More tea, Brockers?

Jeremy: "If you build it, they will come". That's my market research.
Mark: Field of Dreams? A man who builds a baseball field in his backyard for ghosts? That's your role model?
- Peep Show

A new café will open early next year at The Tea Factory.

Called ‘The Tea Factory’ it will occupy the vacant corner unit, nearest Brockley Cross. We knew that the site had always been targeted as a possible café, but we imagined that the recession had killed that prospect for the foreseeable future. Never knowingly pessimistic, this is one occasion when we underestimated the regeneration underway in SE4.

Caroline has been in touch to tell us about her plans – she joins a group of new local entrepreneurs that includes Felix at The Talbot, Raymond at The Brockley Mess and Ross at Browns of Brockley, all putting their faith in the strength of the local market.

The plans sound great and, as well as providing a new option in this part of Brockley, they will be reclaiming the pavement area from the cars and vans that have been using that part of Brockley Cross as an elephant graveyard. She tells us:

“We are a family run business and are opening a bespoke tea and coffee shop at The Tea Factory in Brockley Cross. We’ll be opening in January or February.

“We’ll be serving Illy coffee and we’re working on finding a truly English brand of tea, together with home made cakes and dishes of the day.

“The menus will be designed by chef Dan Lucas. He is currently teaching the chefs of tomorrow at the Shooters Hill Post 16 Campus. Dan has had a wealth of experience in the trade including many years at Chez Bruce just down the road in Wandsworth. The ingredients will be sourced from Borough Market, Riverford and Abel & Cole to ensure we are getting the freshest fruit and vegetables available and of course this will also ensure the products are fair-trade. We’ll start off with a limited food menu, with nothing costing more than a fiver.

“We’ll be refurbishing the shop with the emphasis on quality and comfort. We’ll also be making use of the pavement area.

“We’re really excited about bringing a new café to the area - it has a great community atmosphere and we believe it's up-and-coming. We hope the people of Brockley will be impressed and supportive and we look forward to meeting them!”
In light of the long (some would say tedious) debates about kids in cafes that have taken place here and here, we thought we’d better ask Caroline what kind of balance they’ll be striking at The Tea Factory.

She said:

“We are actually providing a safe area down the side of the shop to park buggies (there will be a CCTV camera on that area with a screen inside) and will be offering a few special options for kids.

“Of course, we would also hope the parents make sure their kids don’t run riot, so that other customers can enjoy the space too.”

We look forward to hearing more from Caroline as her plans progress.

By the way, this news isn’t what this was all about.

Browns of Brockley blog

Browns of Brockley, the new deli on Coulgate Street, has launched a blog ahead of the shop's imminent opening.

Brockley Central has been resisting the temptation to pester Ross, the proprietor, about how he's getting on. The shop is gradually taking shape, with something new in the window every time we walk past and his twitter updates give plenty of clues as to the eventual menu, opening date and his stress levels.

His first entry is about Roundwood Orchard Pig Farm and as well as offering us a picture of his ridiculously cute dog, he's signed off with a message to us all:

"Just on a quick sidebar, thank you to anyone that has stopped by the shop and said nice things or even if you've just looked in the window and smiled. sorry it has taken so long but I wanted to create an exciting shop with exciting produce, unfortunately that all takes time."

"I probably won't update this until the shop opens as i'm preparing for a week of unadulterated stress, however I really am going to commit to posting once a week."

It's encouraging to see local businesses embracing the potential of the internet to engage with its customers and to see that Ross is so passionate about his work - let's hope both things pay off.

Braxfield: Brockley Boomtown

Courtesy of Ross comes the news that St Cyprian's is not the only Brockley / Braxfield Road site targeted for residential redevelopment.

Estate Agents Kalmars is advertising an L-shaped plot just behind Brockley Road, accessible via an innocuous entrance opposite Morley's chicken emporium. Currently a warehouse, it has planning permission for three apartments and one house to be built on site.

Bridge House - Completion September 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we were contacted by a parent of a child at John Stainer, who said that she'd been told by the school that the Bridge House development on Mantle Road (adjoining platform 1 of Brockley Station) would feature a Tesco on the ground floor. She asked us whether we knew anything about it.

The plans have always included retail for the ground floor, but this is the first time we'd heard any suggestion that a supermarket chain would use the site.

After speaking to a number of very pleasant people at the Tesco press office, we were referred to the press officer responsible for small stores in the area. Unfortunately, that's where the trail went cold - repeated calls to voicemail yielded zero response.

So we tried another route and contacted the developers, the L&Q Housing Association.

As well as confirming that the building is due to be completed in September 2010, they stated that they have "not yet entered into any agreements over the commercial use."

Of course, "not yet" does not mean it never will, however, the site seems poorly-suited to the needs of a supermarket chain. The small Tesco on Lewisham Way relies on multiple deliveries by lorry each day, whereas the Bridge House site is served only by a narrow road, with no parking and lorry traffic limited by a low bridge next door. The rear of the site faces on to the railway tracks.

Thanks to L&Q for their help and it's good news to hear that the project is on track for completion next year.

Ladywell Tandoori, Ladywell Road

Ladywell Tandoori
81 Ladywell Road
SE13 7JA
020 86901047‎

BC review to follow. Please post your comments and reviews here.

Brockley View - Death and Restoration?

“A sense of humor always withers in the presence of the messianic delusion, like justice and truth in front of patriotic passion.”

- HL Mencken

Is Brockley Road about to be the subject of an application to redevelop St Cyprian's church hall as a seven storey mixed-use development?

Following the auction of the church and some adjacent buildings, Brockley Central received this message from someone purporting to represent the buyers. This was the message:

Hopefully the council will allow the demolition of the hall so that the plans for the seven-floor residential apartment block with shops below can commence as soon as possible. Brockley View is an exciting project that will make that portion of the road vibrant and pleasant for all.

