Spot the town centre

For a long time, BC has been arguing that the vast array of vans that plague Coulgate Street and the surrounding area are a big problem, not just for local pedestrians and shoppers, but for the local businesses that have helped to make Coulgate Street such an important part of our town centre.


We're glad to see this wasn't our imagination. Reader Monkeyboy sent us these photos of yet another huge van plonked outside Browns of Brockley and the cafe's perfect response.


That vans occupy this spot on almost a daily basis is yet another argument for the part-pedestrianisation of Coulgate Street, which local people have been campaigning for and which the Council is said to be considering.

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pearls before swine, I fear.

Anonymous said...

But also you would need to have a bloody strange and bizarrely sheltered sort of life, plus no access to any news outlets and totally zero knowledge of any history to see this, in any conceivable way, as 'a big problem'.

Richard Elliot said...

At least the owners of Browns have a sense of humour...

Anonymous said...

You have my every sympathy, Browns. Well done for a brilliant response, and especially entertaining that even though you make VERY delicious sandwiches, you can't spell them! ;-). Or Stallion. But I don't expect you to be an expert in horses.

Anonymous said...

The part-pedestrianisation of the area around the station would undoubtedly improve the immediate environment for all, creating a far more welcoming gateway to Brockley than at present. Clearly, if the local pressure to do this is there, Lewisham council have a duty to respond positivity.

Browns will no doubt get a pat on the back and cyber high fives from others for their direct action. Personally I think that sticking notes to vehicles parked perfectly legally is targeting the wrong party.

Pedestrian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bumbags said...

@anon 12.07- We know there are more pressing matters in the world, but as the Greek debt crisis can't be solved by BC, maybe we'll stick to discussing local problems on a local blog?
It IS a big problem if you are the owner of a business, or employed by a business that suffers financially because of this. People's livelihoods depend on this business, and passing trade must be important to them. That's probably why they invested a lot of money making their shop look attractive. If the business fails, people lose money, and their jobs- I'd say this is very serious. There is a van there a lot of the time, which does impact the appeal of their business.
Makes bugger-all difference to me, but I appreciate the investment Browns has made to the area, and think it IS important to sort this out.

Anonymous said...

A further point. Vehicles parking legally in the same place on a daily basis is not a good argument for pedestrianising a street.

Councils hate these sort of arguments as they could apply to most places. Perhaps best to focus on the general point that a reduction in parked cars and through traffic in this area would be good for the area as a whole.

Anonymous said...

@Pedestrian 12.18.

A fairly offensive suggestion of illegal activity. Surely a breach of the acceptable comment policy?

Ross said...

yes i can't spell sandwiches. it's not a MASSIVE issue for us but it's pretty annoying and disheartening putting a lot of effort into the food we make only to have our whole display window blocked off to the entire world, it's also not that nice to work in the shop when you're overshadowed like that.

Anonymous said...

Ross, totally understand your point about the working environment. Also, if I could make/source coffee and other delicious items in the way you guys do, and present it so fantastically, I would also want everyone to know about it.

I know you shouldn't have to, but have you considered parking your own car outside to deter the van? I know the Erin did that at the Broca, presumably because of the same issue. People are creatures of habit, i'm sure you'd only need to do it for short while until the driver finds another "usual" spot.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon1207 - yes, it's not the Black Death. I hope you never work for the emergency services.

"Oh, you're upstairs and your house is being broken into? And you think that's a big problem? Call me back when you've read up on the atrocities in Sudan."

Ed CPZ said...

It's a big local issue and one the council can easily fix. Local centre for small businesses to thrive or an industrial car park?

Monkeyboy said...

Actually forwarded photos by @KennyTinsel but yes, thoughtless parking. A local authority should be encouraging local businesses, especially at the moment. Loosing £100 worth of passing trade, people stepping off the station especially, would mean a lot to a small place lie Browns. A business going under would be "a big problem" in a a local context.

Anonymous said...

@ED Cpz 12:59. Totally agree with what you say here.

Lewishams planning strategy includes a commitment to improving the pedestrian environment around Brockley Cross (including the station).

The problem is that Lewishams planning function (as with most councils) is outward facing (i.e. it is designed to tell private developers what they would expect when development proposals are put forward).

The problem of course is that many of the problems around this area fall within the responsibility of the council as highway authority.

The council have complete responsibility for fixing a problem that is identified in their own plan as being a priority. Yet they are painfully slow to respond (or at worst choose to do nothing about it).

