The View at Hilly Fields?

Throughout 2010, momentum grew behind the idea to create a cafe in Hilly Fields: A privately run and managed facility that would encourage people to spend more time in the park and provide a new focal point for a range of activities and events. In June, Mayor Bullock said that the idea had merit and that the Council was exploring the options, with a view to developing the site currently occupied by the toilet block.

At the time, we said that this should be a green light for a local entrepreneur. A few days later,Pistachios expressed an interest. Now, a second group has come forward. They explain their ideas below:

Following Lewisham Council's call for a cafe to be sited at the location of the toilet block at Hilly Fields, we believed that it was totally unworkable.

An alternative location became our primary focus.

Trawling through local archives we discovered that a site had actually existed at the mount of the hill near Montague Avenue. This superb location not only offered a terrific view for the Victorians who sited the original refreshment house there but was also one that we felt could become the foundation for a modern edifice at Hilly Fields.

What we envisaged, after much brain-storming, was more 'art in the park' than Victorian pastiche.

It also had to be in a prominent position, and with a superb view.

The View Hilly Fields will be a window towards the south in one direction and central London and the City in the other. Inside and out it will - or so we hope? - give park users a lot of pleasure and bring additional visitors to Brockley.

We are local entrepreneurs with a huge interest in Brockley and its surrounds. We fully understand that such an ambitious and alternative project is likely to be viewed as controversial - in fact we had hoped to be up and running for the Olympics! - but we know this will take much time and patience. We intend liaising with the Hilly Fields User Group and Brockley Society and Lewisham Council. We would also welcome additional comments from Brockley Central posters.

The View Hilly Fields is still a work in progress. In fact, we drew on this inspirational building in tandem with Johnston Mark Lee, the designers of a building known as The View Argentina. (So don’t worry… it will not look exactly like the one in the photo.) If we get through the first round of the tender process with Lewisham Council then we will share our plans in greater detail with the community. We are at an early stage but we see this as a great opportunity for us to do something truly interesting and innovative in Brockley.

John and Simon,

The View at Hilly Fields Project

165 comments:

excited said...

I LOVE it, we HAVE to have it here. It will enrich the area so much.

Annoyed said...

Cant see whats wrong with building it on the site proposed,why should some alleged entrepreneur build it where they see fit.

Monkeyboy said...

Yes to a cafe, yes to a contemporary design, the design in the photo is a bit provocative though. It may cause a lot of indignation where a more sober debate could be had.

Why is the toilet block area 'totally unworkable'? do they actually mean the view will not be as nice? A slightly less bold design in their chosen location may have been a better opening gambit.

Let the battle begin....

G Michael said...

It looks like a toilet.

Barbara said...

Please, if there has to be a cafe put it where there's already a building, ie the old loo block. That bit of hill is currently free to sit and enjoy the view from and I'd hate to see it built all over.

excited said...

We need something bold for Brockley, a feature, lets have something provocative.

excited said...

It will be a landmark for the area, at last something that we announcement on ELL service can refer to.

Stop at Brockley for THE VIEW at Hilly Fields.

Reg said...

Good luck.

M said...

I'd love there to be a cafe and I'd be happy with a contemporary design. Not there though.
Hilly Fields isn't really big enough for another structure so replacing the toilet block is the best option IMHO.

Rambled said...

I'm liking the ideas. Something contemporary with lots of glass for great views! Make it a feature.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm personally opposed to the idea of having a coffee shop in a park. It's a park, it should be free of buildings. We go there to escape from the buildings. When we want a coffee, we go to where the coffee shops are to get one. They are only five minutes walk away from Hilly Fields park in all directions!!

thisisengland said...

In the 70s there was a cafe in the existing building. The mid 70s version of todays yummy mummys sat there in their kaftans discussing womens' lib while their offspring ran around in OshKosh dungarees and minature Afghan coats tripping over their easily foldable buggies from the newly opened Mothercare.

The existing building is near to an access road. A new structure will need a new road across the park.

Monkeyboy said...

yes, but what if you want tea and a slice of cake in the park? tea houses in parks are VERY traditional and perfectly appropriate. It's not the lake district.

By the way this is what they cut 'n' pasted...

http://www.gradientmagazine.com/design/view-house-argentina/

Like I say, they're scaring the horses before people have got used to the idea. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey.....

Nick said...

Let me know if you need a planning consultant to support your tender submission

Sparrow said...

I'm keen on the idea but I really don't like that design. Having said that I'd like to know exactly why the old toilet block is unsuitable.

mb said...

@tie.... or lots of kids and adults running around having fun in a public park with ice creme smeared faces. The twack of leather against willow from the new cricket pitch, the twock of the tennis ball as you sup cup of tea. Parks are recreational areas, sounds perfectly fine.

Delivering supplies once a day may not need an access road? How much do cake and teabags weigh?

Anonymous said...

@M. That's presumaly why they said they were 'working in tandem with' and 'The View Argentina' and 'don’t worry… it will not look exactly like the one in the photo.'
Any more pics, inside perhaps?

Brockley Dogging Society said...

The thump of bat against ball... lovely :-)

mb said...

yes, I know. but cut 'n' pasting a design that may not work on the site is winding up people for no reason. I want contemporary, a twee victorian block would be a wasted oportunity.

Anonymous said...

@Mb. But the 'cut and paste' you speak of does not match any of the photos that you have linked to??

mb said...