Manti Properties

The whole thing could be an elaborate ruse of course, but the site went for much more than the asking price, which suggests a commercially-minded developer snapped it up. We'd be fairly relieved if it's not being resurrected as a church (evangelical outfits are crawling all over south east London) but, though neglected, the building itself has potential and of course there will be many who shudder at the very notion of a 7 storey building. On the other hand, a well-conceived development could rescue a struggling parade.

Google's got nothing on "Manti Properties", unless they happen to be based in Utah and "Brockley View" throws up no useful leads either. If you're from the developers, please get in touch, the address is here.

Deptford X 2009: Flux

The Deptford X arts festival is back for its eleventh year, revelling in the area's new-found status as "London's wild west", courtesy of the New York Times.

The programme started this weekend and runs until October 4th. Highlights this year include 'Deptford as a Vector' (street art scattered throughout Deptford and converging at its centre) and 'Corridor' at Lewisham Arts House (four interconnected installations lurking in the depths of the building).

You can visit the official site here or join the Facebook group here, but Deptford Dame does the best job of capturing the eclectic nature of the X, with her preview here.

The Deptford Art Map

The Guardian has written about Deptford's burgeoning arts scene, which it says is finally gaining momentum after a couple of decades of false dawns.

The venues featured, including Gallop Space, Bearspace Gallery and Arch Gallery are all connected via the recently-launched Deptford Art Map, a smart initiative to encourage more visitors.  We might ask if they'd be prepared to extend it southwards, to include the likes of Tank and Tea Leaf Arts.

The article quotes Bearspace's Julia Alvarez as saying:

"It really does feel like the art radar is turning this way, and with the East London line extension opening, many more people will hopefully be encouraged down here. Our plan is to be ready for them when that happens."

New Poll: East London Line v London Bridge trains

In light of all the discussion of planned changes to the London Bridge services, we thought we'd create a newpoll, to ask regular commuters from Brockley Station whether they expect to use the ELL or the London Bridge service for their regular morning commute.  You can vote on the right and it will be really interesting to see what you say.

Commuter theory suggests that most of you will stick to using the London Bridge service as many of you will have moved to the area or chosen a job because home and work are relatively well connected by the existing route. But equally, the projections made by transport planners assume that - from day one - a good proportion of you will use the ELL for your daily commute.  Over time, commuter patterns should shift further, so that more and more people living in the area commute via the ELL - a change encouaraged by the continued growth of Canary Wharf and the surrouding area.

Please note, for the purposes of this poll, we are asking about commuter journeys only, not leisure travel.

The Passenger's Dilemma

Dean Walton reports that Lewisham Council has "unanimously passed the motion" calling on the Mayor to write to Southern rail, Transport for London and the Secretary of State for Transport to defend stations on the Brockley line from service cuts.

While BC fully supports the campaign and regard the proposed cuts as an unacceptable betrayal of the promises made by TfL and the DfT, it's important to put the cuts in some context and address some of the more outlandish criticisms that have been made. We hesitated to do so, because we don't want to undermine the campaign, but we'd like to try and clear a few things up:

Will this cut the number of trains to London Bridge in the morning peak time?
No. There are no changes planned.

Will the interchange at Canada Water for the ELL be a nightmare?
The only time that Canada Water suffers from overcrowding is in the mornings, on the east bound platforms. Since morning journeys are unaffected, you will still be able to travel to London Bridge in exactly the same way you already do. Or you can try the Canada Water interchange via the ELL, which will be quicker to get to from Brockley and closer to Canary Wharf. Both interchanges are currently problematic in the mornings, but work to increase the capacity of the Jubilee Line (the cause of the current weekend engineering disruptions) should have been completed long-before the ELL starts running.

Overcrowding on peak time trains from London Bridge in the evenings will be even worse as a result of the changes.
It's a definite possibility, but the ELL should take a lot of the strain and the DfT point out that the trains will no longer serve long-distance commuter destinations, so demand will fall in line with capacity. In the longer-term, Southern points out that the trains will be longer, with two more carriages.

Won't somebody think of the house prices?! We're all worse off.
Transport capacity won't be increased as much as we were repeatedly told it would be, but the DfT reasonably points out that the number of morning peak time trains will rise from 16 trains over three hours to 39 trains in the same period, from May 2010 onwards. Off-peak services will rise from 6 trains per hour to 12.

Meanwhile, as we reported here, commuters using the St John's service will benefit from 6 more trains in the rush hour period as a result of a related timetable reshuffle.

One way or another, the area is set to benefit from a massive boost in public transport capacity, even discounting the imminent expansion of the DLR, the improvements at London Bridge Station, the Crossrail interchange at Whitechapel or the (marginal) benefits of the second phase of East London Line.

Who wants to go to Hackney?
If some wally in Hackney was saying the same thing about Brockley we'd all rightly be fuming about it. We're planning a series of articles about all the amazing parts of London the ELL will connect us with directly.

But more importantly, the ELL will provide us with a quicker, more frequent route to the Jubilee Line, putting huge swathes of London - from Canary Wharf to Bond Street within easier reach and connecting us with the rest of the tube system. Not to mention making a journey to places like Crystal Palace, Forest Hill or Honor Oak much easier.

Southern service cuts - Department for Transport responds

BC regular Monkeyboy wrote to the Department for Transport, demanding answers, damnit, concerning the proposed reduction in Southern services to London Bridge, reported here.

Today, he received a response, which attributes responsibility for these changes to TfL, rather than Southern and says that "it has simply not been possible to fit the additional 8 trains per hour that London Overground will be operating into the existing timetable without changes to Southern services."

The letter points out that there will be a dramatic increase in train services on the line and that there are reasons to suppose that overcrowding in the evening may not be as bad as initially feared (we will not have to share trains with long-distance commuters any more). Nonetheless, the plans mean a reduction in London Bridge services, meaning longer waits between trains or choosing to re-route via the East London Line, replacing a cheaper rail ticket, with a more expensive tube journey. It also means that the initial promises that the ELL would not lead to a reduction in London Bridge services have been broken.

