Big Yellow back for more

Having had its planning application to build a storage centre on Lewisham Way turned down, Big Yellow's trying again on appeal. As the News Shopper reports, the company has form, having had 7 similar applications and appeals turned down over in Lee before.

The public enquiry will start on January 26th at 10am, in Lewisham Town Hall and will last for up to three days, although anyone wishing to speak needs to do so on the first day.

BC's view is that the appeal deserves to fail, not because of the quality of the design (which is still an improvement over what's currently there) but because Lewisham Way is - along with Brockley Road - our main high street. A facility like this would attract more cars and cause more congestion and harm the area's long-term prosepcts. Storage centres work best in commercial or industrial estates of the type that South East London is overly blessed with. High streets are for people.

59 comments:

ppp said...

That location would be good for gym, library or other public space.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

In which cas why did the Library opposite close down?

Prime example of use it or loose it.

Any inward investment is good in my opinion and should be encouraged, so don't expect me to object.

Brockley Nick said...

No one uses traditional libraries any more. Books are so cheap to buy new or second hand. The internet has replaced the role of libraries as research centres. You either have to reimagine them as all-purpose cultural centres or create a dramatic space with the obligatory coffee shop, that people enjoy spending time in.

ppp said...

A garden centre would be good also and would be frequented by subscribers to the grow your own movement that is increasing in popularity.

Tressillian James said...

At a recent Brockely Socirty meeting there was a talk given on the buildings in Lewisham Way. The historian there thought that Lewisham Way was one of the the most intact Victorian main street in London and well worth preserving.

The Big Yellow will set a precedent and the area will slip into something like the old Kent Road.

Esile said...

I use my local library all the time - free books are brilliant, especially when you're not sure if you'll like it enough to own. it's in westminster - maybe lewisham libraries aren't so good?

Anonymous said...

I use Crofton Park library - and it's always busy in there.

Don't write off the library said...

I was at Lewisham library last week and it wasn't empty. I'm not sure that books are that cheap, but I use the library because I have too many books in the house. Magazines certainly aren't cheap at the library, access is free.

Also for research productivity is a lot higher in the library than at home on the internet.

The internet is great but don't write off the library just yet. They still have a lot to offer.

Brockley Nick said...

My statement that "no one" uses libraries was hyperbolic, but many libraries are trying to reinvent themselves to continue to attract people, many that haven't are struggling.

Anonymous said...

@nick "No one uses traditional libraries any more"

er speak for yourself - not everyone can afford to buy books or has a computer 'on tap'. Many i know use the library not only for books but for access to technology they dont have at home. If the borough took a little more time to properly equip the libraries more would use. It is all down to the reduction of resources for local libraries. I used to work in two of the local borough libraries some time ago and am shocked at how run down they now are. Little chance to find the book you want or a looooong wait if you order it.
The need is there - the resources are not.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - I take no pleasure from saying libraries are struggling and there's nothing wrong with reinvention. From the Guardian, 6th Jan 2007:

Almost half of all adults go to a library in a year and visits increased last year, but for a decade, book borrowing has been declining. "Libraries are increasing visits by offering more services and getting out into communities with book buses, mobile units, taking displays and activities into schools," says Claire Creaser, a statistician at Loughborough. "But the main draw seems to be the computers."

From the Guardian, 18th August 2003:

"The library has the potential to be the 'living room of the city' or a 'club for everyone'," says the report, Better Public Libraries, citing a score of developments as pathfinders for the new approach. "New libraries should increasingly be long-stay places for students, a safe haven for children, even a home from home. They should include cafes, lounge areas with sofas, and chill-out zones where young people can watch MTV, read magazines and listen to CDs on listening posts."

Anonymous said...

Classic back down!

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon 15:59

So you're saying that the libraries need to provide more internet access - that's an example of the reinvention I was talking about. Many libraries function as "UK Online Centres" offering internet access to the public. I agree we need to see more of that.

Anonymous said...

"BC's view is that the appeal deserves to fail, not because of the quality of the design (which is still an improvement over what's currently there) but because Lewisham Way is - along with Brockley Road - our main high street."

What is this fantasy "high st" thing that goes on on this blog? BEWARE. with hight st comes the march of the corporates. Look at what happened to greenwich?

Brockley Nick said...

High streets in London aren't a fantasy. Look at the Crofton Park stretch of Brockley Road for an example of a successful local high street, which combines a few chains with a lot of independents. Simple.

Lewisham Way is already a high street, with quite a few decent businesses and some very fine architecture. Just not enough people at the moment. Sticking a storage depot in the middle won't help its cause.

Tamsin said...

