Bus Countdown clocks for Lewisham

The locations for the first Bus Countdown signs, which tell you how long you have to wait until the next bus will arrive and if there are any problems on the route, have been revealed.

Key locations in the area include Crofton Park Station, Lewisham College, New Cross Station and Lewisham town centre.

For the full map, click here.

Thanks to Ramble for the tip-off.

Rugs, rats!

Leonard Nimoy: A solar eclipse. The cosmic ballet goes on.
Man: Does anyone want to switch seats?
- The Simpsons, Marge vs The Monorail

BC regular Max reports on the outcome of the campaign to save Hither Green cinema from being turned in to flats. The build was bagged by carpeters and will be the new home for the displaced Ladywell carpet shop that is being turned in to... flats! He writes:

The owner of the Carpet Corner of Ladywell Road (opposite the Playtower) bought it as its new premises. His current site is about to be redeveloped into residential and so he needed a new one, and here it is. He bought it for £475k, which is a bargain.

BC's not sure we'd be so chipper about the outcome, which seems almost as far from the campaigners' original hopes as flats would have been, but if he's happy, we're happy.

David Rocastle, a Brockley hero

Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of Arsenal, England and Brockley legend David Rocastle, a great footballer and one of life's good guys.

He died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma before his 34th birthday, having earned 228 Arsenal and 14 England caps, as well as playing for Leeds, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Transpontine notes that he went to Turnham Primary School in Brockley and Roger Manwood Secondary School in Brockley Rise.

For a great tribute to Rocky, visit Gooner.

The Albany escapes major arts funding cuts

The Albany theatre in Deptford has been awarded funding from the Arts Council England which should help to secure its future for the next four years.

In total, more than 200 arts institutions across the country have lost central funding from Arts Council England for the period between 2012-2015. The Albany is one of the 695 organisations that successfully secured a grant, with an inflation-adjusted cut of only 2.9% over the period.

In BC's experience, The Albany is an outstanding venue that makes an important contribution to Deptford's cultural landscape and well-deserves its cash.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for the story.

Shop front renovation on Brockley Road

The renovation of the Holistic Centre on the corner of Cranfield and Brockley Roads has begun. Even boarded up, it already looks better than it did a week ago, when it was a mess of twisted metal and broken glass, that somehow managed to house a temporary junk shop.

The work is being done as part of a larger redevelopment of the building, which will create new residential units, with an entrance from the mews behind.

The builders have also uncovered signage from a couple of the shop's previous incarnations, as Haydn Estates and Gee Dispensing Chemists.

The Deptford Lounge under contstruction

Photo courtesy of the Deptford Dame
The Deptford Dame has some gorgeous sunlit photos of the Deptford Lounge - the new community library and social space - currently taking shape. We love the opalescent glass bricks and the building looks like it will be high-quality.

The Future of Loampit Vale North

Another of the most important aspects of Lewisham Council's long-term plans for Lewisham town centre is the creation of a new mixed development on a large chunk of land called Loampit Vale North, including the Thurston Road industrial estate, the strip of evangelical churches along Brookmill Road and the area currently occupied by the likes of Matalan. The plan envisages a counterpart to the Loampit Vale scheme currently shooting up.

Here's what the draft Area Action Plan says about the Thurston plan - click for details of the rest:

The Thurston Industrial Estate is allocated for mixed use town centre development. The Council will encourage development of this prominent and important site. Proposals should incorporate the following principles:

- Create an active building frontage to Loampit Vale and Jerrard Street of a scale appropriate to this town centre location. New development should prepare the visitor for the scale of the development they will encounter in the Lewisham Gateway to the west;
- Ground and possibly first floor uses should ideally be retail, business and community spaces with flatted accommodation above, taking account of the southerly aspect available and the amenity provided by the new publicly accessible open space being created to the south of Loampit Vale;
- The use and design of any new building needs to take account of the impact of shadows cast from buildings on the south side of Loampit Vale on this site and the microclimatic impact of any proposals on Thurston Road;
- Support the improvement of the public realm adjoining the railway line and facing the Thurston Road Industrial Estate, in order to enhance amenity for residents on surrounding development sites;
- Enhancement of public realm on Thurston Road;
- Creation of generous tree lined pavements with a coordinated approach to public realm material treatment (width of 6-8m);
- Jerrard Street and Thurston Road will take on more importance as new low car-parking schemes encourage walking and cycling and the quality and width of the footways require improvement;
- The site is situated within Flood Zone 3a High Probability. Developers will be expected to work closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that appropriate flood mitigation measures are incorporated.

Fight the powers that be

Here are a load of Lewisham Labourites in their civvies joining Saturday's march against public sector cuts. Given the intensive debate there has been on BC about how much the cuts in Lewisham are the responsibility of those in charge at the Council, we thought this might be of interest...

Trees for Brockley Road?

The Brockley Cross Action Group has written to Lewisham Council requesting that trees should be inserted in to the lovely new pavement that's emerging on Brockley Road. BC is not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and we're delighted with the work that's being done. Although we can see the BXAG's point, we'd be happy for that to be done at a later point - what do you think?

TRYangle domestic abuse intervention centre closes

Lewisham's TRYangle centre, which offers counselling and advice to families experiencing domestic abuse, is closing.

In a letter sent to supporters this week, Project Manager Stuart Cameron wrote:

I am sad to announce the closure of TRYangle, we will not be taking any more referrals and will be winding down our operations. It has become increasingly difficult to obtain additional funding due to government cuts, despite the proven success of TRYangles pilot programme in Lewisham they do not have the funds to continue to use our services and recently we have been refused a grant for the third time by the Big lottery.