Classic high level policy with no strategy for implementation.

Anonymous said...

If Browns have a car, why dont they just park it outside.

Brockley Nick said...

I was thinking that a mass BC takeover of Coulgate Street might be an interesting experiment. Readers who own cars they aren't planning to use for the next couple of weeks park them up on Coulgate Street whenever a space becomes available, until eventually it becomes a van-free zone.

Problems would be:

1. The vans would carry on parking illegally and sticking out in to roads where no good BC reader would want to park their car.

2. It would not help people who legitimately want to pick-up and drop off or do short term parking in the area.

3. It would increase the number of vans on nearby streets / pavements.

Would be an interesting experiment though...

Ross said...

because i need to go places in my car. at the end of the day it's free parking and people are free to do what they want, it's not up to me to dictate where people park. i just found it annoying that's all..

Ross said...

because i need to go places in my car. at the end of the day it's free parking and people are free to do what they want, it's not up to me to dictate where people park. i just found it annoying that's all..

Ross said...

in reply to nicks post. i have often wondered what the repercussion would be if i parked lots of little caravans in the street?

Anonymous said...

www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN02249.pdf

insider said...

There are many problems in the world greater than a van parked in front of a business but does the Greek financial crises preclude us from trying to better our immediate environment? Perhaps we should all sit at home watching news 24 and never step a foot outside our doors.

Anonymous said...

It looks like one of the vans belonging to Ace Van Hire who have a little office in the Brockley Car Centre at the back of Browns. Maybe you could pop round and have a word.....

Anarchy in Brockley said...

The Greek crisis has no solution. Saving the banks from defualt with public money has moved the problem but not solved.

Greece needs to default like Iceland did. Rating agencies are downgrading Portuguese, Spanish and Italian public and private debt. So we will go full circle because private debt means banks.

There is simply too much debt, so it needs to defualt.

The van problen is instead very simple to solve. I thought also that this blog had already agrred that using D&M vans doe not have the licence. The fact that the Council tolerates the irregularity does not make them legal; similarly the fact that the Council does not clamp their vans even if they are regurarly parked on the yellow lines at the corner next to the bridge does not make parking on the yellow line legal (an ethical)

Anonymous said...

Totally understand the frustration that led to Browns reaction, but a better response probably would have been a simple note to the driver saying, "Please don't park outside the coffee shops as it hides our businesses and we lose trade."

Anonymous said...

The aesthetic offence caused by the occasional presence of working vechicles in the neighbourhood is on a parr with someone breaking into a private residence while the homeowner is there?

Mung, pure mung.

Barbara said...

I've noticed it getting harder and harder to cross Coulgate St to get to the station, because so many tall vehicles are parked along that you can't see oncoming traffic - not to mention many park so closely packed together that you can't squeeze through them. Really dangerous. If it isn't pedestrianised, another option might be a zebra crossing across from the bottom of the stairs leading up to the station, this would free up a bit of space for safe crossing, and would also open up the area in front of the shops.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon 1829 - way to miss the point.

The original anon (natch) was comparing this issue with all of history and suggesting that in the grand scheme of the universe, this was not that big a deal. The point is, compared to, say, a mass-extinction event, just about every issue any of us faces is a triviality.

In this case, it's aesthetics and a business' ability to function, but if you read the article, the "big issue" I referred to is all of the van parking there, including the illegal and dangerous stuff.

Foxberry Mike said...

we also have the joy of a car at the petrol station end of Foxberry Road seemingly permanently parked and plastered with adverts, adding even more to the parking problems in the area and contributing absolutely nothing.
i do wonder why some posters here seem to think it is fine for all these businesses to abuse the local community with their anti-social behaviour.

Anonymous said...

I think Browns did the right thing. I can understand how annoyed they are. I live on Harefield Road and during the week can rarely park outside house. Yesterday I could't park anywhere on my road. I have two young children and a baby and it is so frustrating. We also get loads of vans that park outside the house and stay for a couple of weeks before anyone comes back to move them.

Anonymous said...

I think the parking problems on Harefield Road are mostly caused by the houses that have converted their front gardens into car parking spaces. This deprives the street of a parking space whether they are using their private parking space or not. As people don't want to block their access. Blaming vans is simply silly.

But this is hardly surprising on pick on little van businesses central. There was even cheering on the forum when one of the firms had their vehicles stolen, so nothing surprises me now. Blind irrationality and prejudice is the order of the day when the subject is mentioned. It all has the odour of prejudice and madness. Maybe if the vans weren't white with all the pleb connotations that implies that might help.