The Manor House Library seems to meet the need for a home from home with lots going on. Crucial, of course, is consistent opening hours. That's what did for many small libraries - in the desperate attempt to cover the needs of everyone each day's hours were different, so people either had to have a full week's time-table in their heads, or just did not bother.

M said...

Ladywell High St is also coming along nicely - with no major chains. If only we could get rid of the carwash and get a couple more of the empty shops occupied it could be great.

Pete said...

I really, really wish that someone would blow the car wash and the huge advertising hoardings up on Ladywell Road. They're both eyesores.

Maybe if/when the conservation area is brought in pressure put on the owners?

Tressilliana said...

'No one uses traditional libraries any more.' Tell that to my daughter, Nick. She is a voracious reader and goes to Lewisham Library regularly to borrow books. I bet there are plenty of pensioners, long-term sick, unemployed and less affluent parents of young children wouldn't agree either. When my children were tiny a trip to Crofton Park library was something we all looked forward to.

Hugh said...

Libraries are well borin. Amazon is all u need.

Brockley Nick said...

That'll teach me :(

Yes, some people still do use libraries simply to read books. Just not as many as there were and not enough in many cases. Which means libraries need to reinvent themselves. Which is why it's unfair to say that because an old library closed, that there isn't a role for a new type of library. That was all...

ppp said...

So please put one on Lewisham way!

Libraries are public spaces where people can collaborate; a maternity ward for ideas, if you will

ppp said...

So please put one on Lewisham way!

Libraries are public spaces where people can collaborate; a maternity ward for ideas, if you will

mintness said...

Irrespective of the footfall issue, I have to say that I've always found Lewisham Library to be rather good in terms of having newer/popular books available in reasonable quantities while maintaining decent minority sections (e.g. a surprisingly well-stocked LGBT fiction section). Then again, that may be more of a reflection on the quality of the libraries I grew up near in the north-east of England!

On the other hand, I once had a conversation with one of the librarians that essentially boiled down to "please donate anything you can - we're even running short on paperclips", so who knows what the funding situation is like in reality! :)

Anonymous said...

"No one uses traditional libraries any more."

This statement is revealing. Not so much hyperbole as euphemism.

For "No one" read 'anyone who isn't part of the trendy middle class'.

And by 'trendy' read 'conspicuous consuming'.

The local library isn't on their radar in the same way The Brockley Barge isn't.

Brockley Nick said...

Bang to rights - just my middle class prejudices. No reflection of the facts. I made up those two articles I quoted and the report the second article was based on.

Carry on.

maxink said...

My 4 year old daughter loves the library too, I hope the enthusiasm lasts, but I wouldn't be too surprised if users' numbers were going up actually.

Nux said...

@ Anon 11.12, I am middle class and I use Crofton Park Library, it's great. I take my daughter there for the songs on Fridays at 11, which are a lot of fun and well attended by other parents and kids, most if not all of whom are also middle class ;-) I get books out for myself and will get a library card for my daughter too so we can get books out for her (she is a bit young at 8 months to fully appreciate it currently).

@ Brockley Nick - the library is well used, particularly the computers which are always busy. It is a good source of information for what is going on locally too. If you ever wander up to the CP end of Brockley maybe you should pop in sometime and have a look :-)

Headhunter said...

Lewisham Way had a library in the majestic building funded by the Carnegie family in the early 20th century. It's now the arts place, I went in a while back, it seems a shame that the interior with it's marble staircase and beautifully tiled flooring are now allowed to deteriorate and get very tatty. Why did that library close?

Anonymous said...

anyone else annoyed about the amount of salt supermarkets put in their food? It seems almost impossible for me to keep under the RDA when buying my lunch....

Anonymous said...

Just read the CABE document "Better Public Libraries".
The key point I've gotten from it is that there is no one size fits all solution style for a library serving a diverse community.

For example if the main proposals from the document were implemented wholescale and across the board you'd see libraries designed and styled along the lines of the Brockley Mess. As we know this is not an ideal solution for all.

There's a lot good positive stuff disability access and making the library experience more humane.

But whatever happens regarding the culture and aesthetics of the library I'm heartened by these words from the report *

"The library as a special place in the life of the community, a window onto the world of the imagination and of raised intellectual horizons, for young and old, is not
likely to diminish."



* www.cabe.org.uk/publications/better-public-libraries pg 4

Anonymous said...

Nux you maybe middle class but are you trendy?

John said...

Why does the library need to be made popular? The whole point of it is to provide for people who don't/can't buy books, not to appeal to people who like drinking lattes so that it can make a profit. I'm sick of going into libraries to find all sorts of nonsense replacing shelves of books. Tell the editor of The Guardian to stick that in the newspaper!

