Railings removed on Brockley Road


Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

The broken, functionless, potentially dangerous railings on Brockley Road, opposite the Brockley Barge, have been removed.

Credit due to Lewisham Council, they have taken the action promised by former Cllr Heidi Alexander following her Brockley Cross walkabout.

Already, the pavement area looks far better, although we hope that the action will be followed by improvements to the paving stones themselves.

This is one of our key high streets. By hemming in pedestrians, the railings sent a message that Brockley Road belonged to drivers, encouraged speeding and discouraged spending. With work underway on La Lanterna and a planning application to rennovate two more shops on the stretch, this part of Brockley Road could soon be vastly improved.

With the new tube line running, the Brockley Station planting complete, the Brockley MAX banners flying and the railings removed, this part of Brockley is beginning to look lovely.

Although of course, as Lou and Tamsin would be quick to point out, it's easy to look good while the sun is shining, but let's see how Brockley Central feels about it on a freezing wet winter's day, when we've just trodden in dog poo, our wife has left us, we've lost our job and we've just been diagnosed with Becker's Nevus. Perhaps we should just reserve judgement until then.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well if the wife leaves she won't get far on our shoddy trains and don't even think about driving sweetheart.

Lauren said...

Errghhhhh! Should be a warning on that disease link.

Hugh said...

How do we persuade LBC to purchase compulsorily the MOT centre opposite the station and raze it? That more than anything would change Brockley and its prospects.

Anonymous said...

But that's where I get my MOT done...

Matt-Z said...

No doubt some developers are desperate to knock down the MOT/secondhand car garage and replace it with another oversize development of 'luxury' apartments. Every time we loose a bit of light industry such as this it means locals have further to go to get their MOTs done, driving out of the area, contributing to the traffic problems, and spending their money elsewhere. What do people do when they take their car for an MOT? Often find somewhere nearby to have a cup of tea or something to eat, and browse the local shops.

Back on topic, the railings won't be missed, but will new cycle parking be installed?

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

I thought LBC was a radio station?

Perhaps Hugh means LBL?

Must take the scenic route home tonight to visit the "new" Brockley TUBE station.

The Cat Man said...

I had to re-read that sentance:

"when we've just trodden in dog poo, our wife has left us,"

chrisgee said...

Agree on the need for more cycle parking if the railings are gone

Ed said...

As usual I agree with Hugh. There is an opportunity to make the station area/BX a real focal point. I would hate to see the MOT place turned into tall unsympathetic flats. Cars ned an MOT once a year so travelling for one is not exactly a hardship and I don't want light industry at the centre of our community; selfish maybe, but a low level mixed development or common area would be amazing.

Brockley Nick said...

I too agree agree with Hugh and Ed, that is the key site in Brockley. I agree totally with Matt that flats would be inappropriate, but a low-rise commercial development, with enough space for a restaurant and a couple of shops would completely transform Brockley.

As to where people would go for their MOT, there are other local options, on Geoffrey Road and Kar Klinik further up Brockley Road.

MOT garages are useful and have their place, but if you were starting from scratch to build an ideal local town centre community, you wouldn't put an MOT garage right in the middle.

Brockley Nick said...

Also agree with the points about cycle parking, some more like those cycle stands outside the Tea Factory might be good.

Anonymous said...

Great step forward, now lets get those pavements fixed!

One thing London is not short of is MOT garages believe me.

Every railway arch houses 10 of them.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

London is also not short of mung delis, so let's get rid of them.

Matt-Z said...

Nick - I agree there are a surfeit of vehicle repair / secondhand trade outfits in the area, and perhaps some could go. It's just people clamour to pull them all down as soon as they are mentioned. Like pubs, once they are gone they are very unlikely to return. I feel it's important to retain a diverse range of businesses, not solely shops and eateries (and you could easily argue that Brockely has too many off-licences/convenience stores)

Matt-Z said...

