The View - From the top

The Council is keen to find a private partner that will build a new cafe in Hilly Fields and it has targeted the site currently occupied by the toilet block for redevelopment. This would allow them to unburden themselves of the cost of "maintaining" the loos, while enabling the construction of a new community asset.

One possible partner is the development team behind a proposal called The View at Hilly Fields, although they would like to use an alternative location. It's not known at this stage whether the Council will consider other sites, although one would hope that they'd listen to all serious proposals submitted to them.

We ran a story about the proposals here. Unsurprisingly, given how important Hilly Fields is to the whole area and how ambitious the plans are, it generated a huge debate. The large majority of those who posted were supportive of the principle of creating a cafe in the park, but many had questions or concerns about this particular proposal (which is one of two that BC is aware of).

The team has taken the time to address the issues raised in that debate, sending us this Q&A. Whether you approve of their ideas or not, their willingness to engage is extremely welcome and it has helped to provoke a constructive debate about what kind of building we want in Hilly Fields. Whatever the location or design eventually chosen, it is clear that we should be thinking bigger than a tuck shop with toilets attached.

Dear Brockley Central Readers, with regards to The View at Hilly Fields...

Any developer who wins the bid to develop the loo block is called to:

(i) demolish and remove an old toilet block and office

(ii) replace (on the same footprint), a new public toilet,

(iii) an office for the park keeper,

(iv) a café,

(v) on a 20 year lease..?

Limited space, with a limited lease, equals limited return. Indeed one wonders if the council is serious. We genuinely feel that this undertaking will be economically unviable, and possibly even financially disastrous; for additional reasons:

a) that far inside the park would see reduced passing trade

b) the building would be unseen from all three sides/reduced marquee

c) in the dark winter months customers would lack confidence visiting.

It’s the three Rs: Reduced trade. Reduced profit. Repossession.

An additional factor, of huge concern actually, one that plagues park buildings across London; security issues due to burglary and vandalism. If this were solely public money then perhaps one could just shrug one’s shoulders - when it’s your own you’re perhaps a little less dismissive.

However, our concerns do not end there…

Subsidence

The nearby trees have played havoc with the existing building at the loo block site. This is in fact is why the Council needs to rebuild but cannot afford to. There is a huge fissure inside across the length and breadth of the building. It is actually falling down even though it is not very old. (Please go along and ask the park keeper to let you inspect, he‘s quite accommodating.) The drains too may have been damaged by the roots of trees and need constant maintenance.

Four mature trees would have to go or their roots would again destroy the foundations of any new building.

There would be insurance and mortgage issues that would be insurmountable if they remained.

The council is not financing the demolition, or any new building, and the financial risk would rest (solely) with the developer. Repeat, there is no public money. How could anyone, with a 20-year lease, in an environment to a building’s foundations, take on such risk?

Although the above form our reasons for not choosing to bid for the toilet block location we understand that other parties may do so and that at least one, a franchise, may be interested. We are not a franchise, just locals concerned by the risk, but we wish them well.

The View Location

We looked at approximately 12 locations (including the toilet block) and settled on the proposed site - which by coincidence was actually the original site of a Victorian Refreshment House. We did not want to ‘steal’ the view from park users so set the building back; as you may see in the additional photograph supplied to Nick. That said, the location was chosen by the Brockley community circa 1860; in other words chosen by the founders of the park because that position was, to their great thinking, special.

Park users’ do not actually use this section, they either congregate alongside the bench or south where the hill slopes towards Adelaide Avenue. Other users congregate to the north and west, away from this location - which is not in the centre of the park. (In fact the toilet block is central.)

The original building that stood there enhanced the views out some distance - in all weather - and did not intrude on the view enjoyed by other park users. Nor would it now.

How do we make it healthy but interesting - for kids?

We aim to have a section of the interior with different users in mind. Therefore we welcome the pupils at Prendergast; even though some here have posted against this. We will, if the land is ever offered (?), and if we should win a successful bid, and if we should find favour with the community - so many ifs - approach the school kids to design that part of the interior which is exclusively theirs.

What if the building isn’t maintained by you?

The council (freeholder), or the managers of the park, would impose hefty fines. We would also (naturally) be interested in the upkeep of a building that contained our financial futures.

Why does it have to be completed before the Olympics?

We never said that.. This was just an item on the wish list. Given the interest in London during the games, we just hoped to siphon some towards Brockley.

Funding

The View at Hilly Fields is a work in progress, seeking community approval and/or input, and it is to be wholly funded by private means. (However, those willing to contribute against any adverse risk are most welcome.)

Domination by building

The photograph shows a building - a house as someone rightly keeps pointing out - at a reasonably close distance. It is not wholly in context with the overall size of that section of the park. (Also the red dot in the other photo is off by 50 feet.) A specially tailored building, with the same sweeping shapes, would, we believe, compliment the park landscape… but that’s just our view. We also understand that this brings change and with change always comes concern. When that concern is about the disposal of public land then we would be amongst those calling for greater clarification and community control.

