East London Line in recognisable location shock


A key part of East London Line infrastructure has been winched in to place in recent days. We post this picture up (courtesy of DarJoLe) not so much because it required a record-breaking crane to winch this bridge over Shoredith High Street in to place, but because it shows how close the ELL runs to Liverpool Street Station, on the east of the City.

The tall building on the right is called Broadgate Tower. It sits next to Liverpool Street and is part of the City's controversial eastward march in to Hackney. Meanwhile the tall thing in the foreground is the Gherkin.

Crofton Park services boost planned

Crofton Park could benefit from greatly increased train services, according to the latest draft of the Strategic Rail Plan, developed by Network Rail. But it could come at the expense of the services enjoyed by our neighbours in Nunhead.

Lewisham Council has long-campaigned for increased train services to Catford (presumably to appease the gentrified hordes that are currently invading that area, eh Ross?). As part of the consultation, Lewisham Council made a submission in support of the option to route the extra trains south-eastwards to Catford and Bromley rather than through Lewisham towards Bexley. This option would improve train frequencies to Crofton Park, Catford, Bellingham and Beckenham Hill.

However, over in Nunhead, it's a plan which Cllr Fiona Colley is doing her best to scupper, on the basis that it could lead to reductions in local services. As you can see on her blog, she claims it could lead to:

  • No direct trains between Denmark Hill and London Bridge (currently 2 per hour)
  • Direct trains between Peckham Rye to London Bridge reduced from 8 per hour to 6 per hour
  • Direct trains between Queens Road to London Bridge reduced from 8 per hour to 6 per hour
  • No direct trains between Queens Road and Victoria (currently 2 per hour)
The review takes place against the backdrop of the completion of the high-speed rail link to Kings Cross, the green-light for Thameslink and the plan to extend the East London Line to Clapham Junction:
  • High Speed One frees up network capacity in South London
  • Thameslink will allow for more north-south rail journeys through London Bridge and will expand the capacity of Blackfriars
  • The East London Line Extension will provide new options for commuters in the Queens Road area
An increase in services to Crofton Park and Catford is currently the likely option, subject to the second phase of the East London Line extension being approved (itself a virtual certainty).

The strategic review is ongoing, but the plans relate to services from 2011 onwards.

Thanks to Ed for the information.

Trees again

Earlier this week, we reported that a Lewisham College lime tree was about to join The Elizabeth Oak in Greenwich Park and the tree that used to stand atop One Tree Hill on the list of famous ex-trees.

Having read the feedback in reposnse to that article, which detailed Lewisham Council's proposal to cut it down and replace it, officers from the Council have offered to meet with Cllr Dean Walton and some Brockley Central readers to discuss the plans and talk about the Council's wider strategy for managing trees in the area, which is clearly a topic that many who live here feel very strongly about.

We think this is a very positive gesture on their part and shows that your views are being read and reflected on by the Council. Invariably, these issues are more complicated than we reduce them to, so the start of a dialogue about this case and the wider issues it represents is a good first step.

The meeting would be on-site in the early morning, around 7.30am, in order to allow people to get to work afterwards. It will take place in early April, before the scheduled felling of the tree.

If you would like to attend the discussion, please email Brockley Nick at the usual address and we will put forward some names to the Council. If we are oversubscribed, Brockley Central will pick 2-3 people to attend. We will also report on the meeting, for the benefit of all BC readers.

Brockley in the media

The Times, How rail projects such as Crossrail are changing London's property map.

March 28th, 2008

"Several other rail projects will be finished well before Crossrail and are already having an impact. By June 2010, the East London Line will run from Dalston Junction, in the North, to New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon in the South. It will stop off at the southeast London suburbs of Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham and Penge West, turning the current trickle of property buyers from the City and Canary Wharf into a steadier stream.

"By 2011, the long-awaited extension between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington will be complete. Prices in Dalston, a more inaccessible and less gentrified part of Hackney, have already risen in anticipation of the link. For example, a one-bedroom flat at The Interchange scheme would have cost £210,000 off-plan in 2006, but these small flats are now being sold for £250,000. "

Get ready for the Fun Run

Team Brockley Central is planning to take on the 5km Hilly Fields (April 27th) Fun Run and we've been given a training plan by Erin Essex, written by no-less an authority than Mike Gratton, who apparently won the London Marathon 25 years ago.

Here's Part One for those of you currently mulling it over. Part Two contains some useful advice on how to avoid dying, so if you're not a seasoned runner, perhaps you should wait for the next episode before stepping out. Brockley Central accepts no liability for any injuries you may suffer as a result of this training plan, nor any dog muck you may accidentally run through:

All people have different levels of ‘trainability’ and natural potential. It is possible for complete beginners to make very rapid progress and move up the targets, while others find initially that they can’t achieve the early training levels. There are two golden rules whichever level of improver you find yourself: a) Build-up very gradually, and b) You must rest and recover before training becomes beneficial.

Building-up: Even if you come from a good level of fitness, trying to build-up too quickly will certainly get you injured. Running is a repetitive activity that involves your foot hitting the floor repeatedly with considerable force being transmitted up through the legs and into the lower back. The reason that experienced runners can handle such high levels of training is because they have taken years to get there. Your body adapts slowly to new stresses and a product of regular running is that your bones will harden and become more resilient to the new forces. So fit people beware: your engine (heart & lungs) may find it easy – but after a while your legs won’t.

Rest & Recover: The natural thought is that you get better when you train hard. While that is not altogether untrue, the reality is that your body actually gets fitter while you are resting. Here’s how it works: during hard exercise your body gets tired, waste products build up and energy levels fall as you have used up fuel - you are technically less able than before you started training! If you continued the same level of activity over several days you would become progressively more tired and eventually you will breakdown – either with injury or illness. However, when you stop and rest your body starts to repair the damage, which it will do to a higher level than before as the body recognises a need to adapt to the new stresses that you’re subjecting it to.


Frequency: A regular training pattern is more important than any one session. There is a cumulative effect from training regularly which is not achieved by doing all your training on one or two days each week.

Going the Distance: For 5km races it is usual to train up to and over the race distance.
Your training is done to encourage physiological changes in your body – one of these is the ability to use different forms of energy. The most efficient energy source is glycogen – basically a sugar stored in the muscles. This will last for about 1 ½ hrs of fairly rigorous exercise – like running. Therefore this will be your prime energy source during the event. After that has gone the body learns to use fat for energy – which we all have a big supply of. The faster you run the more your body uses glycogen as an energy source, when you are running slowly you will be in the fat burning zone – although this does not mean you will loose loads of weight, which is more a balance between calories in and calories used.


Don't forget to collect your application forms from the Broca.

The Dog and Bell, 116 Prince Street, Deptford

Please post your comments and reviews here.

The curious case of the silver welly

"Who so Hurleth This Welly Furthest O’er this Field, is Rightwise King Born of All Brockley."


When someone sends you an email like this, you can’t not try to help:

Hello Nick, sorry to trouble you with this.

At a summer fair on Hilly Fields last year I took part in a welly throwing contest and won a delightful silver welly on a plinth. I was asked to return this before this years and don't seem to have the detailsof the man who gave it to me. I am happy dropping it off, but I don't know where. It was very windy and the bands roof cover blew off if that gives you any idea of which day it was. If you could put me in contact with the organisers that would be great.