Here are the salient parts of the letter:

As part of the introduction of High Speed Services on the Southeastern network in December 2009, a full recast of the Southeastern timetable is being carried out. As part of this new timetable Southeastern is increasing frequencies on some metro routes in South East London and additional services will be stopping at London Bridge. For example, off peak frequencies on the Bexleyheath route are being increased by 2 trains per hour to Charing Cross.

Alongside this it has not proved possible to link any available paths through London Bridge with the available paths south of New Cross Gate, which are limited by the new East London Line services (that will begin operation next year).

Given the capacity limitations in the congested London Bridge area and the impacts of the new East London Line services it has not been possible for the industry to derive a timetable that allows the Southern services to continue to operate to Charing Cross from the Reigate corridor during the day or from the Sydenham corridor during the evening.

The Department has stated that if the train operators – Southern, Southeastern, First Capital Connect and London Overground - can identify a timetable solution that allows Southern to operate services through the high level platforms at London Bridge we would not stand in their way of delivering this.

The off peak train services frequencies from Brockley double in May 2010 compared to December 2009 with a train operating every 5 minutes. In the peak 3 hours services increase by nearly 150%, and by over 200% in the peak hour. These changes will increase the accessibility of this area of South East London and act as a driver for significant regeneration as you highlight in your letter.

These services changes have not been driven by train operator Southern – and they cannot be described as cherry picking services. The changes have been driven particularly by Transport for London’s investment in the East London Line Extension, and by TfL’s specification for services on this route (TfL is the specification body for London Overground services).

The timetable that results from TfL’s specification has been developed in cross industry discussions involving operators, Network Rail, and ORR to derive the optimum timetable for both East London Line and Southern services.

In the evening peak service frequencies from London Bridge will reduce to 4 trains per hour (from 6 today) as it has not been possible to match the paths available south of New Cross Gate (given the additional 8 East London Line services) with those available from London Bridge.

However these services will now be purely local services terminating at West Croydon and will thus have lower passenger levels from London Bridge, because the services to Sutton, Epsom and Guildford that currently call at the local stations will now use the fast lines due to the lack of available paths (because of the East London Line additional services), so that longer distance passengers will no longer congest the local trains.

In preparation for the extended ELL services, management of stations on the line transferred to London Overground on September 20th 2009 and TfL have already started a programme of station investments on the route, such as the installation of ticket gates with further investments due in the coming months.

Write Now - Brockley Jack seeks unpublished plays by local writers

Via the British Theatre Guide:

The Brockley Jack Theatre has launched a new play season aimed at promoting and celebrating the creative talent of southeast Londoners.

Write Now is inviting scriptwriters and theatre companies with a strong connection to southeast London to submit a new play to the theatre for consideration.

Three plays will then be selected to be performed during the Write Now season in Febriary, 2010.

The season is also an opportunity for writers to meet other writers and theatre professionals, and an opportunity for new work to be performed in a professional theatre by experienced industry people.

Playwright Lin Coghlan (Eastenders, The National Theatre, Soho Theatre) and award winning producer Simon James Collier, of the Okai Collier Theatre Company, will help select plays for performance.

The plays submitted must be the writers' original work, unpublished and unperformed at a public theatre. Adaptations/translations will not be considered.

The guidelines and application form are available to be downloaded from the Brockley Jack website.

The Deadline for Applications is Friday, 16th October.

Thanks to Tresillian James for spotting it. Click here for more details.

The Handrail's Tale

The long-awaited Brockley Station handrail under construction, suggesting the staircase may open soon

"My only regret is that I have...Boneitis."
- Steve Castle, Futurama

The Brockley Common works currently underway on Coulgate Street were designed to make the common land accessible to the public, create a pleasant space that could be used for performance and improve accessibility to the station from the east side, in anticipation of the eventual TfL investment in the west side platform, which will make that side of the station accessible to wheelchairs in a few years.
Unfortunately, a project that was due to take a little over two months has now taken more than twice as long and is still not complete. Access to the station from both sides has been inconvenient and occasionally farcical. Coulgate Street remains shut, weeds are growing where grass banks were envisaged, pavement has been replaced by tarmac and the staircase at the northern end of the site has not been built.

Most recently, the Council has attributed the delay to the problems involved with installing a handrail, but as this picture shows, perhaps the end is at last in sight.

Meanwhile, Cllr Walton has been trying to get to the bottom of the problems via formal questions. The resulting response is below and is fairly exasperating. There's no acknowledgement that anything very much is or was ever wrong, although they are happy to attribute a fair amount of blame to Brockley Cross Action Group for delays with the handrail. Given that the BXAG has been shut out of the project management process, this seems wholly unreasonable.

This kind of stonewalling response from the Council is counter productive. It's OK to admit mistakes and to acknowledge problems - people want to hear honest responses and they need to know that the Council recognises the issues, because to solve a problem, we must first admit it exists.

The answer suggests that the Council is ready to wash its hands of the problem and hand it back to the BXAG to sort the planting out, which is, in the circumstances, a huge relief.

Here's the Q&A:

Why has the Brockley Station project has taken such a long time to complete? What is the final cost for the scheme as compared with the original budget? What explanations are there for the difference? Has any of the increase in cost been attributed to poor performance of the contractor - and if so will these be recovered? Has communication and liaison with local residents and businesses about the scheme has been adequate, particularly in relation to the extensive delays? Is the funding for planting adequate to ensure a successful outcome?


The Brockley Station ramp has been planned as a high quality scheme to improve the area, and forms the core of the Brockley Common project, which originated as a local initiative. The ramp has been developed in close collaboration with Brockley Cross Action Group with a steering group chaired by Joan Ruddock MP. Funding for the Common has been obtained from a variety of sources and Lewisham has managed to find the overwhelming majority of funding from its own resources and by bidding to Department of Transport for disabled access funding.

