Greenwich Foot Tunnel to get makeover


There is nary an indie band that hasn't had a moody group shot taken inside the Greenwich Foot Tunnel at some point in their career. Those who grew up in Greenwich in the early 90s will have done well not to see posters for aspiring local rock-Gods Syntax, striking a pose against the steam punk backdrop. We Googled in vain for that shot.

But now, Greenwich.co.uk reports that the tunnel is to receive an £11.5m face lift.

The story contains no details about why the work is being done, what the changes may be or what disruption it may cause (we have written many times about the lack of river crossings on this side of town) but if it is for purely cosmetic reasons, then this would be a mistake. This article that appears elsewhere on the site is encouraging in this respect.

It may look like it's about to spring a leak at any moment it may feel horribly claustrophobic at some points, but it is iconic, characterful and should be cherished. If work needs to be done, let it be restorative and honour the current look and feel of the tunnel.

If a benefit gig needs to be arranged, we are confident that Syntax will be available at short notice.

Poo under review

We know that the BC community is currently busy analysing Lewisham Councillors' outside interests for evidence of why Brockley doesn't get its "fair share" of Council money, so we apologise for dwelling on the dog-poo stencil issue, but this is the last time we'll write about it for a while.

Earlier in the week, the thrust of opinion seemed to be:

1. There are too many of the dog-poo stencils on our streets
2. The dog-poo prevention strategy ought to focus a little more on punishing offending owners and less on punishing our pavements
3. At the very least, the depiction of an actual steaming turd was an unnecessary debasement of the public realm

Cllr Sue Luxton took up these points with the Council officer responsible and got this response:

When we get the new stencils done we can look at getting the poo designed out. I'll have to contact the Safer Neighbourhood Teams as I wasn't aware that they were spraying any stencils for us. When people have been spraying them on our behalf we have had the graffiti team go out and talk to them about how and where, including sensitivities, the stencils should be placed. I will however, talk to the graffiti team and ask them to be mindful of how many they are putting down in the conservation areas.
With regards to the Dog Control Orders, we haven't as yet implemented them but they will be published soon.

So while cynicism rages on other threads, it's nice to see that the Council is prepared to listen and respond to community concerns and that our Councillors are working to raise these issues on our behalf.

New Cross campaigners launch "Stop the Strip" campaign

A new website www.stopthestrip.org has been produced by the local group campaign against the White Hart pub operating as a strip club.

The group plan a major demonstration planned for the Friday May 22nd (6-9pm) outside the pub.

The Max needs you!

BC was in attendance at the Brockley Max team meeting yesterday. We'll report on planned events in the near future, but much of the conversation last night revolved around rallying support.

The enthusiastic team of volunteers, headed by Moira Tait, need your help to make the festival a success. By this we mean not only coming to events, but helping to get the word out to people, and sparing your time to make it all happen.

The team need more volunteers in the form of:


  • Flyer distributors - if only just to do your street

  • Raffle ticket sellers

  • First aiders and litter pickers, for the larger events

  • Potential event sponsors - local businesses and organisations

  • Generally anyone who thinks they can lend a hand!


One really easy starting point is to join the Facebook group and invite your friends to it.

If you fancy putting on an event, and have yet to email the team, you've only got a few days left - email details to gill@brockleymax.co.uk.

For other enquiries, email Moira, moira@brockleymax.co.uk, or check the website. The next meeting is on Wednesday 6th May, 8pm at Jam Circus.

Cycle hire sites proposed near London Bridge and Blackfriars

The Guardian features a map of the London sites earmarked for cycle docking stations when the city-centre cycle hire system is introduced by Transport for London next year.

The map is based on this list, which includes sites on Tooley Street and Borough High Street, which will be handy for those arriving at London Bridge station.

Commuters arriving at Blackfriars will find a dock at Queen Victoria Street.

The Daily Mail v Deptford

We've been trying to summon the energy to write about this piece by the Daily Mail (which also ran in the Metro today) but we'll stick to a few basic observations:

1. They discovered this story several weeks after it had been dissected on the blogosphere
2. The trivialisation of knife crime is an interesting approach from a paper that sensationalised the issue last year
3. They ventured away from Kensington just long enough to photograph the High Street after the market had taken place, not long enough to stick around for the regular clean-up that follows
4. Fair play to Cllr Heidi Alexander for managing a decent quote

Anyway, back to forecasting the swine apocalypse.

Terry's All Locks (and shoes), Crofton Park

379 Brockley Road
SE4 2PH
Tel: 020 8691 0596

If the measure of a shoe repair shop is whether your shoes come back well-repaired, then this is a good shop.

They may have looked at us like we were asking for a spare part for our DeLorean when we requested the shoes be re-soled in leather and been pretty abrupt when we rang to ask whether they were ready as promised, but our shoes are now not-only leak-free, they have been given a new lease of life.

