The Wisdom of Brockodiles

Featuring two salt-of-the-earth characters of the sort who were driven out of Brockley years ago by pitchfork wielding hipsters, this Pension Wise advert was shot in the Hilly Fields Cafe. 

If you can overlook the sub-Keeping Up Appearances script, it's a rather beautiful depiction of our park.

Thanks to all the BCers who sent me the link.

Apply now for Brockley Open Studios

The registration for Brockley Open Studios is now open. To art weekend takes place July 1-3 and participation will be limited to 50 artists.

The event has been running every year since 1992 and is one of the best things about Brockley. To be part of it, click here.

Lewisham MPs to vote against triggering Article 50

All three of Lewisham's MPs, including Heidi Alexander, Jim Dowd and Brockley MP Vicky Foxcroft have confirmed that they will vote against triggering Article 50 when the issue reaches the House of Commons.

The borough of Lewisham voted strongly in favour of remaining in the EU, so our MPs are representing their constituents, however futile the move might be. And since Labour doesn't have a coherent approach to Brexit, it's not as if they have anything to lose by taking this stance. 

Heidi Alexander has put forward a Commons motion to throw out the government’s bill to trigger article 50. The proposal is very unlikely to pass but Alexander has written an article for the Huffington Post, explaining her move. She says:

"Along with 18 other Labour backbenchers, I have tabled an amendment which sets out the key reason as to why I believe there are fundamental problems with the Government’s approach.

"I might be accused of being a democracy denier but I can’t sign up unconditionally to the UK leaving the European Union and the Single Market. 

"Triggering Article 50 is one thing, pulling us out of the Single Market is another - but that is precisely what Theresa May wants to do."

Unfortunately, here, I think Alexander is wrong. Britain voted leave. The EU won't compromise on the terms of Single Market membership and they have made it clear that they want to turn Britain into a cautionary tale for other wantaway member states. Consequently, everything that has happened since June 23rd has been a logical inevitability. 

Britain has to be willing to walk away completely, use every source of leverage during the negotiations and explore every alternative - from becoming "Big Switzerland" to cosying up to the USA. Alexander continues:

"I can’t stand by and watch big firms, which employ many of my constituents, announce they are scaling down operations here in favour of countries such as France or Germany - HSBC, UBS, Lloyds of London."

Some banks will move some jobs. That too is inevitable. But this scenario was very well-rehearsed during the referendum and the British public decided it was a price worth paying - many even felt this was an argument in favour of Brexit. 

We will be leaving the EU and the single market. Those worried about the impact of this decision should be focused on how to develop a plan to mitigate and perhaps even capitalise on our departure. Visas, employment rights, the terms of trade, industrial strategy and the funding gaps left by the withdrawal of EU subsidies. These are the issues now. 

Lewisham's young carers

Today is Young Carers Awareness Day, which recognises the contribution and needs of young people in the UK who have responsibility for caring for a family member.

Carers Lewisham is a charity organisation based in Forest Hill that supports unpaid Carers in the London Borough of Lewisham aged 5 upwards. It works with 7,000 people and aims to improve life skills, learning, self-esteem, confidence, resilience and to help reduce inappropriate care. Carers Lewisham's Luisa Depaoli writes:

Research shows there are likely to be around 3,500 young carers in Lewisham. Carers Lewisham currently has over 700 young carers (5-17 years old) and over 300 young adult carers (18-24 years old) registered with the service. 


Being a young carer should not mean that a child’s future hopes, dreams, and ambitions are shattered. We know young carers miss or cut short on average 10 weeks of school a year as a direct result of their caring role, and those aged between 16 and 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment or training (NEET)

The aim of Carers Trust’s Young Carers Awareness Day is to raise awareness of the plight of these children. Carers Trust is asking people to spot the signs of caring, such as being late or absent from school or behavioural issues. Swift identification of young carers will ensure they get vital support.

Visit www.carerslewisham.org.uk for details of local services, professional support for those working with children and young people and Carers Trust’s specialist online communities for young carers at babble.carers.org and at matter.carers.org for young adults. 

Geoffrey Road garage replacement denied

They are a capricious bunch, the Lewisham planning team. Despite being happy to let this ugly little character through, they have rejected a more handsome proposal just up the road, in-part on the basis of its looks.