Connections to sewage, etc.

The location we have chosen is within easy reach of all utilities according to our research. Added to which, the access road to the toilet block site is roughly the same distance from the toilet block location as Montague Avenue is to our proposed site. (However, the Eastern Road access to the toilet block location is, or so we believe, a right of way to Prendergast School - which places visitors and deliveries even further away.)

As one poster suggested the loo block site would be a good position from which to watch her child in the playground… we would say forget it. You would not see your child from that position, but would from the site we suggest. (Visit it and see.)

Proposed design may look dated in 50 years

We can’t argue with this. We actually love Victorian properties, but we would hazard that not even the Victorians knew how long their beautiful buildings would remain.

Be that as it may… the possibility of something looking dated should not form the handcuffs from which the ideas of a new generation are shackled.

Rebuilding a Victorian refreshment house

We do not believe that all building patterns have to follow the Victorian book. However ours is no fait accompli: by any means. This building is by the same designers and was supplied - together with additional work - as one of a set. (The original View House in Argentina is worth seeing in context.) It’s a representative of the design we want to take to enhance the views around Hilly Fields, and an outline of these has been provided to Nick. It is a work in progress, one which we are inviting community participation; alongside those of the designers Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee and others. We emphasise… There is no land currently being made available by the council at our desired location. The image is there purely to challenge, to stimulate, and - hopefully - produce a healthy debate on what can and cannot be. The land was donated by a previous Brockley community. It is that community which decides the merits of development, if any. It is too that same community to which we are proud to offer an investment that will carry over to the next generation.

What will we gain from this development?

We were surprised by this question…

Try rate revenue, taxes, a Section 106 Agreement, a superb iconic building, a facility in the park, and work for locals.

It will not be a McDonalds. However, on the ground floor we will sell teas and sandwiches, the usual park café fare with the usual user in mind, sensibly and affordably priced, and at a mezzanine level - should one be allowed - we will offer that little bit extra. Some call this ‘fine dining’… We believe all dining should be fine; in other words good for your health - even if it comes wrapped in a sandwich.

Why Should ‘alleged’ entrepreneurs build where they see fit.

We’re just looking to improve the community in which we live and there is nothing ‘alleged‘ about us in our community commitment. If the community doesn’t want our money or ideas then that‘s fine. However, to dispel the myth, we cannot build where we see fit. As pointed out already the land isn’t even being offered. (Please remember this.) If it were then the Council would have to ask for your permission to dispose of it. Following this, if you gave that permission, anyone else could ‘express interest’ in building on what we propose. The hurdles to our ambitions do not end there... Anyone interested in such public land would have to have any plans or disposal passed by the following; Lewisham’s Mayor; Legal Department; Planning Department; Building Control; Traffic Control; Glendale Park Management; Hilly Fields Users Group; the Friends of Hilly Fields; Brockley Society; the London Fire Service, the Metropolitan Police, the residents of Hilly Fields… and a host of individual park users.

The land and interior of present building

Lewisham Council has needed to provide decent public loos at that site for some years. It has failed to do so. The park manager Glendale would also like a new park keeper’s lodge, but why should a café owner pay for this? The authority would (naturally) like anyone expressing interest in the land at the toilet block to redevelop (try rebuild) - on its behalf - a public utility it should provide. But is this likely?

Only time will tell.

113 comments:

Mb said...

Phew.... This'll kick things off. I'm on balance for it, the business case is for the developers. Sounds like quiet a commitment. If there is a developer (are pistachios still interested?) who is willing to meet the councils conditions then it will be tough sell.

Tim said...

Completely convinced. These people have clearly done their homework, and I think entrepreneurs should be welcomed with open arms.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with putting a new building in the park. IMO the park's natural beauty gets over stated sometimes and there's nothing to suggest a great cafe/building will take anything away visually. If anything it will enhance the appearance of the park if it fills it with people.
Good luck to these guys, they sound like they want to bring an asset to the community.

Anonymous said...

Completely convinced without looking at any numbers or any reports, surveys etc? It sounds great but this is only an opening statement that they need to substatiate. I hope they do but there is still more detail needed, I'm sure they know that though. Good luck!

Miss L said...

I'm not against the project in principle and these guys sure have done their research.

But some of the points they make e.g. the toilet block site being too far from the road/passing trade - well the location they propose is even further away from the Vicars Hill side entrances to the park and other than the school, it's not exactly near passing trade.

I'm still not sure if we really need a cafe there, anyway. Hilly Fields is not like Greenwich Park where you get loads of people who will use a cafe. I can think of maybe one time I would have used a cafe in Hilly Fields in the 6 or so years I've visited the park. If I went there for a picnic, I'd take my own food. And if I wanted to meet up with people locally, I'd probably choose one of the many other pubs, cafes or restaurants on a street near public transport etc. rather than in a park.

Barbara said...