Three cheers for Lewisham Council for keeping a level head and a sense of the different interests here, in the face of a few very loud but ultimately self important and self appointed hot heads.

Anonymous said...

There really aren't that many houses on Harefield road that have private parking. I don't have a problem with vans in general but why do people keep parking them on my road and leaving them for weeks at a time. Also it is down to a lot of people parking there to use the station. We live in zone 2 with so many stations around. It annoys me that people are too lazy to walk a few minutes to one and instead drive and cause congestion around the station and neighbouring roads.

Not a class warrior said...

@anon 21.04. Don't confuse the issue as if it's some kind of class warfare between gents with bromptons and men with ven. We aren't talking about a general dislike of White vans so much as the use by just 2 or 3 local van hire firms of all the neighbouring streets as their parking lot. Not all are marked as d&m or ace etc (the one I hired from them last month - yes shoot me! - was plain white) but it is clear that a large number of the vans around the station are owned by these firms. Imagine all of coulgate street filled with hertz rent a car vehicles and tell me whether you think it's right for a single business to clog up a street in that way? You would expect them to have made provision for their own parking lot, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

Quite apart from looking at this from a local petty political standpoint this issue of the unfair exploitation of a common resource for private gain can be looked at in a more general philosophical sense.

Substitute cars for cows and parking spaces for common grazing land and you can what is being enacted here is the 'Tragedy of the Commons'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

Academic types write essays about this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

The thing is that if you want to provide quality 'sandwhiches' and farmers' market-style coffees etc in an area like Brockley Cross - which is still 'up and coming', you are like to be inconvenienced by companies like van-hire firms, which are the traditional residents.
Once the neighbourhood is fully gentrified, Browns won't have this problem. And unless it starts turning over some serious cash, it won't be able to pay the rent in an area where van-hire firms and other groupings of grubby types have been squeezed out.

Foxberry Mike said...

Anon at 11.24: I am intrigued by your apparent argument that only certain types of shops would be irritated by having their display windows blocked by a large van. What is it about a business selling 'farmers' market-style coffees' that makes it different from a more traditional caff in that respect? Do the vans become transparent when parked in front of certain types of shop?

As for the van hire companies being 'the traditional residents' that is just plain wrong. None of them were here more than a few years ago.

insider said...

certainly, a mass extinction event would solve the parking problems

Ed CPZ said...

I don't see demanding what we pay for (proper parking controls) as selfish or prejudiced and there is a cetain irony in many of the comments posted by those crying prejudice.

Questions said...

If the station and neighbouring streets are cpz'ed this will mean all of the Conservation Area and West side streets will have to be also. Is this what we want for Brockley? Is there another solution?

VV - Van Vendetta said...

Can anyone help? I would like to find out where the owners of ACE and D&M Van live so that I can make sure a couple of vans are regularly parked in front to their windows. if you know where they live please post here

Answers said...

Yes, CPZ is what we want for Brockley

Steady now said...

I don't think an occasional spot of parking on the street is a big issue. Ace have secured their own parking,it's a certain other van hire company that has made no effort to either find their own storage, or when using the local roads consitantly park with such carelessness.

food lover said...

But weren't the vans there before Browns arrived?
These businesses won't go under because they are vehicles on the road. My hunger/appetite for prepared food is strong enough to get me across a road and past a van.

Ross said...

"The thing is that if you want to provide quality 'sandwhiches' and farmers' market-style coffees etc in an area like Brockley Cross - which is still 'up and coming', you are like to be inconvenienced by companies like van-hire firms, which are the traditional residents.
Once the neighbourhood is fully gentrified, Browns won't have this problem. And unless it starts turning over some serious cash, it won't be able to pay the rent in an area where van-hire firms and other groupings of grubby types have been squeezed out."

first of all it's almost definitely not a van hire van. people quite often park vans over night on coulgate street and foxberry road (by weatherspoons) i have yet to work out why but it happens often.

secondly i don't know what farmers market style coffee is and yes, well done, i did not manage to proof read a sign i made in 30 seconds.

thirdly i am pretty sure that my shop has been around longer (not that it matters) than at least one of those van hire companies. as i already said they're not essentially doing anything wrong they are free to park there if they wish, i just happened to find it annoying.

Anonymous said...

If Coulgate Street is pedestrianised the vans (and cars) parked there will simply be displaced to other residential streets. Is this fair on the people who live in those streets?