A proposed replacement for the Geoffrey Road MOT garage has been rejected on two grounds. Lewisham's decision says:

"The proposed building, by reason of its siting forward of the Upper Brockley Road building line, scale, height, materials and absence of detailed design would result in an incongruous addition to the street scene whilst failing to preserve or enhance the special character and appearance of the Brockley Conservation Area."

In addition, the Council believes the subterranean office space was a nonsense and notes:

"The proposed commercial floor space, by reason of its lower ground floor location within the building, access arrangements via a light well, lack of street frontage and public visbility, restricted headroom and reliance on artificial lighting, would not ensure its attractiveness and marketability, thereby undermining the future viability of this commercial floor space and its sustainable contribution towards local employment and would not compensate for the loss of the existing commercial uses."

Lewisham scraps Millwall scheme

Lewisham Council have dropped plans to develop the land around Millwall Stadium, a scheme which the club claimed would jeopardise its future in the borough. The Guardian reports:

The plan to evict Millwall from their land around The Den by compulsory purchase order (CPO) has been abandoned after months of fierce public pressure. In a statement Lewisham council’s elected mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, said that the CPO on Millwall’s land “should not proceed”, pulling the plug on the plan that could have threatened the club’s future existence in its historical south London home.

Residents threatened with eviction by the £1bn regeneration scheme will also be celebrating as a concerted campaign to expose the plans to detailed scrutiny has finally borne fruit.

The scheme on Lewisham's north-western border was a key part of the Council's regeneration strategy.

Small and blighty

So... what do we think of this one? I have been watching this modest new two-storey house emerge slowly at Brockley Cross, assuming there had to be more to it than this. Some final flourish or new skin that would transform it. But there's no twist in the tail. That's your lot.

I always try to see the best in new buildings, but this one really tests the limits of my charity. With another eyesore on the way, Brockley Cross is mounting a strong bid for the Carbuncle Cup, just at a time when the local high street businesses have been redeeming the double roundabout.

The Guardian: Lewisham Councillors in revolt over Millwall plan

The Guardian, which has been admirably dogged in its coverage of Millwall's battle with Lewisham Council over the future of the land around the club's stadium, reports:

The plan to seize Millwall’s land around The Den has been left hanging by a thread on Tuesday after it emerged that Lewisham Labour councillors are in open revolt against the compulsory purchase order (CPO) scheme.

Overnight it was revealed that 45 of the borough’s 54 elected representatives had backed scrutiny councillor Alan Hall’s call for the seizure of Millwall’s land to be submitted to an independent inquiry. The vote has been followed on Tuesday morning by the news that councillor Damien Egan, the member of the Lewisham Labour cabinet responsible for housing, has announced publicly that he can no longer support the scheme due to serious doubts over the council’s chosen developer partner, Renewal.

For the full article, click here.

Make like a tree

Parlez is the new restaurant opening on Coulgate Street. But they don't have anywhere to sit yet. They're want to work with charity London Reclaimed to turn a BC reader's tree into furniture:

Virgin Territory

Jerry: Oh my god. Wait. You know what?! No! The milk people don't have a patent on simple rhetorical questions! There's not even a single word in "Hungry for Apples?" that's shared by "Got milk?" It's a completely different slogan. It's different! And I shouldn't be fired. I should be promoted!
- Rick and Morty

Iain writes:

I know this has been discussed before on the site (not for a few years perhaps) but a friend of mine has just been notified that Virgin Media have laid cables and are now available as a choice on his street (Embleton Road, Ladywell, Greater Brockley). I live the other side of Hilly Fields on Montague Avenue and my postcode still comes up unavailable for Virgin's optical broadband package on their website.  

Virgin Media also emailed me encouraging to spread the word as they are prioritising laying cables in areas with high demand. As they are already in the area it may be sooner rather than later that the rest of Brockley has this option. I guess you may not wish to favour one provider over another on the blog but perhaps circulating this link as wider broadband choice within an area can never be a bad thing.

Here's the "Cable My Street" link.

To confirm I have no connection to virgin media or any broadband provider but do find it frustrating that as I watch far too much sport on TV sky appears to be my only viable option at present.