"Park users do not use this location". They must be kidding!!!! Really, I wish they would just give in gracefully - my god, the battlezone they'll create for themselves! I imagine quite a few of we people who "do not use this location" will be sitting in at the site so that construction cannot go ahead. Mind you I cannot imagine even our terrible council could give this the nod.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I think this is a lot of skewed rubbish and certainly not explaining a two floors concrete blob in the middle of the park. Seriously if you cannot stay within the brief that just do not invest, thank you very much. Next please...

Joe said...

My two-penny-worth...

Love the idea of a cafe in the park.

Impressed by the way the developers are bothering to engage on BC (though talking of 'the community' as one single thing able to decide what it wants is patently daft. As can be seen on here 'the community' wants lots of things at the same time, and so is frequently of several minds at once. In the end decisions have to be made, but they have to be made fairly...)

Location: can we have some maps? It is a bit hard to tell from the red dot on the photo where exactly is proposed. Not against something in the middle of the park, but I feel the very high-point should be accessible to all and not open only through a private business.

Design: Don't want mock victoriana; don't want 60s concrete pastiche either, which is what the photoshop effort looked like. Would like something innovative that really uses the site (and yes, maybe is worth a special announcement on the ELL!) Something with lots of glass to maximise the views...

Ed said...

Very comprehensive; good luck. Many of the negative comments relate to genuine issues that of course need resolving but most do not.

Anonymous said...

If the Council want a toilet building and a space for a park keeper at the old site,wont they want one at the new site.

thisisengland said...

They are joking aren't they that no one uses that part of the park? Have they ever been to Hillyfields or are they using google streetview as a reference?

No planning inspector will agree to a proposal that is backed up by a long gone Victorian tea shop. If they did then I guess it'd be OK for me to propose a string of bungalows based on the footprint of the prefabs that used to be on Hillyfields.

mat said...

I look at it every day and that green grass de-stresses me, but you probably wouldn't understand that as "using it".

Anonymous said...

Oh well, in view of what they say, I'd rather not have a cafe at all. I did like the idea of having one but not at any cost. I really, really do not want a building to go up where they suggest, and particularly not one of the type they suggest. It's just a bit too London Bridge for me and I can get there on the train if that's what I want.
PS I'm not a mock victoriana fan either I just think that we need to cling on tightly to every bit of our precious green spaces.

h said...

huh. just read the article and came to the comments section to disagree with the statement "Park users do not use this location".. but a couple of other posters beat me to it.

every bit of open green space we have is 'used' each time we go there. for the view, the feeling of space and freedom. it would be such a shame to spoil this.

Anonymous said...

just because someone has obviously done their homework, does this entitle them to take away our views and open space?

GreenMan said...

Probably the only bit of the park that isn't used at present is where the toilet block is.Why not just build a row of terraced houses and be done with it.

Grasshopper said...

I use the park all the time, and I think this is a pretty convincing argument.

Though the concrete design needs changing to something more sympathetic.

Unfortunately due to lame council and local refuseniks, I doubt this will ever see the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Better to have that mobile snack bar back that appeared during the summer.

I seem to remember it sold quite good fayre and nice coffee.

Doesn't have to be there all the time, would that be a compromise?

Ramble said...

I have to say that I actually like the design. Put 'The View House, Argentina' in to google images. I don't think you achieve great things without risk. The idea of it spoiling the view makes me feel sick but I think that a clever design will add to the beauty of Hilly Fields.

Check out this site.

http://architecturelab.net/12/view-house-rosario-argentina-2009-by-johnston-marklee/

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with you people at the Central, trusting a developer to build a concrete monster in our little park.

Timber log construction would be just much more beautiful, and cheap!!

Local developers have proven to be very narrow minded, they enjoy converting shops into one bedroom apartments.

http://www.canadiantimberhomes.co.uk/Index.html

Brockley Dogging Society said...

We can provide nice beavers.

Lou Baker said...

It sounds like a nice idea and a real bonus for the park.

What's particularly good is that those putting the idea forward have openly come on here and sought opinions - with the aim of coming up with a plan the community supports.

Compare and contrast this mature and sensible approach with that of the skateboarding numpties at Telegraph Hill who came up with their ridiculous Upper Park plan and tried to force it through on the sly, without debate and without addressing residents' legitimate concerns.

Good on you cafe team. Take the objections on board and try to work with them. How about a buried Hobbit style cafe so angry Barbara can sit on the grass roof?

Brockley Nick said...

Actually a buried design would be awesome.

Anonymous said...

Brockely Central only represents a tiny and non representative section of the community

Monkeyboy said...

not that old chestnut. It represents a collection of individual opinions, no more or less valid than many others. I think most people, including the cafe proposers, recognise it's limitations as a conssultation tool. Looks like those for and against and many inbetween have contributed.

Look forward to my first tea and cake while perusing the sunday papers.

Headhunter said...

It's great that these entrepreneurs are engaging with us here and I now completely understand their concerns re the loo block site, length of lease etc etc.

I am still not entirely convinced of building on this spot, however and am disappointed in the sweeping comment that this part of Hilly Fields is not used by anyone! Even if I don't play frisbee and lay a picnic blanket out on that spot every day, I walk the dog through HF most days and appreciate the views, the greenery and sense of space.