Are you the person this man needs to speak to? Do you know the person who is?

If so, please email us at nick.barron@gmail.com and we will reunite you.

Mysterious ways

"Earlier on this week I was driving on the South Circular and I drove past a church with a big sign outside it with big capital letters, which said: 'You won't get to heaven on the South Circular.' And I thought: 'No, but I will get to Tooting, where I live. Where all my stuff's kept."

Stewart Lee, Fist of Fun.

Brockley Central is not a god-fearing sort of blog, but this post has shaken our atheist convictions to their very foundations. For if God does exist, then he / she / it would surely choose to make their presence felt on a train between London Bridge and Brockley. We find this far more convincing proof of God's greatness than milky statue tears or stigmata.

Although Jez doesn't reveal what the almighty said, hopefully it was something more helpful than "can you move down please!?".

Tree's reprieve?

A while back, Dllr Dean Walton got wind of a plan to fell a tree on Lewisham Way, to allow a CCTV camera in Lewisham College car park to function. He asked Brockley Central readers for some quick feedback on the plan and then raised the results (uniform condemnation) with the relevant teams within the Council, to see if a new plan could be made.

So did the protests by local residents save the tree?

Well, no.

The 12m lime tree is to be removed in the next few weeks.

As a result of the feedback though, the CCTV team have agreed to fund the planting of a replacement tree (no word what kind - most likely something considerably smaller) at the same that the lime is removed.

Reasonable compromise? Hollow victory? Unnecessary expense? Welcome response?

What do you think?

Brockley Station, 7.45am today

On the northbound platform, an elderly anti-capitalist demonstrator was being harangued by a deeply unpleasant hoodie, who was accusing him of begging and tearing his leaflets in to a shower of confetti.

Two things struck us about this unfortunate vignette. The first was that the irony in the fact that the anti-capitalist (whose newspapers had an alarmist front page decrying the use of 'big brother' technology at Terminal 5) eventually scared off the kid by telling him that his actions were being recorded on the station's CCTV system and he could face a £50 fine.

The second was that plenty of people on the station stood up for the guy against against the hoodie. Brockley commuters are neither cowering, nor atomistic. If gentrification means more people like that and fewer people like the hoodie, then we welcome it with open arms.

The Future of Hilly Fields

Anyone with an opinion worth listening to counts Hilly Fields as one of the best things about living in Brockley. The stunning slopes play a central role in local life, from the Summer Fayre and the Max, to the farmers market and the inaugural fun run.

And yet the park itself is relatively little discussed on this site. We've been aware of the Hilly Fields Users Group for a while, but not sure who to talk to about their work. Fortunately, Sue Luxton sent us a copy of their minutes and gave us the contact details for them. Having just interviewed Rachel, from the Users Group, we're glad to hear that 'better communication' is a high priority for them, going forward. We're also pleased to hear that a cafe, while still a distant prospect, is something they support.

Here's what she told us about the group's work and Hilly Fields' future:

What does the group do?

I've been involved for about five or six years, but the group's been going a lot longer.

In the early days, our remit was just to scrutinise Glendale, the park management contractors. It was a very limited and not especially rewarding role! These days, we are more proactive and have developed a long-term plan for the park, which has the support of the Council.

It's been difficult to raise money for improvements. We work well with Martin Hyde, from Lewisham Council's "Green Scene" department, but they have relatively little money to fund what we need. However, the Council is considering trying to achieve "Green Flag" status [the national standard of excellence] and to do that, they'd need to put some money in to it.

So what has the group been working on?

Well, most of what we do is not especially radical. We have been working to improve the biodiversity of the park and make small improvements to its physical appearance and facilities.

Specific projects we've been involved with include:

  • Planting the meadow to increase the number and range of flowers
  • Creating a new gate on the east side, to improve access and reduce flytipping, which had been a problem
  • A 'bird champion' project to encourage more birds to use the park
  • We're currently petitioning the deputy mayor to secure funding for the paths. At the moment, there are some people who simply can't get up the hill because of the poor surface. You can sign it at the Sunflower Centre.
Wherever possible, we've tried to work with local schools. For example, we worked with Prendegast to design the new gate and we worked with Gordonbrock to plant primroses, which are now beginning to flower.

We recently got some funding from the Ladywell localities fund for an outdoor table tennis table, which is now on order and will go up by the tennis courts. [Brockley Central loves this idea but is slightly concerned that a game so susceptible to wind should be positioned in such an exposed spot...]

Longer term, what are your plans?

We want to improve the playground. It doesn't compare well with many other parks, such as Telegraph Hill, and it's too exposed to the elements. We'd invest in brand new equipment and relocate sections of it so that the park steps down the hill more. That's a big undertaking though and could cost up to £200,000. But if the Council is serious about Green Flag status, then that's the kind of thing they need to do.

Relocating parts of the playground would also be in keeping with our vision, which is to minimise clutter at the top, so that people can enjoy the stunning views properly.

We're hoping to become a pilot project for Natural England, which has money available for projects which enhance biodiversity in city sites. This would involve making some big improvements to the meadow area.

The toilets are in poor condition and our ambition is to create a cafe in the park, which everyone tells us would be the best change we could make to Hilly Fields. Obviously, the park's accessibility is a big challenge in terms of how we would protect a cafe from burglary and vandalism. Ladywell Fields built something similar and, despite it being completely emptied every night, it was still broken into. We'd still like to make it happen, even if we have to start with a temporary solution to test the market, but honestly, there is no plan to make it happen at the moment. It's the kind of thing we need more help with.

What do you think the group needs to do better?

Most importantly, we need more people. The people who are involved are committed, but we are a small group and we lack some of the skills we need. We really could benefit from the involvement of people who understand how to fund raise effectively.

We only meet a few times a year and people can get as involved as they like - if you just want to help with some planting once or twice, that's fine. If you want to help with fundraising or publicity, but you can't make regular meetings, that's fine too.

Part of our responsibility in this regard is to communicate more effectively with the outside world. To that effect, we are developing a website, but we also need to work more closely with a lot of the other groups in the area, such as the Brockley Society and the Brockley Cross Action Group. A lot goes on in the park that we don't have any involvement with and which the park doesn't benefit from. Not long ago, there was a small fun fair set up in the park without our knowledge and the no money was contributed towards the park by the people who ran it. That seems like a missed opportunity.

What ongoing gripes do you have?

Well, one of the biggest problems is dogmuck. It's sad that it should occupy so much of our time, but it spoils everyone's enjoyment and the problem seems to have got worse recently. We know that there are a small number of dog-walkers who are the problem, but there is no co-ordinated way of penalising them. If you walk your dogs in Hilly Fields, please clean up after them!

How can people who want to help get involved?

Please email me at hillyfields4@googlemail.com and I can add you to the mailing list or let you know about upcoming meetings.

Brockley Jack Film Club

The Brockley Jack Theatre (which at one stage appeared at risk due to the refurbishment of the Brockley Jack pub) is due to reopen in June. The Theatre's original layout will be retained, allaying the fears of the theatre company and cementing the venue's future as an important part of the London fringe.

When it reopens, we can not only look forward to the return of live theatre and a better place to have a drink afterwards, but also Brockley's first proper film venue.