[Full disclosure: Virgin Media is a client of mine]

Half-price January at The Brookmill

St John's pub The Brookmill has a half-price offer during January. They say:

We are currently offering 50% off all food (exc the bar snacks) on Mon-Wed throughout January.

This is open to all members of our loyalty scheme, which is easy to join online at thebrookmill.co.uk or by signing up while you are eating.

This is for meals eaten both drink the day or at night and there is no limit on the group size so it’s a great opportunity to sample as much or as little of the menu as you fancy.

Little Nan takes Catford

Little Nan, the local bar group, has been selected to run the bar space in Catford's Broadway Theatre, which is good news for all concerned. Time Out writes:

Little Nan's Broadway Theatre Saloon is coming to Catford, taking on the space of the Catford Broadway Theatre bar. 

Not only will the team be bringing the Little Nan's formula to the ground floor space – with cocktails in vases and spirits in cut glass – but they'll also be taking over the theatre's bar spaces too, so those in for a show can enjoy it with a leopard-print mug of cocktail in hand.

Thanks to Peter for the link.

Lewisham seeks Partnerz in Kryme for Ladywell Playtower

You think you know a place... The Ladywell Playtower is now being marketed, to help the Council find a suitable partner to redevelop it. The site includes some stunning interior shots of the building, which looks like the Foot Clan Hideout. Lewisham Council says:

This grade II listed building represents a fantastic opportunity to revive the character and significance of these historic public baths, and strengthen the character of the St Mary’s Conservation Area. Having been out of use for more than a decade this once important community facility now has an opportunity to serve the needs of the local area.

The site offers close proximity to Ladywell’s bustling village centre and well connected transport links, surrounded by rejuvenated public and open spaces. Nearby Lewisham centre is experiencing rapid change and investment, whilst Catford centre is earmarked for major regeneration works.

The double storey property originally comprised first and second class pool halls located at the front right and rear of the site, with adjoining two storey administration space, slipper baths and function rooms. The rear pool hall was badly damaged in a fire in 2005 but remains standing, and there is space for some car parking on site.

Ladywell Playtower sits adjacent to Ladywell Coroner’s Court and Mortuary, both of which are Grade II listed and have been identified by the Council for future development.

The Council will consider proposals from developers, investors, occupiers and consortia to bring the building back into viable use, subject to the necessary consents and requirements.

Click here for details.

Thank you to Paul and Robert for the link.

Spanish Particular at the Brockley Mess

Dioni and Jose write:

From 19th to 28th of January every Thursday, Friday & Saturday (5pm till 10pm) Spanish Particular will be at The Brockley Mess (325 Brockley Road) with tradicional and homemade tapas! Amazing & new selection of Spanish wines!

Warm atmosphere, travel to Spain without leaving Brockley! No pretensions, just Real Spanish Food!

Little business run by Dioni & Jose, a Spanish couple with the desire to share their culture and passion for food with all the neighbours of Brockley and surrounding areas.

Bookings highly recommended! spanishparticular@gmail.com

Coming soon: Winemakers Deptford

The Winemakers Club in Farringdon will serve as a model
New wine bar and restaurant from the team behind the Winemakers Club in Farringdon, opens later this month, replacing Hungry Boy on Deptford High Street. The Drinks Business reports:

Winemakers Deptford is set to open at the end of this month and will comprise a bar and restaurant, as well as a small section of wines for retail.

The company has been importing and selling wine since 1999 and specialises in smaller, niche and up-and-coming producers, as well as organic and biodynamic wines. It supplies a number of bistros, cafes, small restaurants and gastro-pubs in and around London, along with a handful of restaurants in the North of England and Brighton.

Stockists including Fera at Claridges Hotel, Antidote, Stockwell’s the Canton Arms, Great Queen Street, and The 10 Cases.

In 2014 the Winemakers Club opened its first ‘wine pub’ and retail outlet in the City of London under Holborn Viaduct, and the new outlet will be in line with the Farringdon site.

Deptford High Street has the potential to be the new Columbia Road, on a grander scale, with a more diverse mix and better connections. This is a big step forward.

Thank you to Sophie for the link. Follow Winemakers Deptford on Twitter here.

Brockmojis

Local designer Prints Harry has created this set of Brockmojis. For years, Gen Z has had to watch Gen X parade around with their Brockley shoulder bags like they own the place, but this is their time now.