Thanks to Mike for the story.

Greenwich abandons pedestrianisation plans

Alan: [Arms folded, unimpressed.] Extraordinary. So, what do people think about the
pedestrianisation of Norwich city-centre?
Michael: [Very drunk] Eh – aye, I reckon it’s a really good idea, like.
Alan: Mmm. You’re wrong…
- I'm Alan Partridge

Greenwich.co.uk reports that the Council has put its plans to part-pedestrianise the town centre on indefinite hold.

The scheme would have involved pedestrianising College Approach and King William Walk and diverting traffic around a new gyratory system comprised of Norman Road, Creek Road, Greenwich Church Street and Greenwich High Road.

Live Window Dressing at Tea Leaf Arts tonight

The South London Art Map and Last Fridays present 'Live Window Dressing' at the Tea Leaf Arts gallery, 110 Endwell Road:

Which is the most provocative: the curiosity to look into a neighbour's window, or the window which lures us to look in? See for yourself.....

Friday 25th March, 18:30-20.00

Tea Leaf Arts, 110 Endwell Rd, SE4 2LS

In conjunction with the south london arts map we inviting all comers to dress three live manikins and some dummies....ready for a short window display.

Part man. Part machine. All Brock.

Freeman Lowell: It calls back a time when there were flowers all over the Earth... and there were valleys. And there were plains of tall green grass that you could lie down in - you could go to sleep in. And there were blue skies, and there was fresh air... and there were things growing all over the place, not just in some domed enclosures blasted some millions of miles out in to space.
- Silent Running

Goldsmiths Interaction Research Studio is looking for volunteers from Brockley interested in being assimilated as part of a study of microclimates in the home. So say affirmative.

It sounds cool and they can pretty much guarantee that you and your loved ones will not be turned in to Grey Goo:


We are a design team from the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Over the last year, we have been working on various digital devices for reflecting on aspects of the home’s local microclimate, such as subtle variations in temperature, light, and air currents. These systems provide unique perspectives on the environmental profile of the home, without directly addressing issues such as energy usage or carbon footprints -- imagine something like an indoor weather station.

We are hoping to attract some Brockley locals to live with these digital devices. If readers are interested and live in SE4, SE8, SE14, SE23 please respond by April 9th 2011.

Contact: Kirsten Boehner at kirsten@legiblelandscapes.org or call 07779 168 516

More good stuff on Brockley Road

The kerb just outside Pinnacle estate agents, on the corner of Cranfield and Brockley Roads is being built out as the next stage of the redevelopment of the Brockley Road pavement.

So far, the build job appears to be high-quality and has already made a big different to the look and feel of the street, despite the builders' bric-a-brac still lying around. The street feels less like a rat run for drivers and more like a place for shoppers.

This particular bit of work is a really welcome bit of design thinking, since it should make this kind of dangerous parking (the background rather than the foreground) much more difficult. Having said that, no-one ever went broke overestimating the laziness and ingenuity of Brockley's illegal parkers.

Hither Green Hall

Hither Green Hall in its heyday

Hither Green residents are campaigning to restore the former Park Cinema to its former glory and its role in the heart of the local community. They say:

This former cinema is now an empty shell at the heart of Hither Green that is crying out to be filled with life. There is nowhere in Hither Green with bigger potential of success as a centre for arts and performances, complementing the high street and bringing this community to the next level.

The building will be put up for sale on March 30th and the group hopes to find investors with the vision to run it as an enterprise, rather than turn it in to flats. Tonight, the building's plight was featured on BBC London News and the campaigners hope an enlightened bidder will be found.

Night Stalker found guilty

Delroy Grant, of Honor Oak, has been convicted of 29 separate offences, including rape, in a series of attacks between 1992 and 2009 that earned him the nickname "The Night Stalker". The Southwark man was found guilty of crimes across the capital and the south east, including Croydon, West Dulwich and Forest Hill.

The Police believe he may have been responsible for more than 500 separate attacks on the elderly.

Following the jury's verdict, Judge Rook told Grant:

'You have been convicted of 29 offences of the utmost gravity. I am not going to sentence you today because there are various matters that the barristers want to put before me. 'You should appreciate the sentence you receive will be what is called an indeterminate sentence. The term will be 'very long indeed'.

Lewisham nights

Boy, I'll tell you. They only come out at night. Or, in this case, uh, the daytime.

- Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons

There's quite a lot to pick through in the Lewisham Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP) that's just been released. Notably, the Council's plan suggests that Lewisham Gateway, the High Street, Ladywell and Lee High Road would be "suitable locations for evening economy uses as part of a wider mix of uses."

The plan states that:

Lewisham Town Centre currently lacks a strong evening economy offer. Opportunities to nurture the range and quality of bars and restaurants should be grasped with a view to enhancing the vitality of the town centre beyond peak shopping hours, whilst strengthening the centre as an inclusive family friendly place.

As an ambition, it sounds reasonable, but hard to pull-off. We'd like to see them avoid creating large venues of the sort that tend to lend themselves to stabbings, but a series of Jam Circus-sized bars and restaurants, supported by an expanding population (the plan envisages 3,100 new homes being built by 2021) could work. What do you think?

The plan is subject to consultation and won't be adopted in any form until 2013. Thanks to Andrew for the nudge.

Lewisham Life email service

As part of the Council's cost-cutting plans, its local culture magazine is being cut from ten issues a year to four, a measure expected to save £100,000 a year.