Jesus... No, it's not the exact photo. It's the same building which presumably was designed for it's specific location. They've used a different photo of what is clearly the same building and plonked it on a photo of hilly fields. They should have either not have done that or got their proposed colaborator to sketch somethink or perhaps just link to his work.

Hope that's clear.

hardlianotion said...

I don't like the site either and don't think more buildings for Hilly Fields will improve it. Can't say I am that excited about another cafe, either. Assuming a cafe though, what makes the old toilet block site unworkable? Do other cafe proposals say it is unworkable too?

thisisengland said...

@mb, I wasn't being critical of the previous cafe or the customers, just nostalgic. I never understood why the cafe disappeared. I'm looking forward to the cricket, make a change from the interminable footie games. For a moment I thought you might be invoking John Major.

I'm afraid you're probably wrong about the access road to the new site.

Anonymous said...

If you want tea, cake, jam and cream, coffee, sandwiches and refreshments in a park, bring a picnic basket and wear a jacket to keep warm. Part of the beauty of visiting a park, is to do outdoor things. Although I haven't seen anyone play cricket at Hilly Fields park but its a lovely dream!

Or, you could stay at home and enjoy eating your cake indoors.

Coffee shops built in parks around London look out-of-place and not traditional unless they were actually built in the Victorian era and are built in VERY LARGE parks.

Personally, I am saddened and horrified by the idea of VERY KEEN Entrepeneurs being interested in Hilly Fields park. It'll be a McDonalds next !

mb said...

@tie, personally I think Afgan coats and patcholi oil are due a comeback.

Will be interesting to see how this pans out. Will the Hilly Fields users group agree with the Brockley Society? This must be what it's like on the Security Council - which way will China vote?

Brockley Nick said...

There are lots of small south east London parks that have been enhanced by the presence of a cafe. It's not just about the ability to buy a cup of tea, it's about providing a natural congregation point.

The park is not a wilderness. It has a whopping great school in the middle of it. It could take another, relatively small, building without ruining its character.

See the article about Pistachios linked to in this for examples of how well a cafe can work in places like Hither Green and East Greenwich - both of which are much smaller parks than this.

Tim said...

I love the idea of a striking, contemporary building in Hilly Fields Park. I just need a bit more convincing as to what is wrong with the toilet block site.

M said...

It will never happen. Replacing toilet block just might.

Anonymous said...

Any sort of erection on Hilly Fields is a good thing in my book.

Anonymous said...

"Coffee shops built in parks around London look out-of-place and not traditional unless they were actually built in the Victorian era and are built in VERY LARGE parks."

Fact or opinion? sounds like cobblers to me. It won't be a McDonalds so that's nonsense. "VERY KEEN Entrepeneurs" yes, as opposed to disinterested people who have no idea how to run a business, why is that an issue?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, no thanks.

If there has to be a cafe in the park why not bring back the portable cafe concession that was in the park last summer?

There was some small-scale disruption, but generally little fuss and no lasting environmental damage that I'm aware of.

I don't see what anyone would gain gain from having a permanent cafe on site.

Richard said...

If I was spending that much dosh on a (superb) new building I wouldn't want it hidden by the bloody toilet block!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great place for the young ladies of Prendergast College to meet their potential suitors after school every day. If they can afford the price of a cup of tea and cake, that is.

Brockley Nick said...

"I don't see what anyone would gain gain from having a permanent cafe on site."

Erm, we'd have a permanent cafe on site. Which a lot of people would consider a gain. See above.

@Richard "If I was spending that much dosh on a (superb) new building I wouldn't want it hidden by the bloody toilet block!"

If the cafe was built on the site currently targeted, it would involve knocking down the old block.

Reg said...

The View's lost another anonymous customer.

Richard said...

Sorry, Nick... I mean at the site of the toilet block. It's all about being seen. A busines buried is a buried business.

D said...

Considering there won't be any money available to replace it in the foreseeable future I think it's important that whatever goes there is futureproof.

I'd vote for rebuilding the original 'twee Victorian' refreshment house rather than put up something that looks modern today which will inevitably look like a laughable concrete monstrosity in 50 years time.

I'd also locate it on the current toilet site - the park is too small already without building on any more grass.

excited said...

Why can't we have something striking and unique to Brockley, we have so much Victoriana, which is lovely but we are in the 21st century and areas have to change so lets embrace it.
I don't know what the issues are about the toilet block , that can be explored by others, but in terms of design. If we#re going to build something it has to be bold, a building that gives you a thrill looking at it. Buildings blend into an area, as time goes on.

Jim said...

@Anonymous1327. Thought you might like this headline: "Brain implants have long-lasting effect on depression"

helena handcart said...

having a whopping great school nearby could be an issue. I'm aware that kids do lessons and stuff during the day, but come kicking out time wouldn't they want to congregate there? You want to hear the racket those little cherubs from Prendergasts make at 3.30pm walking along Adelaide. They might see a cafe as their territory.

Richard said...

@helena handcart said...

Which is probably why they don't want to site it near the toilet block - which is closer to the school. Rocket science.

Anonymous said...

Rather it buried there than ruin a part of the park.

Brockley Ben said...

Gets my vote. Reminds me a bit of another imaginative approach to cafe dining: http://londonfood.typepad.com/stuff/2008/02/made-for-walkin.html

Tamsin said...

