Brockley Bites - outsourced

Catherine wrote to us with a couple of unrelated topics - one mystery and one lost cause:

Dry cleaners

"I wanted to ask fellow Brockley residents if they know what has happened to Express Dry Cleaners - we have popped around there twice in the last few days to pick up laundry and the shop is closed with no signs to indicate why the shop isn't open. Phone number is not working either.. it is not looking very good."

Satellite dishes

"Sorry if you've discussed this before but I'm wondering what can be done about all the satellite dishes that have been put at the front of residences in the conservation area (even though they are not supposed to be able to be viewed from the street). Does anyone know who to contact to get people to put these unsightly things on the roof or at the back of properties. is it a case for enforcement? And if so, would we need to get these reported individually or any chance someone from the council can do a sweep of the area?"

We're conflicted about the dishes - they're unsightly, sure. But less so than, for example, the hundreds of wheelie bins that clog our streets or the condition that many of us keep our front gardens in. Many people regard them as a necessity and there are technical reasons why they sometimes need to be stuck on the front of houses. The dishes seem like a minor public nuisance, whereas to remove them would be a major private intrusion. Therefore, we wouldn't want any action to be taken, even if the Council was willing and able. In any case, it would seem a hugely difficult exercise, certain to enrage a large number of voters, so we don't believe it's a battle they would ever choose.

63 comments:

Headhunter said...

I fear you're right about the sat dishes. Neighbours of mine have told me they have spoken to the council about this many-a time, but the council either do not respond at all or do nothing.

I find it ridiculous they have let the situation get this far. Is the conservation area a conservation area or not? The council spends money on issuing booklets outlining rules, but never seems to enforce anything beyond major planning decisions. If the council can't be bothered then they should get rid of any pretence and stop wasting money on booklets and whatever it costs to administrate the area. If it is a conservation area then get on with enforcing rules.

If you ask me things like satellite dishes and that enormous Wates sign are far more of an issue than the poxy little Speedicars sign which riled so many people here. However the council makes no attempt to enforce guildelines in the conservation area.

When I lived in Islington, they were very attentive to conservation areas and quick to haul people up on douible glazing and satellite dishes. A colleague at work installed uPVC DG in her flat somewhere out west and was quickly told by the council to replace it with wooden framed DG.

Hugh said...

LBC exists for its tenants, not private owners, in all areas of housing policy. This is a losing battle although moral victory is ours.

How about debating the state of council-owned freeholds? Front gardens like rubbish tips, 6 wheelie bins per house...

drakefell debaser said...

Hasn't someone designed a dish that looks like a block of bricks or something specifically for this problem? I think the BBC website carried it.

on the subject of wheelie bins, our house is converted into 3 flats so we have one black bin each and a recycle bin to share. Come bin day the green bin is overflowing yet the 3 black bins contain contents that could fit into one. Does anyone know if the council would take say one black bin away and replace it with an extra green one?

Anonymous said...

DIY - I live in a house converted into 5 flats. we used to have 5 black bins and a green box. after a meeting of our tennants and an agreement to recycle more and buy less packaging i contacted the council. We now have 2 black bins and two green bins between us- an increase of 600% recyling and and waste reduction of more than 60%. My parents in crofton park share a green bin with their neighbour to keep the number of bins down to a min. I will add that there a massive worldwide shortage of wheelie bins at the mo and the council is struggling to supply them(if u ring they will add u to a waiting list). this seems the ideal time to collect unwanted bins to redistribute

tj said...

I can't see why you are conflicted Nick - unless you have a sat dish yourself. It's part of the conservation area regs - and like signage - it's being disregarded. Sat dishes can be situated at the back of house roofs (even on garden walls in the back garden) it's just more effort and cost.

Private owners know the conservation area rules; social housing tenants need to be informed of this before they accept the property.

Sat TV is not a right, nor is it a necessity as rubbish bins. In Blackheath, they use cable as Sat dishes are not allowed.

I'm afraid I think the council don't enforce because they would have a hard time gettign tenants to accept socail housing without a sat dish. The only time they have enforced to my knowledge is when new dishes go up.

