Let's move to New Cross

The Guardian's 'Let's move to' column today focuses on New Cross. Back in 2010, the column covered Brockley in a piece that lumped us in with East Dulwich and Nunhead. This time, New Cross gets dedicated treatment and the description is a little harsh, but reasonably fair, helped by a couple of "words on the street" comments from BC regulars. The introduction says:

New Cross: only for the intrepid. Initial impressions are not encouraging. A road runs through it. A great, stinking, droning road: the A2. But if you do as the locals do and ignore it, New Cross opens up like an oyster with a pearl. For what's that I hear over the clamour of traffic? Buzz. There's a definite buzz around the Peckham-Camberwell-Deptford triangle these days, and New Cross is at its centre. You don't have to be an art student at Goldsmiths to enjoy it, though it does help. Step away from New Cross's great knot of infrastructure – roads, viaducts, railways, Sainsbury's car park – and you come across little microclimates of hardy souls ignoring the roar by making their own noise, be that the sound of cool kidz playing guitar at the Amersham Arms, the swish of knitting needles at CafĂ© Crema or the sound of feverish community gardening. Nope, can't hear a thing.

The Guardian is obsessed by negative impact of the A2 on New Cross, much to the annoyance of its New Cross readers who point out that the illustrative photo is actually Deptford Broadway. As the readers say, New Cross is not the only part of London to be blighted by an arterial road, but it is true to say that the road system is a real problem for the area. It's not simply that the road is large and busy, it's that the one-way system effectively cuts New Cross in half, dividing the clusters of businesses around New Cross and New Cross Gate stations, which hampers its potential to form a coherent town centre.

65 comments:

mp said...

it looks like more that the look at newX from google map....

Anonymous said...

Awful. MP is right, you get no sense that they actually went to New X - just researched from the Internet.

Even the picture they use is of Deptford and clearly just to back up their point about the busy road (as it looks worse).

Presume their visit to Clapham doesn't focus on the busy road that trundles through there. North London is far worse for traffic (Finchley Road anyone) but they wouldn't point that out would they?

This sort of lazy nonsense they put out on a Saturday is one of the reasons I don't buy their boring paper any more.

Brockley Nick said...

"Presume their visit to Clapham doesn't focus on the busy road that trundles through there."

Same column on Clapham Common

http://bit.ly/w2Uf3R

"Downs: Unbearably smug. 4x4s on school runs. Chinos and gingham wellies. Children called Theo and Jemima. Am I sounding bitter yet?

"Getting around No tube (hah!), so reliant on buses and rail (good: Clapham Junction up the road). Traffic can get filthy: South Circular and all that."

Anonymous said...

No tube in Clapham Common? Not sure that's right...

"Chinos and gingham wellies. Children called Theo and Jemima" - has Brockley Nick got a 2nd home in Clapham?

Vesta Curry said...

I felt minded to wax lyrical in the Guardian Comments section about the mossy human ecosystem that is the SE4/SE14 nexus ... maybe I've gone a bit mad?

MalB said...

There is no doubt that the A2 is a great bar on the development of New Cross and New Cross Gate and the resurrection of the New Cross Road as a shopping street is extremely unlikely to take place unless our petrol-driven lives change (can't see that happening in the short term).

Equally however, once away from the A2, vehicle noise is no more prevalent than it is in most parts of London. And, as a plus point, the aircraft noise is much less than in most of West and South West London. The Guardian probably didn't mention that.

There were schemes in the 1960s to deal with the A2. One involved a West Way, or at least a Old Kent Road, type fly-over at New Cross Gate. We can all thank any deities we may believe in that that did not happen.

Another involved utilising the derelict railway land and various bombed-out areas north of New Cross to run a road from around Surrey Canal junction down to New Cross Gate station. It never came to anything, but I still wonder whether that would have been a good or bad thing.

Vesta Curry said...

The A2 is heavy ... but it's how the Romans steamed up to Lambeth to ford the Thames ... so we're stuck with it. Thank flying-f*** we don't have a flyover!

Anonymous said...

This links well will ~Goldsmith keeping empty shops on the high street.

Anonymous said...

... Vesta Curry prostrates himself before the enormous jade tiki in his front room ...

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy with a flyover. Would it have to be "organic" to please you lot?

Land Cruiser Maximum said...