'Brockely' oops.

Tamsin said...

Any light industry is worth hanging on to. Why almost any of the candidates other than those actually elected were, on their manifesto promises on this issue, worth voting in.

And this industry particularly, as Matt-Z points out, not only the employees but also the customers will support the local outlets.

Hugh said...

The point is that the MOT centre is in the wrong place, thereby blighting the high street and presenting an unflattering picture of Brockley to those passing on the train or driving through.

Has anyone seen what they've done to the entrace to Brockwell Park over at Herne Hill? Ripped up all the ugly walls and railings, put new open-plan paving down and, at a stroke, vastly improved the look of the entire junction.

We need something similar.

Headhunter said...

I agree re the MOT centre. There seem to be a fair few car orientated businesses clustered around Brockley, would be good to put the land to better use for locals rather than places like these that people drive to from outside the area.

Haven't seen the entrance to Herne Hill yet but I heard it was quite controversial, didn't they rip up the original Victorian gates and wrought iron railings? Colleague of mine here said that there was quite a lot of opposition...

Monkeyboy said...

Shutting down a viable garage isn't going to happen. Pedestrianising colgate st should be fairly non controversial. Will any kind of spend on such friparies happen at the moment though?

Hugh said...

They did rip all that stuff out, yes. The effect is very favourable since you can now see into the park whereas before you were staring at delapidated walls. The visual space is markedly improved on both sides of the park boundary in my opinion. I'm not automatically in favour of tearing down Victorian brickwork but in this case its days had long gone.

Anonymous said...

For gods sake Headhunter, accept that some local people have and enjoy the use of cars. They're not bogeymen who come in 'from away'.

Headhunter said...

Yeah, I doubt the council would ever forcibly evict a business so unless it shuts down and the site comes up for sale, I doubt there will be any change.

I do accept that some people live locally and use cars, as others have said however I agree that the location of that MOT centre blights Brockley's high street.

Anonymous said...

Is that the one called 'Brockley Motors'? If so, people who use it speak highly of it.

It's far less of a blight on Brockley's appearance than the huge blocks of flats on Brockley Road. I'm sure they're perfectly nice to live in, but they are incredibly ugly from the outside, and due to their location they are central to the impression of Brockley that is given to people visiting or passing through. Compared to them the MOT centre is nothing.

Ed said...

We should ask Green Tea Architects to help BC/BrocSoc/BXAG/etc. to develop a new BX masterplan...

Nux said...

Eww! Nick, really, was that necessary? #grossedoutbyhirsutebacks

Tombat said...

Brockley Cars is great - and I like it where it is - it's useful, honest and good at what it does. I have a car but love my bike and walking too. What a pompous bunch of ninnies those such as Hugh and Headhunter are. If you loved London and urban life you would see the garage as thriving and a relative aesthetic treat - as it is you sound like gentrifying obsessives who would be better suited to Surbiton, or perhaps Balham. Or do you sound like repressed estate agents?

Anonymous said...

Such tosh. MOT Garages should be tucked away on trading estates along with tyre sellers, quickfit exhausts and the rest of the motor trade.

All these places seem to be on war time bombs sites that have seen little improvement over the past sixty years.

Surely there is a better place to sell second hand cars?

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

People soon forget that Brockley Cars encourages local Art with the murals on their rear walls.

They wouldn't last long on a new development. Credit where credit's due.

Brockley Cars is what it is. A good honest business on land that would have in the past otherwise been derelict.

Where would Eastenders and Minder be without the second hand car lot? It is integrated into the fabric of London life. Long may it remain.
Rant over.

Mb said...

It's a bit academic. It's a sucessful bussiness, employs skilled people at a wage far higher (I hope!) than a shop or cafe. No way will it be closed down. May not have chosen to put it there but there it is. Better off using lobbying energy elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I like that garage, and the murals. Brockley needs local businesses of ALL kinds, not just delis and coffee shops. I see nothing wrong with its location, it's good to have people around that area during the day.

