2014

Rabbi Scott: You have to see these things as expressions of God's will. You don't have to like it, of course. 
- A Serious Man

This was a year for deeds, not words - a moment when promises finally materialised and everything in Greater Brockley got bigger and better until we tweaked the nose of God.

At the end of 2013, we reflected on a frustrating year of pub and shop closures and of promise unfulfilled. We consoled ourselves that "the pipeline for 2014 looks strong." In fact, we had a gusher.

Most excitingly, the gap between demand and supply for places to go at night narrowed. This was a vintage year for local pubs. The Honor Oak, The Waverley and The Montague Arms were all reopened by passionate new owners, while great new bars including The LP Bar, VinylThe Job Centre and The LDN Beer Dispensary launched. Existing places like The Talbot, The Fox and Firkin and The Brockley Barge upped their games and The Catford Bridge Tavern got a new owner who means business. Local nightlife is no longer a contradiction in terms.

Everywhere burst with energy and optimism.

In Deptford, a raft of new major new developments began or were revealed, promising a new urban landscape of remodelled wharves, re-used arches and ramps and regenerated creekside. The whole area will be a building site for the next few years, but there will be circuses as well as bread.

The Goldsmiths masterplan began to take shape in New Cross, with a new music studio, a remodelled church, facelifts for two of the area's most iconic buildings, and detailed plans for a new gallery.

Peckham reached a tipping point, so that it no-longer has to put up with being labelled "the new" anything. It now stands alongside Dalston and Brixton as one of the most important and exciting parts of young London, with rooftop cinemas, hardcore gyms and arcade game bars dribbling from the Peckham spring.

Lewisham, which produced a summer blockbuster in the shape of #ModelMarket, showed there's more to #Newisham than just the copse of tall buildings that has begun to sprout this year.

Brockley doesn't have the same space or potential for development, but every available scrap of land caught developers' attention and every gap will be filled, producing more floor space on our high streets in 2015. The most important site in the area is 180 Brockley Road, the former MOT garage, which was demolished in 2014, to pave the way for a new mixed-use building. Next year, we'll find out whether it will create a coherent town centre or set the area's progress back - but the news that its main tenant will be another supermarket was underwhelming.

Developers' appetite for Brockley wasn't a surprise, but the public appetite to sit on the pavement at Brockley Cross was gobsmacking. The Brockley Deli pioneered the double-roundabout's transition from gang culture to cafe culture and epitomised Brockley's freshly-grown chutzpah by taking a punt on an abandoned newsagent to create a destination venue. A hairdresser, an estate agent and a hardware store followed suit. Brockley Cross is still SE4's most unsightly spot, but it's heading in the right direction, given a shot in the arm by its new enterprise village.

The Greater Brockley explosion forced the hand of our central planners, who delivered an expanded ELL in double-quick time, released plans to calm two of the area's busiest roads and pictures of Crofton Park's shiny new trains, confirmed plans to bring the Bakerloo line this way, mooted a new circle line to connect Brockley and Peckham, a foot bridge to connect Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf and a rail terminus to connect the ELL with the Central Line.

In 2012, Michael Bloomberg said: "Talent flocks to where the most exciting things are happening – in music, art, design, food, shops and technology. Economists may not say it this way but the truth of the matter is: being cool counts.” In 2014, the former NYC Mayor moved to London to be closer to the excitement of SE4 and the talent flocked to Greater Brockley. Hipster is a lazy word to throw around, but it's a pretty useful catch-all term with which to describe a year of urban railway garden dreams, sourdough pizza places, kitsch nameskickstarter fishbars, winning street art festival bids and Joss Whedon.

But hipsters, on-trenders, developers, media industry professionals, young people, pop-up entrepreneurs, Hollywood moguls - none of these newcomers could dent the area's essential Brockleyness. No sir - in 2014, Greater Brockley proved you can have it all: Falling crime and poverty; Improving schools; Rising house prices that somehow remain below the London average; Better transport links; Cool new stuff; Cool old stuff. And no comeuppance!

But our God is a vengeful God. We flew too close to the sun and he clipped our wings, sending 'biblical floods' to an unfloodable area, causing buses and pubs to burst spontaneously into flames and raining a plague of Labour councillors down upon us to dominate the Lewisham dojo.

The prospects for 2015 look even brighter. A pop-up furniture shop should become a new cafe, a new restaurant will open on the west side, parents will get a new place to stash their young kids, #ModelMarket will morph into a permanent roof top venue in central Lewisham and a clutch of new high street businesses will open in Crofton Park.

We've never had it so good. Expect locusts to descend on our new community gardens in 2015.

7 comments:

Sir said...

I wonder if Brockley will also buck the trend of having 75% of new builds being sold to overseas investors who'd rather leave them empty than rent them out. Or if the people that move in will be anything more than monied city workers. Doubt it. Oh well there goes the neighbourhood.

terrencetrentderby said...

Most overseas investors rent out their properties, they are looking for "investment" properties afterall

Brockley Nick said...

When you say "anything more than monied city workers", do you mean "more diverse than just monied city workers" or are you being a xenophobe? Where's the 75% figure from?

FL said...

Fair play to Nick, the man can write. That's as well scribed as any broadsheet, whimsical review of the year. We're fortunate to have this site.

Longtime Ladywell Resident said...

We are indeed fortunate to have this blog, however at times it seems that Nick over-extends himself in the solo campaign for a chimerical 'Greater Brockley'. One example of this is they way he purports to cover Ladywell but never really does it justice or seeks to understands its mindset and motivators. A new streetscape, a brand new deli and new gift shop (to call them reincarnations is rather patronising, if you please), plus several new developments (either just completed or on the cards) make the proud and compact area that is Ladywell an exciting place to live right now. This is neglected in the otherwise excellent piece above.

Monkeyboy said...

alternativley 'Greater Brockley' may be a bit tongue in cheek? what do you think?

Brockley Nick said...

"How interesting is Fulham to you?"

Not very. But there are lots of people who work in finance, law, accountancy, technology, etc, based in the City. Some like rugger and land rovers and the Sunday Times and choose to live in Fulham. Others like knit-bombing and octopush and Charlie Brooker and choose to live in Brockley. It's not about where you work or how much you earn, it's a psychographic.

"75% figure is from the FT amongst many many others"



That figure you link to is for prime central London, not London overall and certainly not Lewisham. The figure will be considerably lower, though granted, still high. And those who do buy here will not be the trophy-asset owning types, they will be smaller investors looking to rent the property out to maximise the return on investment, as TTD points out below.

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