Film club orgniser Gregor Murbach explains:

"We are planning to launch a volunteer-based film club that would offer an enjoyable cinema experience for the local community. A venue has been found; the Brockley Jack Theatre. It's an intimate and comfortable venue, with cinema-style seating. Unlike most cinemas, the venue is licensed, so you can take a drink with you for the screening if you want. The team behind the theatre has been very supportive and now it's a question of letting the people know about our idea, finding out what they would like and getting a bit of funding to quick-start the project, hopefully by the early summer."

If you're interested in the film club, either as a prospective volunteer or viewer, please complete the online survey here.

In the absence of a full-time cinema, this seems an excellent way of providing a big-screen experience locally, while giving the Theatre a life beyond its own productions. Talk of parent-and-baby screenings and opportunities for local film-makers to showcase their work is also very encouraging.

Our only caveats to all of this are that we hope the film choices aren't too obscurant and that the film club will talk to the Rivoli management about the possibility of staging screenings at the Ballroom (an idea raised at the recent meeting of the Brockley Society). Finding events that the current management deem appropriate for them seems to be an increasingly tough challenge and, with the Rivoli only open a handful of times in the month, one of our greatest treasures is out of reach to most people, most of the time. If a way of screening films can be found, it would be a great addition to the Rivoli's limited repertoire.

Brockley Rise Pottery Centre

The first classes at the brand new Pottery Centre on Brockley Rise will begin on April 21st.

Here's what Lewisham News had to say about it:

"It will be the venue for a range of pottery courses, from shorttasters to City and Guilds. The studio is well equipped with four kilns, 14wheels, a glaze room and a resources room. As well as throwing, you can learnhow to make pottery and sculpture by coiling, slab-building and pressmoulding.

You can also learn a range of decoration techniques and processes using slipsand glazing. Courses are run by Community Education Lewisham (CEL), part ofLewisham Council, at all times of day. There will also be five Saturday courses, plus week-long intensive courses in May and in the summer.

To enrol for courses starting in April,visit one of the CEL centres, apply by post or call 020 8314 3288. Call 020 8314 3280 or take a look at the CEL prospectus in libraries or visit www.cel.lewisham.gov.uk"

Thanks to Terry for the news.

Trees reprise

When Cllr Johnson approached us to ask Brockley Central readers where the remaining 5 trees available from the Localities Fund should go, our first question was naturally "where have the others been allocated to?"

We now have the answer:

The following have been identified so far following representations from local residents:

Admiral Street SE8
Shardeloes Road S14
Tresillian Road SE4


This being the case, we're now happy to throw our hat in to the ring on behalf of Brockley Road. For four reasons:

1. If ever there was a road in need of some cheering up, it's Brockley Road
2. The majority of people use the road regularly, so it will benefit the most people
3. Improving the look and feel of the road will help to attract new business and therefore bring wider benefits
4. Much of the support for the idea of spending the money on street trees was based on the need to improve the high street

Finding spots to plant the trees won't be easy and there are plenty of other spots in need of trees, but we would like to see at least 3 of the 5 trees planted on Brockley Road, in spots that will do most good.

Chai's Garden Thai Restaurant, Telegraph Hill

To the west of Telegraph Hill Park, Chai's Garden Thai Restaurant and Café sits behind Skehans pub, in a converted stable block, with its own entrance round the side of the pub on Gellatly road.

The presentation of this place can't be faulted. We went expecting a fairly standard Thai-in-a-pub type affair, but the restaurant really stands on its own, taking up virtually all the pub garden, which is also well presented with some nice planters. The acres of glazing make it feel like dining alfresco, even in March! We'd imagine it could be great to sit outside on a warm summer night.

There is a large range of drinks available, including Thai beers, wines, or drinks on draft direct from the pub next door. Prices are reasonable, and this place must hold the record for the cheapest pint of Hoegaarden we'd ever seen, at £3.80.

We opted for two mixed platters to start with, at £7 a piece, and although tasty, worked out quite expensive for the amount of food that arrived. The mains arrived in good time, all beautifully presented, and decent portions. The Thai curries were as good as any we've tasted in this price bracket (we had a Roast Duck curry, and a Penang Chicken), and our fellow diner's Pad Thai was reassuringly good – a test of any Thai.

Service was relaxed throughout (though some could take that as being a tad slow), and the atmosphere was very chilled, with oriental music tinkling away. The bill was no doubt a bit more than it would have been at somewhere like Smiles, but it felt like it was worth it. In all, despite Brockley and New Cross' abundance of decent Thai restaurants, we'd still recommended a trip to this one.

Afterwards, we washed down our fantastic food with a few pints of Old Speckled Hen at the Montague Arms - an adventure in its own right, and one that we'll have to tell you about another time.

Ukuleles

We recently had our knuckles rapped for claiming to report on "all things" Telegraph Hill but failing to deliver on that promise. Things have happened in Telegraph Hill, which we haven't written about.

But no local constituency can be as underrepresented as the thriving SE4 grassroots ukulele movement. Now, thanks to the excellent Transpontine, we are happy to put the record straight:

"Meanwhile down at Broca cafe in Brockley, the new Brockley Ukulele Group has started strumming. It's very much a Sunday afternoon drop in jam at the moment, if you're interested pop into the cafe opposite Brockley station in Coulgate Street and ask."

Brockley Central will almost certainly never pick up a ukulele to join in or even go and watch them play. But knowing they exist somewhere nearby, having fun with their ukuleles, makes us feel happy.

The Brockley Fun Run – 10am, April 27th, 2008

A 5km Hilly Fields Fun Run will launch this year’s Brockley Summer Season.

The goal is to attract 300 runners, though up to 500 could take part. The hope is that this will become an annual fixture in Brockley’s calendar, to sit alongside the MAX, the Summer Fayre, Open Studios, Hillaballoo and the Blythe Hill Fesitval.

Event organisers and newly-elected BXAG Trustees, Erin Essex and Rob Taylor, have been working on their plans for a fun run for nearly three years and have recruited a professional race organiser to help make it a reality. The money awarded from the 2007 Localities Fund was a vital piece of the jigsaw, as was the support of the BXAG.

Now, with the funds raised, the necessary health and safety boxes ticked and permission from the Council secured, it’s actually happening.

Speaking at the BXAG Annual General Meeting, Erin said:

“The Fun Run will be a great way to bring the community together and a natural high for runners taking part. All the profits will go towards the Brockley Common project.

“We’ve walked the course in an hour, so pretty much anyone can take part – runners who cross the finish line all get a T-shirt and a medal. Even if you can’t run the course, we’d like as many people as possible to turn up to show their support.

“We’ve already signed up a lot of people, from serious runners to a couple who are planning to run the course in sumo suits. It really is for everyone.”

Given the number of cyclists, joggers and cat-walkers this site can boast among its readership, we hope that a good number of Brockley Central readers will sign up.

The cost of entry is £12, £9 for concessions and free for Under-12s (+£5 for a T-shirt).

You can also pick up a registration pack from The Broca coffee shop (4 Coulgate Street, Brockley, SE4 2RW) or register on-line at www.runnersworld.co.uk

The Fun Run is the kind of community activism that Brockley Central likes best. Like the New York Seed Bombers (who decided to turn ugly scraps of land around their neighbourhood in to floral idyll’s with liberal sprinklings of seeds), Erin and Rob had an idea to make something better, decided to do something about it themselves and stuck at it.

Congratulations to everyone, including the team at Lewisham Council, who helped to make this a reality.