They also do locks.

Coprophobia

BC regular Tyrwhitt Michael has been the victim of over-zealous dog-poo stencillers and has been in touch with the Council to understand why anyone thinks festooning our streets with pictures of crapping canines is a good idea.

The Council reply suggests that the implementation of this policy has strayed far from the original intention. Here's where the Council say the stencils should be sprayed:

"The graffiti team are instructed to apply stencils in areas that are not directly intrusive to individual properties, i.e. corners of the affected street or at locations in-between properties, next to lampposts and pillar boxes. They have been instructed not to apply stencils directly outside the gates of properties."

In fact, they are being sprayed every few metres on many roads, directly outside people's front gates.

The Council's guidelines make far more sense than the blanket bombing of bowwow bowel movements that our pavements are currently subjected to.

As for their efficacy, the Council offers this supporting data:

"Although we do not have any current data, we did see a drop in dog fouling following their introduction 9 years ago. This year we will be monitoring the levels of dog fouling in order that we can assess the effectiveness of the Dog Control Orders when they come into force."

Which is hardly convincing, given how unpleasant the "solution" is. If they can be proven to work, we'd give them our grudging support, with one crucial caveat - by all means keep the squatting dog and the "bag it, bin it" slogan, but please lose the turd.

New website for Darren Johnson

Brockley boy, London Assembly member and prospective parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford, Darren Johnson has launched a new website to support his bid to become an MP.

In the public meetings we've attended where he's been present, he seems like a good egg and a capable performer. He also seems to be at the more pragmatic end of the Green spectrum, which is a mercy.

Joan Ruddock MP (Labour) is the incumbent.

Sunday Times tips Brockley buy-to-let market

'Back in the 1980's I was the toast of Wall Street. But then, I was diagnosed with terminal boneitis. There was no cure at the time. One drug company was close but I arranged a hostile takeover and sold off all the assets. Made a cool hundred mil. Naturally I froze myself until a cure was found. Now here I am, ready to sleaze my way back to the top, 80's style!'
- That Guy, Futurama

Property boosterism is back, baby. And Brockley is riding that wave. Riding it to the max.

The Sunday Times has called the bottom of the market and says it's time to dive back in, with Brockley among the hotest prospects:

Choosing the right area can be almost as important as choosing the right property. Planned improvements in transport links and other infrastructure can be beneficial. In the capital, the extension of the East London line, the first part of which will start operating next year, should help areas that lie along its route.

And they've found this guy who's snapped up a Brockley property:

David Lawrenson, a buy-to-let expert who runs the website lettingfocus.com, even suggests placing a spoof advertisement in a local paper. “It’s important to stress-test before taking the plunge,” he says. He is certainly putting his money where his mouth is: two weeks ago, he exchanged on a two-bedroom buy-to-let house in Brockley, southeast London — his first property purchase in five years.

The Querce of Twitter

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.
- Morpheus

For those who don't see the point of Twitter, let us offer a quick case study.

Foodie blogger Ben lives locally and we discovered eachother via Twitter. Though we've never met the guy, we used Twitter to ask him for his local restaurant recommendations. He scratched his head a bit and confessed there wasn't anywhere he much rated. We tweeted him the link to the review of Le Querce on Brockley Central and he said he'd give it a try.

A few days later, here's his review. A proper one, with pictures and everything. Here's how it begins:

"If – like me – you tend to make dining decisions based on menus and first impressions, you probably wouldn't give Le Querce a second glance.

"Its nondescript exterior does little to mark it out from an unlovely stretch of road and the menu could be culled from any standard Italian you care to choose. Sitting down at pale-wood furniture to quirky crockery, a huge and frankly bizarre sprouting onion and garish offerings on the wall that speak worryingly of "local artist" and you're hardly filled with confidence about the feast to come.

"Happily, though, this is one of the rare occasions were first impressions are misleading and perseverance is comprehensively rewarded."

So Ben has a nice meal, a Brockley treasure gets some more exposure and we each get to link to one-another's website.

Le Querce is good. Ben's blog is good. Twitter is good.

We rest our case.

The 2009 London Marathon


There will only be one Brockley Butterfly running the London marathon this year, but runner Fintan has asked whether any BC readers will be joining him on the 26 mile course.

If any of you are taking part this year and want to mention the cause you'll be running for or the costume we should look out for, please let us know here.

And Jo a massage therapist from the Sunflower Centre wants runners to know that she still has spaces available for post-marathon massages on Sunday.

If you're interested, you can visit her website or email her by clicking here.

Victoria to Bellingham line scrapped

The cost of the second phase of the East London Line's second extension - to Clapham Junction - has been revealed by consumer travel group Travelwatch. Plans developed as part of the Rail Utilisation Strategy, which would have replaced the London Victoria to London Bridge service with a service from Victoria to Bellingham have been abandoned.