Nux said...

Hmm, I wonder what you mean by "trendy" and "conspicuous consuming". I'm sure I can tick a few a good few BC prejudice boxes here if I try:

1) I am one of those mothers who drinks lattes in the Brockley Mess while inconsiderately bringing my child along too

2) We get an organic veggie box delivered

3) The thing I miss most about working in the City since being on Mat leave is really good sushi

4) We moved here from East Dulwich - surely the final nail in my trend coffin?

:-)

Anonymous said...

Well the nails are all in the coffin for Nick's now infamous assertion that "No one uses traditional libraries any more".

Congratulations on being trendy middle class Nux. :D

I said...

@Nux. As a matter of interest what made you move here from E Dulwich?

Anonymous said...

The credit crunch?

Headhunter said...

John - I agree with you to a certain extent but libraries do have to find their place in an world with internet and in which books are much cheaper anyway. No point them continuing blithely along as they always have, attracting fewer and fewer people yet consuming public sector funding by the sackload.

John said...

Headhunter, some things in life just don't make money and their point isn't to make money either.

Whether or not you believe libraries sould be economically sustainable comes down to your politics.

patrick1971 said...

Headhunter, the cynic in me would suggest that the Lewisham Way library closed down because Lewisham Council didn't want to have to pay the maintenance on the magnificent building. Which leads to the question, who owns it now?

I'm intrigued by the suggestion that Lewisham Way is the most complete Victorian shopping street in London. It's a toilet; full of low-life in the stretch between Shardeloes Road and Wickham Road, nasty, cheap shops and has a constant, threatening atmosphere. However, there's no need to turn it from a toilet to an open sewer, which the Yellow Box proposal would contribute to. Let's try and clean it up.

Anonymous said...

Patrick you sure have a way with words!

patrick1971 said...

Just an unfortunate over-familiarity with that dismal stretch of Lewisham Way, Anon! :-)

Headhunter said...

I'm not saying that libraries have to be profit making enterprises, just that it's pointless for them to continue in the same function in a changing world in which libraries are no longer necessary as the major source of information in a community. They're expensive to run so they need to be relevant to more than just a tiny minority of people. How they become more relevant I don't know...

On Lewisham Way, I never find it that bad to be honest. Certainly I have felt far more threatened in other parts of London. It's not exactly the Kings Rd or Marylebone High Street, but it could be worse IMO and I agree that a big storage centre would not add to its ambience.

Nux said...

@ I, we were renting there and we wanted to buy a house which would have been far too expensive in ED. Also, and importantly, ED is mostly populated by wankers IMO and I wanted to live somewhere where the people were nicer. I do miss the range of restaurants, shops etc but much prefer Brockley which is so much more friendly and community-spirited. I think it is an amazing place to live and honestly can't think of anywhere else in London I would rather be.

love detective said...

"Bang to rights - just my middle class prejudices. No reflection of the facts. I made up those two articles I quoted and the report the second article was based on. "

i've read them a couple of times now but can't see the bit where they say no one uses them anymore

i think the general consensus of this thread, from a mix of social classes,ages and backgrounds is that they are still well used and play a useful part in people's lives

anytime i'm in the catford one it's usually very busy

Hugh said...

How about Belgravia?

I said...

@Nux. Can we appoint you as spokesperson for the Brockley Marketing Board?

ps agree with you on the w@nker front.

osh said...

Oh shh Fred it's quite obvious he didnt mean it literally and those articles do say that library use has been in decline for ten years and need to adapt. Thats all that was meant. And I don't seee how someone saying their kids use it for the internet contradicts that point.

love detective said...

the words people choose to use usually reveal their meanings/intentions behind the statement, whether directly/literally or otherwise. In any case the initial statement was in a response to someone suggesting that the location would be a good space for a library, nick's (ill informed and somewhat confused) response was that this would not be a good idea as there would be little demand for it- just because less people use them than they did in the past doesn't mean they are not required anymore which was the thrust of nick's response

anyroads, it's hardly one person saying their kids use it for the internet is it - i mean look at the comments, and this is from BC readers who are probably not wholly representative of the wider community:-

I use my local library all the time

I use Crofton Park library - and it's always busy in there

I was at Lewisham library last week and it wasn't empty. I'm not sure that books are that cheap, but I use the library because I have too many books in the house. Magazines certainly aren't cheap at the library, access is free

Also for research productivity is a lot higher in the library

Many i know use the library not only for books but for access to technology they dont have at home

The Manor House Library seems to meet the need for a home from home with lots going on

Tell that to my daughter, Nick. She is a voracious reader and goes to Lewisham Library regularly to borrow books. I bet there are plenty of pensioners, long-term sick, unemployed and less affluent parents of young children wouldn't agree either.

when my children were tiny a trip to Crofton Park library was something we all looked forward to.