The start of works on the scheme was dictated by the disabled access funding which was time limited. The works are substantially complete, but the steps can’t be opened safely until the hand-railing is fixed due to the potential fall hazard to the edge of the steps and piazza. The hand-railing is a specialist item designed and specified by the Brockley Cross Action Group and could not be ordered until the specification was known, at the end of June 09. The order for the hand-railing had a lead in time of approximately 6 weeks due to the bespoke nature of the item.

The total budget for the scheme was £182k, which it was hoped would be enough to regrade the area, creating a new ramp and steps from the southern part of the site, along with a small performance area and steps at the northern end of the site. The scheme was split into two phases, with the performance area and northern steps to be constructed as a second phase if funds permitted. It was expected that the final cost of the initial phase of the scheme would be £150k. It is expected to be around £331k as a result of extra costs to remove soil which had to be treated as it was asbestos contaminated, but there are some costs still to be resolved with the contractor as is normal at the conclusion of a project. There are no issues regarding poor performance.

Communication with local traders has been carried out regularly by both the town centre manager and the engineers, and with the local community via updates which have been extensively reported, However, I agree that, with hindsight, regular update notices on site would have been beneficial.
It was always the intention that the Brockley Cross Action Group would lead on the planting of the area and I am aware that they have asked for a contribution from the localities fund to help them do this.

The Grand Vintage Ball, The Rivoli Ballroom, September 26th

Courtesy of Londonist comes news of an event at the Rivoli this Saturday, which promises "dark vintage glamour" and "delectable dressing up" will need to clear their diary for this Saturday night.

Compered by Bourgeios and Maurice, the organisers say:

The night is the perfect opportunity for the Retrorati and the Sartorial Intelligentsia to don their best vintage and retro outfits and enter the ultimate Vintage Attire Pageant, where they can be crowned Best In Show.

The ball runs from 8pm to 1am, tickets cost £15.

Click here for more...

Ladywell Assembly allocates £50k to local causes

Last night, the Ladywell Assembly allocated its £50,000 Mayor’s Fund.

Here’s the list of supported projects:

· Ladywell Road Streetscape and Design (£10,000)
· Youth Activity and Coach Development (£7,400)
· Youth Village project (£10,000)
· Hilly Fields Community Bowling Green irrigation (£8,257)
· The Ahoy Centre (£3,090)
· Get the Message Mural Project (£4,965)
· AlertBox Scheme (£6,288)

Pretty good stuff, with a liberal dose of youth project support. We can’t see what AlertBox technology (shops connected via intercoms to tip eachother off about potential shop lifters) does that you couldn’t do for free with Twitter or an email / text messaging list – although we’re happy to be told why we’re wrong on that one.

Cllr Luxton has a full report here.

Creative Mums Network, September 23rd

Nicola writes:

The Creative Mums Network will be holding the second of our monthly South-London meet-ups, tomorrow evening at Jam Circus- 8pm.

The network is designed to provide support, advice, inspiration and
collaboration opportunities to mums and mums to be who are working or involved in the creative industries, where the demands of work are often fairly incompatible with family life.

The meet-ups themselves are fairly informal and attended by mums from a variety of creative backgrounds. If you're interested in coming along please do email me, or join the Facebook group if you'd like to be kept-up-to-date with the network.

'No to train cuts' campaign accelerates

South East London residents affected by the potential cut in train services to and from London Bridge are co-ordinating their efforts to fight the cuts.

The Forest Hill Society's Michael Abrahams writes:

The petition now has over 500 signatures in just 4 days!

Councillor Dean Walton has proposed a motion to full council on Thursday evening (24th September - 7:30pm), see details on Lewisham website.

This motion opposes cuts to rail services on our line and I hope it will get cross party support.I am told that a good turn out in the public gallery will get it discussed early on the agenda and will make sure that the council take this issue more seriously. Please attend this meeting if you can.

Brockley with kids

Sometimes it's a hard world for small things.
- H.I., Raising Arizona

We have been meaning to post something about child-friendly locations in Brockley for a while. The discovery of a toy box in Jam Circus this weekend was the perfect cue.

Brockley appears to be attracting an increasing number of young families - low house prices, good primary schools, green spaces and a community atmosphere make Brockley a natural choice. The evidence of this is everywhere: the catchment areas for schools are shrinking as more kids move in, nursery developers are targeting the area and, much to the displeasure of a few misanthropes, many Brockley businesses have geared up-for children.

Here's a quick tour - we'd welcome your advice:

The Broca

Has a generous toy box and the new extension is perfect for small groups of parents and kids, away from the bustle of the main counter.

Jam Circus

As well as some toys and books for kids, there's a back room which is usually quiet during the day, meaning the kids can play without you feeling guilty.

The Brockley Mess

Well stocked with baby chairs and more toys.

The Wickham Arms

The landlords have made the rear garden more child-friendly with the addition of a small playground.


The garden is popular with parents and the menu makes more concessions to kids than most places in the area.

Toads Mouth Too

The labyrinthine layout isn't pushchair friendly, but the staff are. High chairs available.

Geddes and Tom Boyz

For kids' hair cuts, Tom Boyz is cheap and cheerful with a special kids seat with a steering wheel to distract them, but you can't book ahead. Geddes is a little more expensive but allows you to book and - in our experience - the cut has been better.

Brockley Bites

Nunhead Arts Week 2009

September 18th - 27th, click here for more details.

