Cold reality of Brockley Cross laid out for Lewisham Council

Stuart from the Brockley Cross Action Group has kindly provided this report from this week's tour of Brockley Cross with the Deputy Mayor and a number of Council Officers, an event designed to help the Council decide how the very limited amount of money to improve the area could best be spent:

For nearly three hours Brockley Cross had the undivided attention of key players in Lewisham Council in the form of a walkabout and de-brief in Toads Mouth Too.

The whole patch was carefully walked - from station to our 'High Street' (Brockley Road), down to Brockley Cross where we all took life in hands to navigate the 5 roads in an clockwise direction to return to the stretch of shops between Cranfield and Harefield where we spent some time examining a large puddle, and the old and unnecessary railings and the unhelpful parking restrictions which serve neither passing traffic or commuter traffic between 10.00am and 6.30pm. It was a sobering and cold tour!

Personally, I had a horrible sense of déjà vu, but it was a useful and necessary thing to do. As a community we have to keep reminding Lewisham Council that we have a very poor public realm, significant road safety issues and lots of ideas as to what might be done. Unfortunately, the money Lewisham has applied for from TfL has been spread quite thinly and with regards to Brockley Cross itself, it isn't going to go very far - we won't be getting rid of the hated 1950s double roundabout arrangement which was an experiment that was never removed.

Some interesting facts emerged - Brockley/Brockley Cross, with its 75 shops is only classed as a 'local centre' and competes for resources with Lewisham's more important 'district' centres (e.g. New Cross, Sydenham, Lee Green). Across the borough the backlog of public realm/highways/pavement works needed is about £150m - compared with its annual budget of just under £3m. In other words unless Lewisham can tap extra funds little more than pothole filling and urgent resurfacing is done in any one year. No wonder we have terrible pavements.

Heidi Alexander (cabinet member for regeneration) and Darien Goodwin (Head of Highways) agreed that some things could and should be done as a matter of priority. For example the above mentioned railings, parking time review, upgrading pavement between Cranfield and Harefield, more drop kerbs and raised tables in the road and crucially slowing traffic more effectively before it reaches the Toads Mouth Too junction, where two tragic road deaths has made clear to the council that something further needs to be done here.

The Action Group pushed hard for any improvements or changes to be set within the context of an urban design strategy - and not just done because a bit more money has been found. We also questioned whether more consultation shouldn't be done with local people on priorities for a large 5 year PFI programme for new street lights. We took them to the old concrete lamp post stuck in the middle of the pavement in Brockley Cross which Ian (BXAG committee member) asked to be moved. Ian is blind and has a close working knowledge of this lamp post and the difficulty of navigating Brockley.

On behalf of Charlie Hedges (BXAG Trustee), Rupert King (BXAG Acting Chair), Michelle (TMToo) and myself, I would like to thank the above named plus Darren Johnson (GLA), Julie Sutch (Town Centre manager), and Ian Plowright, (Transport Policy Officer) for coming down and we look forward very much to seeing small and not so small improvements appearing over 2010/11.