Ed CPZ said...

The council have the right to (and and are obliged to) ensure commercial fleets are not parked on residential roads.

Whilst I am clearly pro CPZ, the van problem is something the council could solve this week.

If the council won't issue an order preventing the vehicles from being parked anywhere other than at an agreed operational base detailed in the mandatory operation licence VOSA may be able to assist.

Anonymous said...

No one in their right mind would prefer to see a van blocking their vision. Anyone posting here to the contrary is suspect.
The situation is quite simple: roads cannot be used to ply a trade without council consent. This situation, which is worsening every month, is now so out of control that one can only imagine its corruption.

Woodward & Bernstein said...

Thats just a silly conspiracy theory, they're a thoughtless local company that cannot be bothered to find premisis. I doubt parking your vans on the road is an offence, exept when done on yellow etc. Who exactly are they bribing? It would have to be a range of people, it would be less hass
E and probably cheaper to find a lot

Anonymous said...

Probably incompetence rather than corruption...

Anonymous said...

I use the van hire company regularly and the owner works very hard to scrape together an honest buck, I can't quite see how he manages to stay afloat actually. He's providing as much a needed service to the local community as Browns. Why should the bijou cafe business be more deserving of trade than him? I agree it doesn't look great having vans on a small road like Coulgate but don't live in a bustling diverse city if where you really want to be is in a twee Devon village.

Anonymous said...

@anon, yes the van hire people are providing a service. But there are lots of places they could park (near the Eat Live mural for starters) that aren't in front of someone's home, or impacting on someone else's business. This is just thoughtless, rather than anything else. I'm afraid this is now fairly common, especially in London. It's the reason perfectly healthy young people hog seats on the tube when elderly people are standing up.
The van is really big, and if I needed to park for more than a few minutes to unload I would consider the people in the cafe. Maybe a nice note will make him think in future.

Anonymous said...

It's not an honest buck if he hasn't the licence to park vans there.

Brockley Ben said...

@anon Maybe he'd find it easier to stay in business if he kept fewer vans on his books.

I'm a big supporter of the campaign to have fewer illegally and/or antisocially parked vans blighting our roads but I also accept they might be servicing a need. What surprises me is how bloody many of them there are - unhired - at any one time.

FFS said...

Too many anons. It takes two seconds to give yourself a name.

Tamsin said...

Ross, who is presumably the one who has observed it most closely, has said definitively that it is not a hire van - so that is not the relevant debate here.

What would be relevant is the part pedestrianisation of Coulgate Street - not full blown parking ban - incovenient and counter-productive for the businesses along the street - but parking limited to 1 hour and no return wihtin 2 hours or something along those lines. And, perhaps, only on the station side.

As has been repeated said on other threads - this would make a much nicer welcome to Brockley to those arriving by train.

patrick1971 said...

I tell you what, if we ever have another civil war in this country it will be over cars and parking. It sends people crazy.

Coulgate Benches said...

@tamsin - please explain in what way the parking on Coulgate is sustaining local shops. Are you saying that people take their car to get to Browns or Broca for a coffee? or even better they take they car to get to speedycars.

If this is the case then I think we really live amongst idiots.

I think Coulgate should substitute parkings with benches so that people can stop, seat and talk... and since they are there they buy an extra cup of coffee

Tamsin said...

Half and half seems a good compromise. There are people who would want to drop off or collect from the station with luggage and/or family, and a certain amount of passing trade for the shops like Degustation is car-bourne. On my way back from work I've stopped off to buy from Browns, which I would not have done if I could not park nearby.

Ed CPZ said...

Not for the first time Tamsin I just don't get your reasoning. Half and half is utterly arbitrary no?

Anonymous said...

Technically speaking this is criminal damage. It the van owner wanted to make an issue of it, they could.

Headhunter said...

Criminal damage for sticking a few A4 sheets to the side of a dirty van? It would be laughed out of court!

Yeah Tamsin, "half and half" seems utterly unworkable... So we have no parking EXCEPT for people who happen to want to stop by on their way home to buy something from Browns or Degustation?! I should think both places get most of their trade from people passing to go to or coming out of the station, not from people in cars...

Anonymous said...

I am fed up with these blickin vans too. D& M have started to park them on manor avenue. One van was left outside our property for over a month and we complained to the council/police when the vehicle became uninsured. It is a dam nuisance and these vans spoil the character of what is otherwise a lovely tree lined road. Why can't the owner lease an appropriate space to park these vans that nobody seems to want to hire? I am amazed that the council let them get away this!