At leasst if the school kids congregate there daily it will stand a chance of being viable.

Not sure about the proposed design. Slightly grubby and weatherworn victorian pastiche looks better than equally weatherworn iconic modern. (We all know what London rain does to white cars and white concrete.) And one of the earlier posters has a point about a modern building looking terribly dated in 20 or 30 (or, as said, 50) years time.

Tressilliana said...

Cafe on HF - not bothered either way, cafe in that location - no.

If they put it where the toilets are now, they have an access road (as already pointed out) and can use existing connections to mains water, sewage and electricity. If they put it where they propose, the services will have to added and they'll be dragging deliveries across the grass from some van blocking Montague Avenue.

That particular spot on Hilly Fields is lovely as it is, and I don't want it changed.

If the cafe is near the farmer's market site, the school, the tennis and basketball courts, the playground and the playing field, they will get a lot more custom. Also nearer the stone circle which lots of families use for birthday picnics and more central in the park, both of which will also increase custom. I think they'd be daft to site a cafe to one side of HF. They will need a high footfall, as I believe the jargon is, to break even.

Mb said...

...which is why the photo is unhelpful, don't think they propose anything like that specifically. More details required but no to twee.

Anonymous said...

Does the park need a Cafe a'la Peckham Rye/Dulwich?(even Ladywell has a small refreshment shack)Yes it really does.

Does the park need to spend on re-tarmacing the paths first? Yes.

Most of the paths are becomign so cracked they could be a hazard, and even the basketball court needs a resurface job. I think a cafe is a great move but as usual the priorites are all out of whack.

Also - with Telegraph Hill getting a new skatepark area, how about a commision/funding for a small area for something like that? The park is more than big enough.

I think 'people visiting the park' and 'people spending money in the cafe' are not the same thing.

Headhunter said...

I think I agree with Tressilliana, yes to a cafe but I don't see why it can't be up where the exisiting toilet block is with road access etc. I don't think I would appreciate a great big building slapped in the middle of the view point on the crest of the hill there... I think the cafe should compliment the exisiting park, not dominate it.

Excuse me? said...

What does this mean?

"Also - with Telegraph Hill getting a new skatepark area, how about a commision/funding for a small area for something like that? The park is more than big enough."

Brockley Nick said...

To clear up matters, the Council would not be funding the cafe.

Anonymous said...

yes to cafe - but no to location. yes proposed location would have nice views, but would spoil the view from other parts of the park.

cannot see why toilet block cannot be revamped to house both toilet facilities and a cafe.

Anonymous said...

From the photograph it looks like a large round white army bunker which, I imagine, would have to be over two stories high to give visitors to Hillyfields Park an elevated view of London.

Why would it have to be "up and running before the Olympics"? Can you view the olympic games from it?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tressilliana,there will be trenches everywhere to provide the services,and who's going to pay for them.Its just a pie in the sky idea.

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't the students of Prendergast College gather at the potential landmark cafe? They are an more important part of the up-and-coming Brockley community than potential visitors to the area.

david said...

Interesting that lost of comments on here don't want a permanant cafe/building on Hilly Fields or don't want it in that location. But when the MUCH smaller Telegraph Hill parks were proposed as the site of a new skate park there was lots amazement that the NIMBY's were objecting. Seems that it very much depends whether it's in your BY or not as to whether an objection in sensible or NIMBYism.

Brockley Nick said...

Exactly. Why should the fact that young people might use it a lot be regarded as a problem. Paedophobic nonsense. Besides, I doubt it's a realistic concern.

Danja said...

Make it taller - a C21 Eiffel Tower - say 30 stories or so, and then stick the Pie in the Sky right at the top.

Watch the Victophiles (Modernopobes?) dispair at the failure to replicate the Crystal Palace transmitters.

Brockley Nick said...

@David - the vast majority seem to be in favour of a cafe, although some don't see the need. A sensible discussion of the specifics of what and where is perfectly reasonable and indeed what the authors of this piece have asked for.

Quite different from the frothing hysteria that the skatepark debate descended in to.

And in any case, I don't think anyone ever suggested that such misanthropes were uniquely to be found in TH. Fortunately, they're not much in evidence here today. They're probably busy pinning abusive posters to trees around TH.

Lou Baker said...

Brilliant idea.

Cafes in parks are wonderful things. Design looks great, location and views are great, put on a good menu and you have a winner.

Good luck chaps - and don't worry about the naysayers. Brockley is something of a magnet to conservation freaks who believe 'social-enterprise' is the answer to everything.

Show them what some good decent entrepreneurialism can do.

excited said...

I think there should be a poll to get an idea of the response to cafe, design and location.

Anonymous said...

And they'll be able to attract plenty of visitors from north london thanks to the wonderful ELL.

Brockley Nick said...

@Excited - that's a bit complex for this polling tool.

quick brown fox said...

Horrible design, straight out of the 1960s, anything like that would be a blot on the landscape. I'd prefer a design that blended in a bit more. I visited a cafe in a forest somewhere in the UK last year (sorry, can't remember where now) that was very sensitively designed - a mixture of logs and glass (I assume the logs were laid over something more fire-resistant). Something like that might work.