I heartily recommend New Cross to all comers.
The art scene, the great street markets and the ready availability of crack cocaine at a reasonable price should have Guardian readers swarming here to grow moustaches and ride vintage bicycles.
Eight out of ten cool cats/daddios recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Clapham North, Clapham Common, Clapham South. Why do people place such faith in the Guardian if they don't know the Northern Line exists?

Anonymous said...

That review is for SW11 which isn't particularly close to Clapham Common (the tube station)... Brockley Nick's veggie-addled brain perhaps didn't quite pick up that detail. Though they do have Clapham Junction which is now of course part of the Plastic Tube Line.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the article they are actually referring to the area between Clapham and Wandsworth commons (Northcote Road/Clapham Junction). Which has no tube.

Anti Non said...

The gormless attacks on Nick by the p**cks on here are tiresome. Especially ironic as they attack him on a blog they presumably hate so needn't read, on an unmoderated system. Still, makes them look like idiots which is always nice. Like the weird kid at school who pulls the legs off spiders and makes inappropriate comments to the lady teachers.

Vesta Curry said...

@ Anon 12.55 - You gotta think in three dimensions ... underneath a flyover becomes the lower deck in 3-D cityscape ... dank, overpassed ... crepuscular ... oh, I'm back to the moss again ... anyway, perhaps you haven't hung out under the Westway (I have) ... it's weird, and ultimately best avoided.

Fattyfattybumbum said...

Not surprised its sloppy, the Guardian is rubbish anyway.

16" East said...

Despite too much on the A2 and too little on the east london line, i thought it was ok.

Ps. Unlike the ignorant journalists who write utter nonsense about south london, the writer doesnt live in north london, he resides in Blackheath. Hmmm, he definately could have mentioned that east london line then....

Pps. I dont live in the area and have no axe to grind!

Anonymous said...

It's called the London Overground. Insisting on calling it the East London Line will only serve to diminish knowledge of its existence.

Good for seats, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

The London Overground is massive. The Ell is our bit of it. That's what Tfl call it, the project was (and is) called the Ell extension. I know it's difficult to get your head around the idea that some things have two names, but here's a comparison that might help: the London Underground has lots of differently named tube lines. People use these names to help them know where they're going.

Good luck getting a seat on the secret Ell between 7-9am.

Mike said...

Oh come on, don't be surprised. For all it's left wing 'credentials' the Guardian is an elitist snobby rag that loves it's Blackheath and Islington but would never identify with a basic working class cockney area.

NAT said...

Cogent, considered, 20:12, now how on earth could you not find a name for yourself?

NAT said...

The most amusing recentt thing about The Guardians South London coverage Mike was when their intrepid girl reporter discovered The Dog and Bell and decreed it a 'proper cockney pub'.

Always seems full of barristers whenever I drop in there.

Mike said...

But Nat, that's the Guardian all over. Barristers (etc) are 'cool' because they're wealthy, liberal and privileged, unlike the great unwashed of New Cross Gate, of which I was a member during my formative years in the 1950/60s.

st doughnut said...

The A2 was there before the Romans.

Tamsin said...

It's always been north Londoners with a mind-set that cannot envisage anything good south of the river. Walter Besant lived in Hampstead and wrote of New Cross in 1899:

"It is a city … without a centre … its residents have no local patriotism or enthusiasm – one cannot imagine a man proud of New Cross …"

Anonymous said...

Isn't New Cross just a main road with a few rubbish shops?

Brockley Nick said...

If the writer lives in blackheath no wonder he was obsessed with the A2 - new cross is arguably the biggest bottle neck for traffic I'm se London

Tamsin said...

And always has been - hence the flyer-over and other daft ideas promulgated when the car was king and which thankfully never got off the drawing board. We can be grateful to the railway bridges that haven't got the equivalent of the Westway or Western Avenue cutting right through.

Headhunter said...

I think the Westway and the New Cross flyover idea was part of a 1960s and 70s plan to create the "motorway box" (google it) which would have seen demolition on an enormous scale across London to bring motorways right into the centre of London culminating in an enormous central London ring road motorway, within zone 1 and 2. The plan was to clear a huge number of houses, many listed structures and London attractions to bring car and motorway access right to the centre of the city.... Thank god some individual had the foresight to help prevent this going ahead.... If this blog had been around then, they would have been branded NIMBYs by short sighted d*ckheads...

Anonymous said...

Those who speak as if we live in a post-car society may be a little ahead of themselves, I feel.