To compensate, they are introducing a free Lewisham Life email service, which you can sign up for here.

Brockley loses the internet

None of you will be able to read this, but the News Shopper reports that the problems many of you are having connecting to the internet are the result of severed cables in Deptford, which may take until the 28th to repair fully.

However, Brockley Central can report that the internet connection in its Paris hotel is working just fine - so well in fact that we were up in our room blogging about stupid maps while the rest of our group was ogling Kate Moss, who was staying here last night. Heed this lesson well: use the down time to go outside and spot super models on Brockley Road.

Stories without words festival, April 23rd

On BC Facebook, Nicola is looking for people who want to get involved in a festival she's organising at The Albany, Deptford.

She says:

I'm in Brockley and organising a mini festival. We are looking for people that want to get involved or that thinks their work tells a story/process without the use of language. We are looking for dance, performance artists, film-makers, painters to incorporate in the programmed events.

For more about the festival, see here.

A photographer's view of Brockley

Brockley Jon spotted this clever widget which maps an area based on the geotags assigned to photographs by users of Flickr. In other words, when someone takes uploads a photograph and labels it "Brockley" it maps it. The result is this map, which shows some photographers think St John's stretches to Hilly Fields.

What's really interesting though is that the names Ladywell and Crofton Park don't seem to register with Flickr users at all.

Martin's Yard - work begins March 30th

Martin's Yard, the Brockley Cross regeneration scheme from MacDonald Egan, gets underway this month. Formerly a scaffolding yard, it will be turned in to a mixed-use development, providing new homes and studio spaces and creating a new street in the middle of Brockley.

The Council approved the plans submitted last December without modification and the builders will begin to occupy the site at the end of this month.

Builders Oakwood are working to a 14-month schedule and the project will result in approximately 30,000 square feet of commercial and 30,000 square feet of residential space (47 apartments) being created.

This promises to be one of the most important developments in the area, at last creating significant amounts of live / work space in Brockley for self-employed people and small business owners.

Deptford job centre occupation

Tormenting Kid: Hey look, it's Clean Shirt!
Mark Corrigan: Clean Shirt? What does that mean? Isn't that good?
Tormenting Kid: How do you get that shirt so clean, mate?
Mark Corrigan: Look, I know it must be difficult being a kid, not a lot of... schemes, but, y'know, I'm not the borough. I wish I was, but...
Tormenting Kid: Fuck off, Clean Shirt!

- Peep Show

For the last week, Lewisham's Anti-Cuts coalescence has occupied of the job centre in Deptford High Street. The squatters are protesting the erosion of public services in the borough and are preventing an established local entrepreneur (the founder of the Deptford Project) from opening a planned social enterprise at that location, which is fine, because it was probably only going to be for middle class people anyway [comments].

The protestors say [comments]:

It is a shame that people using the space at the moment are mostly white but we hope to attract as many people from the area as possible to get involved or just use the space.

The Social Center Plus is a welcoming space... you won't be kicked out for being middle class or an artist, we have a fair amount of both already.

New 484s introduced

Albert Einstein issued one of my most favourite quotes in the history of the spoken word. And it is as follows: In the middle of opportunity... 'scuse me. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. I'm going to repeat that so I have clarity tonight. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity. This is the opportunity we've been waiting for!

The softer, gentler 484 buses have begun operation and Vesta Road resident 'Vesta Curry' reports:

The new Enviro 200 buses have started plying the 484 route - very significant improvement in noise pollution! I live on Vesta Road and the buses gunning up the hill were very noisy. I would say 50% less noise.

Sainsbury's rules out Jude Court

While Brockley Central doesn't like to say that we are always right about everything, our prediction that the new retail units on Mantle Road would not be taken up by a supermarket seems to be suitably prescient. Lorry deliveries can't get there easily.

Reader Peter has been much better than we have been at chasing Sainsbury's for an update on their plans to locate in Brockley. They confirm that while they are still looking at the area, they will not be moving in to Jude Court.

In an email, they confirm:

While Sainsbury’s are interested in opening a store in Brockley and we are looking at a couple of potential locations, we have not signed up for anything at this time. Unfortunately Jude Court would not work for us as we are not able to deliver to this property due to the low railway bridge to the north.

Lewisham mosque criticised for controversial speaker [UPDATED]

Local blogger Bob from Brockley reports the Lewisham Islamic Centre's decision to invite violent anti-semite Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid to speak via satellite link at a recent event. The centre, located between Lewisham and Catford, was one of eight organisations chosen by Lewisham Council to act as community liaison for concerned residents to report hate crimes.

The issue is discussed in more detail here.


Lewisham Council has been in touch to correct this story. They say:

The Islamic Centre is not a third party reporting site. They gave initial commitment last March to the scheme, and were included in the original leaflets but have since been pulled from the list. They did not agree to sign up to the reporting protocol.

Evening dining at the Deptford Deli

The Deptford Dame reports that the Deptford Deli has refurbished its basement and is now open in the evenings as a restaurant. She says:

The menu promises to be a carefully-selected and regularly-changing mix of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes - four or five starters, mains and desserts to choose from.

The price is fixed at £20, including desert and coffee. It opens until 10pm, Wednesdays - Fridays.

It sounds and looks great - please post your comments and reviews if you've been.

Olympic homes in Brockley

Can Brockley Central come and sleep on your sofa during the Olympics? This modest Brockley home is available for rent during the Games for a mere £3,000 per week.

