Sorting office redevelopment to extend Brockley high street?

It began with a wheelie bin, it will end with a new apartment block and set of shops on Brockley Road.

The evidence is mounting that Royal Mail is preparing to sell their Brockley Road sorting office for redevelopment.

The logic is compelling: The office occupies what is now a very valuable plot of land close to Brockley Station, where the Council is keen to see more development, to help it meet its new homes target. The sorting office is a pretty inefficient use of that land and truncates what could be a more significant high street.  So, despite the fact that we find it handy, BC's always assumed the sorting office's days were numbered and, on balance, would welcome its redevelopment.

Now there are signs that a sale may be on its way.

Firstly, in May, The Guardian reported that the Royal Mail is under pressure to sell off any unnecessary assets before the company is privatised, in order to that the public realises that value, rather than the shareholders:

The government passed the privatise Royal Mail bill last year, allowing the company to be sold off by the end of 2013 at the earliest, although any sale is unlikely to take place until 2014... But there are fears the company could be sold off too cheaply, either through a private sale or by listing it on the London Stock Exchange. Murray said: "Look at what happened with the utility companies when they were listed. They were sold in a fire sale, so if there is to be an IPO [initial public offering] it needs to be set at the right price, otherwise it could turn into a 'get rich quick' scheme and the taxpayer will be footing the bill."...  

Its property director, Martin Gafsen, said: "Royal Mail has a clear strategy to ensure we derive maximum value from any property we no longer require for our operations. We have a strong track record in using the proceeds from disposal of surplus property to invest in the mail operation.

Next, this week, the Royal Mail orders Lewisham Council's recycling bins off its land without explanation and with immediate effect. BCer Oaksys asked why would the Mail care about the bins all of a sudden, when they've happily accommodated them for years? The bins are a bit of an eyesore, but they don't impact on the work of the sorting office. However, clear them away and the site looks more attractive for sale.

Then, in the discussion that followed, long-time BCer AuntyKate adds that:

The Royal Mail delivered a note through my door a few weeks ago to say that they "tested" leaving parcels with neighbours and the results were "really positive" with 92% of people being satisfied with this. So from late September they are going to do this when you are out rather than return it to the delivery office. To me this change of policy does indicate they are planning to close the sorting office. And sell it for redevelopment.

So, if it goes - what can we realistically expect to take its place?

The space is pretty big, currently accommodating a van yard behind the high street. It could take a large building (possibly with a courtyard) with residential on top and commercial units at ground level (potentially on Harefield Road as well as Brockley Road). Its footprint could swallow a large restaurant, or even a gym - neither of which could be accommodated elsewhere nearby. Sitting on the boundary of the conservation area, we can expect the height to be similar to the roofline of the rest of the high street, with the developers possibly trying to see if they can get away with another floor or two as the building steps back from the road.

Together with the proposed development of 180 Brockley Road, Brockley would then have a high street of a scale and range to match the size of its population and its proximity to two train lines.

90 comments:

KennyTinsel said...

I doubt the bins have been removed in order to make it look attractive - more likely to ensure a purchaser's confidence confidence that there won't be a claim from the council to a right to use the land...

Anonymous said...

Not sure if the leaving with neighbours is really a sign of the sell-off. We had exactly the same thing in Forest Hill.

Anonymous said...

Boo :-( I love the sorting office!

Anonymous said...

would be great if someone did build a gym there, brockley seems to be in a black hole for gyms

Anonymous said...

Would be fantastic if this site was redeveloped - an extension of the high street would be great, it's rather small at the moment. Hopefully something high spec though, not rubbish.

PS have you seen what they've done to Forest Hill's old post office ... pretty cool!
http://www.qype.co.uk/place/2303826-sylvan-post-London/photos

Anonymous said...

Gymn and or small Sainsburys with a few repeat few flats on top, would be a great package. Large block of flats would be one of the few things that would unite the various conservation area types against the local councillors.

Anonymous said...

Now we just need wetherspoons to sell the pub... I wish.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Let's privatise the the Royal Mail, sell off the delivery offices, put people of work, and and allow cunty redevelopers to makes loadsa money! This makes me so happy! Let's hope it's a Waitrose!

Anonymous said...

it is a shame that people will lose their jobs and brockley will lose the convenience of the sorting office, but it does kind of disjoint the high street there and as its going to happen anyway its more important to make sure whatever goes there benefits our community

Anonymous said...

"Now we just need wetherspoons to sell the pub... I wish."

I wish people like you would leave the area. Bunch of gentrifyiers always trying to close one of the last bastions of local working class culture.