We’ll be covering the build up to the Fun Run in the coming weeks.

The Flower of Kent, Lewisham Way

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

Street Trees

Following the public consultation over last year’s Brockley localities fund, it was decided that a good proportion of the £10,000 available should be spent on trees.

Since then, the Council has been working to identify appropriate sites in the area and have already allocated some of the trees (though at present, Brockley Central is not sure which spots have already been targeted).

However, five trees remain unallocated and Cllr Darren Johnson has asked us to publish this message from him, to get your thoughts about where the trees should be planted. He'll be checking the site for your comments.

The sites obviously all need to be in the Brockley ward and should benefit as many people as possible.

We’ll also be asking for details of the “metal railings” that will accompany the trees, as the design will play an important role in determining the success of this exercise:

Is your street grey and dull rather than green and leafy as Brockley streets should be? Is there gap outside your house where a tree used to proudly stand but has long since been removed? If so, Brockley councillors still have some money left to allocate for tree planting in Brockley Ward as part of this year's Ward "Locality Fund". If you have any suggestions as to where you would like to see more street trees planted then let us know via this blog. We have funding for five decent-sized new street trees with protective metal railings to help them get established.

Cllr. Darren Johnson Brockley Ward

Brockley Bites - Good News Special

Let there be light

And the residents of Harefield Mews said 'let there be light' and behold, there is at last a complete set of functioning lamp posts in the mews that runs behind the parade of shops on opposite the Brockley Barge on Brockley Road. And it is good.

Blessed are the good folk of the Mews, who can now walk down there at night without feeling unsafe.

Love thy neighbour

There is an opening meeting of the Brockley Society, tomorrow at 8pm, at the Rivoli Ballroom. Items on the agenda include the East London Line and the heavenly bodies that could be using Heathrow as a result of a third runway.

A rival flock will be gathering at 7.30pm tomorrow for the next meeting of Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemetaries at the Envirowork Centre, Brockley Grove Depot, (opposite the Baptist Church). It is not known whether they will be discussing the impact of runway three on the eternal slumber of their residents.

Deliver us from the evil of run down shops

While many other Post Offices across the borough are scheduled for closure, BC-reader Barry is celebrating the much-needed refurbishment of the Crofton Park Post Office under the friendly management of Mr Manish and Mrs Kriti Garg.

The Gospel according to St Asaph

Westside reader, Anna, emails Brockley Central with these tidings:

"Good things are happening on the West side of Brockley. It's right on the cusp where Lewisham meets Southwark on the junction of St Asaph Rd & Aspinall Road.

"There are road and pavement improvement works taking place, on the side where Aspinall Rd joins St Asaph, the pavement has been extended and spaces have been left for three new trees by the looks of it.

"On the other side, where there is a rather grim bridge that crosses the railway lines to Drakefell Rd, a block paved terraced area is appearing with an improved asphalt parking bay for residents."

The Good Samaritan

Local resident Ben has asked us to help him promote his charity Marathon run, in aid of St Joseph's Hospice. He's hoping to raise £1,500 from members of the public and £2,000 from businesses.

The link to his fund-raising campaign - which already seems to be doing very well - can be found here, along with some stunning photography of his recent trip to Tibet:

http://www.bandyroos.com/snap-shots-from-tibet-nepal

We are promoting his good cause, not least because he has agreed to take part in the Brockley Fun Run, more details about this imminently.




PFI uPVC OMG

Beatrice sent us this article about homes in Ladywell:

Leaseholders in Ladywell are up in arms about a plan to install uPVC windows in their period homes.

The Victorian houses in Algiers Road, Vicars Hill and surrounding streets lie between the St Mary's and Brockley conservation areas. Lewisham council owns the freehold of most of the properties, which come into the Brockley Private Finance Initiative regeneration scheme.
Regenter B3, which manages council property, wants to rip out original doors and windows in the homes of both council tenants and leaseholders.


Leaseholders are furious because they face bills of up to £18,000 for work they say is unnecessary and inappropriate.

UPVC features, they say, would spoil the look of their homes - with distinctive wooden sash windows and ornamental doors.

Leaseholders can replace doors and windows themselves but the specifications they have been given mean costs would be even higher.

We can only describe this as an act of vandalism on an industrial scale, damaging the character of whole streets.

Of course, homes need to be made more energy efficient, but uPVC is not the way to do it. uPVC contains environmentally harmful materials and, bluntly, is incredibly ugly. Wooden frame double glazing is just as effective and not much more expensive.

So leaseholders are faced with having to pay large bills for work that they don't want done to their house, which could ultimately reduce the resale value of their property. They have the choice to pay more to install wood, but with many already struggling to meet the costs of the work, many will find it hard to justify the extra cost.

Tenants have no choice at all in the matter.

In our view, residents have every right to be furious and the Council should try to broker a better solution as soon as possible.

The Brockley Cross Action Group AGM

Sometimes, when the pages of Brockley Central are crowded with articles and comments about betting shops, fried chicken debris, planning problems and crime, it's easy to forget why we started this blog in the first place.

On Wednesday night, At the Baptist Church on Upper Brockley Road, Brockley Central was born again.

With due respect to the setting, our salvation was to be found in the earthly concerns of SE4 and our preacher was Des Kirkland, who chaired the AGM of the BXAG.

There was lots of interesting stuff discussed at the meeting, which we will be covering in the next few days - most notably, the fate of Brockley Station and Brockley Common, the Brockley Fun Run, the Brockley Gallery and Brockley MAX.

However, the meeting itself is worthy of comment, because it captured the best of Brockley.

Brockley Central dislikes the self-imposed formalities that community groups often operate by, which often have the effect of alienating people who might otherwise want to get involved. But there were no Colonel Blimps present and the meeting was a friendly and informal occasion, which attracted approximately 50 people to discuss issues that really mattered, rather than the minutes from the previous meeting.

There was some procedure of course, but, for example, the summary of the group's accounts was happily brief - basically, they haven't really incurred any costs and the money that gets raised for projects like the Common and the MAX is ring fenced, so you won't find your donation to the Common paying for new doilies for the Group's tea trolley.

Likewise, the election of the Trustees for the next years was very civil. Each person had a minute to state their case; anyone not present was represented by a friend within the group. There were more candidates than places, so this was no rubber stamp exercise and each of the candidates would have been a worthy winner. In fact, it was a humbling experience as people recounted the work they had done for the greater good of Brockley - from planting flowerbeds to lobbying government.

There was no rancour, nor self-congratulatory smugness, just a group of eminently practical people with good ideas.

There was also a healthy mix of people present, perhaps captured best by the discussion of this year's Brockley MAX. The boys who've taken on the challenge of staging the festival talked passionately to a politely bewildered audience about how they were going to harness the power of MySpace and Facebook to reach out to new audiences. But they also discussed in-depth the suggestion by an elegant Frenchwoman that two locally-based opera singers should be involved in this year's programme.

Practical, inclusive, good humoured and working together to make this part of London a happier place to live. That's what Brockley's about, it's what the BXAG is about and it's what we hope Brockley Central is about.

Most of the time.

Oh no, not again! New Bookie bid for Brockley

We've got lots more uplifting stuff to write about in the coming days, but we may as well get this out of the way first...

Brockley's the subject of another license application for a betting shop - this time Ladbrokes on Lewisham Way:

Please be advised that the following premise has applied for a NEW Premises licence under the Gambling Act 2005.