The service would have stopped at Nunhead, Crofton Park and Catford.

London Reconnections explains:

"It appears that as part of the ELLX Phase 2 funding negotiations TfL approached the DfT and requested that the service be dropped in return for a £24m contribution from the DfT to ELLX2 funding. The DfT, after proposing several conditions, agreed.

"The reasons for the proposal are clear. As TfL themselves indicated in their response to Travelwatch's request for information about the decision, in terms of passenger numbers, the cost-to-benefit ratio for an extended ELL service (approx. 1000 passengers per hour eastbound, 900 west) is far higher than that of the proposed Bellingham service (approx. 650 per hour). In that light, ELLX2 is the far better option mathematically speaking. It will, however, mean that no direct services will run between Victoria and Clapham High Street or Wandsworth Road, and will also likely mean only 2tph between Denmark Hill and Victoria instead of the publically claimed 4tph."

Met releases London gang list



Brockley Kate's spotted this list of the gangs of London, produced by the Met Police.

SE4 scores a mere two gangs, compared with Hackney's 22.

White's moves from Crofton Park to Brockley Rise

Crofton Park hardware shop White's has closed, relocating the business to its larger retail unit in Brockley Rise:

H White and Son Ltd
42-44 Brockley Rise
Forest Hill
London
SE23 1LJ

Telephone: 020 8690 9040
Facsimile: 020 8690 7010
Email: martin@whitestradepaints.co.uk

Brockley 'has a good personality'

The Telegraph reports a Cambridge University study which suggests that:

Overall, more intelligent people with extrovert, open personalities moved to cities while the more introverted and relaxed settled in villages or small towns.

Jason Rentfrow, who led the study, said that where personality types would once have been distributed randomly across Britain, increased mobility had led to clusters.

He said: "People's level of satisfaction with their lives is strongly affected by where they live. Our findings suggest they are happiest where their personalities most closely resemble that of the other people in that area."

The research supports Richard Florida's assertion that economic activity is increasingly driven by the "creative classes" who cluster in cities.

More importantly, it tells us what we already knew, which is that people in London (and by London, we mean Brockley) are basically great.

Mr Rentfrow said:

"London is becoming psychologically separate from the rest of the nation.

"People in London tend to be, on average, more analytical, assertive, dominant, efficient and creative. People in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are less open-minded, more traditional and less tolerant of differences."

Brockley Station new development application due shortly

Larry: Nice house.
Susie: Yeah, come on. I'll give you a tour.
Larry: Naw, it's ok.
Susie: No, come on.
Larry: No, it's ok. I-I get it.
Susie: You get it?
Larry: Yeah, it's a house. It's new. I get it. It's nice.
Susie: You get it? Ok, you know what? Get the fuck out of my house, Larry.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm

The mystery of what is being built on the site of the former Speedicars office on Coulgate Street by Brockley Station is now partly solved.

Lewisham Council have kindly tweeted us to explain that the site is subject to a new planning application, which has been received. It will be going out to public consultation shortly, whereupon we will all have a chance to look at the plans.

Brockley breaks America

We've helped with the search for cats and snakes in the past, so why not vicar's wives and dancing septuagenarians?

Michael has been in touch in search of extras who do what Oasis and Tesco have so-far failed to do and crack the US market. It sounds as though he's looking for English eccentrics and people who'd fit in in a Ms Marple dramatisation, so he thought his own back yard might be a good place to begin his search. He writes:

I am a Brockley resident, having recently moved to the area. I was wondering if you could help me out by putting this on Brockley Central. I 'm looking for people to feature in a TV commercial.

I work for a television casting company called Sasha Robertson casting. We are currently working on a commercial for US television for 'Frank's Hot Sauce'. The spot will be shown in Canada and the US but will be shot in the UK.

For this commercial we are doing a little 'Street Casting' - this means that the production company want to see people who are not professional actors as they feel it will give the commercial a more genuine feel. As I am in charge of the street casting, I thought that my first port-of-call should be Brockley Central.

We are hoping to cast two roles through the Street Casting. They are:

Woman: A woman who could play a Vicar's wife. She should look 45.

Older Couple: A man and woman who look 70+. They would be required to dance a little.

I should stress that although we are looking for non-professionals, this is a professional production and if chosen, participants would be paid accordingly.

The filming will take place in London, or maybe just outside, I think that they are looking at an old people's home in Guildford. Any transport that is required would be taken care of in the form of a car that would collect each individual from their home and drop them off at the end of the day. Oh and filming will take place in the first week of May.


If anyone is interested, It would be great if they could contact me direct. I will then arrange to come and meet them (wherever they would like) and put them on tape. This should take no more than five minutes. As is often the case with this kind of thing, time is fairly short. I need to have my footage handed in by Wednesday afternoon, so that is the deadline, I'm afraid.