I would give a qualified welcome to a cafe. Given that it would involve entrusting a precious piece of one of Brockley's greatest assets to private enterprise, how could we be sure it wouldn't end up scruffy and dirty and out of keeping with the rest of the park, which is kept in very good condition? Clearly that would not be the investors' intention but things can change over time - what powers would be available to ensure it was maintained to a high standard? Lewisham council doesn't appear to have a good record enforcing regulations.

(Joining in the chorus:)Why isn't the toilet block acceptable as a location?

Matt-Z said...

@Nick - It's a bit harsh to call yourself a tool.

Brockley Nick said...

LOL. Some would say it was spot on.

Tamsin said...

Oi, Nick. A little bit unfair. The first lot of abusive posters on the trees were from a splinter group of pro-skateboarders (although I don't think mention of the matter ever got onto this blog) and the anti skatepark posters were similarly a small and extreme faction. It did seem to be the case, though, that even attempts at rational discussion and statements that one rather wanted to keep the status quo and tranquillity of the Upper Park so might an alternative option at least be considered were cried down as blatant and unforgivable NIMBYism.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how this stacks up economically. The cafe would probably only attract enough custom for at most six months of the year.

Still good luck to the people trying to do this, I hope they can make it work.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Hilly Fields Park part of the Brockley Conservation Area?

What's going on here?

immaginauta said...

I'm not against modern building, I'm against this particular design. It is heavy, grey, and has a kind of Tatcher-flavour to it... position-wise, I also think the toilets would be good. We need a cafè in the park, but we also need, ehrr, a park. It's better to work on what is already there than building new things for the sake of...

Tamsin said...

The conservation area criteria are that new buildings need to "preserve or enhance" - and, in a relatively recent appeal decision in Telegraph Hill, this has been expanded to indicate that infill and add ons should match the adjacent buildings.

This proposal is an isolated location and if you have something modern of sufficient quality it "enhances" the area. (As shown by enthusiastic endorsements on this thread.)

So you can't get away with modern tat or shoddy pastiche but whether modern "iconic" is acceptable or you will be required to produce quality repro. to a certain extent depends on the luck of the draw and which planning officer you get.

Anonymous said...

Why not build it where the Cricket Square was going to be,cant see much happening there.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - the grass is bloody growing!

Headhunter said...

I shouldn't think that picture is the actual final design of the cafe, they haven't even confirmed the site yet, let alone got full planning permission. The building design itself will surely come much later on. I should think that picture is just a bit of a mock up...

Mb said...

See my link. It's a cut n paste job, who knows what they actually propose.

Anonymous said...

Well there shouldnt be grass on a bloody cricket pitch !

Anonymous said...

These people have obviously not done their research on this location. Sure, in the winter months is the football area and the play park that are used the most. But in summer, its that exact location that is the right slope and walking distance from the trees, for general lazing (and revising!)and a quick escape from the sun for pale skin.

I like my spot, and I don't want them to take it away.

Anonymous said...

Ladywell Park is a short 10 minute walk away from Hillyfields and already has a cafe for those who would like to drink coffee in a cafe in a park.

I propose leaving Hillyfields Park to its already established visage of green trees and natural beauty for our generation AND the next to enjoy which is completely in keeping with the conservation area policy.

Anonymous said...

Put where the toilet was and make ti less dominant. Frustrated architects should avoid make their "statement" in small local parks such as hilly fields.

Q said...

Another Anonymous diner hugs the same cup of tea. Build it and they will come.

Anonymous said...

"I like my spot, and I don't want them to take it away."

It's not your spot, it's ours....you see?

Anonymous said...

Not in that location, please. Where the toilet block is.

Anonymous said...

Any new building should be built on/around toilet block- services and access roads will cause least disruption to the park this way- Its a park first!

Marc said...

I really welcome the development, and wish the entrepreneurs good luck. I would definitely use the service and I hope others will too. With families taking their kids to the playground and the nearby tennis courts I can see this being a great complement. The view from the building should be amazing too, even better if it had a roof terrace :)

Norman said...

The existing toilet block is a recreation and meeting spot for many, can we please stop taking about building over it?

Anonymous said...

Great aerial photo of Hilly Fields - !

Anonymous said...

It would take too much digging and disruption (not to mention money ) to put it in the proposed location.

Anonymous said...

If these people had a huge interest in Brockley,they wouldn't build it there.

Graham said...

Ignore the 27 anonymous posters, and stick with the concerns of those named posters who you can at least associate with past comment, some of whom can be hugely helpful.
I must say that i don;t understand the interest in knocking down a toilet block, and choosing that site over the one proposed. The the only intent on the council's part is to get a free toilet block - presumably against what you build - and on the same footprint.
What i can't understand though is that there was already a designanted site founded at th appark's inception, and which you have found, i would stick to my guns with the council because this is a very strong argument aginst their proposal. (I actually don;t think they want a cafe there anyway.)
Another point of interest for you, I know the spot you have chosen and i have NEVER - in all my years living here - seen ANYONE sitting or picnicking at that spot! So well done you, if you can pull it off.
Remember ignore anonymous and negative posters. (May be the same [person.)

Barbara said...

Graham, I can assure you people sit there! Good grief.

Sparrow said...