Ladbrokes

165-169 Lewisham Way

London SE14 6QP

Applied for a new Premises Licence for the following purposes – Betting Office


Representations should relate to one of the following licensing objectives

1. To prevent gambling from being a source of Crime & Disorder

2. To ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way

3. To protect children & other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

Please could you ensure that any representations reach us by 9th April 2008. Should you require further information please contact by reply.

Brockley Central is not opposed to betting shops in principle, it is all about balance and context in our view. Like Brockley Road, Lewisham Way seems to have plenty of bookies and is just beginning to show some green shoots of regeneration - Meze Mangal's planned expansion and Tesco Metro being the most obvious examples.

What does everyone think about this one?

Brockley Social Club, Brockley Road

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

All hail to the ale!

Taking a break between serious stories, Brockley Central brings good news for the beer lovers of SE4 - Jam Circus' Richard has emailed us word that they now have Timothy Taylor's Landlord on tap.

Though we can't claim full responsibility, after Brockley Central Drinks II took place last month, probably the sole niggle mentioned by you lot about Jam Circus was its lack of a real ale. You commented, and they listened. Hoorah!

Mayor bids to take on Brockley trains

Earlier this week, Ken Livingstone outlined his proposed transport strategy for a potential third term. Top of his agenda was taking the Southern Trains service for London under the wing of Transport for London. This would include the overland train service between Brockley and London Bridge / Charing X.

Supporters of the scheme believe that the plan would deliver a more integrated public transport service for South London, with the Mayor be able to specify the minimum services the operator would need to provide (particularly at off-peak times, when there is spare capacity on the network). Other potential benefits include the ability to increase investment on the London commuter lines. It could also improve the integration of fares, ticketing and marketing.

TfL has already funded additional services and infrastructure, including Southern's new CCTV system and control room.

Obviously Ken's ability to implement any of this is far from assured...

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems today agreed that MPs and London Assembly members should start actively lobbying to make the proposed East London Line extension to Clapham Junction a reality.

More stuff on trains (this time the Crofton Park ones) coming up, when we think you can all stomach any more articles about them.

East London Line - stuff happening!

For Brockley commuters, it's not immediately obvious that anything is being done to deliver our shiny new train set by 2010.

But as this website shows, there is lots going on, particularly at New Cross Gate...

[Update - here's the recent BBC London feature about homes in New Cross Gate affected by construction work]

The Talbot's new management talks

Lest it should get lost amongst all the excitable talk about the World Trade Organisation, we thought we'd reproduce James Heaton's latest comments about plans for The Talbot pub, one of the biggest stories we've been following since the early days of this site.

Here's what James said in an earlier thread about his plans for the pub and his discussions with owners Punch Taverns:

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your comments and to those of you who have emailed me directly. Picking up on a few things here...

Yes it will run 'as is' through the summer.

I will have an idea of dates for works in due course.

The name will be staying and those of you who have been to the mailing list signup page have indeed seen the first preview of the new branding.

The interior will pretty much be 'gutted', although due to the nature in which the buildings have been knocked together, the configuration will stay more-or-less the same.

TVs and fruit machines will by and large disappear. We may keep one screen or a projector just for the purposes of big internationals etc, but we will no longer have Sky Sports and the TV will be on occasionally, not as a rolling backdrop.

To be honest, although we all like to go to the pub to watch the football, TVs don't really work as a full-time fixture in the sort of place we're planning to turn The Talbot into. I hope no one will be too disappointed about this.

I have signed another bit of paper with Punch this morning authorising our solicitors to proceed with the initial arrangements. We expect to be in control of the site, as exists, from 28th March.

I will be giving more details about the longer term plans to brockleynick as soon as the interim tenancy agreement is signed.

Thanks and best wishes, James Heaton.

We're extremely grateful to James for taking the time to talk to Brockley Central readers about his plans and for being so receptive to the comments that appeared in response. It's a very encouraging sign that so many of Brockley's leading businesses are engaging with their customers in this way.

Ashby Road Plans go to appeal

A controversial plan by developers Ashby Healthcare LLP, to partially replace Council offices at 1-3 Ashby Road with a 16 bed care home has reached its appeal stage.

The application was the second to be rejected; an earlier application for a slightly larger facility of 18 beds was also turned down. Following 13 complaints from local residents, the latest application was rejected by the Council on the following grounds:

1) The proposed building, by reason of its excessive height and bulk and design, would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Brockley Conservation Area contrary to Policies URB 3 Urban Design and URB 16 New Development, Changes of Use and Alterations to Buildings in Conservation Areas of the Council's adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004) and also the Brockley Conservation Area Supplementary Planning Guidance (Adopted February 2006).

2) The proposed building, by reason of its height, bulk and proximity to the rear gardens of properties in Manor Avenue, would have an over-dominating effect on these gardens to the detriment of the residential amenities of occupiers of the properties in question contrary to Policies URB 3 Urban Design and HSG 4 Residential Amenity of the Council's adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004).

The appeal deadline for statements and representations from interested parties (including local residents) is March 21st.

Details of the case and the link to register your views on the application can be found here

Cafe Crema, New Cross Road

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

Brockley Foxes

We have a few heavy days ahead of us, with some worthy, weighty articles planned.

So before we get to that, we thought you might enjoy some Brockley wildlife, courtesy of YouTube.

Brockley Cross florist to close

Nicky Fianders, the flower shop on the corner of Brockley Cross and Brockley Road, is to close next week.

Though its range was limited, the shop was a bright spot in an otherwise unloved collection of shops, clustered around the infamous double roundabout. The shop was well kept and attractive and we must all hope that the landlord doesn't allow it to deteriorate.

The Tea Factory, with its new gallery and coffee shop, can't come soon enough for the fortunes of this intersection.

There are rumours of a new florist opening in Brockley soon (we hope to be able to confirm those details one way or another shortly) and, if so, our personal hope is that they offer a more "contemporary" selection than is currently available at either Nicky Fianders or the florist near Moonbow Jakes. It would also be nice to see them diversify in to garden plants and pots. Given the number of wonderful gardens in the area, it seems odd that there's nothing to cater for the green fingered around here.

Thanks to Andrew for the news and good luck to the current management in their next move.

Brockley Bites - take part

The Blythe Hill Festival

The Friends of Blythe Hill Fields, the small park near Brockley Rise, are organising a local arts festival on June 28th and are looking for performers, musicians, artists, stallholders, workshop leaders and volunteers of all kinds to contribute to the festival.

Last year’s festival was a popular event, with games, bands, stalls, donkey rides and a bouncy castle. This year the emphasis is different as they have received funding from the One Lewisham Fund on the agreed basis that the festival will reflect the art, culture and diversity in the local neighbourhood.

We are looking for local people who could give their time, preferably free of charge, to perform or take stalls and showcase their talents. They are particularly keen to have local bands and dance performances as these would suit the outdoor setting.

The festival will help to raise funds to improve the park’s facilities.

If you’d like to take part, please contact Molly: mollhench@hotmail.com

The Brockley Cross Action Group AGM

The BXAG will be holding its 8th annual general meeting at 8pm on Wednesday 12th March, 2008 at the Brockley Baptist Church, Upper Brockley Rd.