Contact me on: 0783 4362 691
michaeledwardcox@gmail.com

Manor Avenue traffic

Brockley Central reader Greg reported back from the Manor Avenue nursery hearing and explained that the Councillors hearing the case were presented with potentially very out of date photography of the road, which did not reflect how problematic parking is likely to be. This sounds like a serious flaw in the evidence, as we've certainly seen how difficult parking can be on the street.

Our first instinct on hearing this complaint was to turn to everyone's favourite "privacy" invader, Google, whose Streetview cars audited the area last year, providing a comparitively recent snap shot of the situation. We have to admit to being quite surprised that the street did not look more clogged:


View Larger Map

Google's satellite view tells a similar story, albeit the imagery is older.


View Larger Map

Obviously the situation can change dramatically depending on the time of day, day of the week and time of year. We hope that no decision is taken without a proper study of traffic and parking issues during nursery hours, during the working week, outside of the main holiday periods.

Shunt, London Bridge

The Shunt Lounge, the theatre company, bar and gallery based in the vaults beneath London Bridge station is due to close in June - hopefully to reappear in a Bermondsey warehouse.



This wonderful video of an alternative London sight-seeing tour conveys its unique appeal. We recommend you watch the whole thing, but you can see Shunt at around 3.00 mins.

At around 6.30 mins, there's also a story which might give BrocSoc some ideas.

Mash the State: Lewisham

Sorely-missed Lewisham blogger Andrew Brown got in touch recently to tell us about a campaign to encourage Councils to embrace RSS feeds on their website to make it easier for residents to keep track of everything that's happening in their borough.

While it's a laudable enough aim, it's not top of the list of things we'd like to see the Council spend time doing. However, details of the campaign are below for people who love the technology. On the other hand, this is also a good opportunity to heap praise on Lewisham Council for its Twitter service.

When we first started blogging about Brockley, getting information from Lewisham Council press office was like squeezing blood from a stone. Today, the service is unrecognisable - they're proactive, responsive and helpful.

It helps, of course, that Brockley Central is more established than it was when we started troubling them, but its indicative of a broader culture shift and now, one of the best ways to follow the work of the Council and commune with the press office is to follow them on Twitter. While you're about it, follow us too please.

The architect of "Mash the State" says:

Last week I launched Mash the State, a national campaign to get government data to the people. It’s not a new idea but our method is. We’ll be setting up a series of challenges to the public sector, asking one group of public bodies at a time to release one specific set of data. Our first challenge asks all local councils to serve up an RSS news feed by Christmas. I wouldn’t have bet good money in 2003 that by 2009 370 councils would still be without RSS, but here we are. I’ve thrown the gauntlet down and I’m pleased to see that a couple of hundred people have signed up to our website or followed us on Twitter to help make this happen. The councils have got over eight months to do what in most cases will not be more than half a day’s work to serve RSS from their websites. Others less fortunate will have to persuade their content management system suppliers to enable this feature for them. All have got plenty of time to perform this technically trivial task in time to give the public a small but highly symbolic Christmas present that shows that government in this country is prepared to trust its citizens with their own data.

You can sign up to the Lewisham page here: http://www.mashthestate.org.uk/councils/lewisham

Bench Poetry: Hilly Fields

Journalist Stephen Emms writes a weekly column in Time Out about the stories behind the tributes on London's park benches. Walking through Hilly Fields one day, he read Seana Culwin's tribute and was moved to learn more.

You can read the story "I sit and watch the children play" here and learn more about the St Thomas' Lupus Trust here.

Manor Avenue Nursery - The BrocSoc verdict

The Brockley Society will be taking a delegation to the Lewisham Planning Meeting on Thursday 16 April at 7.30pm to campaign against the proposed nursery in Manor Avenue.

They write:

The first item is an application for a nursery in Manor Avenue where the private social club has been for many years. Following a long investigation and several meetings, Brockley Society and many local residents are opposing this application for a number of reasons, including the traffic and parking problems that this substantial nursery would cause in an already very congested avenue. Some of the other reasons are listed below. This is a campaign to 'Save the Avenue' and has nothing to do with opposition to children or nurseries as such.

Here are the reasons we oppose this application which runs contrary to the preservation and enhancement of the conservation area, based on Lewisham Council's guidelines for development [As the list is very long, BC has selected what we regard as the strongest of their arguments - there is a bit of double counting in their list of objections, where they at once object to the plans as a loss of housing and a loss of community leisure space]:

Parking

Dropping off and picking up children will cause traffic congestion, particularly in the narrow 'shoulders' of the street; which also has inadequate spare parking capacity due to the number of dwellings versus the car usage, and may be a traffic hazard. The council's own policy dictates that 'Where appropriate one off-street parking space should be provided for every two members of staff.' That's nine spaces.