There is a growing number of websites dedicated to providing international visitors with temporary accommodation in 2012. While not in an Olympic borough, Brockley's close to the Equestrianism at Greenwich, fairly central and well connected (via the ELL and Jubilee) to the Olympic Park.

So are you thinking about renting your place out during the Games? And if you are, have you investigated the best way to do it?

Not Brockley Central: One New Change

Since we're working on a photo shoot at One New Change with Brockley-based photographic agency Lucid Representation next week, we thought we'd better go and recce it today - our first chance to see it since it opened last autumn.

We weren't entirely sold on the brown stealth bomber based on what we'd seen of it in the media and we'd have been happy for the building it replaced to be retained and remodeled. But, as with the new Spitalfields, the City has proved its critics wrong and built a development that satisfies market demand for familiar brands while creating something unique.

Regularly described as a shopping mall, it's really nothing of the sort, One New Change is a food quarter, where a new Gordon Ramsay will soon nuzzle up next to Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa and where the ubiquitous Eat is joined by the rare treat that is Bea's of Bloomsbury. Nor, despite being called a bulky behemoth does it feel like a giant.

Unlike Westfield, which hermetically seals in its shoppers like punters at a Vegas casino, the building is permeable, encouraging you to dip in and out of it, giving you glimpses of the sky, the streets and the world beyond at all times. It's big by central London standards, but it's no Bluewater. The closest comparison we can think of is The Mailbox in Birmingham.

Best of all, the building positively encourages you to escape the commercialism on its lower floors, whisking you up to its sixth floor in high-speed glass elevators, to its stunning roof terrace. London makes shockingly poor use of its rooftops, but here, it has been turned in to a handsome, humane, public space - a stepped concrete and glass landscape that acts as an altar for the churches surrounding it - not only the enormous dome of St Paul's but also the spire of Wren's St Vedast. God and mammon.

Free vehicle emissions checks in Sydenham, March 29th-30th

Air pollution in London is responsible for 4,000 premature deaths a year - the capital has the worst air quality in the UK and among the worst in Europe. Having failed to tackle the problem adequately, the Mayor of London has been given a three-month extension to introduce short-term measures to reduce pollution to avoid a fine of up to £300m from the EU (those meddling Eurocrats with their straight cucumbers and their clean air).

So this is a welcome and important initiative from Lewisham Council:

Lewisham Council is encouraging residents with vehicles to have their exhaust emissions checked in order to help the Council control the air quality of the borough.

The Council is trialling an emissions test event next week. It's taking place in the Council car park in Girton Road, Sydenham SE26 on 29 and 30 March between 10am-4pm. Residents can turn up at any point during the day and have their vehicle emissions tested.

Each test is free and will last approximately 10 minutes. Drivers will have the opportunity to talk to those staff present about their results. There will also be free leaflets available containing eco driving tips and information on air pollution.

Crofton Park dry cleaners closing

On Facebook, Binita reports that Crofton Dry Cleaners on Brockley Road is closing down.

If any other BCers have any updates, please post them here and we'll refresh the story.

The Ravensbourne Arms - opening mid-April

Pub-stalker Rosie has been chatting to Antic about their opening plans for the Ravensbourne Arms.

She has this to share from Antic's Fi Collett:

Having just returned from a planning meeting with the big Boss, I’m pleased to say that we are still looking at Mid April for an opening of the pub.

We’ll open the bar first with the Kitchen following in a couple of weeks. The Launch Party will happen when the kitchen is finished and we are ready to serve food. That should be at the beginning of May. I’ll let you know more as we approach the date.

The South East London Writers Group at the Brockley Jack

Lindsey has been in touch regarding a new writers group that meets regularly at the Brockley Jack:

We are a small circle of writers who first met in January 2011 to critique one another's work and offer helpful advice and feedback. Currently we have six core members and are looking to expand the group. All are welcome!

We meet once a fortnight on Mondays at the Brockley Jack in Brockley. We aim to arrive at 19:30 and usually get started with the critiques around 20:00. Work for critique is emailed around one week in advance and everyone is expected to have read the work before the meeting and bring notes so that we don't need to spend time reading it out when we could be discussing it.

Typically we provide 2000-4000 words and aim to critique two writer's work each session. Our members write a wide variety of fiction, from historical novels to fantasy and crime so whatever you write, we'll be happy to give constructive advice.

All feedback, positive or negative, is welcome at our meetings, but we always behave in a friendly and positive manner. Don't be shy about presenting your work, the purpose of the group is to help one another improve. Whether you are aiming to get published or just enjoy writing for its own sake, your work will be given an open, honest appraisal.

If you'd like to come along then drop us a line here, email us at 
lindseymountford@gmail.com or just turn up on the night. Our next session is on Monday 28th of March, so either get in touch to find out more, or we'll see you there!

Massages for Japan at the Sunflower Centre

Local masssuse Reiko will be giving massages at the Sunflower Centre to raise money for those affected by the recent earthquakes in Japan.

The sessions will take place on March 21st and 28th. Full details here.

Bubbler ranx highly in Brockley

Early Morning Bubbles. Hilly Fields. London SE4 from Lionel Stanhope on Vimeo.

Here's Brockley resident Lionel blowing enormous bubbles on Hilly Fields. Not that he needs to explain himself, but he does:

I watched a youtube film of Sterling Johnson (california) making giant bubbles on a beach and thought Id have a go with/for my daughter (nearly 6 now) and got a bit carried away trying to improve the size, colour etc.That was 8 months ago. I am an artist by profession and find making the bubbles very relaxing/calming when I'm on my own and fun when there are children and adults around to watch and pop them!

