas of Lewisham, as Clause 4 applies within such areas. However, I don't think such powers apply anywhere else"

Apologies if I am wrong ...

lb said...

Um, yes, I thought perhaps we were talking about Brockley Road in general, not just about the Conservation Area. I know some of Brockley Road falls within the Conservation Area, but not all of it.

One thing I was wondering - does the Area include the western side of Brockley Road? The map's not very clear in that regard.

lb said...

Yes, bea, that's pretty much what I meant, although I think I caused confusion by referring to Clause 4 (the fourth clause of 'deemed consent' regulations is a specific type of signage; this automatic consent does not apply in conservation areas).

Basically, most shop signs go through automatically, unless a conservation area (or similar restriction) applies.

Bea said...

LB – I agree the map is not entirely clear – but I think the answer to your question is “no” the western half of Brockley Road is not part of the conservation area as I remember Sue Lexton referring to this fact in her protest to the Council about the unauthorised advertising sign on the pavement outside Brockley Kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

I havn't posted her for a very long time.... almost a year. But i was jus wondering if anyone could help me.

Does anyone know who actually owns the old speedy cars building?? and how i might contact them??

many thanks

nobbly brick said...

Funny, we get you everyday anonymous...

have you tried asking in the cab office?

JP said...

Paul. Pavilion Estates.

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