Anonymous said...

"I'm afraid I think the council don't enforce because they would have a hard time gettign tenants to accept socail housing without a sat dish"
tut tut tj i hope u are not implying that sat dishes are the sole preserve of social housing. In my experience this simply ISNT the case

Brockley Nick said...

No I don't have a dish. I know it's not a right to have one and I don't like them (though I'm most troubled by the massive one on the back of the house next door which looms over my fence than I am by the small black ones on the front of houses).

But I am uncomfortable with enforcement for enforcement's sake on an issue which many people feel is very important to their lives.

It comes back to priorities. I would much rather action was takne to help people cut the number of bins they have (I like the sound of that sharing scheme mentioned)or to make people sort out the dumps they have turned their front gardens into or to evict squatters from properties, etc.

Or spend the money doing up pavements, etc.

tj said...

no I'm not implying it's the sole preserve at all - I accused Nick of having one - but I am implying that it may be a factor in why the council don't enforce. If they enforce on private residents then they have to enforce on social housing too

The last place I lived in Breakspears Road, the private residents had a dish - but had it sited on a back garden wall

Anonymous said...

Simple message to those who complain about the sky dishes: get a life, Mrs. Bucket.

tj said...

Nick - I get your point - I also would like to see these things tackled - but I don't see why we can't have it all. There is a specialist section (or was) in the council re conservation areas - they have nothing to do with squatters or waste - and they need to implement the planning rules. I think the Sat dishes are an eyesore - and the probelm can easily be solved by sticking them at the back or side of the house - I think people don't try to do this as they know they aren't going to be challenged

tj bucket said...

anon at 12.00 - tell us a bit more - do you live in the conservation area, do you have a dish, why do you think it's ok to leave them up in the conservation area?

When we buy a house here we know, and in may cases embrace the rules. It's part of our decision to live in the area. What do you think is worth enforcing and what is ok to ignore?

tyrwhitt ali said...

What is people's experience of getting tv without a satellite dish though? I've found that since Brockley is so close to Crystal Palace we get a lot of interfence and a normal rooftop aerial tends not to work. I currently struggle in my rented flat with a digibox and a set top aerial, but my reception is a bit touch and go. I tried cable but that's not an option in Brockley.

Headhunter said...

Exactly, if the conservation area is a conservation area then enforce it as such, otherwise do away with it.

Why does the council waste money with half baked policies? It's not enforcement for enforcments sake its plain and simple enforcement of rules. Why bother legislating or setting up rules and guidelines if you're just going to ignore them?

TJ - I also agree that we should be able to have all these things. Other councils seem to manage to maintain conservation areas. Even Lewisham does - take for example conservation areas in Blackheath which seem to be rigorously managed. Why should Brockley conservation area be a second class conservation area?

Drakefell - We have exactly the same problem with wheelie bins. There are 4 flats in our building with 3 grey bins and only 1 green one. The binment empty the grey one(s) every week, we only seem to fill 1 or 2 at most, but they only collect the green bins every 2 weeks by which time it is usually overlflowing and other flat owners have started putting recyclables in the trash as there is no more space.

Anonymous said...

I agree the dishes are ugly, something they should enforce is one per house, that isn't too bad and would mean people could still get their sky fix. It does get silly when you have a house with 4 or 5. As for bins, our house is 4 flats and we have 4 bins (but as it was converted recently they built a bin house with room for 4 bins which makes it less of an eyesore), we used to have 4 green boxes but they keep getting stolen so we are down to 2 (have gone through about 10). We asked several months ago for the council to take away 1 bin and replace it with a green bin that we would all share but they keep telling us it will be another 6 weeks. Crazy!

Do dah said...

You know I think a lot of people genuinely don't realise that this is a conservation area and what it means. Moreover there's plenty who know but don't care and will push things, such as I imagine the estate agents with the huge board.


For those that do care you are going to have to make the case as to why others should also.

lb said...

I don't have satellite and probably never will, but I have to admit I barely notice the satellite dishes any more.