Its not easy, my recipe has 5 ingredients in it. Wand and solution both home made.Lots of testing and practice to get to this point.

Follow his progress via his Facebook group here.

For those of you interested in the progress of Bubbler Ranx's career (as we were when we came up with the headline), then you might like to know that the one-time Peter Andre collaborator was supposedly working in a Lewisham supermarket in 2004, according to the Digital Spy forums.

Royal Wedding / Big Lunch Street Parties

The Royal Wedding takes place on April 29th, Big Lunch day is June 5th.

If you're planning a street party for either of these ancient rites then you can apply to Lewisham Council for a closure of your street by completing the form here. StreetParty.org.uk also offers useful free advice.

The Council claims that 57 Big Lunch parties were held in Lewisham last year.

The deadline for the Royal Wedding is March 29th, while the Big Lunch deadline is May 5th.

Please use this thread to help organise or promote any street parties you're planning in Brockley. Whatever 'in Brockley' means.

Click here to see some 2010 Big Lunches.

Tinie Tempah at the O2

This is a sponsored video - Plumstead boy Tinie Tempah goes to The O2 by way of Claridges.

Engaging Generations, April 8th

Generation speaks unto generation

Brockley Central's mum used to work for Help the Aged at a time when they ran a Blue Peter appeal to raise money to help old people cope with problems such as incontinence. Relative to the success of other Blue Peter campaigns on behalf of blind children in Africa or horse riding for people with disabilities, incontinence did not prove to be an issue which caught young people's imaginations. With that in mind, the organisers of this have been in touch:

To help build greater understanding between generations, an event called Engaging Generations will be held at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford, on April 8th.

Introduced by Heidi Alexander MP for Lewisham East, this half day seminar for arts, health and community practitioners and volunteers will introduce intergenerational practice. The session will include presentations by intergenerational specialists including Susan Langford MBE, as well as best practice and current activity in the community and further afield.

Participants will also have the chance to take part in workshops delivered by Age Exchange, Entelechy Arts and Magic Me exploring practical activities and exercises used to create intergenerational work through movement, visual and performance arts and reminiscence.

The whole day is a free event at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford. The full schedule of events is available here.

For more information, please contact Malcolm Jones at Age Exchange Theatre malcolm.jones@age-exchange.org.uk

The View, Adieu

The View at Hilly Fields was an ambitious plan to site a large cafe in Hilly Fields, at an alternative site to the one currently being considered by the Council. The proposal excited more reader comment than almost any other topic has done since the Gordonbrock controversy, but the team behind it have now notified us of the withdrawal of their plans.

The South London Press reports that four proposals for a cafe have been submitted by other bidders.

The View team write:

We apologise for the brief hiatus. Regarding our plans for a cafĂ©/bistro at Hilly Fields called The View…

Lewisham Council has now invited “expressions of interest” for the site at Hilly Fields. However, we have already outlined to you the reasons why we considered this to be totally unviable.

As we explained the ground is riddled with subsidence, due it seems to the saturation of clay and leaking drains, together with a badly designed block that the council was calling for us to totally rebuild - and at our cost. All on what Lewisham Council repeatedly claimed was ‘the same footprint‘. And with no added incentives. At least that is what we were constantly informed. These formed the reasons why we searched for a better site - and chanced upon the Old Refreshment House which had magnificent panoramic views.

We make no excuses for attempting to introduce something that was bold. Or that ‘swanky’ restaurant at mezzanine level, for which we make no apology.

We would though like to correct one additional assertion also given by Brockley Society... We have never attempted to mislead. We tried to engage with you openly and honestly as residents ourselves. We also presented to Brockley Central that which we presented to ‘Brocsoc‘, and we hope that you will draw your own conclusions on why it was presented in such a manner.

In fact, whilst the council claimed that it was inviting tenders for a rebuild, and on the same footprint (only), with a 20 year lease (only), we rightly assumed that this was “totally unviable”. However, it has now come to our attention that a different deal was being offered to competitors - reported in the Minutes of the Hilly Fields’ User Group ["

In return for initial investment the council could offer a long term lease with

an initial rent free period. This will be advertised in the first period to see if there are any objections. Should the council wish to progress then they will advertise for

expressions on their requirements. We were told there is no council money available for repairs and maintenance of the building or developing a Cafe." Friends of Hilly Fields. Minutes of meeting 8th June 2010].

Thank you to all for the input, and to Brockley Central for allowing us to occupy this platform, however brief.
Best wishes
John and Simon
Ex The View at Hilly Fields

Petition to restore empty Ladywell properties

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group has launched a petition to ask the Council to pressure owners of vacant commercial and residential properties in the town centre to bring them up to a decent standard, so that they can be put to use as functioning business premises and homes.

They write:

One of the main challenges for the regeneration of Ladywell Village been the unwillingness of some local property owners to bring empty property back into use and there are several examples of empty and poorly maintained property. These are a blight on the area and a deterrent to new businesses to move into the area.

The rotting flats above Coral bookmakers are among the worst examples of the problems that the petition is designed to address.

To show your support for this initiative, click here.

22% quicker times on the Jubilee Line coming

This hopelessly rosy account of the Jubilee Line upgrade in Rail.co explains how the 33% capacity increase will be delivered when it's finally working properly:

So how are the statistics which kicked off this article made up? Moving from six cars to seven added 17% to the line’s capacity. Reducing headways and running trains more frequently will add the rest. Shorter waiting times at stations and the ability to run faster as distances between trains are reduced account for the 22% improvement in overall journey times. There will also be reduced congestion at stations as passengers are picked up more frequently, greatly enhancing the travelling experience.