Anyone interested in the work of the BXAG is welcome to attend and the speakers include: Duncan Law on Transition Towns and representatives from Brockley Max and the Tea Leaf Art Gallery.

The Brockley Society

The Brockley Society’s next meeting is also coming up later this month. More details of that one to follow…

Wickham Road books

Kate reports that, over the weekend, someone left a range of old books in a box outside their house, with the invitation for people to help themselves. To show how classy she is, she mentioned the fact that she got a copy of ‘Natasha’s Dance’ by Orlando Figes and would like to pass on her thanks to the former owner of the book. They are now probably all gone or very soggy, but keep an eye out if you’re a fan of Russian history…

Moonbow Jakes, Brockley Road

A coffee shop, which is practically perfect in every way, except perhaps, for the coffee itself. Plenty of people moan about the quality of the coffee but that is to miss the point of Moonbows.

A chair or table to suit every mood and purpose. Friendly, efficient staff. Pitch-perfect decor and choice of music and loads of live events. It works just as well on a Friday night as it does on a Sunday morning.

The menu's simplicity is a strength, rather than a weakness. From tasty Mediterranean platters to crumbly/moist cookies, it's reliably good stuff.

The back garden appears to be a bit of an afterthought and it would be nice to see it get a makeover under its new owners.

Always busy although rarely overflowing - it has been setting the pace in Brockley for many years and its ongoing success proves that there is plenty of demand for good quality local venues.

Brockley North's Drinking Habit

At the end of last year, residents living in and around a large area surrounding part of Lewisham Way were asked their thoughts on whether the area should be a Drinking Control Zone, or DCZ.

"In a drinking control zone a police officer can require a person to hand over open containers of alcohol, such as cans or bottles. Once warned, if a person refuses to comply they can be arrested. The maximum fine is £500."

The Council's idea being that this should cut down on anti-social behaviour revolving around some off-licenses and takeaways in the designated area, and generally stop undesirables loitering in public places, such as the Memorial Gardens. The roads affected can be seen in full on the council's website.

The DCZ has now been approved, and will be put in place on the 1st April (no joke) initially for six months, after which the scheme will be reviewed with the Safer Neighbourhood Team and local community groups. How rigorously the DCZ area will be enforced is yet to be seen, but best tell your mates not to have that Stella on the way to the party.

Increased Security At Stephen Lawrence Centre

The Mayor of Lewisham has agreed that a one-off grant of up to £15,000 should be made available to increase security at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford.

The funds will be used by the Centre to engage a consultant and help improve security around the building.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said:

“We are extremely proud to have the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Lewisham and have worked very closely with them over the years. The Centre is an important facility for young people locally and across London. Since the recent incident we have been working with the Centre’s management to find ways to stop this happening again.”

The Mayor approved the funding at a meeting of the Mayor & Cabinet on Wednesday, 5 March.

Upper Brockley Road / Geoffrey Road planning

A new planning application has been submitted to Lewisham Council for:

"The construction of a 3 storey plus roof space building at 159 Upper Brockley Road SE4. to provide 1, three bedroom maisonette and 1, two bed maisonette."

Essentially, the application would see the house, which was destroyed by fire last April, rebuilt exactly as before, although the decision to rebuild will depend on medium term expectations for the Brockley property market.

The damaged house has been underpinned and made safe.

The bigger (and longer-running) story is next door, where the MOT garage and tyre shop have been the subject of planning discussions for approximately three years. Developers hope to turn the site (which has soil contamination) in to an apartment block, but the project seems to be locked in planning limbo, with some voices even suggesting that the tyre shop should be retained as part of the new development for the "character" it lends the area. Presumably they mean the rows of tyres perched on the roof of the building?

Whatever the issues that have prevented the development being given permission, we hope that the Council and the Brockley Society will treat this site as a priority - three years is far-too-long to argue over a small scale development and the site is currently a polluted eyesore, that needs dealing with. And for those worried about the plight of the guys running the garage, don't be - they are more than happy to relocate as soon as the issue is resolved.

Portland Bookmakers' right to reply

Last night, someone from Portland Bookmakers posted some comments on the site. At first anonymously and then as simply Portland.

You can read their comments towards the bottom of this thread. Their stated reason for coming on the site was because Brockley Central "is very informative and I wished to contribute." They then complained that people on the site were not sufficiently well informed about the facts of the case.

Well, just for the record, here is the exact wording of an email we sent to Portland in January 2008:

I write for a news website for Brockley, called Brockley Central. The site has been following the progress of your application to operate a betting shop on the site of the former Homeview video store, Brockley Road. I was wondering, given the Council's decision not to grant permission, whether you have decided what your next step will be? Given that Brockley seems to be going through a period of urban renewal, are you considering selling the site or making an appeal. Please let me know if you have any comment.

Although there has been a lot of controversy about your proposals, I can promise that the quote you provided would be treated fairly and reproduced accurately. I am just looking to establish the facts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes


Portland chose not to take advantage of that offer, although it is still open.

And in the interests of establishing the facts, it is true that Portland did set up a website for the Brockley community, which did contain a lot of information about their proposals. Our reaction to what the site had to say can be found here.

Commuter Etiquette

This morning, on a very crowded train, a guy at New Cross Grate clawed at the door frame, trying desperately to squeeze himself in to the carriage, much to the disgruntlement of many of those already on board.

Over a chorus of tuts, he said that he had to get to work and that was all there was to it. We know that opinions differ on the subject, but Brockley Central would like to put itself firmly in his camp.

There is always room for one more, even on the busiest days. It just depends how badly you want it. People can always squash up a bit in the central aisles, they just don't want to. And its amazing how much more easily everyone can breath, once the doors shut. It takes supreme willpower to ignore the collective scorn of a carriage of commuters.

The guy was desperate to get to work on time. Maybe his patients were hanging on life support. Maybe his boss is just waiting for an excuse to fire him. Whatever his story, he was clearly enjoying the journey even less than the people who were grumbling.

If he's willing to endure the tuts, he deserves to be on the train.

Scenes like this obviously happen nearly every day and women commuters seem particularly begrudging in these cases - our theory is that, spared the indignity of the communal urinal that men have grown up with, they have developed a stronger sense of personal space.

But our plea, on behalf of this everyman is, give him a break.

The Talbot Episode IV: A New Hope

Following the fortunes of The Talbot and its will-they / won't-they renovation saga has left Brockley Central as emotionally drained as when it last watched When Harry Met Sally.

Just when the hour seemed darkest, we got an update from James, at the Honor Oak pub - the management team that hopes to take over the running of the Talbot and a link to a new website for the pub, so it must be happening, right?!

The owners of The Honor Oak pub on St. German's Road in Forest Hill are currently working to secure The Talbot on Tyrwhitt Road in Brockley from Punch Taverns.

'The plan' is to close the pub in 2008 for complete refurbishment, relaunching it as a modern, local pub, serving good, fresh food by the end of the year.

Although a lot of work has already been done on the project, The Talbot has proved itself in recent years as a building with a lot of potential, but a difficult site to transform both structurally and financially. We realise that local residents have been promised great things for The Talbot, and we hope that we are now close to being able to deliver them.

Thanks to James for keeping an anxious community informed.

Phoenix Restaurant, Lewisham Way

The Phoenix is a training restaurant that prepares students of Lewisham College for the catering industry. It's a fully functional and licensed restaurant, open during term time for lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and for dinner on the last Thursday of the month.