Anonymous said...

And hopefully the house prices push rude people like you out of the area.

Brockley Nick said...

I'm not sure whether selling off inefficient assets means that the people working there will have to lose their jobs. I guess that will be a conversation with the Unions. But locally, assuming the ground floor was commercial, we could expect a net increase in jobs, running the shops, restaurants or other types of businesses located there. Not to mention the jobs created during the construction.

Anonymous said...

So what if the neighbours aren't in either? Then leave a potentially valuable package 10 houses down with someone I've never met? Awesome!

Anonymous said...

I hope you're aware that the new "leave it with a neighbour" system is a nationwide thing, not confined to the streets of Brockley, and you can get a free sticker to put on your ironwrought artisan letterbox to tell them to take it back to the depot as normal.

Anonymous said...

It's great when people cheer about job losses because a building 'disjoints the high street'.

You won't be cheering so loud when they build another block of ugly cardboard flats to con people into 'buying' through shared ownership. Still, you might get a Waitrose or Pizza Express, so yay!!!

TheOracle said...

This may be nothing more than all things conspiring to make development look likely.

The post office has recently introduced increased automation at Catford, and this does mean that Brockley will close?

If it does, the team currently based there will have nowhere else to go, Catford being occupied by machines.

If there is a plan to sell to a developer - and that must remain a big if - then the staff would certainly be informed of this plan. My postman says not.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10.41 Well said. Particularly liked your use of the word 'bastion' in this context.

Anonymous said...

Plus Wetherspoons is still one of the areas only 2 restaurants.

Anonymous said...

slight digression, but parcels are sometimes left at the sub-post office which is as convinient. Not sure they could cope with a huge volume though.

Whos cheering for job losses by the way? And are all new developments 'cardboard' and is everyone who buys them with a mortgage or a shared ownershio scheme stupid and ripped off? High minded and arrogant to sugggest they are or is it just a bit of knee jerkery and reeling off the same pat objections. A dull argument and unimaginative response if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Pure conjecture. Ideal blog fodder.

Anonymous said...

Oh god the rise of the machines! last i heard they use four wheeled machines to deliver parcels. ought to use horses.

thomas said...

I read online a month or two ago about the leaflet about now leaving packages with neighbours (we got it the other week too) and it was nationwide so doubt it's just Brockley.

Hope the sorting office doesn't move, especially not for more crappy flats or another average mini-supermarket store, particularly as the options for where it to move to would surely mean an irritating trip somewhere at hours already restricted if you work Mon-Fri 9-5.

Slightly off-topic but the new extension of flats above the Nisa, dry cleaners and William Hill on the westside looks awful. It looks like they didn't bother finishing it from the outside. Surprised I've not seen this mentioned on here.

Anonymous said...

@thomas

It was, Nick did a post about them a few months ago...

Anonymous said...

THERE WILL NEVER A WAITROSE OR A PIZZA EXPRESS IN BROCKLEY. Now can people stop banging on about it FFS.

Anonymous said...

Never say never ;-)

Anonymous said...

Quite so - we need to keep the pressure up on getting a KFC first, before we start looking at borderline-dishonest fare.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure a few years ago if someone suggested the likes of the gantry would be coming someone would say "never".

Anonymous said...

Also dishonest.

Kate said...

OK to put everyone's mind at rest I have it from Royal Mail that the Sorting Office is NOT going to close or relocate. Nor indeed to sell the building. Kate Gould South London Press

Brockley Nick said...

@Kate - thanks. We'll see! I think in the long-term, this will happen, regardless of what they are saying now.

After all, once the RM is sold, there will be a whole new set of policies and priorities. Which is precisely what the Guardian article points out. If they don't sell it now and realise the value so the taxpayer gets it, they'll sell it once they're privatised, so the shareholder gets it.

Out of interest, did they explain why they have booted the bins off their land then?

Ernest Dowson said...

It won't be long till the days of wine and Waitroses

Anonymous said...

What about a Whole Foods?

Grasping said...

Guardian and Brockley Central speculation and assertion = "compelling" "evidence"??

Anonymous said...

What about a Selfridges?

Brockley Nick said...

@Grasping. It's the logic that's compelling, not the evidence, which is obviously thin.

Still, BC has made many predictions over the years. Not many have been wrong...

Grasping said...

Come on, Kate - don't you know that it's all about the spin? Don't mess with the speculation by employing 'proper' journalism like going to the source!

Boom Boom said...

There's a place that sells fridges on Lewisham Way.

sshhhh said...