Residential Buildings

There is a general shortage of housing in the borough. It is important not to lose homes to other uses. 60 Manor Avenue has let part of the house as 5 bedsits, and should be retained in residential use. 'In order to minimise the loss of residential accommodation the Council will look favourably on schemes which retain part of the house in residential use.' Added to which, policy also states, the applicant must 'demonstrate that this is the only suitable building for it.'

Recession Bites

Yesterday, Experian announced that retail vacancy rates in the UK could reach 15% by the end of the year. Brockley seems to be keeping pace, with the recent closure of a number of businesses, which we can only hope heralds a spell of creative destruction.

Brockley Kitchen cooked

The Brockley Kitchen has closed and estate agent Pavilion is offering a reward for information which helps them identify the whereabouts of the former proprietors of this midtown establishment.

Aquarium sunk

Bailiff notices have been posted in the windows of this Harefield Road cafe, which had diversified in to Salsa classes and had recently applied for a late license. Last weekend, the place was closed, a sign on the door attributing the closure to "unfortunate circumstances".

Lean times at La Lanterna

There is no sign that the refurbishment work promised has begun but the fat plastic chef who used to adorn the roof has vanished. Readers have already noted that other restaurants in the London chain have also closed.

With thanks to Brockley Kate.

Coulgate Street demolition [UPDATED]

The Common and Bridge House demoltion projects have been joined by the old Speedicars building on Coulgate Street, which is now a smoking pile of rubble.

There were long-standing plans to redevelop this site, but they had stalled when we enquired last summer. We're asking for an update now and will let you know when and if we hear what's happening. A good-quality development on that site would be good news and strengthen the argument for the part-pedestrianisation of Coulgate Street.

UPDATE: Although we're yet to hear back from our official enquiries, the builder taking a hammer to masonry this morning claimed that flats were being built on site, which would tally with the original plans.

Transition Town Brockley meeting

Fran from Transition Towns has been in touch:

Transition Brockley/ Lewisham is ready to get started and will be having its first meeting on Thursday 16 April at 8.00pm at Brockley Social Club, 240 Brockley Road.

It would be good for us to have an idea of numbers – so if you can, please email Fran Rogers (fr2rogers@gmail.com) to say you are coming.

People who would like to progress Transition in Brockley will be particularly welcome, but do come along if you are from the wider Lewisham area and keen to get involved in creating a transition town. One possibility is to work towards the model of transition town Nottingham with one overarching TT (ie Lewisham) and local subgroups.

If you are new to the Transition Town concept, it is a grassroots, community based movement driven by the need to deal with Climate Change and to prepare for living when cheap oil and other fossil fuels run out. Action is needed at all levels and Transition towns operate with individuals at the community level working towards sustainable communities.

See: http://www.transitiontowns.org/ for further details.

The new Loampit Vale plans revealed





Last Saturday we walked from Lewisham Station to Ladywell, passing via Loampit Vale. It smelled strongly of wee as we crossed the little patch of grass and walked through the underpass toward Algernon Road. It was a hot day and two people who also smelled strongly of wee stood around, for want of anything much else to do.

It was for this reason that, when we received the email from Matt, informing us that the revised planning application from Barratt for Loampit Vale was available online, we were predisposed to look favourably on it.

The plan is for:

The construction of eight buildings ranging from five to 24 storeys, incorporating balconies and terraces, comprising 788 residential units (including up to 186 affordable), a leisure centre, 1,856m2 of commercial floorspace (Use Classes A1, A2, and B1), including 626m2 for creative industries), an energy centre, replacement London City Mission facilities, public and private amenity space, together with associated landscaping, bin stores, 866 cycle, 10 motorcycle and 181 car parking spaces on ground and first floor levels, associated highway works, plant and servicing.

The development is dense and reasonably tall, though to give some sense of scale, the tallest of the proposed buildings (24 stories) is roughly half the height of the Pan Peninsula buildings (48 stories) in Canary Wharf and is likely to be equal in height to the existing "Lewisham House".

The planned pool will be eight lanes, which is very good news. The play areas, podium gardens, public spaces and main roads look high-quality. The green roof scheme is good though should be standard for any development of this kind. The architecture and planned materials are decent, particularly on buildings C and E, which have nicely-proportioned recessed windows. Unfortunately, the tallest of the buildings is also the most disappointing, employing the randomised cladding that is heavily overused by developers at the moment.

As we write this, there are probably others in the borough poring over the planning documents, cataloguing flaws. Matt, who tipped us off, does not seem like a big fan himself, writing:

They seem to be trying to get a huge development through on the promise of the new leisure centre. If you consider that this site backs onto roads of terraced housing the impact on these people will be significant. Of course for us all means another couple of Citibank towers to look at.