So there won't only be longer (compared with 2005), more frequent trains, but they will be quicker - cutting journey times on the line by 22%. Apologies if you all knew that, but we didn't.

The Peninsula Festival

853Blog reports on an interesting plan to create a summer festival for Greenwich Peninsula, starting this year with a city beach and growing for 2012.

The plans include a beach on the old Delta Wharf site, a music stage, sailing, a marina and camping.

Click here for more details.


Milner: Someday. That's a dangerous word. It's really just a code for 'never'.
- Knight and Day

Someday, Ladywell and Brockley town centres will have coherent, high-quality high streets, like Honor Oak and Crofton Park. In Ladywell, En Gedi, El’s Kitchen, Oscar’s, Masons and Geddes have led the way.

The new shop front that used to be video shop Nightwatch also offers hope that things are headed in the right direction, despite all the gloom on these threads – day follows night.

It’s not difficult and it’s not expensive. Big windows. Wood. A decent paint job. No illuminated signs, no tatty shutters. It’s all written down in Lewisham’s guidelines for town centres, it just needs developers to stick to them.

There's no guarantee that the shop will be filled of course, but the developers have given themselves the best shot of attracting a business, although the space is small and will suit only a limited range of uses.

With thanks to Marc for the photos. And to Patrick who tried, but was pipped at the post.

Ladywell lamp post

In Lewisham, progress is not linear.

BC Facebooker Adele has posted this image of street lights in Ladywell being replaced with newer, uglier versions (on the left).

Reader Offer - Project Snowflake at the Brockley Jack

2 for 1 offer for Brockley Central readers for the first two weeks of this show: performances 5th - 16th April.

Project Snowflake is written by Sasha C. Damjanovski and produced by Simon James Collier. Set in 2060, the country is ruled by laws and regulations and the all-seeing government that will stop at nothing to 'protect our citizens and our way of life'. At the Creativity Institute, two scientists, Martha and Jeremy, have designed a dream recording machine, but the government won't allow recordings of any old embarrassing dream or scary nightmare,
they want a happy dream recorder. A machine that will make the dreamer dream happy dreams.

These tickets will not be on sale through ticketweb - but can be booked by emailing admin@brockleyjack.co.uk and we will confirm the booking (reference Brockley Central in your email).

Tickets: £12, £10 conc.

Campaign for more Crofton Park trains

The Crofton Park Transport User's Group is a new organisation that campaigns for better local transport options. The group has decided that their greatest priority should be to address the risible service of two trains per hour to Crofton Park at off-peak times and they believe a window of opportunity has opened for them. Organiser Ed writes:

CPTUG is campaigning to increase the frequency of trains, and has made a submission to the National Rail public consultation on its draft Rail Utilisation Strategy ('RUS') for London and the South East. This strategy will form the basis of future rail franchises, which we will be lobbying to improve.

Our response to the consultation can be found on our CPTUG website (www.cptug.org) under 'campaigns' section.

Please could you also publicise our forthcoming AGM, this Tuesday 15 March, 19h30, at the Ackroyd Centre, Honor Oak Park.

The Telegraph Hill Festival 2011

The Telegraph Hill Festival programme is now live on its website.

Now in its 17th year, the Festival offers an eclectic programme, with a mixture of paid and free events. Highlights include:

Desert Cave Dining: March 25th, 26th

This Moroccan themed restaurant will appear like a mirage for only two nights offering cocktails, a three course meal, wine and live entertainment.

Dead, White and Blue: March 26th, 29th, 31st, April 1st

Work out whodunnit in this interactive promenade murder mystery - includes short walk. Recession, unemployment and a Royal Wedding - the street party will be a riot!

Zoe: March 26th, 27th

A musical in which a past-her-prime movie star engages a private eye to solve a mystery: Who is sending me photos of this young girl who looks exactly like I used to?

Comedy Night: March 28th

The glorious gala of comedy overload includes the incisive hilarity of Nick Revell, the superbly effortless mirth of Mark Maier and, if we are lucky, the finely-honed comic anarchy of Arthur Smith. All this, plus at least one other very funny guest and local boy Phil Nice.

The Creation Station Exploration: March 31st, April 1st

The Creation Station "Exploration" arts and crafts for 1-5 year olds. Book your free taster and let your child enjoy something fun, unique and inspiring.

Empty properties in Ladywell

On Wednesday March 16th, from 7.30pm at Tank Gallery in Ladywell Lewisham Council's Empty Property Officer, Nick Long, will take part in a discussion of empty properties in the area, including the Ladywell Playtower, whose potential trustees will explain their ideas for the building.

The meeting has been organised by the Ladywell Village Improvement Group.

We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we're going to live on the internet!

One of the reasons for setting up a Brockley Central Facebook page was that it would provide fairly good insights in to the demographics of the BC audience.

Obviously it can only tell us about the 525 people who've "liked" the page and that group is skewed by the fact that Facebook itself is more often used by younger people and Facebook users do not always give complete or accurate personal information. However, with those caveats aside, it provides a useful snapshot of BC's user base, which is - perhaps surprisingly given the presumed gender of most of those who post - mainly female.

As you can see (click to enlarge), women aged 25-34 are the biggest group and women outnumber men by 9% (with 3% of users not giving their gender).