Am I right in thinking there was at one time a band stand on the site they are proposing? However, a band stand is a very different proposition to that glorified toilet roll. (Even bearing in mind that the pic is just a cut and paste job and not an actual design at the moment).
@ Graham. The interest in knocking down the toilet block is because it is horrible. But also it's a good location for a cafe. Potentially it could include some loos anyway. Thus having loos and tea near the kiddies play park and also not sticking out like a sore thumb.
Just because you've never seen people sitting in the other area why should you assume it isn't used, are you there all day every day?
I am very keen on the idea of a cafe and a contemporary design is great but I really don't like the proposal these people have put forward so far.

MrRealistic said...

Graham,do you realise how hard it would be to get gas,water etc to that spot,its not just a case of running an extension lead and a hose pipe.

Graham said...

Barbera, when you say 'sit there' where do you mean? Isn't the plan behind the bench? If so, then i've never seen anyone sit there when i've been there, which is often over the years.
Sparrow, the bandstand is in a completely different part of the park!
Mrrealistc, there was a building there in the 70s, then it already has the gas and water and electrics at that site,no?

No Twee please said...

Well the cost is not our issue and the design shown is a comtemporary residential home in Argentina. Not really enough info for an informed discussion. The existing toilet block site would seem much more realistic, I'd be interested to see why they think it's "unworkable"

MrRealistic said...

Wouldn't 30 years be a bit out of date,health and safety and all that.It aint gonna happen anyway.

Headhunter said...

It's not even so much that the spot is used for sitting, IMO it's more that a 2 storey cafe building there would dominate that part of the park which current has pleasant vistas (as the proposed cafe owners describe) across south east London, Canary Wharf and the City. I don't really see why a cafe should dominate those views. I like the idea of a less intrusive cafe up where the toilet block is, easily accessible by road and as others have pointed out, already plumbed into the mains and water. It's also close to the tennis courts and the kids playground where people congregate. It makes perfect sense. It would be interesting to know why the developers have completely dismissed the toilet block site...

thisisengland said...

There might have been a structure in that spot in Victorian times, I don't know. There wasn't one in the 70s.

From a planning point of view, because there was a structure 100 years ago isn't a good enough reason to permit a new build at the spot. You have to prove continuous use.

Ed said...

I love the idea of a contemporary building with lots of glass (much as in the mock up) enhancing the area. When the Victorians built their buildings they were modern. There is nothing wrong with modern provided it is done properly.

On another note I am starting to feel pretty sorry for Nick having to address some of the comments on this site. Do him a favour - read and think...

Headhunter said...

I thought that the structure on that spot 100-ish years ago was the bandstand (judguing by photos I've seen of Hilly Fields from that time) which would certainly not have been as instrusive as a large concrete building...

max said...

As much as it is a nice design and concept I agree on those that think that buildings in a park should be unobtrusive and open spaces should be protected.
That and the consideration on costs given the fact that the toilet block is already served by water supply.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with my anonymous friend where they state:

"Frustrated architects should avoid make their "statement" in small local parks such as hilly fields."

Ed said...

Think more Serpentine Gallery and maybe future generations will say something nice about the buildings we leave behind...

Anonymous said...

To Graham

You can be assured that there isn't only "one" anonymous poster on this issue. Personally, it is the first issue that has really dumbfounded me with its absolute disrespect for Hillyfields park area, and therefore, the first time I have taken time to register my disapproval.

You can be certain that a LOT of people will become unanonymous in protest over such a building if indeed, it is a serious proposal!

Mb said...

Exactly, so replacing a grubby square toilet block with a decent modern (?) building at a location with services (water, elec, drainage etc) is surley a more realistic proposal?

Anonymous said...

'...absolute disrespect for Hillyfields park area...' - please expand/explasin!

Reg said...

Headhunter, I'm puzzled by your lack of knowledge of where this building is hoping to be placed. The bandstand was situated up from the pathway that has the tennis court and the playground either side of it.

Pearly said...

I'm very happy that there may be a cafe in the park. I'm keen on the idea of it being modern and interesting.
However, I am not keen on this proposed location. However good the views from the building may be, the view from the park is more important, and I'm afraid a building placed there would obstruct some really lovely ones.
The houses along the crescent are a great view!

I use the park all the time with my family. In my opinion, a bigger, cleaner toilet block is needed and a cafe would be a great addition, but only if it was built in the existing toilet block area.

Blue Sky said...

I agree with what seems to be the majority of people here. I am convinced that a cafe in Hillyfields would be brilliant (if it's good) and would love it to happen, finally. It would definitely be successful, and not just for 6 months of the year - but only if it is sited where the loo block is. That building is ugly and in disrepair and needs replacing/updating; kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Planning permission would be easier and there are already water and electricity supplies to it. The flat area of grass, and the path leading up from the bowling green to the current loo block, and the stone circle, are where EVERY organised activity happens; football, cricket (when it starts), fayres, brockley max, fun fair, playground, parties, farmers' market etc etc etc. It would be crazy to site a cafe away from all that activity. I could feasibly leave my children for a moment in the playground while I grab a coffee if it's at the loo block; not if I have to walk over the other side of the park.
And it wouldn't just be used by people who were in the park anyway for some other reason - if it did decent coffee and nice sarnies and stuff, it would be a destination cafe for lots of people. The approach on here is very Brockley-centric, obviously, as it's Brockley Central - someone commented that there are several cafes within 5 mins of Hillyfields - well, maybe if you're on the Brockley side but not if you're on the Tyrwhitt Road/Lewisham side. A cafe sited on the loo block would be the nearest cafe for loads of people on the Lewisham side. I would go there often to pick up a coffee, to meet friends for lunch etc as I work from home.