Well, we like looking north and having the horizon punctured by Canary Wharf. We don't like looking east at the horror that is the Citi tower, but that's because it's a bad building. These are not bad buildings and they will improve the view from Hilly Fields by screening that 70s folly.

The more important issue is the scale of the development, but again the positives surely outweigh the negatives; these buildings will play a key role in the revival of Lewisham as an urban centre and help the borough meet its housing commitments, injecting some vibrancy in to the area.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) concluded that "we see its potential to create a vibrant public destination and a pleasant place to live, whilst the quantum and size are large, this could be acceptable if carefully handled." The final point is surely the most important - Loampit Vale needs something ambitious. This is the deal that's on the table, but the devil is in the detail.

So what do you think?

Hendrix: Can you see me? No.


Foxy Lady Moira (of the MAX) is suffering from Manic Depression today, having learned that the Jimi Hendrix mural commissioned for a previous festival, has been blotted out with black paint.

If it's vandalism, it's unusually methodical and thorough, as the whole of the inset of the wall has been painted. The rest of the mural remains untouched, but the effect of the triptych is spoiled.

Here's a photo of the mural partly obscured by some Cross Town Traffic, which has parked up on the pavement, naturally.

Ladywell Fields redevelopment consultation

The News Shopper reports that:

Ladywell Fields andthe Waterlink Parklands project have received a [£1.94m] grant from the London Development Agency... to transform the central and southern parts of Catford’s Ladywell Fields, as well as providing signs and publicity for the Waterlink Way, which runs through the borough.

Developments will include improving access to the river, building a series of timber viewing platforms along the riverside.

New wetland lakes will also be created including riverside planting, ponds, reed beds and wet grasslands.

The work will continue a project that began with the redevelopment of the northern part of the Fields, to make better use of the river. That project was funded by those meddling Eurocrats who, when they're not trying to straighten our God-given bananas, are busy creating wildlife pools and play areas for young children.

If you want to have your say on the redevelopment, please contact:
alison.taylor@lewisham.gov.uk

With thanks to Barry LS.

The Misty Moon Craft and Art Fair, 18th April

The organiser of Crofton Park Misty Moon Craft and Art Fair, Stuart, has been in touch:

This will be the fourth Fair since we started in November. It is a celebration of Arts and Crafts from all over the South-East. We have 25 plus stalls at the fair, which is being held at St. Hilda's Hall, Courtrai Road, Crofton Park, SE4 on the 18th April 2009.

The fair is open from 12pm till 5pm, entrance is FREE, refreshments are available and all are welcome.

We have a selection of jewellery stalls, ceramics, paintings, mosiacs, aromotheraphy products, handmade bags, cards, chocolates, cakes and for the first time we have a face painter, as we are trying to encourage more families to attend.

After this fair we are looking to hold another in May and then in June. So if there are any other people with interesting crafts I would love to hear from them, my contact number is 07960 993737.

First look at new London Bridge station


This image shows how the new London Bridge station concourse for trains to-and-from Brockley will look in about two years. This work will happen as part of the construction of the 310m-high Shard, which is currently underway (piling stage).

The bus interchange is also being redeveloped as part of the same project. The rest of the station is being redeveloped separately as part of the Thameslink programme.

Crime Prevention Day in Brockley

Recessions lead to an increase in the incidence of burglaries. Nationally, there has already been an increase and it is expected to get worse.

The anecdotal evidence we have about the situation in Brockley suggests that there is no reason to believe that Brockley is an exception to this national pattern. A few days ago, a local Tweeter reported their building had been broken in to. Last week we received an email from someone who listed a number of burglaries that had taken place near their house. We're aware that a burglary spree took place on our street recently before the perp was caught.

We've read enough Ben Goldacre columns not to try and infer too much from such unscientific data, but it is clear that taking sensible steps to protect your home from burglary is a smart move.

We are planning to speak to the local Safer Neighbourhoods teams to ask them for their insights and advice about the local picture, but in the mean time, we need to tell you about this:

Free crime prevention advice available today, between 2pm and 5pm from the Safer Lewisham Partnership bus that will be parked on Wickham Road.

You can contact the Brockley Safer Neighbourhoods Team (or get the details for the relevant Team for your house) by clicking here.

Lion's Fried Chicken, Brockley Road

Whenever a shop selling unbattered food opens in Brockley there are lots of anguished posts from BC readers challenging its long-term viability: "Can Brockley sustain more than one shop selling fresh food? Isn't this a bit similar to somewhere else?" Yet places like Lion's proliferate without question.

This link (appraising the quality of its signage) is the closest thing we are ever going to get to a review of Lion's Fried Chicken but please feel free to post your comments and reviews here.

The Horniman Museum: Robot Zoo

On its opening weekend, we paid a visit to the Horniman Museum's latest temporary exhibition, the Robot Zoo, which is running until November 8, 2009.