Brockley Nick said...

It won't be forcibly closed, but they may sell if they recognise that the value of the land is worth more than continuing the business on that site (it would presumably relocate, rather than close entirely).

For me, it's not about form (although it doesn't look great), it's about function. Car businesses do nothing for your average daily shopper in Brockley. We might use it once a year, rather than weekly or even daily, if it was put to another use.

We all agree that the problem with Brockley Road is that it's too strung out to create a proper high street with significant critical mass. Therefore, we have to look at the sites which could be redeveloped as shops. People say it's nice to have people there, there are hardly any there compared to what it could be like.

Anyway, I understand a special affection people have for people who do a proper job, where they get their hands dirty, but a large proportion of the site isn't even an MOT garage, it's a sales forecourt. Can we at least agree that the small plot at the end of Coulgate Street being used as a forecourt would be better turned in to a small shop?

Reg said...

"the garage as thriving and a relative aesthetic treat"

Do leave over... it's a hunk of metal in your face. Most of the drivers who use the place are from outside. Areas that wanted an aesthetic treat via some other means travel to Brockley to get it. What does that tell you?
Brockley is fractured, with that site improved, so to Brockley.

The current occupier doesn't own the land. Once its lease is up that aesthetic treat is gone - and I won't weap.

Headhunter said...

I haven't been called a "ninny" since I was about 5. I know that Brockley Road is not exactly the Kings Road but if an MOT garage is a relative aesthetic treat then heaven help Brockley, that's all I can say!

Hugh said...

Nick, you're a man with power and influence. Could you pick up the red telephone to Steve Bollock and have him sort it?

Anonymous said...

That site would be perfect for a garden centre.... Oooh the possibilities

Anonymous said...

'where would East Enders and Minder be without a used car lot....part of the fabric of London life'

I really miss serial killers stalking the unwary in the great
'pea souper' London fogs, the merry clip clop and splatter of horses and their manure, the TB and swarms of bluebottles. Dodgy geezers selling stolen goods and gangs of Teddy boys menacing passers by.

These were all slices of London life. Thankfully long gone.

Spivs selling secondhand cars from bomb sites should go the same way or at least confined to some iffy bit of the East End. They have enjoyed the Lewisham council timewarp for too long and this patchwork of automotive eyesores should be improved.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear... "Spivs selling secondhand cars from bomb sites" Think you'll find it's a very well run local bussiness that employs people who pay taxes etc. The cars are second hand, is that a problem? It dosn't look very nice, if that's the strongest argument you have I suggest you write it down on a scrap of paper, preferably in green ink, and send it to the relevent body.

Anonymous said...

What research suggests people come from away to use the MOT garage?

I use the garage much more than the conspicuous consumption centres on Coulgate Street, we're not all out on the high street just to buy things to discuss over dinner parties.

Brockley Nick said...

The "spivs" comment was in relation to Minder, rather than this business, otherwise it would have been deleted.

Anonymous said...

Do people still buy cars from these secondhand car lots with a handful of motors?

I always suspect they are a front for some mega corp land banking operation. Peppering the neighbourhood with its asset base, occupied only by businesses that make the most minor investements in the site and are easy to move on.

Of is that just a bit of paranoia?

Ed said...

We will of course have to rely on market forces for a new business that would better serve the community to purchase and develop that site. I think that may well happen in the next two years as high street operators look for sites near the station although it may be too small. Objections could be made to any plans that went too high.

I think a lot of resistance to change is fuelled by the 'we don't want to be Clapham/Dulwich' nimbies. Personally I don't exactly want that either (I lived in Clapham and went to school in Dulwich) but I do want the best for Brockley residents (I live in the TeaFactory so BX is my front garden) and how it can be argued that an MOT/second hand car lot at the centre of our community is good for us is beyond me. Even the busiest local customer would only use them a few times a year.