It would probably be a nightmare for the council to enforce - I guess the only remedy they have, in the case of private households, is 'suggesting' that the dish is taken down. Probably the best bet would be to convince some vote-hungry councillor that an anti-dish crusade would be a vote-winner, and then leave them to get on with it.

Headhunter said...

How can you not know it's a conservation area? If you buy a flat or house in the area, it tells you in the paperwork quite plainly. If you rent then the council sends round those little booklets once a year with all the guidelines and rules for the conservation area. The Broc Soc sends round its magazine once every few months which plainly states it's a conservation area. I also can't believe that if you rent or buy the flat/house through an estate agent they don't mention that it's in the conservation area at least oooh, a few million times. Claiming ignorance is just stupidity unless you live in a vacuum.

Anonymous said...

My favourite is that they let the unscrupulous ex freeholder of our house (we have thankfully bought him out) build a house on our back garden, despite having been turned down twice before and erect gates that had no permission (they then granted it retrospectively). It was built on the condition that they provide 2 parking spaces for the rest of the house which he then tried to sell us for £6k each and that the new house had a garage built in, the minute the new owner moved in they converted the garage to a sitting room! Then just after it was finished the council sent us the booklet saying that they don't allow building on gardens and outlining our responsibilities. What about theirs?

Headhunter said...

Was that along one of the mews streets? There is soooo much inconsistency, the council has plainly stated several times that they would not allow building on back gardens along mews streets

Anonymous said...

Not in my back yard.

Anonymous said...

No Tressillian road

tj said...

I'm thinking that it sounds like the property on the corner of Tresillian and Harefield. It was redveloped nicely - and then a house put in the back garden although permission had been not granted. Went to view it last year when buying my new place -and the living room was a garge conversion.

Glad that he had the freehold bought out - but really the council should have made him rip it down.

Anonymous said...

Good guess!

Headhunter said...

So he put the house up without planning permission and the council just backed away.... What's the3 point of planning permission? I think if I were a developer I would just build where I wanted, doesn't seem the council would actually do anything.

Anonymous said...

No, I think he got permission in the end but with very stringent conditions that he then totally ignored and the gates had no permission.

tj said...

Which should mean: conditions not met - notice served on develpoper, developer doesn't comply, court order made for property to be taken down.

HH - why do only we think this is just too easy for the council to follow and get right?

The flouting of the planning regs in the conservation area isn't people taking a moral stand against unjust laws - this is greed and selfishness

Anonymous said...

But - when its to the extent of putting a sky dish on the side of your house, its hardly crime of the century.

Do a lot of people on this board by any chance work for the public sector? I've never seen quite so much jobworthy "The rules are quite clear"-talk in my life!

Anonymous said...

I work in the antithesis of the public sector. I think the point most people are making is that you pay a premium to live in a conservation area on the basis that it will be a nicer place to live, if people then ignore it why pay more - self defeating!

Vikki said...

I've never noticed that there is a huge problem with unsightly satelite dishes in the consersation area? To be honest the uPVC windows on Tyrwhitt Road annoy me more.

We do have a dish because we couldn't get a decent reception without. At that point we couldn't get cable (I think you can now) so we opted for satelite. However we live in a large property and our kindly upstairs neighbours allowed us to be connected through their dish so that we complied with planning regs. We had to pay Sky to do this, where as a standard connection is free.

To be honest I think Sky ought to do this kind of connection for free and more actively encourage it. I also think they should know where they can and where they can't fit dishes then lots wouldn't go up in the first place.

Also worth noting that larger properties in the conservation areas are allowed up to four dishes (I think).

Headhunter said...

Exactly TJ - All I'm saying is that if perhaps the council is so low on funds and people that it can't enforce rules it implemented then why pretend? Lets just do away with the rules and the conservation area and be done with it. If you set the rules, and stick to them then they will eventually need less enforcement as people will get used to not trying to bend and stretch them as they do now because they've not been enforced.

Putting a Sky dish on the side of your house is not "crime of the century", but the whole point of not having them there is to preserve the look and feel of an area which has been designated of particular interest.

I moved to a flat in the cons area after looking at houses on the dark side coz I love the look and feel of the big Victorian houses, not patrticularly for investment purposes or economic benefit

Anonymous said...