Frendsbury Gardens Mosaics
The mosaic sculptures for Frendsbury Gardens are ready and will be installed over the next few weeks. Organiser Gareth would like to invite you to a series of informal workshops to help with the grouting of the mosaics. The artist will be in the garden on the following days to complete the sculptures: Tues 29 Sept, Wed 30 Sept and Thurs 01 Oct Time from 10am – 4pm.
Green Tea Architects Open Day
Green Tea Architects, the latest additions to the Tea Factory, are offering 30 minute consultations in return for a £20 donation to charity on October 1st.
Appointments are available between 7am and 6pm. Call 020 8694 1759 to book.

Lewisham Fun Run, October 4th

A fun run is taking place at Beckenham Place Park on Sunday 4 October 2009 from 10.30am.

The run is being organised by Lewisham Council and aims to raise money for the Mayor of Lewisham’s preferred charity, the Lavender Trust.

There will be three runs on the day:

The 1km race for the under 11s starts at 10.30am.
The 3km race for the under 16s is at 10.45am.
Then at 11.30am, the 5km run for anyone over 16 begins.

The races are open to everyone. For those unable to run the entire distance, a walking pace is allowed. There will be marshalls along the entire route to keep an eye on participants and ensure everyone is safe. Spectators will be kept entertained with live music. Food and drink will be available.

Click here for details on how to join in.

The Distillery Apartments, Deptford - Under Construction

The Seager Distillery tower and apartments in Deptford are finally under construction. The site had lain dormant for a couple of years, since demolition of most of the previous collection of buildings. Steelwork has begun and a tower crane has been erected.

The development is expected to be completed in 2011 and will eventually include an 82m-tall residential tower, a crescent-shaped residential building that steps down as it circles around the site, a café, gym, retail and an art gallery.

Some of the original building will be death-masked and the rest of the development will create a courtyard, with most of the ground-level retail facing inwards towards a new public space, rather than outwards towards Deptford Bridge, an approach which has been criticised by CABE, who say:

"We are not convinced that the internal courtyard will become a well animated public space. We feel that the public focus may be best placed on the external spaces where there is more foot fall. This would help provide more activity on the street and improve the overall public realm of the Brookmill Road and Deptford Broadway intersection. Our view remains that the internal space would be of most value used as a private courtyard for residents."

However, on that particular stretch of road, there is very little footfall, so a courtyard shielded from the traffic and open to the public, might after all have the best chance of success, especially as CABE also notes:

“The increased permeability that the scheme now provides with pedestrian routes through the crescent block at ground floor level is welcome. This will provide strong connections for residents between the courtyard space and adjacent open space, and playground. We are also pleased to note the attention paid to the public realm outside the development, particularly in relation to the riverside.”

Lewisham bids for investment cash for Brockley

Lewisham Council has submitted its investment plans for 2010 / 11 to Transport for London and the proposal includes a number of major improvements to Brockley.

Cllr Walton has written about it here and you can read the report in full here.

The document constitutes a bid for TfL funding to improve roads and bridges in the borough. Excitingly, the Council has included Brockley Cross and Brockley Road among its list of priorities.

The plan needs to be signed off and details are scarce at this point, but this represents a major opportunity to enhance the area and bring it up to the standards of the Crofton Park end of Brockley Road.

Brockley Central has never subscribed to the theory that the Council neglects Brockley, but we've been vocal in our need to address the abomination that is Brockley Cross and seize the regeneration opportunity represented by Brockley Road. As the document notes, it's not only a question of regeneration, Brockley Cross is also dangerous, as BC has reported in the past.

Here's what the Council says it would like to do:

The Brockley Station / Brockley Cross area encompasses a large district centre, the station and a secondary school. Brockley Cross is a double mini-roundabout. A number of serious injury collisions have occurred in a cluster at this junction, which also has poor quality public realm.

In Brockley Road between Brockley Cross and Adelaide Avenue there has been a number collisions involving ‘powered two wheelers’.

First year:

Design and implement safety scheme improvements at Brockley Cross and Brockley Road between Brockley Cross and Adelaide Avenue. Footway improvements in Coulgate Street south of the ramp and some public realm improvement projects along Brockley Road to enhance the local safety scheme. The works in Coulgate Street will complement the works already carried out as part of the Brockley Common scheme.

St Asaph Road has recently been subject to two highway schemes and further footway improvements will integrate these works. Design of public realm improvements to Brockley Cross will commence for implementation in the second year.

Second year:

Implement public realm improvements at Brockley Cross and implement any station access scheme proposals, subject to funding approval from TfL as part of the Area Based Schemes programme.

Brockley Rise would also benefit from further investment:

Brockley Rise shopping parade located between Coddrington Hill and Stillness Road .The special opportunity offered by this small ‘shopping village’, its closeness to a similar local shopping improvement scheme at Honor Oak Park, and the reaction from the local shops and residents to initial ideas was recognised and thus the scheme was slipped from 2007/8 to allow time for funding to develop a more comprehensive scheme. The scheme has been designed and Phase1 construction works should be completed by November 2009. Phase 2 to complete the project is planned for 2010/11.

The project’s aim is to provide managed short stay parking and to upgrade the street with improved paving and a more pedestrian friendly environment creating a more pleasant public realm.

Maintenance work for Ladywell Bridge and improved road crossings for Ladywell town centre are also included.

It's very encouraging to see these issues placed so high up Lewisham's to-do list and we hope not only that TfL provides funding but that the Council's plans will deliver real change for Brockley Cross, sorting out the traffic chaos, parking problems and tatty streetscape once and for all.

'Sorry' is the hardest word

As some eagle-eyed readers have already spotted, Lewisham Council has posted two small (A4-sized) notices on the Brockley Station fencing, offering an apology and an explanation.

There's a certain grudging tone to the announcement, which doesn't exactly go to the trouble of making itself obvious to station users: Brockley Kate only spotted it because someone had already told her it was there.

Lewisham Council must not think that two sheets of A4 paper comprise the beginning and the end of its attempt to explain itself: a proper account must be given of the problems in procuring and completing this project, and that includes taking responsibility for these failings.