It's also interesting to see the places that most users hail from originally. Who knew there was such a strong Brockley / Newbury axis?

Please join the Brockley Central group now - people will think you are cool and want to sleep with you.

Poo Halloo - Radical rethink on Lewisham's dog bins

Doggy fashions come and go it seems. Lewisham Council has opted to follow a model employed by Camden to deal with the problem of where dog-walkers can stash their stools.

Dedicated dog poo bins have been removed from the borough and walkers are encouraged to bag their best friends' droppings and use the regular bins, which will be labelled accordingly.

On the plus side it cuts down on the number of unsightly bins in the park (the area around a dog bin is like a 10 foot radius Hot Zone). Lewisham Cllr Egan also says in the scheme's favour that:

This means many more bins are available. This approach was adopted by Camden a couple of years ago and has been a success there. As a dog owner I have found the Camden approach a lot more convenient and we hope it will lead to more people disposing of dog mess in the appropriate manner.

But the system does rely on normal bins being emptied regularly, rather than being allowed to overflow. And Brockley's Freegans are advised to exercise caution while bin-diving.

ELL double win at civil engineering awards

Last ELL thing for a while, we promise, but we couldn't resist reporting that on Friday it won a couple of civil engineering awards for "Greatest Contribution to London" and "The Community Award." Building reports:

Half a million people use it every day with numbers expected to rise further. In January it was the UK’s third most reliable train service, which is excellent for a line that has been open less than a year. The line will not only immediately benefit the community but as it cuts a swath through some of the most deprived areas of the capital will bring enormous regeneration benefits in the long term too. The design and construction was equally impressive. Despite the tight, three and a half year timetable the £1bn project was delivered two months early. The line makes clever use of existing infrastructure that kept costs down and simplified planning.

Guest post: Kirsten Downer on the Surrey Canal redevelopment

The surest way of killing off a discussion about why Brockley Central hasn't written about a particular subject is normally to suggest to the person asking that they write something themselves as a guest column.

However, reader Kirsten Downer has done what almost never happens and written an article. So in the spirit of both plurality and laziness on BC's part, here it is:

The plans for redevelopment of Surrey Canal (which includes approximately 2,500 new homes) that were submitted earlier this month are - I believe - seriously flawed, for the following reasons:

- the level of 'social housing' - developers have recently switched to saying that provision of social housing with any scheme is within or close to guidelines by counting the number of habitable rooms - ignoring the fact that it is family units that require housing and therefore it is units of housing that are needed to make any dent in Lewisham's homelessness problem. Poor provision of social housing is an important issue to highlight because some people are hoodwinked by promises of extra housing.

- Building heights. Many problems here - wind, interference with TV reception, sunlight (both for those in the new flats and those in the surroundings). Here the developers try to blind with science but there is usually some statement admitting that there is a problem (eg for the Gateway certain areas became 'dangerous' for cyclists due to the wind effects!)

- Highways and congestion - TfL and the Highways Agency seem to bend over backward to permit these schemes, but there are usually increased levels of congestion and air pollution.

- General lack of infrastructure. There will be increased pressure on medical facilities and schools and no provision in the schemes to provide it.

Whilst it seems many Brockleyites see this area as a dump, people like me actually manage to live here and we don't feel that more concrete and glass will improve it. Why is it always assumed that more housing units are what is required to regenerate an area?

The area could support some more housing but not on this scale. What it needs is clean air, more green spaces and more local independent useful shops such as a bakers, greengrocers etc. 300 small businesses exist on the development site already - why not keep these these and expand on them to create a new 'green industry' zone, for example. As for brownfield sites: they may not look so obviously pretty as woodland but they have been shown to be magnificent biodiverse urban habitats, especially for invertebrates.

Those out there who share residents' concerns have til 14 March to make their opinions known, by contacting Chris Brodie, Principal Planning Officer

The Council seems to be politically committed to this decision, as was the case with the huge Loampit Vale development - lessons learned from Loampit Vale campaigners is that the only way to stop developments like this are forming a campaign coalition early on to exert political pressure. If anyone out there has 5 minutes to set up a Facebook page about the Surrey Canal Road development concerns, then that could help galvanise such a campaign. Takers, anyone?

The Ginger Line

The Evening Standard has marked the ELL extension to Highbury and Islington with an article about the glories to be found along its route. It claims it's known as 'the ginger line', although we don't believe anyone has ever called it that, other than the mobile supper club of the same name operating along the ELL's route.

Anyway, well done to the Broca, Degustation and Hilly Fields which get a nice mention in its wrap up of Brockley.

Silicon Quaggy: Love Clean London

To the list of London's leading technology start-ups can be added Lewisham Council.

As Monkeyboy spotted, its Love Lewisham technology is being rolled out across London boroughs and has been seized upon by Mayor Johnson who launched the Love Clean London scheme today in London.

It's good to see Lewisham's innovation getting some credit and the higher profile that this scheme should achieve will make it more likely that local people will start to use it.

The BBC reports:

Lewisham council said since the system went live its spending on street cleansing has been held at 2003-04 levels, complaints about graffiti fell by 30%, and there had been an 87% drop in the time taken to respond.

The web portal also removes the need to set up a separate IT system, it added.

EDIT: Erm, it turns out that Microsoft technology had quite a lot to do with the development of this app, so we suppose we'd better declare an interest - Microsoft is a client of the agency (Edelman) Brockley Nick works for.

Potters Fields project approved at London Bridge

Do you remember Bagpuss? And Spacehoppers? And London Bridge? Mad, weren't they?!