The rules have been in place for a while now and were originally lobbied for by residents. Anyone buying in the area is told by their solicitors and all residents are reminded on a regular basis. It's not jobsworthiness to want to maintain a nicer environment for everyone. I sometimes notice an inverted snobbery from some posters on here, as though they'd rather front gardens were full of authentic, working-class, fly tipped mattresses than lovingly tended plants, and the assumption that anyone who thinks differently is just obsessed with their house price. They're not, some people actually want to make the area a more pleasant place to be and I think that's laudable.

Anonymous said...

Drakefell Debaser I am in a similar situation - one house converted into 3 flats, however we have 2 green bins and one 'slimline' black bin between the 3 households. Each week the black one is only half full and the 2 green bins are 3/4 each. The Council had no problems giving us another green bin recently when one of ours vanished - just call them and ask. However i have since noticed a few of homeless ones littering my street if you fancy walking to St. Margarets Road and lugging one back to Drakefell ;)

tj said...

Anon @1516 has it right - this isn't jobsworthiness - and as HH points out - Lewisham have no problem enforincg it in Blackheath (Unless it's Greenwich that have got their act together). Either have the conservation area or don't have it - but something in between - decided by the rule of what I can get away with' is just laziness at council level.

Anonymous said...

but the original question is what can be done? Broc Soc ought to be able to tell us what they have done in the past. We could then take it from there. I wouldn't mind volunteering to do a sweep on my part of Brockley to assess the size of the issue. Soemhow I think Broc Soc aren't going to be interested though.

drakefell debaser said...

Anon 15:34 - thanks for the heads up I might wonder over in the dead of night and help myself to one thats lurking in the street. Lets see if bin theft sees a rise on those useful crime stats.

Continuing on the subject of bins. Some bins on Drakefell Rd are decorated with cartoon characters and other motifs etc. I think its great and i want mine done with a picture of bob mugabe on it. Does anyone know who is responsible?

The Cat Man said...

funnily enough, on my road-Revelon road- there are absolutely no saralite dishes on the front of the houses. And we're not in a conservation area!

I think the problem is that there may well be too many people breaking the 'c' guidance. A 'c' area should also be pro-actively managed by it's residents. How does the resident management compare with other 'c' areas for example? I'm sure there would be high proportion of people renting who would care less about the 'c' rules in Brockley, you also expect too see lower standards in poorer areas in London.

The Cat Man said...

Hh, I know you don't like the councils attitude to this, but have you actually rang them up and insisted to talk to someone?

spincat said...

They are useful for navigation - the urban equivalent of moss on trees. The small satellite dishes all point to the south (south south east) in London.

Headhunter said...

Andy - Yes I've tried contacting the council on things before, mainly by email, but usually not got a response, so have given up.

Haven't tried them about getting another green wheelie bin though

The fact that there are no satellite dishes on Revelon may be something to do with it's orientation. I notice that on Manor Avenue, there are only satellite dishes on the front of the even side of the road and none on the odd side. On the odd side they are all on the backs of the houses. The even side faces east I think, so I am assuming that satellite dishes need to point east to get reception or something?

Looking at Revelon Rd on a map, it is at a slightly different angle to Manor, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

Bea said...

Regarding satellite dishes and conservation area rules, when I rented I was less interested but now that I am a home owner I actively ensure they are enforced on my street. This is not because of house prices but because I have taken a conscious decision to remain in the area, raise my kid here and therefore would like it to be an environment to be proud of and enjoy living in.

My experience with the council in this regard has been a positive one. They asked a neighbour to replace their new UPVC windows with wooden framed ones when I lived on Breakspears Road. They also ensured that the massive satellite dish on the front of another neighbouring house was moved to the roof.

At my current address, a telephone call to the enforcement officer ensured that the dump that was my neighbour’s front garden was cleared of about 50 black bin bags (as it contravened Article 4) and at another property they made a developer removed the concrete slabs covering the entire front garden and replace it with grass. (In the process I also discovered that the developer hadn’t actually been grated planning permissions at this stage although the changes were nearly complete!).