Forest Hill Society launches petition against Southern Cuts

From the Forest Hill Society:

Southern Railways are planning to cut trains to Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, and Sydenham in December 2009 and again in May 2010.

In December 2009 they plan to cut our direct evening service from Charing Cross, running all trains from London Bridge. This is a well used service and provides a direct connection from the West End after 7:30pm. As this is an off-peak service we reject Southern Railway's claims that there is no capacity through London Bridge.

In May 2010 Southern Railways plan to reduce the peak services (as well as off-peak services) from London Bridge by over 30%, from 6 trains per hour to just 4 trains per hour (the same as the off-peak service). They will continue to run 6 trains per hour in the morning, meeting the demands on the line, but will not provide a similar service in the evenings, hoping that customers will switch to East London Line services or put up with serious overcrowding.

We reject the cuts to services through Forest Hill and call on Southern Railways to run the same level of service as they do in September 2009.
We call on rail authorities and local politicians to support our calls to maintain 6 trains per hour in the evening peak and direct services from Charing Cross in the late evenings.

Please sign the petition at

Brockley Station works - Update 2

Courtesy of Cllr Walton comes this update from the Council's regeneration team, which is responsible for the 13th Labour of Hercules - completing the east side access to Brockley Station and opening up Brockley Common:

Delivery of the hand railing is expected next week. It is likely to take around 2 weeks to complete its installation. The seat also should be delivered next week and the seat bay can then be completed.

We still await delivery of the coping stones to the lower ramp from Cathedra stone, the supplier chosen by the Brockley Cross Action Group. I am afraid we currently do not have a definitive delivery date for this material.

Once the hand railing is fixed to the steps and piazza, this area can then be opened. Until the handrail has been installed it is not safe for the public to use the steps.

So the best estimate is that the station staircase and the road will be closed for another 3 weeks as a staircase is deemed unclimbable without a hand railing. Meanwhile, people scrabble up a muddy verge.

There is still no date for the delivery of coping stones, which were expected "4-6 weeks ago" back in mid-August, when we received the last update. The supplier nominated by the Brockley Cross Action Group is blamed for this delay, but the tarmacked pavement on Coulgate Street is evidence of what happens if you don't keep a tight control on the quality of the materials used.

There is no mention of the seeding which the Council were seeking a quote for in the last update.

Let's quickly remind ourselves what all of this expense and inconvenience was supposed to be for. If it ends up looking like this, then it will have been worthwhile. But that remains a big if.

Brockley Assembly approves ten local projects

Cllr Darren Johnson has reported on the outcome of the Brockley Assembly debate about which local projects should receive money from the Mayor's Fund. He writes:

Ten projects were approved last night. These include a youth music studio for the Leander Community Centre, two projects for older people, planting in a flytipping hotspot in St Donnatt's Road, more litter bins around Brockley and St Johns, a community recycling site in Tanners Hill, film equipment for the Vulcan Youth Club, planting of ornamental beds next to Brockley station and refurbishing a meeting room for tenants and residents at Alder House/ Lilac House on Breakspears Road.

No such thing as beauty without pain?

As previously mentioned on this thread, staff from local salon Geddes in Ladywell are spending a fortnight slogging through early-morning fitness bootcamp in order to raise money for charity.

They'll be working out in Hilly Fields and Ladywell Fields and are seeking sponsorship for the NSPCC. Proprietor Olivia Cartlidge told the South London Press that the salon will contribute a pound per staff member per hour, as well as matching whoever raises the highest amount.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the team can contact the salon on 020 8690 0509.

Climate Camp: Aftermath Records

Just a quick post in reference to the hoo-hah over the Climate Campers and whether they would or wouldn't wreak havoc on Blackheath.

Although having little time for the jumbled and simplistic analysis of the world's problems or the "solutions" they offered, BC predicted that they would leave the heath in good condition.

The Blackheath Bugle has this shot of the site shortly after their departure. Looks like the Lewisham tax payer escapes unscathed on this occasion...

The Brockley Mess: Opens Today

The Brockley Mess is due to open at some point today.

Situated near the corner of Brockley Road and Adelaide Road, the new cafe replaces the much-loved Moonbow Jakes. BCers began to report glimpses of green tiles and varnished wood as opening day drew nearer.

Last night, we received this message from Raymond, the proprietor of The Brockley Mess and Royal Teas in Greenwich:

"It is very late on Monday night and I have just got back from The Brockley Mess doing some finishing touches for our opening on Tuesday 15th September. We will be opening tomorrow as long as the crockery arrives in the morning - by 10.30 a.m. they assure me!

"There will still be some things we have not yet finalised but as quick as one seems to accomplish the current list one is concocting yet another.

"Our opening times initially will be 8am - 7pm weekdays and 9am - 7pm weekends.

"Got to go to bed now. Have a big day tomorrow."

We plan to check it out as soon as possible, but in the mean time we're looking forward to hearing your reviews.

Good luck to Ray and welcome to Brockley.

Let the right one in

On the Green Ladywell blog, Cllr Sue Luxton has revealed the Green Party's candidate to replace departing Cllr Mike Keogh in the Council elections next May. We don't know Cllr Keogh, but here's what Sue says about his successor:

I'm delighted to introduce Charlotte Dingle as our third candidate for Ladywell. Charlotte lives in the ward and has been an active local Green Party member for some time. In her day job she is the editor of a magazine for lesbian and bisexual women and her hobbies include morris dancing, drawing and playing the guitar. She also has a keen interest in animal rights. If elected, I suspect she may well be Lewisham's first vegan, morris-dancing, goth councillor!

Elsewhere on the blog, Sue is currently conducting a poll about whether solar panels should be permitted on the roofs of Lewisham's conservation areas (correct answer: yes). So please head over there to vote - you have another 5 days from today.

Brockley: Live fast, die young

The Guardian's data blog has published two interesting collections of local data recently, the first capturing mortality rates, the second, incidence of credit card fraud.