Last night, we travelled back from Waterloo to Brockley, changing at London Bridge during rush hour on to a half-empty train. London Bridge's status as our number one commuter destination has gone the way of the Spangle - the East London Line has won the battle for our hearts and minds.

But SE1 is trying to give us more reasons to visit and has confirmed that the former coach park on Potters Fields will be redeveloped. While it's preferable to the "Daleks" design previously mooted and it makes some nice nods to Shad Thames, it's still not a very exciting development and a lot of its appeal will come down to how well done the new public space is and what use the proposed "cultural" centre is put to.

Coming soon: The Ravensbourne Arms

Antic, owner of local pubs Jam Circus and The Royal Albert, is getting ready to sprinkle its magic pixie dust on a Ladywell venue.

323 Lewisham High Street, formerly the Coach and Horses, has been renamed the Ravensbourne Arms and friend of BC Rosie has this picture of it, mid-makeover.

In Brockley Central's first year, Lewisham's pubs were in steep decline, with many venues being lost to residential developers. Today, the picture looks rosier.

Brockley Road repaved

The East side of Brockley station has struck back.

Work has begun to upgrade the stretch of Brockley Road that's home to the shopping parade nearest Brockley station. The shocking state of the pavement at this point had been holding back the parade's chances of capitalising on the influx of investment that the East London Line has brought with it, so this is great news indeed.

The Council confirms:

Work has begun and should be completed by the end of March. The programme involves widening the pavement on the eastern side between Cranfield Road and the southern end of the puffin crossing zig-zag lines. The area between Cranfield Road and Harefield Road will also be repaved.

Now, so long as this is done properly, we will at last have a half-decent high street - one which should entice businesses seeking to capitalise on the huge numbers of people using Brockley Station each day.

Life Cycle, Purcell Room, March 13th

Singer Mara Carlyle will perform work by Emily Hall
The Creative Mums Network was an idea that began on Brockley Central a couple of years ago: a place for mothers who'd given up their careers and were looking for new outlets for their talent and energy. The early meetings took place locally and one of the first attendees was a woman from Brockley called Emily Hall who wanted to do more song writing.

On Sunday, Emily's work 'Life Cycle' will be performed at the Purcell Room on the Southbank. Click here for details and here for an interview with Emily.

If you're interested in getting involved with the Creative Mums Network, click here for the Facebook group or here for Twitter.

They've got hoes in different area codes: Community planting

Following on from the Brockley Cross Action Group's spring clean on Brockley Common last weekend, the Ladywell Village Improvement Group is organising its own community planting day soon.

LVIG says:

Our second event for March is one which has proved very popular and great fun in the past - we'll be donning our gardening gloves for a Community Planting Day to spruce up the planters. We are still in the midst of organising it but it will be held on Sunday 27 March and we'll have more details soon, but save the date in your diary.

We'll update the thread when the details are published.

Here be doggers: Honor Oak mapped by hand

Speaking of Londonist, they also have a cool hand-drawn map of Honor Oak from local artist Annie Greevenbosch.

Not Brockley Central: Portman Village

Even in our most expansionist moments, we wouldn't try to claim Marylebone for Greater Brockley, but sometimes we like to go to other places and sometimes we write about them. So we've written about Portman Village for Londonist, whose readers are less likely to respond by asking with furious indignation what any of this has to do with Brockley.

If you want to see what we get up to when we're not in SE4, feel free to click here.

We didn't say it in the article obviously, but seeing how quickly and positively Portman Village has been transformed through a coherent plan, enlightened landlords and encouragement for independent businesses makes us wish that such an approach was possible in Lewisham. It easier to do it in central London of course, but a year ago, Portman was deader than Ladywell. Strict planning controls, low rents to help independent businesses (and cut vacancy rates) and a determination to create a pleasant public realm are the way forward.

See if you can spot some subtle references to a sewing cafe and craft workshop that we like.

Morley's for Algernon

Ladywell Village Improvement Group reports that Morley's chicken is about to move in to Algernon Road.

Morley's have targeted the area for expansion and are unhappy at the way their brand is being appropriated by other operators.

LVIG are concerned about the affect that this could have on the road and local health, but given that it would be a direct replacement for an off licence, this seems to us like an unreasonable complaint, although we do agree to the extent that chicken bones strewn on the street are a curse.

Brockley Cross scheme "later this year"

Cllr Johnson submitted a formal written question at last week's Council meeting, asking what influence the community consultation would have on the redevelopment of Brockley Cross and calling for the designers to work with community representatives, such as the Brockley Cross Action Group to deliver the final plans.

Here is the Council's reply:

The Council has appointed an experienced and respected public realm consultant, The Project Centre, to develop a preliminary design for Brockley Cross. The Project Centre’s principal designer has extensive experience in designing award winning public realm schemes including Kensington High Street and Walworth Road. He is also the author of the TFL Streetscape design manual.

Members of the local community have been invited to make comments and suggestions on the Council’s preliminary proposals developed by the Project Centre. As a result, a total of 80 responses to our invitation have been received. These have been forwarded to the Project Centre and are now receiving being analysed. We expect that this will result in amendments to the design as is generally the case at this stage in the design development. Once this analysis is complete and has been impacted on the design proposals, the revised design will then be presented to Ward Members and local community representatives. Following this and when the agreed design has been finalised, we hope to be able to implement the scheme later this year.

Initial work has already been carried out to make minor modifications to the road layout. This has included widening the central crossing point, repositioning the two mini roundabouts and changing the road markings.