And most recently they have ensured the removal of the now infamous Speedicars sign.

So, all in all, I think they do take action, however, it does require a complaint. The enforcement officers do not, as far as I am aware, patrol our streets looking contraventions.

HH - why don't you try calling - I have found that far more effective.

As for bins – thanks to Dean Walton (Brockley Ward Councillor) who used to post here – our flats (3) have a green bin after an 6 month wait.

Headhunter said...

bea - It's heartening to hear that they do take notice. I have called about issues in the past, but I usually email. I'l try calling in future

Anonymous said...

Drakefell debaser I think that there is someone on Wickham Road that does them for a fee. My husband pointed them out to me the other day, they are just by the junction with Harefield Road, if you are walking up the hill then go left and it's about the 2nd house down. I don't know this for definite but that's what I've been told.

Tamsin said...

I think the Artmongers chap, Patricio Forrester had something to do with the Drakefell wheelie bins - or at least he does produce bin covers (as well as the bigger rubbish eaters). Leafletting Drakefell is a pain on the knees - all those steep area steps - but I do enjoy looking at the bins (get a life!) and some people have been really imaginitive with their tiny area space.

Sky are significantly at fault in the way they promote dishes. Everything free, except not telling you that to be legal you should pay £40 for planning permission that you mgiht not get. It does not surprise me that they charge for the non-standard connection to an existing dish. Quite typical of their attitude and their poor commission driven salesforce.

drakefell debaser said...

Thank you Anon 17:29 I will go and have a look. I hope you dont have to take the bin there for them to do it. If i am seen nicking a recycling bin from St Margerets Rd and then dragging a black bin up to Wickham Rd people will start to talk.

Tamsin, I hope these are not pizza leaflets you are dropping off ;]

Anonymous said...

on the dry cleaners - I understand that the people there have moved to new premises in baker st and that new people are supposed to be taking over soon.

Headhunter said...

God, the pizza leaflets and bargain fried chicken flyers.... they must account for a small rainforest in Brockley alone...

Tamsin said...

Nah, Festival, anti-CPZ and THS. An interesting question, though, when notices (polite or less polite) say "no junk mail". Others don't regard what they ae delivering to be junk mail while I take the cautious route and don't leave anything - but such folk do miss out on useful local info. I'm all for people being more specific and saying "No Menus" etc.

Moira said...

Drakefell Desaser,
I'm pretty sure Artmongers did the ones going up Telegraph Hill. The Wickham Road person lives at 68. Contact Becky at the Tea Leaf Arts and she'll let you know who to get in touch with.

JPM said...

I gave up on adding to this site a while back, but one more shot...

Take down the numbers of the offending properties with satellite dishes on the frontage (within the Conservation Area) and send them to Lewisham Planning. Then watch what happens.

nobbly brick said...

you'll be waiting a long time to see nothing happen JPM

But it's good to see satellite dishes bringing out the true cardigan wearers amongst the Brockley Centralites

Headhunter said...

JPM - That's exactly what the council told my downstairs neighbour to do on Manor Ave when he complained about the sat dishes, so he diligently went round and took down all the numbers - I think there were in excess of 50 sat dishes, he sent the numbers to the council and..... Nothing.... as usual.

NB - Cardigans are very this season. Head down to the Amersham Arms to see the "cutting edge" art students wearing them with their Converse and spray on jeans. Oh so retro.

Smoocher said...

wow. i appreciate that i may be slightly younger than the majority here. i really hope i have better things to get wound up about when i'm older than someone with a satellite on the side of their house.

do people really, honestly feel it is a worthwhile use of council payers money on enforcing people to take down and move them?

Anonymous said...

I certainly don't. For me they're just a normal thing that you'd see on a house, like a door or a window. Its not like this is the mid 80s and everyone's going "ooh look Petunia, one of them satamelite dishes!"

Nina said...

The first time I ordered a green wheelie it never turned up. I think they delivered it next door by accident. I would be annoyed but next door started to use it and I'm a bit enviromental so I was a little bit pleased that someone else was accidentally recycling! It also seemed like a pretty easy mistake. The second time I ordered a green wheelie I explained that the previous one had been delivered to the wrong place and it took them a week and a half to deliver mine.