As for the murals, A for effort but they look like the sleeves of dance music records from the early nineties (I have many to compare). I know this will be unpopular but as I don't much care for the long poem either I suspect I will always be in a minority when it comes to local public art. I'm just glad there's going to be a meadow in front of the station and not a 'performance area'/urinal.

On another important local public domain issue does anyone have any planning law knowledge/experience? I think some of the numerous, ugly and distracting advertising hoardings could be challenged. This is a pet hate for what I think are obvious reasons but I expect many corrective comments from salt of the earth types to follow...

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment last night but it didn't show up... not sure what happened. Anyway, I was just saying that the article mentions that 2 shops will be renovated, do you know which ones this is? Also, I agree with BC Nick, we need places for shops, where we can do grocery shopping at convenient hours/prices. There are 2 MOT/Car Sales shops in Brockley, the one near the station and another one next to the Timber shop on the way to Endwell Road. Maybe one shop of that type is enough so that we can get more of the shops we actually need? How can we push for such things to happen? Sonia

Anonymous said...

Sonia,

What would your proposed grocery shops offer that is not already offered by Costcutter, the Shop on the Hill and the Broca Food Market?

Anonymous said...

Grocery shops, in their various guises, we have in abundance.

Nonetheless Brockley can but envy Nunhead with its butchers, baker and fishmonger.

Anonymous said...

hi anonymous at 16.53. Costcutter and especially the broca aren't cheap. in addition, their selection of fruit and vegetable is poor. I just find it is a real shame that people in Brockley have to go to other areas to get their shopping done. Having a mini market would be great in my view. I used to live in finsbury park where there is a big turkish community and their mini markets are great in terms of offering. also, they open very late. but that was just a thought though and thx for the feedback. Now I know that new cross or lewisham will be the place for me to shop when I move in in Brockley next month . Sonia

drakefell debaser said...

Sonia, can I ask how you have formed the opinion that Costcutter and Broca are expensive with little choice when you don't yet live in Brockley?

Anonymous said...

hi neighbour, although I don't live in Brockley yet, I have spent all my week ends for the past 7 weeks in Brockley doing diy etc... I had to eat while there and visited those shops... that's how I formed my opinion. Sonia

H said...

I've lived in Brockley 3 years and I have to agree with Sonia.. the Broca has poor variety and is incredibly expensive. I travel to Lewisham or Deptford for the market and use supermarkets in New Cross or Lewisham instead. A better value grocer would be welcomed.

Node said...

@Ed

The public art in Brockley has replaced stuff that was an eyesore or run down. The long poem brightened up a particularly long dreary crumbling concrete wall that was covered in the worst kind of graffiti and tagging ie meaningless squiggles and names rather than anything approaching good street art. Whether you like it or not if you knew what it replaced I'm sure you'd agree that it's infinitely better.

Likewise with the Known murals, that space was a frequently tagged area. It's a pretty tough ask to do something that isn't going to alienate swathes of the local population, too arty and twatty and lots of us not to mention the youth wouldn't care for it much either. The murals were/are bright and interesting with lots of detail, I think you'd like them a lot less if the walls were covered in tags...

Ed said...

I take your lesser evil point but I don't much like any of the local public art except the trompe l'oeil. Can it not then be argued that the poem and murals are merely anti-vandalism measures masquerading as art? At best they seem to me to be art as craft. I may have just opened up the 'what is art' can of worms; apologies.

For the murals I would like to see them rotated with different artists featuring every few months; now that would be dynamic, radical and interesting.

Oh and I want to paint the bridge a bright colour, maybe something to contrast with the cantilever element on the Tea Factory.

Anonymous said...

Interesting strategy....a style of public art designed to appeal to the tastes of local vandals. The subject matter, portraits as political and artistic icons, hopefully revered enough to escape graffitti.

In this public place, the tail wags the dog.

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