As to the existence of a Victorian tea house on this spot, I'm intrigued! Have never heard reference to this in the past and have never seen it in any old photos of HF, that's not to say it didn't exist, I'm just genuinely interested to know what it looked like and what happened to it.

On balance I am still not entirely convinced. Re architectural style I would not be a fan of mock Victoriana in this spot either, something modern would be fine.

Brockley Nick said...

There's always one desperate to declare BC "unrepresentative" even though there is sufficient room on here for naysayers like them.

To be clear, BC doesn't "represent" anyone. It doesn't even represent me, since I often suppress my personal opinions on a range of issues (not always, I grant you).

It's a forum - a platform for public debate. And you don't know how many people use it, but it's considerably more than any other platform or forum in the area.

The figures for 2010 are here http://bit.ly/gRfb5M

January 2011 was the biggest month ever.

Twitter followers now at 1500+, Faacebook at 450+

Don't think there are enough people from a certain group, organisation or type? Get them to come on here and express their views.

It's a free site.

Lou Baker said...

Wow.

Nick thinks something I suggested is awesome.

I am humbled.

The View at Hilly Fields Team said...

Thanks for your comments, and for giving us a second hearing.

To intrude on the debate for a moment longer though if we may... and answer those posters in chronology. We can't answer them all, and we have to psot in two lots for those we have answered. (Sorry Nick if this overdominates your site. We will not do so again.)

Mb. If Pistachios can meet the council's requirements, then we wish them luck. (They are terrific people.) We also take your earlier point on the wisdom of using the 'cut and paste' but we wanted to leave the community - or individuals within it - in no doubt as to what we were going after: magnificent views, but with an iconic building design.

Tim, we did do a lot of research into the history and location. Sifting through archive material at the local studies in Lewisham Library was a chore, but it did unearth a few surprises.

Anonymous 19:34. That's what we believe too. It will add to its natural beauty, and it will too be an asset. But we understand how people may feel threatened.

Anonymous 19:43. More detail will be provided, once we have explored your views and the views of the various groups mentioned. Also we need to know the positions of those bidding for the toilet block site before committing too much, so forgive us if we seem vague.

Miss L. We take the point. It's not closer to the passing trade at Vicars Hill, but we'd be accused of the same if it was there and not over the other side. The utilities are at the side we have chosen, and the enhanced view - and it is closer to the ELL.

Barbara, certainly we have never seen anyone 'physically' occupying the space in all the time we have visited. (In all weathers too!)It is just as important to us that the users of Hilly give this the go then have the council simply 'give it the nod'; they can't and won't though. IT'S THE PEOPLE'S LAND.

Anonymous 21:25. The council 'brief' is the building's location, and not its design. If everyone stayed within brief we'd have never got out of caves. IT IS NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARK -HELP.

Joe you make a valid point about what community comprises and it not being one single entity. This is why we intend having (long) talks with a number groups, and individuals. At the end of the day: if we (get to) build it will they come? (If Nick could publish that second photo then this would show the suggested position with the bench in context, please Nick.) Again though, and we cannot state this loudly enough, if the MANY want it moved then we will move - just not to the toilet block - and our research suggests that general location is spot on for many points.) You also make a very strong and valid point about the 'high point' being a public right. Can that be made to work? (Don't see why not.) Maximising the view for ALL is what we are after.

Ed, we will endeavour to overcome the negatives but some will be impossible to challenge. One person occupying a space that we are suggesting for many is difficult to debate, as even if you whittle it down to the last man standing he will still want his personal space.
The view for any one individual, and groups of people is though still there. It's surely intrusion that is the issue, not loss of view.
Unless though one takes the opinion of Fiona, whom we encounterd at Hilly Fields, and she argued (with much knowledge) that the whole park IS the view... for her. That's a tough one. Looking out of very large windows, in all weather, is an acceptable trade off to some. But we do not own the park, so it remains in the realms of ambition.

John and Simon

RESPONSE CONTINUED NEXT POST....

The View at Hilly Fields Team said...

Anonymous. 23:28. We suspect, should any devlopment be allowed in the position that we suggest, that the council, and the public too, may seek a number of 'agreements' - rightly so. It's what is fair to the devloper and, ultimately, for the public good that counts.

thisisengland. We are up for serious debate. One of us uses the park 24/7 and 365 (minus time away on holiday).

Mat, we have answered this with are encounter with Fiona. But we fully understand what you say. We do not want to add to your stress. We do though want to offer the many the same opportunity to destress in warm and pleasant surroundings.

Anonymous 23:48. It was precious to the park designers too, which is why they had a refreshment House there. We don't see it as 'London Bride' - but Brockley through the looking glass.

h, we agree with the spirit of what you say. But by that reckoning there would be no part of London built on that fell under your gaze. Could is not be that you might see, eventually, the gain instead of the loss? We hope so.