The overall picture is of early death triggered by ill-gotten indulgence.

SE4 is relatively honest by the standards of South East London, which is not saying much, as it was singled out as a hotspot for credit card fraud.

3.74% of Brockley's card transactions were classed as "bad", compared with say Abbey Wood (14.31%) or Thamesmead (17.14%). Lewisham (3.98%) and New Cross (4.42%) fare a little worse.

People in the borough of Lewisham die earlier than the average for both men and women in the capital (76 years for men vs an average of 77.9 years and 80.8 years for women vs an average of 82.4).

If you're a man nearing 76, it's time to make a Logan's Run to Bromley, which will offer you another three and a half years to potter around the Glades.

With thanks to Andrew.

Southern: Train cuts assume demand will fall

The South London Press has reported the threat to cut services along the Brockley route. You can read Michael Stringer's full article here, but he's successfully extracted a statement from Southern about why they're planning these cuts.

As an explanation, it leaves a lot to be desired, failing to say why a different service pattern is appropriate. There is no mention of any of the programmes they mention actually causing disruption which necessitates a service reduction so we can reasonably assume that they won't.

Instead, what this answer boils down to is that because there will be longer trains to London Bridge and more trains on the East London, they think they can get away with it.

Even if that were reasonable - which it isn't - it fails to explain why service reductions should take place before the new infrastructure is in place. Southern should not be able to reduce services unless and until the new trains are operational and they can demonstrate that demand for their trains has fallen.

Here's the statement:

“A Route Utilisation Study specifies a very different service pattern in South London in future years as new infrastructure becomes available.
“This includes the Thameslink programme, platform lengthening and East London line extensions."

Competence personified

Never let it be said that BC doesn't respond to reader requests. Some anonymous commenter wanted to see pictures of the state of Brockley Station and we're more than happy to comply, if it helps to keep the issue at the forefront of everyone's attention.

The lovely new steps - barricaded off. They've been like this for weeks now:

The view from the top of the aforementioned steps (outside the ticket office); note the spoil heap and weeds on what was previously a nice grassy bank:

The new space outside the ticket office (again, lots of metal barriers):

The much-discussed ramp and accompanying bare earth (and weeds):

The slope up/down which many people trudge (and some slip) to reach the ticket office and platform 1:

Is this what victory smells like?

The wall on the corner of Wickham Rd and Cranfield Rd has finally been completed. After an 18-month saga that we have to admit involved some shameless whining by certain parts of BC, the council's PFI contractor has completed the works - and very nice it looks too...

All that remains is to re-turf the garden that lies within the walls, and replace the Wickham Rd street sign, and then BC's brick-related joy shall be complete.

Well done, brickies. Not so well done, council contract commissioners. But in this golden glow of success, BC isn't in the mood to quibble. What's the odd PFI contract between friends?

St Cyprian's Hall, Brockley Road

St Cyprian's Hall, the disused former Roman Catholic Church on the corner of Braxfield Road and Brockley Road is up for auction on September 22nd. The site also includes the Dunphys undertakers and two houses.

Readers Michael and Anna have both been in touch about the auction, which is in a key location in Brockley. If the site was put to good use, it could help to lift a struggling part of Brockley's high street. Or it could be done badly...

Anna went along for the recent open day with an interest in buying it, but was daunted by the size of the property and the scale of the work required to rennovate it. Here's her report:

The place is ENORMOUS. I'd say it's 6 Talbots' worth of space. It's in a terrible state and it's depressing in there at the moment.

There's no natural light in the main rooms and the ceilings have either been lowered or built low which hardly makes the most of the space. There is a labyrinth of rooms and corridors around and behind the main hall, including two kitchens and an enormous bar at the back of the hall; all have huge potential, but just horribly claustrophobic at the moment.

There's rat poison down everywhere and it's damp with buckets catching ceiling drips in many places. I think it's a project for someone who wants the space not the structure - you could put many flats in there.

Or its the perfect place for parties...fill it with people and music and lights and the decor doesn't really matter.

There were a group of viewers there hoping to make it back into a church. I'll definitely be at the auction to see what happens!

Lewisham under fire over election plans

Lewisham Council is one of several which are considering holding the vote-counting for the next general election the day after the poll, rather than overnight.

Several councils, including Newcastle upon Tyne, have already opted to hold their counts the following day. They argue that it will be cheaper and will help to minimise errors.

Political junkies, however, are cross because they say it will spoil the drama of election night coverage.

Given that Brockley's MP Joan Ruddock had a 11,811 majority in the 2005 general election, BC doubts that a later count would even be noticed by most people in the borough. But it would be a shame to lose the traditional overnight viewing marathon.

The People's Plinthess, today at 12pm

A friend and colleague of Brockley Central's will be going on the Fourth Plinth today at 12pm until 1pm.

She was intending to use the time to promote Camfed, but the postal strike meant that the charity's materials didn't arrive in time.

So instead, she is going up there with a flipchart and a marker pen and taking requests for nice messages for her to write for the benefit of the camera and the audience down below. The messages can be anything you like - from words of inspiration to dedications.

You can follow her on Twitter here or on the webcam here.

Brockley Assembly: Fifth meeting

The Brockley Assembly is due to convene again on Monday 14th September from 7pm til 9pm at the Leander Community Centre on Ship Street in St Johns.

The main subjects for discussion will be:
- A final vote on how to spend the £50,000 Mayor's Fund cash;
- Information from the police about how to get involved in Neighbourhood Watch;
- A discussion with young people on their issues about the area and how the assembly could help.

Some of the proposed projects which will be voted on at the event are:
- A music studio for local young people;
- A food festival showcasing Brockley's different cultures;
- Shrubs or planters in fly-tipping hotspots;
- Extra street bins.

The three local councillors - Darren Johnson, Romayne Phoenix and Dean Walton - will be there to hear everyone's contributions to the debate.