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

Manor Avenue poised to scoop title

There are many microeconomic mysteries in Brockley, from limbo shops to the aborted attempts to rescue The Talbot.

But perhaps the greatest of these is how a developer that owns a prime site in Brockley, "an area on the up", can fail to take advantage of a dramatic and sustained period of property price growth? Number 14 Manor Avenue, in the conservation area, is about to become the longest-standing derelict property in Lewisham, which is surely quite an achievement.

Planning permission was granted in 1983 to convert the three storey house in to flats. That scheme never happened and instead the building was left to rot, with the building now classed as unsafe, with many of the period features damaged or removed.

A planning document from 2006 describes the latest plans as follows:

"The alteration and conversion of 14 Manor Avenue SE4 and the construction of a part single/part two storey extension to the rear, to provide 1 two bedroom and 1 three bedroom self-contained maisonettes and 1 one bedroom self-contained flat."

The developer, sadly, has never delivered on its promises and there is no sign of the property being renovated any time soon.

Thanks to Claire for the information.

A late prediction for 2008


A late addition to our predictions for 2008 [none of which are coming true in a hurry].

This Brockley Cross shop will never sell a single bagel.

It is perhaps the definitive limbo shop and it has already duped a few readers in to thinking they might actually be able to buy a bagel there soon. It's a beautiful dream.

Primary schools in Brockley

Education has to be one of the most divisive subjects in local life, as the national furore over school place lotteries is currently demonstrating. It's not only an important topic, it's also highly emotive - the only time from its childhood when Brockley Central remembers its parents rowing with their friends was when somebody suggested they were betraying our future by sending us to the local comprehensive.


So it is with caution that we approach this topic. Information about schools will always be imperfect. Some people believe that that's reason enough not to publish anything more about a school than its address and telephone number. Those people are generally not the parents and children faced with the decision of where to apply.


So we've pulled together a topline synopsis of each of the local primary schools, based on the most recent Ofsted reports available and included a link to the performance table on FindaProperty.com, which uses DFES figures. Here they are, in no particular order.


Given much of this information is old and only begins to scratch the surface of what schools are actually like, it would be great if local people with direct experience of these schools could leave their comments.



John Stainer [latest report 2008]

Description

John Stainer Primary serves a very mixed community that includes some areas where there are very high levels of deprivation. Just over a quarter of pupils are from White British backgrounds. The next largest groups include pupils from Black Caribbean, Black African and Asian heritages. A high number of pupils speak English as an additional language and, of these, a significant proportion are at a very early stage of using English when they join the school. Many pupils have not attended this school for their entire primary education. A significant number join and leave the school at unexpected times throughout the school year. Over a third of pupils have learning difficulties or disabilities. A high number of vulnerable pupils attend the school. The school has achieved the Healthy School Status, the Clean and Green Gold Award, Sports Mark and is in the fourth cycle of Investors in People. They are currently working to gain the information and communication technology (ICT) mark.

Performance - Grade 2

John Stainer is a flourishing school. Inspectors agree with the words of one parent who said, 'The hard work of the staff, governors, children and parents make it a positive and exciting learning environment.' The headteacher shows outstanding leadership and is driving John Stainer School forward very well. The headteacher took over the school at a time when it was in Special Measures and led it to become a satisfactory school in 2004. In 2006, the school was recognised as the third most improved school in the country. The school now provides a good education, with outstanding features in pupils' personal development and care. The school has a good capacity to improve and leaders are ambitious to make the school outstanding in the future.

Myatt Garden [latest report 2007]

Description

Myatt Garden is a large primary school serving an ethnically and socially diverse community. The percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals is average. The proportion of pupils with difficulties or disabilities is higher than that found nationally. More pupils than usual are learning English as an additional language, a high proportion of whom are at an early stage of acquiring the language.

Performance - Grade 1

This is an outstanding school for which pupils and their parents have very high praise. As one parent said, 'My daughter is very lucky. Every school should be like Myatt Garden as every child deserves the best.' The ethos of the school is very positive and instils a sense of 'can do' in pupils and staff. This is a reflection of the philosophy of the headteacher who, with her deputy, provides outstanding leadership. Senior leaders, staff, governors and parents share the vision for the future of the school.

Parents are overwhelmingly positive about what the school offers. In particular, they appreciate the outstanding care, guidance and support their children receive and the celebration of the school community's cultural diversity. This contributes to pupils' good personal development and well-being. One parent commented, 'The school provides a safe, positive environment which is stimulating, inclusive and inspirational.' The pupils benefit enormously from the support of parents who have helped to develop the outdoor area for the Nursery and have raised funds and drawn up plans to refurbish the main playground.

Gordonbrock [latest report 2005]

Description

Gordonbrock School is above average in size and is growing. More than half of the pupils come from minority ethnic backgrounds with significant numbers from Black Caribbean heritage. A little over a third of pupils speak a language other than English at home, but only a small proportion are in the early stages of learning English. Most pupils join the school with below average standards for their age, chiefly because of limited communication, language and literacy skills. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is broadly average, but a significant minority have serious difficulties with behaviour. Pupils come from a wide range of backgrounds, but overall the social and economic circumstances of the school are below average.

Performance - Grade 2


Gordonbrock School provides good education. Standards rise from below average in the nursery to broadly average in Year 6. There has been high staff turnover in recent years, but this has now stabilised, and pupils are making good progress. Long-term achievement is satisfactory in Year 6, and good in other year groups. Teaching and learning are good, with a growing proportion of very good and excellent teaching. Pupils behave very well, enjoy school and work hard.

Leadership and management are good overall, with very good leadership from the headteacher and governors. The school provides good value for money. The school’s main strengths and weaknesses are:


• Teachers foster an interest in learning and promote achievement among all pupils.

• The headteacher and governors provide strong leadership and direction.

• Provision for pupils’ personal development is excellent.

• The school has very good links and relationships with parents, other schools and the community.

• The school makes best use of a difficult site, but accommodation is inadequate.

• The use of assessment to track progress and plan work requires improvement in most subjects. • Some teaching assistants are very effective, but others need more training.

Turnham Primary [last report 2007]

Description

Turnham Primary School is located at the heart of an estate in Lewisham. Over four fifths of pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds and more than a third speak English as an additional language. Only a small number are beginners in English. The proportion of pupils eligible for a free school meal is well above average reflecting the high level of deprivation in the local area. The proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities is broadly average but the proportion with statements is below average. Pupils come with a wide range of knowledge and skills when they join the school but their attainment in literacy and numeracy is well below average. The attainment on entry has been declining over recent years. Levels of mobility have increased in recent years and a significant number of pupils join the school at various points throughout Years 3 to 6. After many years of very stable staffing, there has been a higher turnover recently. Most of the teachers joining over the last couple of years are at the start of their teaching careers.

Performance - Grade 2

Turnham Primary School is a good school. It provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere for its pupils. There is a good focus on achievement. Consequently, pupils make good progress, including in the Foundation Stage, and achieve well. The good teaching, especially in the Foundation Stage and in Years 1 and 2, makes a good contribution to pupils' learning. However, in a minority of lessons, mainly in Years 3 to 6, issues in the pace of teaching, level of challenge and variety of methods used by teachers means pupils do not always work as effectively as they could. In most lessons, pupils work hard in response to high expectations from teachers. They usually achieve the very challenging performance targets set by the school.