Anonymous 00:13, No... but neither should it in this wonderful democracy prevent us from 'suggsting' it. (Mb was right about us placing that damn photo there we guess.)

Greenman, we are looking to work with positive ideas. We are proposing an important utility at a location that was originally designed into the park. (A building was there for decades. the open space, enjoyable to some, did not exist to the Vicorians, Edwardians, people during the 2nd World Ward, and those after it. It was then knocked down. Was it bomb damage?) But we know this will not suit all opinions, including yours. Nevertheless, if at least you do not agree with what we have to say we trust that you will allow (if not defend) are right to say it.





Grasshopper, you are probably right. But we would hope to be allowed (at least) to attempt to impress upon those 'refuseniks' - concerned residents surely? - that change is something that they might at least contemplate, just for a moment. Why not see if we can pass on something we can be proud of that commenced in this generation for the next. (If that's an empty spot at the top of a windy hill then so be it.) At least we can say that we had the debate in a positive and open manner - and only then dismissed it.) Aspects of a potential design are already growing from debates such as this - and should, we hope, be allowed to continue.

Anonymous 00.16. We too used the mobile cafe. It didn't though for us tick all of the boxes that we propose exploring in our ambitions. We ackowledge though that its mobility is less contentious than our audacious proposal, and at the end of the day, we do not want to upset or annoy park users, residents, or passersby - but embrace them as a users of a great facility.

Finally, at the point of answering we get to Ramble - and so apologies for those posting after this.

We too love the View House Argentina, but realise it isn't everyone's cup of tea. So does Johnston Mark Lee in America. They are great designers, and they are extremely excited about the possibilty of working on a project over the pond in Brockley, England. (They too will be reading these posts, so thanks to those of you who have shown a warm Brockley welcome.)

At the end of the day, come this summer, we will be up at Hilly Fields enjoying a nice bottle of wine at or near that spot. Come join us... even those who do not share the vision, but enjoy positive debate. And by 'positive' we include all outcomes.

Once more, apologies to Nick for such a long response. We just feel it is worth it.

Cheers

John and Simon

Margot said...

This site represents loads of people. From Green Party members to environmentalists, from artisan bread sellers to artisan craft sellers, and from vegetarians to vegans. It's a very broad church.

DJ said...

So which are you then Margot? As you are posting here you obviously read and contribute. As can anyone with an internet connection.

Margot said...

I am several of them, DJ!

doh said...

Margot, are you serious? there are plenty of Lou's to balance out the sandle wearing brigade.

Welcome to 2010 said...

And I know a green or two who are outraged by the fact that there are too many right wing voices on here. They reckon the only acceptable local website is one that talks about anti-cuts campaigns and Black History Month.

I like BC because it talks about all sorts. And I like the fact that there is so much argument, because it attracts all sorts.

Anonymous said...

Margot isn't being serious. In fact it's trying (and failing) to be funny.

Brockley Nick said...

I thought it was reasonably funny :S

Anonymous said...

Not in that location.

Sue said...

Next year is the 100th anniversary of the death of Octavia Hill. It would be nice to have some kind of befitting commemoration of her within the park, such as a new cafe (although I know there was talk of re-doing and re-naming the woodland garden area). However, at the risk feeding Lou's stereotypes, I do rather like the idea of a hobbit cum teletubby-land style cafe, with living roof, which blends into, rather than sticks out of the park! Views from the park are going to be changed pretty radically once Loampit Vale is developed as it is, so there won't be a shortage of modern buildings to gaze at.

It's not clear from John and Simon's article whether their proposal includes the cost of removing the existing toilet block and restoring open space there and incorporating public access to toilets within their cafe? I wouldn't like to see an extra building, without the toilet block being removed, and in order to build on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL), you do need to provide some other space to become MOL to compensate, I believe. This is what's happening with Deptford Green School and Deptford Park, I think.

Incidentally, I don't see why the park keepers' office can't be moved to the Old Bothy at the bottom. I know some of it is going to be used for the cricket stuff, but there's a fair bit of space there.

GreenMan said...

I would have thought there would have to be toilet facilities in a public park,how would this be addressed if they knock down the existing one.

Pearly said...

@the view - could you please stop shouting (all caps) at us? It doesn't get your point across any better.

Sorry, still not convinced that this is what the park needs, and certainly not in that spot.

I am looking forward to a nice little cafe where I can get a cup of tea and some cake, maybe a nice sandwich.
I don't need stunning views from inside a building when I have them from out.
And if I can't have that, then Mr, Mullers ice cream van will do me just fine.

Anonymous said...

I think This is the way to go for a cafe in the park
http://www.oikosproject.com/2010/10/08/guardian-video-britains-first-recycled-theatre/

Brockley Newbie said...

I think a cafe in the park is a great idea and just from my point of view I think I would use the park a lot more if there was a decent cafe there. I like their proposal and would welcome it. I also love their modern design, I'm with Kevin McCloud on all things Victoriana, lets keep the old old and make the new clearly new at least in respect for the beautiful Victorian buildings around the park. These people have obviously done their homework and seem very keen to engage with the local community which is impressive. There's still many many hurdles to overcome and I can understand people's concern with having a 2 storey building but overall I'm for it. Good luck to them.