No-one tell Tesco.

AliAliAfro said...

As others have said, the building seems to serve various roles:

1. Parcel collection
2. Sorting office
3. Base for mail distribution

As such, the following questions would need to be addressed:

1. Could parcel collection be handled by the other smaller post offices in the vicinity?

2 and 3. How easily could the sorting office and letter delivery functionality be moved elsewhere? i.e. Do nearby alternatives have the capacity to absorb Brockley's letter sorting and distribution needs?
Is it viable (logistically/economically) to get the sorted mail from an alternative site to the Brockley local post offices / residential addresses.

Answers on a post card.

Brockley Nick said...

@Grasping - obviously it's speculation. Nothing wrong with that amongst the usual diet of news.

Anonymous said...

Definition for speculation:
guess: a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence. Get it!

God forbid the Orchard or Gantry should ever resite their rubbish bins.

Kate said...

Nick - no answer given why the bins were taken away. Just that they were sure there were no plans to sell, relocate etc, but they are on record now....

Brockley Nick said...

On the record saying there are "no plans to" or they "will not"?

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon1313, well done for finding out the definition of speculation. What was your point?

Anonymous said...

This blog is like Viz. Not as good as it used to be.

Kate said...

No plans to sell the building, move the sorting office or relocate

Viz fan said...

I recall in 2008, BC did this little what if about Coulgate Street, imaginging what it would be like if was pedestrianised.

http://brockleycentral.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/coulgate-street-future-is-now.html

Then came a petition to get it pedestrianised. Then some plans to rebuild the garages and pedestrianise Coulgate Street.

Funnily, if you read back what was said then, you had one poster saying:

"I have to agree about the amount of cafes. They are good, but who will use them. Are there enough people around Brockley during the day and early evening to use them?"

Anonymous said...

A Nandos or pizzeria would bring in the punters.

Anonymous said...

We've already got Lion's and Dominic's

Anonymous said...

A real sit down pizza place with some ambience would be nice

max said...

Kate, call them back and tell that it's too late to deny, Nick has started the ball rolling;-)

If you write it, it will happen said...

Yes, they are now part of his experiment in interactionist iteration!

max said...

Reminds me a bit of this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3BO6GP9NMY

Brockley Nick said...

Stranger than fiction

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Anonymous said...

Remeber that the building behind the old Bank in BX is going to be redeveloped soon.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what's happening to the old bank now that the drug centre isn't moving in? It would make a great retail space or bar

AliAliAfro said...

Anon 16.49 The Old Bank will commence operations in its new use some time in Oct...

I had to jump through a few hoops to find out what is going on and have now been sworn to secrecy. If you do some googling, do some digging, send an email to the right person and ask nicely, you will be informed what is happening too but you will then have to keep your mouth shut or risk spoiling the surprise...

I will say no more - I may already have said too much...

Anonymous said...

oooooooooooooooo exciting! I'm curious now ...

Anonymous said...

The old bank building in Brockley Cross, not Honor Oak Park ...

AliAliAfro said...

sorry - there is evidently plenty of old banks around - its the HOP one I was referring to...

AliAliAfro said...

*are

Anonymous said...

Aha!

Something else to speculate about.

Time for a new topic?

'Brockley Old Bank becomes New ....'

Mb said...

I'm hoping it will be a drop in centre for all the anons. A bar where nobody knows your name, "The Half Empty Glass" would be a good name.

Anonymous said...

An employee of the timber yard told me they hope to expand into the old bank site.

Anonymous said...

Now that stamps are 60p we can't afford to use the post anyway.

And when the ultra capitalist government sells off the Royal Mail to their corporate buddies it'll probably be sold onto an international corporation and down sized.

Lets hope its not privatized. That was even thought to be a step too far by Thatcher. Is Cameron right of Thatcher?

Anonymous said...

That would take some doing.

He is more of a Liberal Conservative, or so he says.

Anonymous said...

They need to put a Tesco's in Brockley. It would be great for buying lunch when I'm at Crossways.

Anonymous said...

Agreed - it would bring a much-needed injection of fayre to Brockley

Anonymous said...

leave with a neighbour policy:

we live on the west side of the tracks. Just got my sticker.
Keep employees employed, get the sticker!

NAT said...

You don't think it implies you don't trust your neighbours?

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't trust them.

Anonymous said...

I don't trust myself sometimes.

Anonymous said...