Meadowgate [last report 2006]

Description

Meadowgate is a special school with 83 pupils between the ages of 4 and 11.It caters for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, and autistic spectrum disorder. All pupils have statements of special educational needs. More than one third are from ethnic backgrounds other than white, predominantly black-African heritage. Approximately half of these pupils have English as an additional language, with a smaller proportion at an early stage of language acquisition, and receiving additional support. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is very high at 63 per cent. The school is situated in an area that is disadvantaged socially and economically. The school buildings are well maintained and in very good order, creating a bright and attractive environment. The characteristics of pupils for whom the school caters makes it inappropriate to judge their attainment against age related national expectations or averages.

Performance


Meadowgate is an effective school where pupils achieve high standards for their special educational needs by the time they leave. There is a high proportion of good and very good teaching that is having a positive and direct impact on the pupils’ rate of progress. The headteacher provides clear educational direction with a suitable emphasis on standards, and has sustained a very positive ethos since the previous inspection. Pupils are making steady progress towards achieving their personal targets. There are some unsatisfactory elements to the school, including transport arrangements. Pupils arrive after the start of school regularly and some miss significant parts of their education as a result. The school provides satisfactory value for money, and is in a strong position to make further improvements.

Brockley Primary [last report 2004]

Description

Brockley is a large primary school with 258 pupils on roll. They are organised mainly in single age classes from Reception up to Year 6 with one mixed-age class of Year 1 and Year 2 pupils. In addition 32 children attend the Nursery class on a part-time basis. There are slightly more boys than girls on roll. Most pupils are drawn from the immediate locality in Brockley. The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is above the national average. Pupils come from a range of cultural backgrounds with the largest groups being White British, Black African and Caribbean. Other pupils come from as far afield as the Indian sub-continent and China. Over one third of pupils come from homes where the mother tongue is not English and 103 are in the early stages of learning English. Eight pupils are from refugee or asylum seeking families. The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is very high. These include specific learning needs and those arising from social, emotional and behavioural or speech and communication difficulties.

There is a wide range of attainment when children enter the Nursery, but it is generally well below average. The movement of pupils joining or leaving the school, other than at the normal times, is very high. The school has received two achievement awards and is involved in a number of initiatives including one focused on creative arts and a Behaviour Improvement Programme that entitles the school to receive additional funding to implement projects to improve pupils’ behaviour. The school is undersubscribed and governors, having considered the school’s context very carefully, have requested that the school size be reduced to one form of entry from September 2005.

Performance - Grade 3


Brockley Primary is a satisfactory school. Given the challenges it faces, it is now providing a satisfactory standard of education for all pupils. The school’s results in national tests for pupils in Year 6 have improved and are in line with those in schools with children from similar backgrounds but well below when compared to those in all schools nationally. The very good leadership of the headteacher has created a satisfactory learning environment in which there is a strong commitment to raising standards and decisive action to bring about the required changes. The quality of teaching and learning are improving. The school now provides satisfactory value for money. The school’s main strengths and weaknesses are:


· the headteacher has a clear vision for the future development of the school and is well supported by the deputy headteacher and governing body;

· provision for children in the Nursery and the Reception class is good;

· standards are well below average in Year 2 and Year 6 but achievement is satisfactory. This is as a result of the improved quality of teaching and learning, which is satisfactory overall;

· pupils with English as an additional language generally achieve appropriately. However, the progress made by pupils who have acquired some fluency is limited due to insufficient support;

· assessment procedures are not used effectively to check how well pupils are doing;

· the school provides a caring, safe environment and a good range of after-school activities;

· pupils’ behaviour is good;

· poor attendance and lateness for school in the morning has an adverse effect on learning.

St Mary Magdalen's Catholic Primary School [last report 2003]

Description

The school is a little smaller than the average sized primary school with 200 pupils on roll by the summer term. The school is popular with parents and is over-subscribed. Pupils come from a wide range of backgrounds, although the area served by the school is relatively disadvantaged with a mixture of local housing estates and some privately owned housing. The proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals is broadly average. Pupils come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds: 40 per cent Black African, mostly Nigerian, 17 per cent Black Caribbean; 17 per cent mixed heritage and 16 per cent White British or Irish. The proportion of pupils with English as an additional language is very high, currently 37 per cent of the school population with only two pupils at an early stage of English language acquisition. The proportion of pupils identified as having special educational needs (30 per cent) is above the national average. Four pupils have a statement of special education need. The attainment of many pupils on entry to the school is below that typically found nationally. There are some limitations imposed by the site and buildings but a new building programme just started promises better facilities in the future.

Performance - Grade 2


This is a good school with some very good features. It offers pupils a good quality education. Pupils achieve well because of good teaching and their personal development flourishes because of the positive and supportive ethos underpinned by Catholic values and beliefs. The key to its success lies in the high quality leadership of the headteacher and good teamwork between staff and governors. The school gives good value for money. The school’s main strengths and weaknesses are:


· Pupils achieve well in lessons because of the good quality teaching.

· Standards are above average in English and information and communication technology (ICT).

· The school values all pupils equally and its procedures to ensure their care and welfare are very good.

· The school provides good support for those pupils with special educational needs or have English as an additional language.

· The school very effectively fosters and promotes pupils’ very good behaviour and relationships and good attitudes to learning.

· The curriculum provides a good range of opportunities which contribute well to pupils’ learning and achievement.

· The headteacher provides very good leadership and is well supported by staff and governors. · The school has very good links with parents.

· The school does not do enough to raise the achievement of higher attaining pupils in science. · The accommodation is unsatisfactory and limits some aspects of pupils’ learning.

· Measures to evaluate how well the school is doing and the success of its actions are not robust enough.

· Further work is needed on its assessment procedures.

[Edit: apparently, the DFES, like the Premier League, considers league performance data as a commercial asset, rather than a matter of public record, so we have had to remove them. However, you can find them at FindaProperty.com by clicking here.]

Why it's easy to park in Brockley...

Because, despite their affectations, middle class people love cars and the rate of car ownership is much higher than among them than among the less well off.

So wanting rid of a few of the many garages and car show rooms in the middle of our community isn't wishing social cleansing on Brockley.

In fact, the Council's view is that Brockley Road's facilities should be primarily for those without cars, so it would be nice to see them encouraging a few car-based businesses to relocate.

D-Days for Brockley Road

Cllr Ute Michel reports on Green Ladywell that:

"The date has finally been set: the appeal against Lewisham Council's decision to turn down the betting shop licence application for the former Homeview video shop on Brockley Road will be heard at the Magistrates Court on 13-15 May."

So then, that's the day when we'll find out whether we'll continue to cram more and more bookies in to the same space as more and more centres for the vulnerable. Or whether, by rejecting the appeal, we will free up one of most important sites on Brockley Road for something more useful for the whole community and, by doing so, give the regeneration process that has started around the station a chance of spreading further (rather than strangling it at birth).

Decisions, decisions!

Speedicars crosses the road

Work has begun on the final unit in the Coulgate Street parade, next door to Dandelion Blue, to convert it in to the new home of Speedicars.

The space that Speedicars will occupy was so small that few other businesses would have been suited as occupiers, although there had been some interest expressed by other potential businesses.

The move will free up the cab firm's current office next door to the station, to allow it to be redeveloped - more on that project soon...

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