Mat said...

I can already destress in warm and pleasant surroundings, but in Lewisham, I am loosing views of distant horizons and green space. The park is a contrast to slick coffee venues. Someone mentioned a tuck shop, I'm warming to that idea.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, with so many threads being added today, the view will soon disappear, methinks

quick brown fox said...

Mat said "I look at it every day and that green grass de-stresses me, but you probably wouldn't understand that as "using it"."

Hear hear - while I appreciate the people behind this proposal engaging with us, I don't think their response to Mat's point really addresses the issue. There's not a building in the world that I could look at to de-stress!

They've mentioned a previously existing structure on that spot - the obvious question is, what happened to it? Not enough demand? People preferred grass and trees? The other point is that back in those days Brockley was a heck of a lot closer to 'real' countryside - we need Hilly Fields (unspoilt) more now than they did back then.

Monkeyboy said...

I understand the argument of keeping things 'unspoilt' but you not missing the point a little? it's an urban park. Man made and maintained, it's a recreation area as well as a green space. A Cafe done sensitivley (that can be modern or mock gothic) would not be undermining what the park is for, if anything it could add to the facilities.

I remain to be totally convinced on the new location though. I'm sure there are solutions to the problems with the proposed site, at a cost of course.

Kate said...

QBF you should also campaign to have the tennis courts, the table tennis table, the extension to prendergast, the childs play area, the toilet block, the bowling club, the cricket pitch, the exercise equipment, and the roads used by the park manager, removed. none of which are on the early diagram. (but I guess that's called progress.)

The Thinker said...

I wouldn't say the home work has really been done, just yet.... and who's is doing the marking?

I think Lewisham Council should engage, The Design Council and CABE as they're merging and Lewisham Council has successfully worked with The Design Council before.

http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/about-us/Media-centre/The-Design-Council-and-CABE/

http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/Case-studies/Lewisham-Council/

I certainly would financially back this, little venture at this stage, would you?
If you would, maybe there is still room for a local co ownership proposition? Run by a local group.

Certainly the skinny has been covered, digested and divulged in this last posts by the developers.
But I feel they were mainly in a historical context and not in the eyes of the new modern landscape?

There really could be and should be much more, to this proposal than what appears as a modern aesthetic. Which could become too much style over substance. I believe the project is not a design led, it's not grown developed, matured and lacks both meat and legs at this current point.

There is so much more that could be done here, to truly capture the people's love for Brockley, the reason why we live here.
Engaging modern design practices, building and thinking.

It just seems to me a little half full. First came this single concrete block (because apparently there is a need to have a concrete foundation / structure of this type, in a specific location) and now it's lets find reasons to have it?

With no other proposals on the table, Not too much open dialogue there...hey.

This concept is not be though of as the best answer and this is certainly not the way we should go about this.

I believe open dialogue is both positive, welcome and is most essential, but it must be in a balanced context, which this is not.

I can't help but feel, we're all collectively trouble shooting a single submission for what is currently a two horse race, which doesn't sit well with me.

We could be offering up, what has probably never, been considered by the developers, the council and the people of Brockley, as they independently dream of they're utopian metropolis, concrete or otherwise.

In an open arena, I believe we could be more objective than just on this blog, and get good ideas out and make them happen.

If it simply comes down to planning proposals and then objections, it's going to get messy, because by then we're all lost in what could be great thing. I really don't think, this current process is the right frame and doesn't works best for all.

There are potentially many other concepts and designs some cracking and some wild, suggested on here that I would like to see at the concept development phase. Which could hopefully bear fruit to something that is both striking, innovative and meet every bodies needs becoming a real jewel or gem for Brockley with out the cliché pastiche connotations.

Surely Lewisham councils should openly invite design proposals from, several architectural and design practices and other financial backers or start ups? whilst engaging The Design Council and CABE in a capacity to maybe chair, if a permanent public structure is to be built.

It just seems to me a one/two horse race, at the moment and we only hear from one horse.
A proper race, with an even spread, or at least a mix of thoroughbreds, which would be both fair, exciting and better for all.

Finally, please can we really avoid saying this is an accurately reflection of opinions, as I could easily post 20 commends and 10 objections or vice versa.

There are lots of ways around everything, but that another debate entirely.

"meat and legs"?? WTF! said...

erm... I think your getting a cafe in a local park mixed up with new Houses Of Parliment. I mean Lord Foster is not exactly jetting down a team of crack architects with the latest frameless specticals.

It doesn't need THAT level of scrutiny, that would cost more than the proposal.

A bit of perspective please

Fools rush in said...

I think the whole thing requires much more scrutiny, than what has been put forward, so far.

Bea said...

I think a tea shop in Hilly Fields is a great idea and like the idea of an iconic design. Understand now why they do not want to rebuild on tree roots!