As a postman in se4 I can't see this happening as business plan came from on high last week saying we will need all the space of our yard for an increase in vans.We will be using some 10 vans to deliver the mail and packages,so we will be parking our private cars on harefield rd and fox berry etc.The other sorting offices locally are full of machines so no room for us mortals,unless we are moved to the new extended business centre on end well rd but we won't have parking there either so sorry guys I think you may be stuck with us for a bit longer.
And as for privatisation don't count your shares yet guys,we will be counting on your signatures on our petition Don't touch our post office.

Anonymous said...

The post office is not going to be sold, yet. The real story is the site at 1-3 Ashby Road. The people behind Zoom Nurseries have looked it over for a nursery. It's a better location than the one they planned previously, right on the way to the local school, so good for drop offs.

I wish them well with it if it happens.

Anonymous said...

It is probably a good thing the bins have been removed.

Only a matter of time before someone gets trapped inside.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8430013/Man-rescued-after-getting-stuck-in-recycling-bin.html

Anonymous said...

I have spoken to my uncle bert small who works for lewisham council and the site has been purchased by Hyde for flats for social housing. I read above about the high street extension well a few yards up the road you got horrible blocks of flats so maybe knock them down too to extend all the way up to st Andrews church. Brockley delivery office will locate to share with Peckham delivery office so that's where you will have to go to collect your mail.
Personally I can't believe people on here want to get rid of a company which serves the community plays an important role in se4 all for the sake of a few trendy shops to boost the prices of their homes. And the comments on 60p to send a letter anywhere in the uk, have you tried to get to Scotland for 60p !!!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to the official announcement of this cunning plan.

Given that you are intimately connected with the flexing of the quivering sinews of political power in the Borough of Lewisham. What further news of the doings of the council can you reveal, Baldrick?

Anonymous said...

I for one hope they don't move. I think they do a great service in brockley. I often say morning to my postman on manor ave, as his carrying his heavy bag up all them steps! The poor young fella! Let's try and keep our postal service!!!

Anonymous said...

I must say, "GOOD GOD" the sorting office has been there since 1963 and now a few trendies want to get rid. It's been serving the community for a long time, I'm all for making brockley a nicer place so there is other parts in se4 that needs bulldozing so I say SAVE OUR SORTING OFFICE !!!
Are you with me good people of brockley ?

Anonymous said...

Ahem, there was a rather nicer building on that site before the Luftwaffe created a bombsite and the Post Office put up its ugly utilitarian carbuncle.

It was a grand church with a spire like the one at the bottom of Wickam Rd. I think they were a matching pair, bookending a terrace of grand town houses.

The bomb sites of Brockley deserve something better that souless council blocks, second hand car lots, MOT centres and awful buildings like the Postal depot.

Sadly, the current vogue is for more small boxy flats, which merely adds to population density, parking problems and adds no amenity to the area.

The parcel collection facility, could be preserved and even extended.

A general holding facility for all the package delivery services would be useful and efficient.

The future of the Post Office is a national, not a local issue.

Anonymous said...

Actually I LIKE the car lots and MOT centres. Not everyone wants delis.

Anonymous said...

Well you are out of luck because the MOT and second hand car dealer days are numbered. They are selling up and off to some industrial estate.

Their property will be replaced with boxy flats.

What shops will be built under them, who knows.




Anonymous said...

I live in st norberts road and I am elderly and infirm and rely on my sorting office being local to me please don't move . In addition to this i will miss my postman he is a very nice young man ...

Sigh... said...

Anyone notice the trend of equating "council housing" with "bad"? Doubly ironic as its often the same people complaining about the imaginary trendy conspiracy to change things. It's Royal Mail that will decide, not locals or other invented pressure groups

Anonymous said...

And it is the government voted into power that will settle the fate of the Royal Mail, which will adapt itself accordingly.

What locals would like to see or, indeed what the jolly posties would wish for, has little bearing on this this particular chess game.

Selling the Royal Mail and the disposal of its assets seems very likely.

Brockley is a very small sorting office, not a big deal in the scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

Council flats are somewhat larger than the tiny things that are built by the private sector nowadays. The trend is towards making flats smaller.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/shortcuts/2012/may/16/architecture-housing

When council flats are tarted up they can be quite nice. But they are not as roomy as the big Victorian houses.

I shudder to think how many flats they would cram onto the Sorting office site.


Anonymous said...

Just walked past the office and seen a sold sign up round the back.

Anonymous said...

Ok to clear this up, I've heard it from the horses mouth, Gregory Dickson of royal mail has confirmed the sorting office is staying for the foreseeable future.

The Mail Must Get Through! said...

Gregory Dickson of the Royal Mail is perhaps a little short on foresight...!

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