Anonymous said...

I think future generations would say " what idiots built that there ".

Blue Sky said...

PS the view from the loo block site would also be great.

bumbags said...

I don't personally like the design in the mock-up, but it could be worse. However, placing it near to the road would make it far too dominant a feature. It's too near the Victorian houses to sit comfortably. The site at the toilet block would have fantastic views, and result in the hideous toilet block going.
I can see why the developers would rather the alternative location, but what they are trying to get is a location on the edge of the park- ie where passing traffic can see it and pull over. I think they underestimate the central location of the toilet block site- easily accessed by all park-users AND to all the houses on the opposite Vicar's Hill side. I understand their concern about no passing car trade, but I think a cafe where the toilet block is would do really well (the buggy brigade would take over!).
Placing it near Montague Avenue would greatly affect the value/view for the houses there (most of the value of those houses is because of the view, and NO, I don't live in one and am not being a NIMBY!).
Basically, YES to cafe, FINE to a modern design, but BIG NO to to putting it near Montague Ave. YES to the toilet block!

Ed said...

Are you saying that the builders were idiots, not the designers? You'll think me pedantic but your imprecision is worrying. I'm afraid that architecture is one of those areas where the general public really just don't know what they are talking about (other than 'I think that looks good/bad'); ask an architect...

There are many wonderful modern buildings that would never have been built if many of you had had any input.

That said I think the general standard of low cost architecture in this country is appalling as compared to some of our EU neighbours.

pip said...

Thus far all the amenities in Hilly Fields have been placed, very sensibly, in the same part of the park, leaving a large swathe of unspoilt land. It would be UNFORGIVABLE to place a cafe slap bang in the middle of all that greenery. The cafe would be visible from all the nicest bits of the park - a horrendous prospect, however nice the design.



Hilly Fields is NOT that big, as has been pointed out, and it would be unforgivable to spoil an area in the centre of it, however great the design.

pip said...

Did I mention that it would be unforgivable to put a cafe in the proposed site?

Phew. Off for a bit of a lie down.

Anonymous said...

"unforgiveable"... "horrendous"...

over the top exaggerations from a nimby too used to writing snotty letters to the council?

The Thinker said...

I love modern architecture, but I don't think this... fudge... works well in this location, with it's architectural neighbours.

As one of the many local designers, I feel I could create a better solution to suit Brockley.

This however would require time & money, to be a credible proposal, rather than a photoshop fudge.

Also is this proposal going to be a private operation, on what is seen as public land?

or a community based project?

As I also have some ideas for that too. :)

Ed said...

The article makes it clear that the 'photoshop fudge' is just that for the time being...

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am of the opinion that the apparent statement from the Lewisham Council has been written up here out of context and a group of "enterprising private entrepreneurs" are attempting to pitch an idea that the council have no knowledge of whatsoever ! Even as part of the toilet block building.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, I guess that's more investors gone.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon 1613 - you're wrong on that. Bullock's statement is quite clear and I know that the Council have been exploring the idea of a cafe in the park for some time. I also know that Pistachios have been in discussion with the Council on this subject.

Of course, no decision has been taken, but they are certainly actively interested in the idea. They were impressed by the results in Hither Green, for example.

I've no doubt a cafe will happen. It's just a question of when, where and in what form.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - the quote from Bullock wasn't taken out of context, it was cut and pasted in its entirety from an email he sent me in response to a question about this specific issue.

Anonymous said...

An excerpt from an email to you? Thank you for clarifying that. A great deal of members of the Brockley community will be able to breath easy.

If anyone would like to clarify the legitimacy of this proposal and the position of the council on this matter, feel free to phone the Lewisham Council planning department to verify.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon - I am not for one moment suggesting that this particular proposal is supported by the Council.

The proposal on this thread is for a different site than the one that the council is looking at. I make no claims about whether the Council is or will consider this proposal.

Are you suggesting that a direct quote from the Mayor of Lewisham is not sufficient proof that the Council is investigating the matter seriously?

BrockersBlue said...

A cafe on Hilly Fields is not massively essential. It's already a fantastic space, well-used by all members of the community. A cafe would add a central meeting point, granted, but people already meet on Hilly Fields, all year round (cue BDS). It's a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.

If a cafe is to appear, it absolutely shouldn't intrude on the already wonderful parts of Hilly Fields. The views can already be appreciated. The toilet block is a good spot for a cafe – right on the intersection of the paths, a natural centre.

pip said...

""unforgiveable"... "horrendous"...

over the top exaggerations from a nimby too used to writing snotty letters to the council?"

Way to go with the patronising comments, but I've never written a snotty letter to the council in my life. I just think our green spaces need protection. Apparently you don't. As for nimbyism, this doesn't affect me any more directly than any other Hilly Fields user - and judging from other comments on this thread many of them think putting a cafe in that location is a terrible idea.

Brockley Nick said...

@BB - yes, but nearly everything in life is a nice to have, rather than a must have. It won't cost public money, so why not.

Location and design are the questions.

Mb said...

Hands up who found the mobile cafe a blight last year? I found it a rather pleasant spot to sit with the Sunday papers.

BrockersBlue said...

@BrockleyNick I defined it as a 'nice to have' because Hilly Fields is already a superb spot – as opposed to, say, Brockley Station which has been greatly enhanced by a couple of decent cafes.