However, personally, I believe the hurdles they have to jump through to see this opportunity fulfilled are hardly worth the return - long hours and hard work running a tea shop!

Good luck - I admire their team ambition!

Danja said...

The tree root problem ought to be solvable - at a cost - (and without removing trees) with piled foundations. So that seems like a bit of an excuse to me (which isn't to express any preference as to on location).

The Thinker said...

In response to ("meat and legs"?? WTF! said...)

Speak to Lewisham Council, The Design Council & CABE, put the design out to tender or as a competition.

Get some top design and thinking in for the budget.

Why settle for less.

See what we get, prove me wrong.

You wouldn't have a vested interest in this would you...

GreenMan said...

Jeez,this is a cafe they want to build,not the Brockley Shard.

Keep up with that 'thinky' stuff. said...

No, I don't have an interest in it other than a place to buy cake.

The Eater said...

Mmmm, cake...

Anonymous said...

In Danja's informed 'engineerial' opinion.

Monkeyboy said...

It's 2011, you can build a two story building where you have tree roots.

Danja said...

Informed, but lay, opinion.

But thanks for your uninformed sneerial opinion anyway, anon.

Tamsin said...

CABE were involved in the restoration of the Telegraph Hill Parks (ten years ago now - gosh!).

To engage with other bits of the community who aren't on-line here a table could be taken at the Hilly Fields Fayre.

Or there is precedent for having great fun in a Ward Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but you'll never build it in that location.

I enjoy the views from there and before you spoil it with your grey cube yoi will need to face a number of loud local residents.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TJ said...

So you can't be at the toilet block because (one of the reasons) you want to be near the ELL? So this isn't just a cafe for local users of the park is it? It's not really for all of us who would like to drop in and have a cup of tea, a slice of cake; maybe a sandwich or salad. That's not the intention at all. The intention is to create a thriving business that will attract customers from across south London on a prime site with great views. A destination cafe/restaurant. Nothing wrong with that - but let's be absolutely honest with the people who are giving up the green space for it - so they can also make a clear decision.

I also think the victorian teahouse argument is totally bogus - you are not proposing a low level victorian teahouse (not that I would want it either). I'd also like to see the plans of where that was, as it is the first time I have ever heard of a teahouse on the site. Not for argument's sake (as I think it is irrelevant) but out of local history interest.

The argument that it is an underused part of Hilly Fields is laughable - try any nice summer day and every inch of the 'front' fields are being used. The field with less usage is the back field near to Ladywell.But even out of summer, dogs run on the area, people walk on the area and we all admire the views - not just the distance views, but the view of the fields with the house framing it. It's a view people like so much that local artist Leo Stevenson painted it from the central field.

But I think the message here is loud and clear - most people here are WITH the council - rebuild on the site of the toilet block. If it is not suitable and wouldn't satisfy your business case, then perhaps you need to relook at the type of business you want - not apportion a field for your needs.

I, for one, am going to fight for the open spaces. Fight as the first subscribers did to keep these fields free from being built on. It's not just an urban park - it's 5 green meadows/fields in an urban area - and it is special.

Anonymous said...

let the fields be free. leave it alone. you have cafe at the base of every corner of the fields. go there. let the fields be free of your capitalist clutter. go to your mess or ur delis but let the fields be free.

Rastamouse said...

WTF?? Someone eating some ripe cheese innit? ;-)

Crofty said...

Was about to have apopleptic fit at the idea of them building slap bang in one of our rare, rare green spaces. But it can never happen, surely. There's a reason every other park caff in London is in old amenity blocks or gatekeeper's lodges.

Brockley Cottaging Society said...

They may take our toilet block, but they will never take our freedom. We are in talks with other groups in the area to see what use can be made of the space and the fields at large.

BCS xoxo

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know a map that shows this Victorian cafe,I cant seem to find it.

Lep Recorn said...

The View at Hilly Fields Team . . .

Independently of the debate about where you might site your building. Could you please post the evidence of the Victorian tea house you have unearthed (sic)??

I have lived in Briockley for about 30 years and have never heard anything of it !!

thanks

p.s. I am of the site it at the toilet block faction!!

Anonymous said...

Presumably the Victorians thought it would be a good idea to take it down as well as put it up.

GreenMan said...

Maybe the Victorian cafe was just a proposal that got rejected too.

Len said...

@Lep Recorn. let me see if I've got this right... you want proof of something in order to dismiss the 'evidence'? Do you really expect someone to comply with such a request?
@Anon. What makes you think that the Victorians took the building down? Or are you just happy thinking they did - because this shores up your 'argument'?

Len said...

A Greenman clutching at straws... why?

quick brown fox said...

"QBF you should also campaign to have the tennis courts, the table tennis table, the extension to prendergast, the childs play area, the toilet block, the bowling club, the cricket pitch, the exercise equipment, and the roads used by the park manager, removed. none of which are on the early diagram. (but I guess that's called progress.)"