It's missing a Brockley Central icon and we've got a subliminal ad for the Caliphate, rather than Meze Mangal, but it's a joyful cross-section of Brockley life.

You can buy a print here for £10.

Posh School Dinners at the Brockley Mess

Pop-up dining company "Watch This Space" writes:

We will be presenting a "Posh School Dinners" pop-up at the Brockley Mess.

We are serving our take on British school dinner classics. Those that know us will know that we won't be serving soggy semolina nor concrete chips. The bell rings for dinner at 8.30 p.m. on 3rd & 4th February 2017.

We hope this will be a fun event and we hope that you eat your meat, otherwise you won't be able to have any pudding. How can you have any pudding when you don't eat your meat?

For the menu, click here.

Writer's Brock

By 2014, I thought I had exhausted every conceivable Brockley pun, so the fact that these guys hacve managed to wring another play on words out of SE4 is a sign that this is a writing group worth joining. Caroline writes:

"We're Writer's Brock, a writing group located in and around Brockley, holding monthly or bi-monthly meetings where we support and offer feedback on each other's work.

"We're currently looking to recruit new members.  All forms welcome, from scripts to prose, novel chapters to short stories."

Contact carolinebacle@gmail.com if you're interested.

Rightmove: Brockley house prices rose at second-fastest rate in last decade

On Monday, Knight Frank claimed that Brockley house prices had risen at the fifth (or possibly fourth)-fastest rate in the capital since 2008. Today, Rightmove have conducted a very similar analysis and reckon that Brockley house prices rose at the second-fastest rate in the capital over the last decade, only lagging Wapping.

The Standard says:

"Every gambler dreams of backing a rank outsider that goes on to outpace the odds-on favourite. Residents [sic] of 10 London locations have done just that, investing in areas which would have appeared in most cases to be unlikely property hotspots a decade ago.

"Nonetheless, these are the neighbourhoods that have seen the most dramatic rise in asking prices in the past 10 years, according to research from Rightmove.

"Brockley has an average asking price of £582,016 and fabulous train links to central London — just 14 minutes to London Bridge [sic] — have helped Brockley to reinvent itself as the place where buyers head when they’re priced out of neighbouring Peckham or East Dulwich [sic].

"Average asking prices are now £582,016, up 143 per cent in the last decade. Brockley converts rave about its comparatively affordable period architecture, urban village vibe and friendly, community feel."

These sorts of tables are being churned out on a regular basis, with varying results, but any meta-study of estate agent data would confirm that Brockley has clearly experienced a very fast rate of house price growth in recent years.

Brockley books London's 5th-biggest house price rise since 2008

Areas with the fastest-rising house prices since 2008 marked in dark blue
Analysis of Land Registry data by Knight Frank shows that Brockley has experienced the fifth fastest rate of house price growth in London since the financial crash of 2008.

Average house price values have risen by 55% in SE4 in the last six years.

Inner London areas in the North East and South East of the city dominate the top ten, with only Herne Hill (up 59.8%), Homerton, Stoke Newington and Walthamstow rising faster than Brockley.

The Telegraph has the full table.

Brockley Central launched in 2007.

Thanks to JPM for the link.

Brockley: Building the Dream

More4 show Building the Dream kicks off its new series with the story of Eryka and Sam, a Brockley couple who transformed a dilapidated Ashby Mews workshop into their dream home (or at least, I assume they did - the show is still unfolding).

The building is a live-work hybrid, which includes studio space for glass sculptor Eryka. They also have a DJ terrace. Why am I not friends with these people?

The show is available here.

Bowie Endswell

A few weeks ago, the Brockley twittersphere was abuzz about the Cronenberg / Gillian makeover of the Endwell Road laundrette, which was being used as a filming location. It turns out that it was for the best possible reason - David Bowie's new video, No Plan.

Thank you to Matt for the spot.

Bakerloo Extension: TfL to launch consultation on NXG and Lewisham tube stations

TfL will launch a public consultation later this year as part of detailed planning for the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham. The public will be asked to comment on plans for new tube stations in New Cross Gate and Lewisham.