Southern plots to cut services

A few days ago, we were contacted about the Sydenham Society's discovery that rail operator Southern is planning service reductions along the Brockley line from next year.

We already know about the plan to replace the Charing X direct services with trains terminating at London Bridge from December. In addition, Sydenham Society has discovered that from May 2010 there will be an absolute reduction in services by one third along the line from Brockley to London Bridge at off-peak times and at peak time during the evening. Services will be reduced from six to four trains per hour.

Without a legitimate explanation, such losses would be unacceptable. The introduction of the East London Line doesn't require a reduction in main line services and it doesn't compensate for the loss of capacity on an already-crowded route in to London Bridge (recently identified as one of the capital's congestion hotspots). The East London Line will be a wonderful addition to Brockley's transport options - but the London Bridge route is essential.

We held off publishing the story because a meeting between residents, Council officials and representatives of Southern was planned this week, where it was hoped the facts could be established and an explanations offered. Perhaps this was just a temporary measure as a result of Thameslink works - annoying, but perhaps understandable?

Well the meeting has taken place, but Southern declined to attend, so all the attendees were able to do was confirm the reductions and speculate about the reasons for them. Here's Malcom's report, which we're very grateful for - the most likely explanation seems to be his final suggestion:

The meeting was a bit of waste of time. Despite having notice of the issue, the representative of Southern Rail did not turn up. The Council Officers basically confirmed the service reductions but said that thesewere included in the tender that Southern made and which was approved by the Department of Transport and it was not a transport operational issue that could be dealt with at the meeting I attended.

They have agreed however that it is a strategic issue it could bereferred to the Council's strategic transport committee and I have written to Councillor Heidi Alexander, who chairs that committee,accordingly.

It looks therefore that the whole thing is a deal done with central government without local residents even knowing.

The Officers tried to give us some ideas of what lead to the decision to reduce the services, but at best they were guesses as they were not partyto it and at worse don't really stack up except as excuses:

First, we were told that platform lengthening will take place on the line to allow for 10 carriage trains. This may be done some time in 2011 but Sydenham Society have been told that it is likely to be 2013 before the longer trains run. This cannot therefore be a justification forreducing the services in 2009/2010 and, indeed, less-frequent trains are hardly an improvement over more-frequent trains, particularly as they do not restore the missing capacity in full (40 carriages per hour compared to the current 48 carriages per hour).
Second, we were told that the changes might be necessary because of capacity problems at Charing Cross. However later in the meeting Southern, (who run the services through Lewisham) reported that they were increasing the number of trains they ran through. At best, we are losing services so that others gain.
Finally, we were told that some re-scheduling might be due to the works being carried out at London Bridge although this would only justify atemporary change whilst these are intended to be permanent and, in any event, we have been previously told by London Bridge station staff that the works at London Bridge were to be carried out with “minimal inconvenience” to passengers – which this wholesale reduction in services clearly is not.

An alternative - more cynical explanation - would be that this has been done because the Government wants to get as much cash from the franchise as they can and Southern would only take the obligation on. The only way that could be done was by cutting services. As local services are less profitable than long distance services, we were the ones to suffer.

It's time for the people affected along this line to take action. We need to make our voice heard.

The best course of lobbying now is two fold:

1/ directly to our MPs - there is a general election coming up which should focus their minds, after all, a few thousand votes could swing on the issue

2/ to press the Council, through our Councillors, to support our lobby of the MPs and Department of Transport. After all, they too have something to lose here.

We'll publish the relevant contact details shortly.

Telegraph Hill: The Cracks of Mount Doom

BC is sometimes criticised for being obsessed with trivia but there is nothing footling about the imminent fiery death of a large number of you reading this story.

Reader Ben brings the bad news:

"I'm perplexed to see a huge number of large cracks have opened up in the pavements and tennis court in the upper park of Telegraph Hill. Is the park going to fall off the hill and destroy half of South East London or are we all safe!?"

So is 2012 about to come early in Telegraph Hill or worse - is Telegraph Hill suffering from subsidence? If anyone has an explanation for Ben, please post it here.

Crossrail secures billion-Euro loan

Crossrail has been awarded a 1 billion Euro loan by the European Investment Bank, representing another important step for the project.

Although construction work in Canary Wharf started four months ago and there is another large hole at Tottenham Court Road, the project's future is still the source of speculation, with large capital investment projects considered relatively easy to cull in the event of an anticipated cut in government expenditure following the next election. Securing this funding will make it harder to put the brakes on Crossrail.

With the growth of Canary Wharf and other parts of East and South East London constrained by the relative lack of public transport infrastructure, Crossrail will benefit this side of London disproportionately and turn Whitechapel (connected to Brockley via the East London Line) in to a major transport hub.

Mayor Boris said:

"Our good friends at the EIB have provided us with a billion more reasons to proceed with the unstoppable force that is Crossrail.

"It is one of the largest loans ever secured for a transport project and I am especially pleased to have this backing for our drive to provide London with the facilities required to keep the capital one of the world's leading cities."

[Full disclosure: the company I work for, Edelman, works for a company with a commercial interest in Crossrail]

Our little baby’s all growns up

Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something.
- Jefferson Smith

Lewisham’s swimming pool champion and BC regular, Max Calo, has announced on his blog that he will stand as a prospective LibDem councillor at the next election.

Max cites an incident that took place in an Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel committee meeting in May 2007 as the initial catalyst for his political ambitions. It’s a darkly funny moment in which one Councillor attempts to prevent the Mayor’s decision being scrutinised by invoking something close to the principle of Papal Infallibility. He believes a lack of accountability is at the heart of many of Lewisham Council’s problems and has vowed to clean up Catford politics.

From what we know of him, Max is a person of great integrity, intelligence and passion and it’s encouraging that people like him are committed enough to try and make a positive contribution to Lewisham.