I certainly don't accept your definition of progress as the gradual building over of our green spaces. However, I'm not, as you appear to think, suggesting we restore Hilly Fields to its original state (whatever that was), just that we preserve what we have now. There is a huge difference between putting a cafe on the existing toilet block (to which I have no objection) and siting it in the middle of an unbroken green space.

A cafe on the proposed site doesn't just occupy the area it sits on, it affects the views from other parts of the park, as others have pointed out.

The developers say the site isn't being "used". This implies a very narrow definition of "use" which excludes simple appreciation of an open green space, which surely is one of the primary benefits of a public park?

Anonymous said...

An unbroken green space... for as long as trotsky's been there.

Val said...

No! No! No! Just say No to this capitlisation of Brockley! I say we meet at the summer fair on that spot! I will be there with a placard! Who will join me?

Brockley Nick said...

@Val What's "this capitlisation of Brockley"

spud said...

i'll fight the tory scum.

Val said...

I would've thought that was obvious. Turning Brockley into BROCKLEY THE BRAND. Leave things alone. It's a little place

Anonymous said...

You mean stop these venture capitalists surely?

Val said...

Do I?
Whatever.. I'll be there, summer fair, bring banners! We have to stick it to them!

Mb said...

The summer fayre, crowds of people, noisey, drinking rea and eating cake SELLING THINGS!

It's a cafe, not a long term nuclear waste facility. Turning the debate into some kind of radical 6th formers Marxist struggle is a bit silly.

Bring it on... (still prefer the toilet block area)

Anonymous said...
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RedSky said...

yeah Val, stick to them AND those mean old PTA members!!

Q said...

For maps showing old cafe go to Lewisham Library.

Ed said...

I'm find the righteousness, selfishness and crudeness of many comments on here fairly depressing. Otherwise I love BC!

Val said...

"Hundreds of people are reported to have taken to the streets of the Libyan city of Benghazi" - These are the headlines that are out there. Yet time and time again we take it lying down in this country. All I'm saying is we MUST stand up to these developers. Who will stand with me!

Ed said...

OK it's a joke, good one!

drakefell debaser said...

Small point, developers and dictators are somewhat different kettles of fish.

Monkeyboy said...

Personally I'm willing to lay down my life for the right to buy cake on Hilly Fields.

This could get nasty.

Anyway DD, what do you know about murderous, kleptocratic dictators?......oh.

Biffa Bacon said...

I think there should be a staged fight on hilly fiels. The Mung Bean Eaters vs. Everyone else. BDS to provide refreshments and half-time show. Who's in?

drakefell debaser said...

Yeah!!!! Or why don't we have the gays versus everyone else. Or better still, the disabled...

Funny, init?

fintan said...

@Len

the two are not connected - I am interested in the history of the area I live in . . . .

@Q

if someone else has already done the research I would rather stand on their shoulders . . .

thisisengland said...

Are they going to sell fish n chips?
I'd like to see a map or photo of the Victorian teahouse.

POTUS said...

There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.

thisisengland said...

Sadly I'm old enough to remember when the Chanel tunnel extension was going to pass thru' and under Hllyfields. It was proposed that 1 or 2 ventilation shafts would be built. Large round structures, not too dissimilar to what is now proposed.

There was an outcry, and a prolonged campaign led by Joan Ruddock. I remember a dance in aid of funding the protest at St Peters Hall whee said Joan strutted her stuff. Luckily for Hillyfields the route was changed.

Tamsin said...

And rattling through Nunhead - "Put the Chunnel in a tunnel, Sink the Link."

And some local councillors (in Greenwich I think) originally were in favour thinking that these fast trains would be stopping at stations like Kidbrooke. Almost on a par to complaining that the 1999 eclipse inconveniently fell on a weekday...

North of the River said...

For a wonderful moment I thought this was coming to us. Please guys, if you have had enough of Brockley, come north! Not as combative, and much more appreciative. Please visit. Think about it!
http://www.hillyfields.info/index.php?page=events

Anonymous said...

But you don't have doggers.

North of the River said...

No, just good grace, fine manners and enthusiasm.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

"No, just good grace, fine manners and enthusiasm."

I'll have you know all our members are enthusiastic and always clean up after themselves. We even pull out for buses.

From YOUR site:

"Parking is available at the end of Beggars Hollow" ( link )

I bet it is.

crofty said...

Looking for - but failing to find - tea room shots did come across this with heaps of cool old Brockers shots including hay-making in Crofton Park.

Crofty said...

That was my first ever link. Am so proud!

Crofty said...

Er, well the link and the comment were there. Now gone. Triumph short lived.

POTUS said...

Honor lies in honest toil.

Jingle said...

Ooooooh, deep, man. Got any others?

Brockley Dogging Society said...

Slap it up before you wrap it up.

No CK, no VJ.

POTUS said...

The only preparation for prospering in the global economy is investing in ourselves.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

Or...

One in the bum, no harm done?

POTUS said...

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.

Anonymous said...

If there's grass on the wicket, let's play cricket!

POTUS said...

Civilization and profits go hand in hand.

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