"If you rent then the council sends round those little booklets once a year with all the guidelines and rules for the conservation area. The Broc Soc sends round its magazine once every few months which plainly states it's a conservation area"

According to the council's map I live in the conservation area and I don't recall seeing either of these things.

Tressilliana said...

'The BrocSoc sends round...'

What this actually means is that a team of volunteers trudge the streets delivering them, if they arrive. My batch didn't arrive in June so nobody on my territory would have got them this quarter. If you live in a house with lots of flats in it, it's possible that somebody else took yours, if there weren't enough put through the letterbox.

However, you can always read the BrocSoc newsletter online:

http://www.brockley.com/brocsoc/newsletter.html

(Link to pdf version at foot of screen.)

Jason said...

What has age got to do with this? I am 34 years old, some consider that old, I don't but whatever. I am neutral about satellite dishes, though, I think they are a waste of money, if you have broadband access, as you can get pretty much anything you want when you want and for a lot cheaper.

But the real point is that, most of the appeal of a conservation area and why you pay a premium to live there, whether rent of buy is the appearance of the place. This is the reason why the no satellites at the front of the house rule is there.

The sight of satellite dishes is a normal thing to see in non conservation areas. But we live in a conservation area.

The people that have these dishes on the front of their houses in direct contravention of the rules, are showing disrespect to their neighbours, who follow the rules.

It's not about whether you are young or not or liberal, left or conservative, cardigan wearers etc it's about whether you have respect for your neighbours and consider others or you're someone who puts their own wants above everone else's.

Brockley Jon said...

Jason, you have a point about satellite being a waste of money, and outdated. We have Sky, but only because there was a dish there when we moved in (at the back!), and there was rubbish TV reception.

But that was years ago and we haven't bothered to change to anything better than Sky. As you say, nowadays there are other options like TV via broadband, and much better freeview aerials/receivers.

Come to think of it, I'm sure Sky, if they actually cared, could really micro-size their satellite dishes.

I mean, think about how big they were when they first came about. We've had the 'minidish' for years now and surely technology is ready for much smaller and less intrusive dishes - ones more sympathetic to our surroundings. I think it's just Sky refusing to push things forward.

Re. bins, funny story (not that funny) - our building of 4 flats had 4 black bins which we never filled up. We requested that one was taken away, and a couple of weeks later, a brand new black bin arrived outside! Seemed like they had trouble understanding someone actually wanted less bins!! They had to come back again and take the two away.

Mara said...

Well stated Jason! I share your view.

Headhunter said...

I agree Jason. It's simply respect for an area that has been designated of interest. I don't care how old you are - I'm pretty much the same age as you but don't care any more about these sorts of issues than I did when I was 23.

Also, as I've said, non-enforcement of the conservation area regs simply has the effect of making the council look ineffective. It's the same with these pointless 20mph limits on residential streets that everyone ignores. No one enforces these regs so the whole implementation is a pointless waste of money and is yet another point upon which the council does not appear to be working.

Anonymous said...

Re Express Dry Cleaners, if anyone is interested, the previous owner said he'd be there wednesday 10th between 5.30 and 7.30pm for people to pick up their dry cleaning. Lets hope he is true to his word!

Anonymous said...

re the satellite dishes, it is VERY clear. the rule is there and it is to be complied with. otherwise a creeping lack of regard for the conservation nature of the area starts to take root.

as per NY policing policy, zero tolerance for small offences is surprisingly effective at stopping the rot.

Anonymous said...

anonymous displaying the jobsworthyness of a school receptionist, there.

Anonymous said...

It is often acknowledged in both the left and right wing press, Mr/Ms Anon, that standards have slipped horribly in this country in many different respects. One reason is that small rules are frequently ignored and one of our natioanl traits is to be too timid to speak up for our right to have these rules enforced.

We pay a premium to live in a conservation area - we also pay council officers but that's another story. Please enforce the rules, Lewisham Council, as otherwise you might find the voters choose to appoint others who will.

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