Put it somewhere unobtrusive (where the toilets are), design it well – job done.

@Mb Quite enjoyed sitting at the mobile cafe reading the papers last year, until an out-of-control Labrador jumped for my bacon sarnie and sent coffees, paper, wife, table flying. Fairly traumatic at the time.

Monkeyboy said...

Better a rampant dog than a rampant dogger.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

...the two aren't mutually exclusive you know

Can anyone tell me when DogSoc are going to be given official notice of these plans? To date out office hasn't recieved anything so we don't believe this application is valid.

Robert said...

One thing that has been missing in this debate so far, as the fact that this proposal is not simply intended as a park cafe.

It appears that what John and Simon are proposing here is a destination restaurant. The first floor dining will be top notch dining. I think this is why they are hankering for a prime spot on the park with a view.

Design issues and position in the park aside, I would like to ask them what provision they intend to make on the ground floor for sensibly priced fare for your average park user? - including pensioners, school children, parents with young families etc.

Blue Sky said...

Top-notch dining sounds great - as the Orchard has proved with bells on, if they pitch it correctly it will be very successful. Still don't know why the loo block won't do as a site though.

Mb said...

Gah!! That is not the intended design. It's just a " contemporary" building pasted onto a photo. I knew people would get bogged down on a critique of that particular building. Forget the photo.

bumbags said...

If the first floor would be 'top-notch dining' this is sounding quite different to what I'd like to see, which would be a proper park cafe with reasonably-priced fare...

Mb said...

"top floor" would be having lunch in someones bedroom. It's a photo of someones house in Argentina. There are three questions:

Do we want a cafe in the park? (mb... Yes)

If so, where? ( mb... Not heard a good reason why it should not replace the horrid toilet block if it incorporates a public loo)

If we can agree. To one and two above, what do we want built? (mb... Something interesting which to me means not a chocolate box thatched cottage, I really doubt it'll be two stories and fine dining? Where on earth did that come from?)

Danja said...

Maybe Robert has been consulted (or has otherwise discovered) more than Nick, MB. Although maybe it's advance propaganda given recent experiences of Roberts.

It's a shame said...

Hilly Fields was saved for us from those who wanted to build on it by public subscription. In London there is not enough unspoilt green areas, and one of the joys of Hilly fields is to be able to walk from field to field and enjoy the open space. The views across the fields, framed by the houses are really special; I don't think we need to loose any of this precious space with permanent structures.

I expect that building on the footprint of the current toilet block isn't attractive to the developers because it doesn't have the best views there. Which is exactly what they will be destroying by placing their building in such a prime spot.

Gemma said...

Robert - are you seriously saying that the park, part of the conservation area, should be given over to developers looking to make money with a restaurant and cafe? Yes they want the views - housing developers would want the views too. But more importantly lots of us enjoy the views in a natural surrounding without a large building in the way.

Broc Soc are meant to be protecting the integrity of the area,conserving it, not deciding on valid businesses or exciting designs.

I think if this business were to go ahead in this poisition, we should then let other businesses come to exploit the views and the parks. Why not give up some green space for a day-care facility? Or how about a gym? Maybe the odd field could be used for a new school Lewisham doesn't have space for? - and yes lets give up a field for a large cafe, nay destination restaurant, so people get rich and their customers can pay for a view that we all once had for free.

No to location yes to the rest said...

A good cafe with reasonably priced food and drink of decent quality will do very well in Hilly fields. It is already a massive pull for about 9 months a year with the tennis courts, massively improved playpark, the views, etc. It would get even more use if you could arrange to meet people at the cafe. Just want to add to the chorus of people saying yes please, but not there. It will never ever happen. The toilet block would be fine for views and very central.
Fancy dining upstairs would be fine too but more risky I'd say as a business venture in these austere times.

Monkeyboy said...

It's an urban park, with tennis courts, a cricket pitch and childrens play ground. It's a recreation area. A cafe where the toilet block is currently is not turning the garden of Eden into an open cast uranium mine. Do it.

Robert said...

Gemma. Apologies if my post gave you that impression - that wasn't the intention, I was just trying to be informative/rhetorical, but posted in a hurry.

I am pretty much in agreement with everything you say.

DJ said...

I've heard Gordon Ramsey has his eye on the first and second floors for a fine dining restaurant with direct cable car access from Canary Wharf.
On the ground floor will be a branch of Jamie's Italian Cafe with attached skatepark and creche.
In the winter, when footfall is lower, the whole 4 storey building will be painted yellow and turned over to a storage company.

Blue Sky said...

DJ, like it. Sums up the hysteria that takes over debates like this!
I'll say it again: there's a fantastic view from the loo block. You can see Blackheath and Canary Wharf. In fact, I'm not really sure why the other site would have so much better a view. It's not THAT far away from the loos so I would have thought the views would be very similar.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, if BC did a "Comment of the Week", DJ would be the winner this time. But we can't be arsed, so he/she isn't.

Anonymous said...

Robert, how did you come by this information? No one else seems to have it.

LEN said...

BLUESKY... IT IS "THAT" FAR FROM THE LOOS. VISIT THE SITE AND SEE. IT IS BEHIND THE BLOODY BENCH! OH LORD, HAD ENOUGH OF THIS.

Brockley Resident said...