A paper published in December states:

Following an initial public consultation on a proposed Bakerloo line extension (BLE) in autumn 2014 and a subsequent assessment of possible route options, an extension to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate has been identified as the preferred option. A second public consultation is now proposed as the next step towards delivering the BLE. The delivery of this extension was included in the Mayor’s manifesto and would support the delivery of significant numbers of new homes and jobs for London.

The consultation exercise would start in early 2017 and run for ten weeks. It would engage with the public and stakeholders on the options for locations of stations and ventilation/intervention shafts including the worksites at each. The consultation will include the relevant local authorities as well as engagement with stakeholders and landowners of sites affected.

The consultation will provide the opportunity for responses on each of the following parts of the route:

(a) Elephant and Castle station – an upgraded ticket hall and platform concourse is required to accommodate extension demand
(b) Old Kent Road 1 station – a new Tube station in the northern area of the Old Kent Road to serve the growth cluster in this part of the Opportunity Area
(c) Old Kent Road 2 station – a new Tube station in the southern area of the Old Kent Road to serve the second growth cluster in the Opportunity Area
(d) New Cross Gate station – a new Tube station providing interchange to the London Overground and National Rail services at the existing station
(e) Lewisham station – a new Tube station providing interchange to the National Rail and DLR services at the existing station
(f) Ventilation and intervention shafts – three shafts are proposed, one between Elephant and Castle and Old Kent Road 1 stations, one between New Cross Gate and Lewisham stations, and one at the line end overrun tunnels beyond Lewisham station

This provisional work indicates circa £1bn could be raised from [a range of sources including commercial development of the station sites, increased fare receipts, business rate levies, etc], covering roughly a third of the scheme costs. This is a positive start and we will further develop the approach to maximising funding from all available sources and investigating further potential land value capture options. As is common for infrastructure projects of this size and scale the funding for construction of the BLE will outlined in future revision of the TfL Business Plan.

Thank you to Monkeyboy for sending the details.

Application made to replace Mantle Road shops

An application has been made to convert the majority of the ground floor retail space at number 1 Mantle Road for residential use. The proposal is for:

"The change of use, alteration and conversion of part of the ground floor at 1 Mantle Road SE4 to retain commercial unit and provide 1 one bedroom and 1 two bedroom self-contained flats, together with alterations to the elevations."

The ground floor units, right opposite Brockley Station's westside entrance, have lain empty since they were first built. This spot is something of a disaster zone of narrow, dark, busy street-scape and unlovely architecture.

Although the Spar is popular and the station busy, the only people who hang around at this location tend to be lorry drivers who have sheared the top off their vehicles by trying to drive under the neighbouring railway bridge.

Thanks to Scott for letting me know.

Millwall say regeneration scheme could force them to leave Lewisham

Millwall have declared that the regeneration plans for the land surrounding their stadium may force them to relocate to a new site in Kent. The Guardian's Barney Ronay reports:

Lewisham council’s plan to compulsorily purchase areas around the Den and sell them on to a mysterious offshore developer with connections to the current Labour administration has already drawn both disbelief and mass protest.

With the CPO likely to be confirmed at a council meeting next Wednesday Millwall have conceded publicly for the first time the club could have to leave the area that has been their home since 1910. In a statement Steve Kavanagh, their chief executive, told the Guardian: 

“The chairman has always been determined that this would never happen, but under such circumstances any and every option would have to be considered to secure the football club and the Millwall Community Trust’s future as viable concerns.”

The issue does indeed highlight the problems caused by Labour's utter dominance of the Council. Whatever the merits of the Renewal masterplan and whether or not this is brinkmanship by the club, Millwall's plight ought to be generating huge political debate, but there is simply no opposition. Ronay notes:

The chair of Lewisham’s own overview & scrutiny committee, Alan Hall, has been a lone voice inside the council with the courage to speak out against the CPO process. “Millwall Football Club are part of the cultural history of London and Lewisham with over 100 years in the borough,” Hall said. “Over the past five years Renewal’s original outline planning application has fallen apart in slow motion in front of our very eyes. The ever-shrinking proposed ‘sporting village’ will drive away one of football’s most famous clubs and its highly successful community scheme.”

The AMS Millwall supporters’ organisation has led the fight on behalf of the club’s fans. On Wednesday the AMS published its own open letter to Quirk, who has emerged as the driving force behind the scheme – the mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, having stepped back due the fact he is, astonishingly, director of a Renewal-associated company, the Surrey Canal Sporting Trust.