Headhunter said...

They've been parked along Manor Ave for months and months, it hasn't just started...

qbf said...

Ed, a certain amount of arbitrariness is built into our parking system in the form of single yellow lines, which have specific meanings in each place they are used. Why not have a single yellow line along the shop/cafe side of the road? The roads would be less clogged, that side could still be used for drop-offs and unloading vehicles, but it would no longer be a free-for-all and Ross would be able to see daylight again.

What I'd really like is pedestrianisation of the middle section (and our own little taste of cafe society) with cul-de-sacs and parking at either end, but I fear the road wouldn't be wide enough to allow for both parking and the turning round of cars.

Ken Mattel said...

'Technically speaking this is criminal damage. It the van owner wanted to make an issue of it, they could.' - factually wrong, poor syntax and pointless!

What makes people publish this drivel?

Anonymous said...

"What makes people publish this drivel." Go find a mirror and ask yourself that question.

YOU are factually wrong about criminal damage. I have the criminal record to prove it.

Anonymous said...

Although there is no set definition for fly posting, technically it is criminal damage. It is where a person affixes any printed matter on to property without consent. This could be a leaflet, poster or unofficial signage.
The problem is widespread in inner cities with posters ranging from event advertising to campaigns. The effect of this practice can be very detrimental to the appearance of the neighbourhood. If left for any length of time, it will encourage others to do the same.

Lou Baker said...

Plenty of Lewisham councillors and council officers read this blog.

They can see this issue is making residents angry.

From what I can see none of them has bothered to actually take any action.

So Lewisham councillors and council officers - get off your backsides and fix this problem.

In the case of the councillors it's what literally dozens of people locally elect you to do.

As for the bureaucrats, I know you'd much rather be walking out on strike because it's a Tuesday (or insert alternative spurious reason for a day off here) but you have a job to do. Please do it.

council said...

Interesting that around the Council building there is CPZ. No sign of van companies over there. Also where Mr Bullocks lives there is CPZ. No sign of van companies either.

Anonymous said...

Billposting may well cause damage to the underlying surface; an adhensive tape would not cause the damage required to make out the offence. Ross can sleep easy.

Don't get angry; get educated!

Matt-Z said...

It's clear that a few things can be done to improve the street and access to both the shops and station.

1. Prohibit parking in front of the station (but make provision for a drop off/pick up area)

2. Prohibit parking near all corners (for longer distances than is currently, supposedly mandatory)

3. Install a limited number of temporary bays with restricted waiting/parking times during the day.

4. Implement/enforce a 20 mph zone (if it's not already)

You could go further with

5. Raise the street to be level with the pavement and re-lay with pedestrian-friendly blocks or similar

6. Redirect the Lewisham bound 484 down Coulgate Street. This may mean a stop outside Browns, but the queueing folk might be tempted in by the coffee. The soutbound is probably ok where it is Wetherspoons.

Nerve said...

Thank you, Matt Z for a sane post. What you wrote is a fleshed out version of what Tamsin wrote and is a rational & reasonable compromise that would suit most people bar fanatics such as Ed CPZ (my 'best friend').

Ed CPZ said...

@ nerve - what about my comment on the council's obligations and VOSA; surely that was helpful?

n.b. a post may may display the sanity of its author but cannot be sane.

Matt-Z said...

P.S. I meant Camberwell-bound buses still ok to stop by the Spoons.

P.P.S. Widening and increasing the number of dropped kerbs, plus removing unnecessary street clutter like the low metal fence would also be cheap, easy enhancements.

Anonymous said...

Matt-Z. You will simply displace the problem to other streets. Is that fair on the rest of us?

Headhunter said...

I think diverting a bus route into Coulgate Street, despite the fact that it may bring customers to Browns and Broca, would be a bit counteractive following a ban on parking! The idea behind pedestrianisation is surely to make the area in front of the station a more pleasant place for pedestrians. There is no reason why people need to drive their cars up and down Coulgate Street other than complete laziness. I am for complete pedestrianisation apart from a couple of bays with very limited waiting time for people to drop people off and pick people up with heavy luggage. CPZ Coulgate Street and raise some valuable revenue in fines for Lewisham Council...

Anonymous said...

And where are the people who live on Coulgate Street going to park if it's pedestrianised?

Anonymous said...

With the vans on Cranfield.

Brockley Central Label Cloud