Libraries are public spaces where people can collaborate;

My 4 year old daughter loves the library too

I am middle class and I use Crofton Park Library, it's great. I take my daughter there for the songs on Fridays at 11...I get books out for myself and will get a library card for my daughter too so we can get books out for her

the library is well used, particularly the computers which are always busy.

The library as a special place in the life of the community, a window onto the world of the imagination and of raised intellectual horizons, for young and old, is not likely to diminish

anytime i'm in the catford one it's usually very busy

Brockley Nick said...

@Fred - you're confused. Read my posts. I was actually responding to TM's point, which was that that the Library closed down, so perhaps it wasn't a good spot for a library. I was trying - poorly - to make the point that not all libraries are the same. Some have changed their offer (doubling as UK online centres, etc) and those are doing OK. The ones that haven't (traditional libraries) are struggling, because people are using them in fewer and fewer numbers. So perhaps a different type of library in that spot could work.

I wasn't arguing against libraries. Rather than trying to spot hidden meanings incessantly, perhaps you should read what's actually written.

Osh said...

I hope that next time someone posts a comment like "I'm dying to go there" or "I'm starving" or "I was frozen" or "Chelsea is another world" we'll spend hours arguing as though the person was talking literally.

That WILL be fun.

Nux said...

@ I - funny you should say that, we have friends visiting on Saturday who have just accepted an offer on their flat in West Dulwich and are considering moving here, I am planning to strongly encourage them!

@ Hugh - heavens no, far too posh for the likes of me - although if I did go there at least when you finally upgrade you would still have someone local to look down on ;-)

Jon S said...

Yellow box storage centres, despite being ugly are beacons for building communities. Often, between 5 - 20% of the space is used by small businesses and startups, especially creatives. Centres have been known to include illegal nightclubs, legal recording studios, T-Shirt printing businesses, artists studios, etc.

Se here for some highly unscientific info.

Cue the abuse.....

ppp said...

Library, gym or garden centre. Big yellow can bless another with their presence.

spincat said...

Over the last few years I've visited libraries from Glasgow to Bournemouth (and overseas), hundreds of them, as part of my work. Mostly academic ones but a fair proportion public libraries. I am surprised to read such outdated views of libraries on this site.

Most people I come across know that public libraries now provide internet access as well as book lending (plus some also provide all kinds of other activities, concerts, cafes, lecture and learning space). Numbers of visitors are not falling
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) figures on visits to public libraries rose 6% between 2001 and 2007 (from 318.2 million a year to 337.3 million).

There is a wave of new public library building across the country right now - sometimes this is a really good thing because many libraries are in old buildings that aren't easily adapted to modern needs, and there are some amazing new designs out there. Sometimes this ain't such a good thing because money is going towards a local authority swagger-building and local libraries are closing.

If libraries didn't exist we'd invent them:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/nov/30/phone-box-mini-library-somerset

Finally, much as I am in favour of library innovation, there is one thing I find library users treasure about libraries and this is something hard to find now. As much as words like 'vibrant' 'buzzing' 'noisy' 'interactive' are used by councils or academic institutions about their latest developments, when I talk to users they always mention wanting a quiet area - even if they like part of the library doing the buzzing, vibrant stuff, they still want silent workplace some of the time.

wrapping this all up said...

As an impartial observer, it seems like you're all saying the same sort of thing. You all seem to like libraries. You all think they need to innovate to stay relevant. You all think that providing internet access is one of their main roles these days.

The only main point of difference is two different studies - one that says numbers have been going down, the other that says that numbers have been going up.

Spincat, the kind of new libraries you're talking about sound like exactly the sort of thing that Nick was originally talking about.

Let's all agree: if traditional libraries reinvent themselves to suit local needs, they still have a really important role to play in the community.

Headhunter said...

An infrequent library user I nevertheless hope they remain in some form or other. I just hope above all they just don't all get re-branded as "Idea Centres" or whatever it is that some councils now call them. Euurgh. I reserve the same disgust for this as the attempted re-branding of Holborn as "Mid Town"..... Why oh why?

ppp said...

Just thought I'd share this entertaining video featuring the late great Joe Orton, his views on library stock will tickle a few. Spot the indirect reference to our borough too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWmVsEEHIPc

Anonymous said...

the big lesson for the big yellow's victory is that the planning laws need to be changed and soon to stop this kind of thing.

Latest Tweets

Brockley Central Label Cloud

Click one of the labels below to see all posts on that subject. The bigger the label, the more posts there are!