It's time to widen up New Cross - look at how well the M4 entry works from Hammersmith - never a worry to get out of the city from the west and no speed cameras - yet in the east we have the New Cross bottleneck (which is in itself an unfinished Roman road-building project, centred around a few tatty shops) that inexplicably carries a major trunk road.

A little more road bandwidth in this area would help everyone, they call it a bye-pass in other parts of the country (where such first world problems aren't NIMBY'd over for evermore) and they seem to work very well.

Tamsin said...

How often have you tried to get out of or into London along the M40 or the M4? I've done it regularly for years and it's appalling. Three lane dual carriage ways just mean three lane traffic jams.

Vesta Curry said...

I'm just so chuffed people have picked up on my Roman road/Westway schtick and haven't abused me for my clear moss and tiki obsession ...

Vesta Curry said...

abused?

MalB said...

@anon - look at how well the M4 entry works from Hammersmith
It works well if you are a car driver pasing through. It does not work well if you are a resident close by. Residents first, through traffic a long second, is rather my priority.

they call it a bye-pass in other parts They call it a bypass. And enlarging a road to take more traffic isn't even called that. A bypass is where the traffic is diverted somewhere else - the Ring Road, then the South Circular and then, most recently, the M25.

Anonymous said...

A bypass is what's needed. Remember when they tried that in Newbury? Loads of vegan types came out of the woodwork to protest about it. It worked though.

Brockley Nick said...

Bypass what? To help people go where? You want to knock down people's homes so that more people can drive through south east London? If you want a quick way out of se London, we have the A2(m) which provides a much quicker journey than the a4 does.

Lou Baker said...

What we really need is a north/south motorway and an east/west motorway through (or rather under) London - which link with each other.

And we need to finish the north/south circular to motorway standard throughout.

We need to remove bottle necks - axe two thirds of the traffic lights and introduce smart parking systems.

Then we need to build new, better, railways. Give companies incentives to allow employees to work at home. Ban - and I mean ban - secondary school children from travelling to school by car. They should walk or cycle.

We need to pedestrianise swathes of central London. Reintroduce trams along the main thoroughfares - and give huge amounts of extra space to cyclists.

The war on motorists must end. All forms of commuting must be made easier - and cheaper. And that means massive investment, on a scale not seen since Victorian times.

Oh, and New Cross is a complete dump.

Vesta Curry said...

I thought I was deranged ... what with wibbling on about moss and niches and tikis and stuff ... And then Lou comes on board, full force 10 bonkers ... and then I sort of feel totally square and like I never have to touch those pills ever again ...

Neanderthal D said...

@ Lou Baker

So we need to build motorways all over (or through) London. Then ban people from using them.

Lou, you have surpassed yourself here. I salute you.

Lou Baker said...

What's bonkers about thinking London would benefit from being much easier to get around?

What's bonkers about calling for new railways, the reintroduction of trams and more - and better - cycle routes?

What's bonkers about calling for motorists getting an easier journey too?

If you listen to the Greens you'd think motorists are different people from cyclists and that cyclists are different people from train users. They're not.

I cycle as my primary mode of transport but I frequently take the train too. But there are times when I have to drive - and the constant stream of lights, junctions, roadworks etc that I encounter is bewilderingly awful. If I need to travel 20 miles across London by car it benefits everyone if I can do that journey in 20 minutes, rather than in 2 hours.

I understand that little people with small imaginations believe the limit of what can be achieved is maybe a filter lane here and there - perhaps a new entrance at Brockley station. Gosh, if we're lucky we might get a bicycle rack. Heaven forbid.

Thank God the industrialists didn't think like you or we'd still all be ploughing fields and sleeping with our siblings.

I look to the great new cities of China and the Middle East - which show what can be done with vision and investment. I even look to the boldness of Boston with its Big Dig - where it buried all its previously elevated roads. Now that scheme was badly managed and the actual project went wrong, but the vision behind it was sound.

That's what London needs. It needs a leader who can argue for Crossrail 2, 3 and 4. Who can bring trams back to our streets. Who can say to the residents of Soho - no cars here folks. Who can pedestrianise Oxford Street - all of it - and Parliament Square. Who can take entire streets from motorists and give them to cyclists. Who can say we need a proper ring road and north/south & east/west motorways for those people who have to drive. Who can take on the might of Heathrow and put a swanky fit for purpose airport in the Thames Estuary - exactly where it needs to be. That's how to make our city great again.

Vote Lou.

Anonymous said...

"I understand that little people with small imaginations believe the limit of what can be achieved"

Yep, your brilliance is not being recognised. Susspect that's something you've suffered throughout your life.

