The public consultation for 180 Brockley Road has just got underway at Toads Mouth Too. To coincide with the event, the developers have sent us some images, from the consultation.
Since the very early days of BC, when we still wrote in the first person, we have been arguing that too much of Brockley's centre is given over to places for cars, rather than for people. This is not by design, it's an accident of bombing and then the area's relative decline in the post-war period. Blitzed sites were cheap and unloved and car lots came in to take advantage. Fair enough, but times have changed, Brockley has got busier and there is new demand for stuff to do locally. If any of us were starting with a blank sheet of paper to design a town centre, we'd probably start by putting shops and places to eat, drink and be merry right in the middle, near the station, to create a lively centre.
We've also argued in favour of the Brockley Cross Action Group's vision of a part-pedestrianised Coulgate Street, which would have many benefits and few costs.
This project would achieve both these goals and create - for the first time in Brockleys recent history - a coherent centre. The idea of redeveloping this site is one that's been discussed and debated on here many times, because it's an obvious and sensible thing to do.
The scale of what is proposed here may surprise some, although it's only 26 residential units, so relatively small compared to many other local developments. In our view, something largeish is not only a necessary evil to make the economics of the development stack up, it is a positive benefit that it is of a scale sufficient to bring a bit of critical mass to our high street. On the other hand, the character of the existing Coulgate Street parade, including Brown's, the Broca and Speedicars is one of the nicest things about Brockley, and we hope that quality can be preserved.
The quality of the architecture is of course partly a subjective question and these visuals do not convey a huge amount of detail, but the massing and the impact it will have on the look and feel of central Brockley is clear.
In sending these visuals, MacDonald Egan have explained:
Our sentiment at this point is that we have worked closely with the community groups, have listened and agree and are trying to help achieve their highest priority for the area being the regeneration of Coulgate Street, together with a design for the building that has their support too.
With the work of the BXAG driving the landscaping of the station ramp/approach, the council’s recent footpath improvements and the refurbishment of the terrace on Coulgate Street leading to the thriving cafés and shops, we have a unique opportunity to fit nicely into the jigsaw.
Regarding the building design, we have also taken on board some suggestions/refinements from both Broc Soc & BXAG groups into the design and think we have their broad support for the design at this point.
We hope to achieve the same level of support from the public consultation. Early in the process we also met the commercial neighbours along Coulgate Street as they will be directly affect by the road works and again seem to have their support for the ideas we have put forward for both road and buildings. The council’s highways department have also had input. Our only point would be that good design and architecture are always subjective to a degree, we won’t be able to please everyone, but we ask people to take a holistic view because ultimately if we cannot achieve a broad consensus and subsequently a viable planning consent the community (and us) are left with the existing Coulgate Street station approach, unfocussed village centre and the fragmented existing buildings on the site.
If we continue to receive the broad support evident to date and maintain input from BXAG and Broc Soc hopefully people will accept that these organisations are well placed to represent the general community in giving us feedback rather than receive many different ideas from individuals.
With support we hope to make this regeneration real and be on site toward the end of the year and all users of the village centre and station will see a difference shortly thereafter.