Like last year's "Walking with Beasts", this is a relatively small-scale exhibit that charges for entry: Adults £5, Concs £3, Children £2.50, Children under 3 free.

The exhbition is a collection of animatronic creatures that look more 64 Zoo Lane than Truckasaurus. While reasonably entertaining for 2-10 year-olds, it doesn't teach you very much about animals or robots.

Older children will probably not be able to wring more than 10 minutes of entertainment out of it. For younger kids however, there are plenty of buttons to push, handles to crank and tortoise shells to strap on.

You don't need to be an unreconstructed sci-fi nerd to find it a little disappointing that the robot zoo exhibits aren't really very robotic, but it provides a great excuse to pay another visit to the wonderful Horniman Museum.

Incidentally, the aquarium was looking far sprightlier than it has been recently. The jellyfish were in full bloom, plenty of fish in the wave tank and frogs piled on logs in the swampland case.

Priority seating for Southern trains

"This is the worst kind of discrimination! The kind against me."
- Bender

BC regular Monkeyboy spotted this story in the News Shopper, which reports that passengers on the Brockley line may be asked to give up their seat by someone with a card issued to them by operator Southern. A spokesperson said:

"Southern hopes commuters sitting in seats with a sign indicating they are for disabled and elderly people, people with small children or other medical needs will give up their seats if shown the special card."

New Brockley MAX website now live

And it's pretty smart. It's a little light on content right now, but it has a clear layout with all the key information easily accessible and a host of photographs which give casual readers a flavour of what the MAX is all about. They're also working on an interactive map of the venues.

They are also embracing Twitter. You can follow them here and why not follow Brockley Central too, while you're about it?

The next Brockley MAX planning meeting is 16 April 8pm at the Jam Circus. Contact gill@brockleymax.co.uk if you want to organise an event as part of the MAX.

NYC v NC

Transpontine has spotted a New York Times article with the headline "In London, New Cross and Deptford Attract the Hip."

We didn't find the piece as toecurling as Transpontine did, but it does open as follows:

The coming of New Cross and Deptford has been predicted for some time. It won’t be an easy ride. The area lies in an inglorious corner of southeast London; those with well-cushioned sensibilities need not make the journey. But with the unpolished location comes that most heady of urban ingredients: an edge. For now, these neighboring districts still feel more like eccentric outposts than uncut diamonds.

Brockley Bites

Greenwich Village Market gone

The Greenwich Phantom reports that the Greenwich market where you could actually find stuff you might want to buy has closed down.

Bright new dawn for capitalism in Brockley

Transpontine has a shot of the westside graffiti which, as he points out, may not have had quite the effect on the reader that the author imagined.

Bob From Brockley v Cafe Crema v Israel

New Cross blogger Bob from Brockley wrote an admirably measured response to Cafe Crema's regrettably-worded anti-Israeli sign, which read:

"We don't sell any Israeli goods. We are not anti-semitic; we are anti-fascist. Jews are as welcome here as anyone else."

The resulting debate carried all the way to the Jewish Chronicle and the Jerusalem Post. Read more here.

Guys reclad by 2012

An exhibition at the Building Centre shows how Guys Hospital could look by 2012. With two other towers torn down and replaced with infinitely superior buildings as part of the development of London Bridge Quarter, Guys was going to stick out like a sore thumb. What with it being an important hospital and everything, a reclad is the only realistic option.


What is Lewisham for?

We are fast approaching the deadline for the public to respond to the options set out by Lewisham Council in the consultation document for the Lewisham Core Stratetgy. The consultation period ends tomorrow and we have been meaning to write about it for some time after Cllr Walton tipped us off about it.

We were finally prompted to write about it by an email from BC regular Tamsin, who forwarded the submission provided by the Chair of the Telegraph Hill Society, which we have reproduced below.

According to Lewisham Council:

The Lewisham Core Strategy will set out the vision, objectives, strategy and policies that will guide development and regeneration in the Lewisham borough up to 2025. Major change is anticipated, with a focus on Lewisham, Catford, Deptford and New Cross, and we need to plan for this.

The consultation document sets out a number of options for the public to comment on, including two broad spatial strategies. In either case Creekside (Deptford), Catford, Lewisham and New Cross are where the main action is likely to be:

Two regeneration corridors would be established. The first would encompass the London Plan ‘opportunity areas’ of Catford-Lewisham-New Cross including Deptford and Creekside. This would be the main focus for the borough's housing, retail and employment growth, and associated social and physical improvements.

The key difference between Strategic Spatial Options 1 and 2, is that under Option 2 the six sites proposed as Mixed Use Employment Locations (MELs) in Deptford and New Cross would continue to operate as a Strategic Industrial Location (SIL) and a Local Employment Location (LEL).