One day they will find a cure for this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Anonymous said...

Oh, and work on your speech writing. You sound like one of the less convincing and crazier Rebublican candidates.

and another thing. said...

"...and the constant stream of lights, junctions, roadworks etc that I encounter is bewilderingly awful"

That's because everyone else is trying to do the same. Too many people in too many cars on the roads at the same time not all going to the same place. The world does not revolve around your convinience.

Does any of this make sense to you?? No, doubt it.

D said...

Lou - I take it you've never been to one of these great new cities in China?

Admire your vision and optimism though, I just dont think a giant smog filled monstrosity, built on the cheap is the way to go.

NAT said...

Lou wants to turn off traffic lights at night to save energy.

That solves the bewilderment issue anyway.

Lou Baker said...

@NAT

I do. Most traffic lights should be switched off at night. There is no reason for most of them to stop traffic which does not need stopping.

@D

You make the mistake which Greens make of assuming better roads - and by better I mean smarter - by necessity lead to more pollution. On the contrary, if someone can complete a 20 mile journey in 20 minutes that is better for the environment than that same journey taking 2 hours. We have to make travel smarter - and yes that will cost money and need new roads but it can be done.

@and another thing
It is not just about my convenience. It's about what is best for everyone. Traffic jams are bad for the environment, they're bad for the economy. Now, as I said, my primary mode of transport is a bike. If everyone cycled as much as me the city would be a greener, more pleasant place. If I don't have my bike I usually take the bus or train. BUT I am a car owner too. If I am doing a big supermarket shop it's not practical to take the train. If I am starting work at 5am it is not always practical to cycle. If I have the kids and luggage with me the car is the most realistic option. Yes, we should dissuade people from using cars when it's not necessary - but we should make it easier and more pleasant to use them when it is necessary. I'm sure Brockley Nick and others will argue that's a paradox which can not be overcome. I have more faith and believe - that with some creative thinking - it can be.

Anonymous said...

Good old Bullshit Baker. Stating the bleeding obvious and providing no actual solutions, as ever.

Danja said...

I have more faith

In thyself. We have noticed, you know.

D said...

@Lou - I agree. I just meant that your example of China's new cities was not a good one as they certainly haven't achieved (or as far as I can tell really even tried to achieve) what you are talking about.

mk said...

I'm with Lou on the need to pedestrianise and encourage cycling. Far too many trips in SE London involve cars, when they really ought not to.

Only then can we start create safer and much more attractive urban spaces.

mk said...

"@and another thing
It is not just about my convenience. It's about what is best for everyone. Traffic jams are bad for the environment, they're bad for the economy. Now, as I said, my primary mode of transport is a bike. If everyone cycled as much as me the city would be a greener, more pleasant place. If I don't have my bike I usually take the bus or train. BUT I am a car owner too. If I am doing a big supermarket shop it's not practical to take the train. If I am starting work at 5am it is not always practical to cycle. If I have the kids and luggage with me the car is the most realistic option. Yes, we should dissuade people from using cars when it's not necessary - but we should make it easier and more pleasant to use them when it is necessary. I'm sure Brockley Nick and others will argue that's a paradox which can not be overcome. I have more faith and believe - that with some creative thinking - it can be."

It's not rocket science. Look at the Netherlands.

Anonymous said...

Yes, London is not the Netherlands so not sure its a useful comparrison.

Given enough money anything is possible including changing the way one of the biggest, most populous cities on earth operates. Would love several Crossrails, trams my the mile, decent river crossings, better airports etc, etc... Let's all pray to Lou's magic money tree.

A list of wants is not a strategy.

mk said...

London not being the Netherlands is nothing to do with urban geography. Just political will. (Or rather, a lack of it).

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou "I'm sure Brockley Nick and others will argue that's a paradox which can not be overcome."

Please don't try to second-guess me. Or rather, if you are going to, at least consider what I have actually said in the past, rather than what Richard Littlejohn might think someone 'like me' might say.

Here's me arguing that sometimes, there is a case to be made for new road capacity (in reference to the Thames Gateway bridge, which I supported):

"Traffic management experts make the point that if you build new capacity, it just fills up, creating more traffic. That's a key part of the argument against letting the needs of cars shape our city and one that we generally endorse. But South East London needs more cross-river journeys. It needs more business people jumping in taxis to get across the Thames. It needs more tourists strolling or catching a bus across the river from the north bank. It needs to be part of the same city as north east London. The fact that one of the key crossings is a ferry only strengthens the feeling that the two places are foreign countries to one another.