Ronay argues that Millwall's loss would be a "stunning blow" for the borough, which would be left without a professional sports club. I'm not sure that's the point. The club has an excellent community outreach programme but the Den has not proven itself as an engine of local prosperity. As a cultural asset, it's a mixed blessing too - no one likes them and they don't care.

But the fans - many of them Lewisham residents and voters - deserve better than to lose their home. A way to accommodate the club should be found.

Parlez view

Parlez is the new restaurant opening on Coulgate Street. Located right next to the station, it's a big space, which gives them room to be ambitious, as you can see below. Co-founder Louis writes:

"Parlez has been in the making for over ten years with my partner Matt and me being close friends for a long time. We've both been south London residents for about 25 years combined. I'm in Peckham Rye and Matt lives in Brockley.

"I've worked in the music industry for over 10 years as a composer. I've always had a focus supporting musicians and working across a range of projects, like an album in recorded in Brazil to orchestral scores. I'm now working with the youth led radio station Reprezent (based in Brixton) doing artist development [the team have applied to stage live music at Parlez].  Matt's story is he managed the bar/cafe at the heart of the art house Riverside Studios before deciding to embark on the training program at Fullers. For the past 11 years, he has been running The White Horse in Brixton.

"We're positioning ourselves as a neighbourhood eatery that offers an affordable seasonal menu alongside a well sourced drinks menu. We're working with our chefs over the coming months to finalise everything. Without needing deep pockets, people can expect our food to be simple, clean and delicious.  We'll be running a full service from brunch through to dinner. 

"Keeping up with the times, we'll introduce digital loyalty cards, decent wifi and an active presence on social media. We want to engage with the neighbourhood and find ways to be inclusive and work together. Brockley has such a strong community spirit, we're keen to do everyone proud. Service wise, we'll be serving alcohol until 10pm Sunday to Thursday and midnight on the weekends. 

"The design company Blacksheep are working with us on the interior design. Their clients range from small independents to major chains such as Jamie's Italian and Wagamama. Parlez will be fully independent, so the styling and feel will reflect who we are."

Coming soon: Bite Mi

Following in the footsteps of Mo Pho comes a new Brockley Cross Vietnamese cafe called Bite Mi - replacing The Brockley Grill. On the basis of the name alone, it cannot fail. With this and Parlez on their way, downtown Brockley is in danger of developing a restaurant scene.

Cat Food - Best Newcomer 2016

A Cat Food showstopper
Congratulations to Crofton Park bakery Cat Food, who have won the Brockley Central Best Newcomer Award 2016, hoovering up 36% of the votes.

Cat Food is an on-demand service exporting amazing baking to the whole of London. Masters of their craft, they are now masters of Brockley.

A specialist business, located on Ewhurst Road, one of SE4's remoter parts, it's perhaps the most surprising winner in the award's eight year history - seeing off a highly competitive field, which included some outstanding new pubs, bars, cafes and shops. However, Cat Food has a loyal following and it's fitting that a business born with Kickstarter support from the local community should receive this accolade from the voting public.

This is only the second time a Crofton Park business has won the award, so it also helps to address an historical and geographical injustice.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Best Newcomer 2016 - Cat Food
Best Newcomer 2015 - Masala Wala Cafe
Best Newcomer 2014 - The Brockley Deli
Best Newcomer 2013 - The Malaysian Deli
Best Newcomer 2012 - Gently Elephant
Best Newcomer 2011 - Brockley Market
Best Newcomer 2010 - El's Kitchen
Best Newcomer 2009 - The Orchard

2016

This blessed plot, this Brockley
In 2016, thanks to Brexit, Trump, Corbyn coupsfloods and sink holes, a new strain of apocalypticism gripped the Brockley imagination. But however much we wished to live in interesting times, Brockley was not Mordor. It was Hobbiton.

A broken window at Donde Tapas in Honor Oak provoked a flurry of fearful tweets by locals who worried that it represented the first shot in a xenophobic war, but war never came. Instead Brockley's shop fronts became canvasses that celebrated the area's multi-ethnic character during this year's street art festival. SE4 is now inked up, but our knuckles read love, not hate.