I'm feeling hysterical. I'm practically frothing over with mung. Someone please make me stop, with a hammer.

Headhunter said...

DJ - good comment but you forgot to include a deli in your plans, largely selling organic mung beans to yummy mummies. Oh and perhaps a branch of Speedicars with big plastic sign....

Anonymous said...

A tube stop up there would be great... with a secret rabbit-hole entrance. Brockley North, Brockley Common, Brockley South...

excited said...

Visionaries always get lampooned, sometimes rightly so, I don't feel its unreasonable to want an beautifully designed, stunning looking cafe in a zone 2 park.

Ed said...

Agreed excited.

Headhunter said...

Excited - I don't think anyone is denying that a cafe on Hilly Fields would be a bad thing, the debate seems to revolve around location and what constitutes "stunning looking"...

Frank L. Wright said...

I'm spinning in my grave.

Ed said...

I'd like to see some brave new architecture rather than an idle facsimile of what we already have; not for the sake of it but to meet specific needs and desires in modern and creative ways. Progress people.

The Thinker said...

I agree with you so much Ed to a point, but reality needs to bite hard at this point...

I quite like the idea of a local cafe, which is considered brave in it's architecture.

But there is a lot of difference between a cafe... and a new 2 floor destination restaurant for "SE London"+.

I'm sure predicted footfall, transport, parking, refuse and utility services, have all been totally considered for this proposal in this location.

;)

Anonymous said...

Loads of parking surrounding Hilly Fields

Tressilliana said...

Not really, when you take into account the large number of residents' cars parked there already, the 484 bus running along Hilly Fields Crescent and Vicar's Hill, the 122 running along Adelaide Avenue and lots of cars parked all round the park all through the day and evening by dogwalkers, people bringing their children to football practice, clients of the Sunflower Centre, parents dropping off/picking up Prendergast pupils, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

victoria said...

I have nothing against modern architecture, but not right in the middle of Brockley's largest green space. Hilly Fields isn't the most beautiful park in the world, but that particular area is relatively tranquil and it would be a real shame to plonk a cafe on it (and no, I'm not a member of the BDS...)

At the risk of sounding a bit octogenarian, I'd also be a bit concerned about music being played in the cafe which might be audible in the surrounding areas, since music seems to be de rigeur at a lot of cafes and restaurants these days. That would be another reason to put it near the other existing facilities and leave the quiet bits of the park untouched.

Brenda said...

Victoria, how is alongside Montague 'a quiet bit of the park'? Any number of cars pass along it. And neighbours play music too. Unless you're just trying to push it on Eastern Road?

Anonymous said...

Claiming the toilet block area is a "totally unworkable" site for a cafe makes no sense and also does not provide a credible reason for building on existing green space in an area of the park that is free from development and should remain so. "there used to be a building there" is equally as unconvincing. Hilly Fields was for a long time used for the storage of bricks, perhaps the same argument could be used for bringing this use back. Get real.

Brockley Dogging Society (Recruitment) said...

Vicoria,

We're always happy to have new members with which to penetrate our intimate circle. Fancy popping up one night?

BDS x

David Lawrenson said...

I thnk this is a good idea and should be encouraged and I like the design

Stan said...

Hooray... please make sure that you have a roaring log fire for winter, and free newspapers, then you've got my vote.

Tea and ice-cream said...

It's not "the design" it's a picture of house. Would be great of the designers would actually respond and give a clearer idea of what they want to build and explain exactly why the toilet block site is unworkable. All they have done is tossed in an idea and walked away, they should have had a more coherent idea before triggering a debate.

PS I like the contemporary idea but the photo shopped image Is not helpful.

Joe said...

My two-penny-worth...

Love the idea of a cafe in the park.

Impressed by the way the developers are bothering to engage on BC (though talking of 'the community' as one single thing able to decide what it wants is patently daft. As can be seen on here 'the community' wants lots of things at the same time, and so is frequently of several minds at once. In the end decisions have to be made, but they have to be made fairly...)

Location: can we have some maps? It is a bit hard to tell from the red dot on the photo where exactly is proposed. Not against something in the middle of the park, but I feel the very high-point should be accessible to all and not open only through a private business.

Design: Don't want mock victoriana; don't want 60s concrete pastiche either, which is what the photoshop effort looked like. Would like something innovative that really uses the site (and yes, maybe is worth a special announcement on the ELL!) Something with lots of glass to maximise the views...

urbansurgery said...

I'd prefer a proper investment in the firmament and then be completely open minded about the superstructure. Why not have a good quality design that is known in advance to have a limited lifespan. perfectly possible.

The Cardiff bay visitor centre was a simple example of just this. it was a temporary structure that in the end was Wales' most visited building 3 years in a row (no anti welsh jokes please)

Anything more permanent could be provided by more permanent (sub)structures. If people are looking to make an 'event' out of it, the rolling recycling of the building could be open to being an invited competition. For some time the Pump House in Battersea Park runs an annual award for graduates of the nearby RCA Chelsea Sculpture School for a large scale installation. P'raps something similar to that (Greenwich is probably closest architecture school, but a local tie in with Goldsmiths wouldnt go amiss...)

It's "events" that make a public park. The Victorians knew this, its in the fundamentals of English public park planning.

http://www.walescymru.com/listings/3913-Cardiff-Bay-Visitor-Centre

http://www.batterseapark.org/html/sculpprize.html

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