"Our Green councillors oppose the Gateway Bridge but we think they're wrong. They wouldn't knock down any of the 31 London bridges west of Tower Bridge, so why do they think that one in Dartford is enough on the east side?"

http://bit.ly/xfiJCp

Anonymous said...

Yes, it would take a huge amoun of politic will to commit tens of billions (crossrail 1 is costing £16bn) to build several compatible lines not to mention the incredible subterranean motorways that will thread there way through the existing subsurface services. It will ate incredible will to buldoze thousands of properties and bussinesses.

Will the Netherlands political system be able to force that through? No? Then it's not a useful comparison. The Netherlands is where it is for a variety of reasons. It's a result of its priorities , culture and needs over the last several hundred years. "why can't we be like holland?" is a plaintive but pointless cry.

So, this several £100bn. Where are we going to find that? And are we going to vote in an authoritarian regime in for twenty years to force it through? No. It's a fantasy blurted out by someone who's grip on reality has always been strained.

mk said...

I'm not arguing for investment in "subterranean motorways" or anything similar. What I'm saying is that the Netherlands has developed into a place where the needs of the pedestrian and the cyclist come first, to the benefit of everyone that uses the roads. It's not for "cultural" or "genetic" reasons that the Netherlands is where it is, it's because of political will back in the 70s to create a city where kids could play in the street and cycle to school safely that the Netherlands has a transport system that benefits from clean air and minimal congestion. In fact, when congestion is a problem, the Dutch solution is to force more people out of cars: http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/dutch-aim-to-bust-congestion-with-fast-cycle-routes--28945/. It is not a "pointless" nor "authoritarian" cry to look to learn from a place where sustainable transport works effectively. The Danes have copied the Dutch model to great success over the last 15/20 years. Look at Copenhagen. There's no reason why London can't be like that. In fact, the *only* reason London isn't like that is because of politics.

Anonymous said...

@mk, granted. It's when you say "I'm with Lou". It's a dangerous thing, most of his ideas are so mutually contradictory, impractical, or otherwise in the realms of fantasy that I assumed you were talking rubbish. I don't disagree with your point now that you've explained it.

Having said that, I'm getting quiet into the 1920's Metropolis vision of Lou. Perhaps we'll all have personal hover cars so we can soar above the benefit scroungers. Only a lack of will is preventing us etc....

NAT said...

Vast underground motorways entering the capital from all points of the compass to meet beneath a pedestrianised Parliament Square.

NAT said...

A Boris Island surrounded by hundreds of barrage balloons to disrupt the flight paths of migratory birds, all illuminated at night by countless searchlights.

NAT said...

Solar charged searchlights of course!

Lou Partridge said...

No way you spastic! You're a mentalist!

oryx said...

Re. the Guardian article - it was better than the piece of cr*p they did about two years ago about these 'ere parts, where they couldn't quite decide which bit of SE London they wanted to concentrate on, so it became very generic and therefore pretty meaningless.

@ Lou Partridge - 'spastic' is an outdated term and certainly not one to be bandied about as a term of abuse.

Lou Baker said...

@nick
I apologise for incorrectly attributing anti-motorist disease to you.

@anon
I absolutely don't doubt that the sort of massive transport investment we need would cost tens of billions. A hundred billion - even more.

How do you pay? Well you don't pay all in one go of course. So that £100bn+ is £10bn a year for a decade.

Where does that come from? Well, you slash the defence budget. Scrap nuclear weapons and any attempt at renewal. Axe most of the army, navy and air force - it all goes, save for a small contingency force.

You put a levy on business.

You pay a good interest rate for private firms who invest in infrastructure.

You let the scrounging Scots go their own way.

You make benefit claimants work on the projects, reducing labour costs.

You charge tolls on the finished infrastructure until it's paid for.

You can introduce a sandal tax in Brockley.

There are plenty of ways to pay for it.

Personally I think our biggest failing as a country is our failure to adequately invest in infrastructure.

It is no coincidence that throughout history the world's greatest power has almost always been the country with the best infrastructure.

So you ask how we can afford it. A better question would be how can we afford not to?

Anonymous said...

I strayed in here from another page where I suffered the boorish rantings of Lou Baker. I know that its the worst kind of censorship, but can't you just ditch the twat Brockley Nick? Sheeeeeeeeeeessh

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