This is a big document and we’ve been meaning to write a longer piece with our thoughts on the subject but we’ve run out of time and in the end they basically boil down to the following:

- Lewisham should make far better use of the river – it’s a completely wasted resource. If the cruise liner terminal is not a goer (and no good reason has been provided why it shouldn’t be) then concentrate on creating a world class river walk – deliver some of the residential and commercial developments planned, but make sure there’s plenty of parkland too – think Battersea Park or Richmond.

- Whilst grand spatial plans are important, far more priority needs to be given to investing in the area’s high-streets, creating good-quality environments in every Lewisham village (not just Blackheath) – that seems to us the cheapest and easiest way to regenerate Lewisham while the Council struggles with the Gordian Knots of Catford and Lewisham centre.

- If you have parcels of problematic land that you can’t find a developer for, don't allow cheap and nasty infil just to try and hit housing targets, give the space over to charitable groups to do something wonderful with – like the Bonnington Square Paradise Project in Vauxhall.

- The industrial sites in the north of the borough often provide relatively few jobs and opportunities for nearby businesses - they would be no loss if replaced with mixed developments, which included small scale workshops, studios and office developments.

- Build more council-funded multi-sports facilities and gyms– everyone should have one within walking distance.

We admit that this is not a very focused response.

However, the Telegraph Hill Society has written a detailed response, focusing primarily on the potential impact of the intensity of development proposed for New Cross and Deptford. Here’s what they say:

Both options propose a large amount of new homes inthe north of the borough between now and 2025 but provide, for example, for no new parks (indeed it effectively admits that if all these newhomes are built there is no space for new parks!).

No new transportinfrastructure is planned to accommodate these new residents other than the schemes already in existence (ELLX and 3car DLR).

In particular both Option 1 and Option 2 provide for / require the new Sainsbury's scheme with its tower blocks even though it has not gonethrough planning and residents have not been consulted.

The new development in the North of the Borough (Deptford/New Cross) is meant to provide for the regeneration of thewhole of the borough - which seems a little unfair: we get the houses, the whole borough gets any funds coming from the regeneration.

There is too much emphasis on providing housing and not employment. Indeed Option 1 utilises current designated commercial land for housing. This may therefore turn the borough into even more of a dormitory borough than itis now.

For Conservation Areas as a whole, there are concerns over how both Options explicitly state that development sites will include infill development, more conversions to flats and more additions and extensions to existing properties.

We also had concerns - expressed by a number of other residents groups-over the fact that the short three page consultation document was badly worded and short on facts.

The Option 1 scheme (40% more housing than the London Plan requires) is described as "boroughwide regeneration andgrowth" whereas Option 2 (London Plan level of housing) is described as"moderate regeneration".

It is not clear why building new houses rather than building fewer better houses or even offices, factories and shops is regarded as "regeneration". It seems an odd use of the word. Furthermore the short document states that the target Lewisham has beenset for new housing is "almost 10,000 new homes by 2017".

It then states that Option 1 is for a "40% increase" in housing over the London PlanTarget, whereas Option 2 "meets London Plan". You might be forgiven forthinking that this means Option 1 is for 14,000 homes and Option 2 is for10,000 new homes in the borough across the period of the plan. In fact,the full report schedules 21,650 under option 1 and 14,550 under Option 2- because the timescales are different.

We apologise for not getting around to this sooner, but you still have a little time to make yourself heard.

Rejoice!

As rumoured in BC's comments section, legendary local Vietnamese cafe and takeaway Longtime has re-opened!

The guy running it isn't fully stocked up yet, but he's aiming to do so as quickly as possible and is most definitely open for business.

The revolution begins... in Brockley

One of the reasons we started this blog was to raise Brockley's profile among Londoners. But two years of churning out article after article has been eclipsed in a couple of weeks by the efforts of Brockley's own "Governmment of the Dead" - who have hogged the headlines from headquarters on Wickham Road, as we wrote last week.

Well now they have excelled themselves. Stealing a march on their brothers and sisters assembled in central London, Brockley's revolutionaries have barricaded Wickham Road, declaring it "The Brockley Anarchist Collective."

Several people have been in touch to explain what's going on. Apparently, the campaigners have taken barriers and building materials from nearby building sites including the Brockley Common redevelopment and the Geoffrey Road resurfacing. They have only been able to secure a small section of the street, nearest Lewisham Way but around 30 houses are now part of their brave new world. Police are at the scene and one BC reader described it as a "friendly standoff" at the moment. Residents are being allowed to come and go but only if they agree to "feed" the "four horses of the apocalypse" with money, which they have declared "valueless."

Meanwhile BBC and ITV local news are both planning to send crews to cover the story and have contacted BC to ask whether any local residents are willing to be interviewed for the piece. Please email us if you want to be put in touch.

We'll update you throughout the day as we get more details.

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