While peace picnickers braced themselves for a fascist tsunami, our kids opted to organise street-tidying initiatives rather than join the Hitler Youth.

Local anti-gentrifiers leapt on any available evidence of an impending yuppie holocaust but somehow missed the incident in which a man called the police because a local cafe had served him lemon and ginger tea instead of lemongrass. Instead, they accidentally targeted an innovative social housing project.

So the end of the world was one of the things that did not happen this year - but here are some of the things that did:

Clustering

Several new developments were completed this year, each of which helped clusters of local businesses build critical mass.

PLACE Ladywell is a new incubator for local entrepreneurs, which now houses delis, cafes and shops. Deptford Market Yard has injected twelve new independent businesses directly into the town centre, including bars, hairdressers, cheese-grillers and fashion labels. On a smaller scale, 180 Brockley Road and the accompanying improvements to Coulgate Street helped to create a coherent town centre for Brockley town centre, adding another supermarket, an estate agent, an architect and (soon) a restaurant to the mix.

Rebirth

Although these large developments have created more commercial space, there is still relatively little available space for new businesses, which means that the high street has become a zero sum game - for new places to open, old ones must make way. Thankfully, the market is buoyant and most places don't stay closed for long.

Departing businesses like Pat-a-cakes, Bohemia Hair and Degustation were rapidly replaced by Fred's cafe, House of Hair and Salthouse Bottles while failing businesses gave way to thriving ones like Waterintobeer and Brickfields. Noak came and went and came back again. Convenience store and local institution Dukes finally closed and may prove to be the outlier - it's hard to imagine anything replacing it, but Brockley Cross has proved me wrong before.

But the real story was the rebirth of our local pubs. No fewer than eight local pubs were refurbished this year: In St John's, The Brookmill reopened as an outstanding gastro pub. In New Cross the Five Bells and the White Hart pulled out of their death spirals. On Tanners Hill the Royal Standard was converted from a hostel bar to a public house. On Lewisham Way, The Old Haberdasher became The Fat Walrus and gained a marquee. The Chandos, the Ladywell Tavern and the New Cross House all got impressive makeovers.

The resilience of the Brockley pub scene is why Lewisham Council should resist any attempt to convert the Ravensbourne Arms or Albertines into residential properties and why Enterprise Inns, the owners of the Wickham Arms, need to invest in that pub or sell it to someone who will.

Impossible Dreams

Greater Brockley found inventive ways to check several items off BCers wishlist in 2016.

Not only did Brockley get its first real bar, which wouldn't look out of place in Dalston or Brixton, but Goldsmiths gave us a cinema, a book shop and a Bestival spin-off, while in lieu of a Brockley gym, we got a Brockley Cross Fitology Hub.

Lewisham surprised everyone by birthing a gallery and cafe inside an old water tank before Goldsmiths does something similar on a much grander scale next year. And a local entrepreneur brought the London Design Festival to South East London for the first time.

Railroading 

London Bridge Station's fancy new concourse opened just in time for Southern to give up completely on the idea of running a train service. You can now connect to Charing Cross, but only if the trains haven't been sabotaged by the wrong sort of sunlight or boiling water.

If you can overlook the angry crowds at London Bridge, it's been a great year for Brockley trains. TfL improved the East London Line's late night service and revealed a plan to take our trains out of the incompetent hands of Southern and Southeastern, and reopen the higher-level platform to serve a new orbital train route. Crofton Park campaigners also successfully fought for more frequent morning services.

High rise

In 2016, the scale of Lewisham town centre's planned transformation became clear. Not only did three new towers join the Lewisham cluster, but a raft of planned new high rise buildings were unveiled. Matalan will be replaced by seven new towers, while hundreds of new homes will be built on the land next to Tesco.

This news was replicated in Deptford, where work has finally begun at Convoys Wharf and two major new Deptford Creek projects were announced.

With the borough experiencing the fastest house price rises in London, this pattern of development is likely to continue for years to come, whether you like it or not.

Car-bo loading

Someone's given up carbs for 2017 in the most dramatic way possible, leaving loaves of bread (that look like they come from Doorstep Bakery) on top of cars across Brockley. The polysaccharide spree was captured by Andy Callahan.

The trail leads directly to a gingerbread house in the conservation area.

Brockley Central Label Cloud