The Faircharm Creative Quarter

The Faircharm Creative Quarter is the planned redevelopment of Faircharm Estate in Deptford Creek by specialist business premises developers Workspace. The application is for:

The remodelling, repair, restoration and conversion of two existing buildings (A and C) to provide new commercial uses (4031 sqm of Use Class B1) with associated plant, servicing and storage. Demolition of Building B and the construction of four new buildings ranging from 6 to 12 storeys to provide 148 residential units (62 x one-bed, 69 x two bed and 17 x 3 bed), and new commercial uses (703 sqm of Use Class B1) together with new open space, landscaping, car and cycle parking at Faircharm Trading Estate, Creekside, SE8 3DX.

Workspace submitted their plans in December and the Council is due to reach its verdict in March. If it goes ahead, the commercial properties will be reclassified to B1 (offices), preventing the site from being used by some of the industrial businesses currently working on site. Employment on-site would more than double from 139 to 339, but only if the development is a success.

The authors of the Crossfields blog are highly critical of the proposal, publishing a long list of objections here.

While BC broadly disagrees with their points about the form and aesthetics, their criticism of the plan on the basis that it will force out many of the existing businesses on site is valid. They argue:

[Who will occupy the Creative Quarter?] Not artists, not crafts people, not the much heralded Based Upon (who work in bronze), not Shultz & Wiramu (who dye fabrics for theatre and film), not the sculptors, not the recording studio, not the artists collectives, the printers and publishers, not the fabricators of film props, not the businesses who need more than an office space.

They worry too that the site will fail to attract the businesses its supposed to appeal to, while driving out the incumbents. And although Workspace has a track record of developing for and attracting small businesses (unlike Galliard, which clearly has little interest in the commercial potential of Seager Distillery), it's a pity that more can't be done to accommodate some of these businesses.

The issue can't really be (as suggested) that home buyers won't want to buy next to workshop space because of the noise that they produce. Deptford is a wonderful place, but the sort of person who'd consider buying there is not in search of peace and quiet. Deptford Creek isn't competing with Barnes. More likely, the reason to change the use class is that Workspace can make more money from office space than from letting out large amounts of floorspace for workshop uses. There's a reason the incumbent businesses chose Deptford in the first place - because space was cheap. Any regeneration inevitably means space becomes more valuable. So while BC welcomes this scheme, we'd like to know whether more space could be preserved for (low cost) workshops, even if this comes at the expense of - for example - affordable housing, in order to make the scheme commercially viable.

If Faircharm goes ahead, it will undoubtedly change the character of this little part of Deptford. It would be a shame if what works about the existing site is lost in an attempt to attract more employment to the borough.


Naomi Madeleine said...

i work for a charity in Faircharm. its the only place we can afford office space! its such an excellent place for small start up businesses as the rates are so low. will be a massive shame if the tiny businesses it supports are forced out :(

Swfabricfx said...

Why don't you look at all the facts before you dam the tennants and the Croswhatfields blog. I am indeed one of the tennants mentioned and have a thriving business on Faircharm. ....Firstly the affordable housing has been diminished to very few....we were promised space in the new development. ...Workspace have ...without any tennants knowledge changed the work usage in their plans from B2- general industrial to B1-this category DOES NOT alow ANY SHELL or NOISE to be used near or next to any residential dwelling. This means that none of the business on Faircharm can work within a residential development! The reason they must have business in the development is that Creekside is now a Conservation area from the Birds nest to the bridge half way down the road and Faircharm is designated work place...they stand to not get any planning without some studio space in their plans. Meanwhile you find me a space with good lightwater gas and electricity of around 1000 square feet in the area.....and you you know what there isn't any?!!!!!

Brockley Nick said...

How about you read the article before commenting? 

I argued that more provision should be made for businesses like yours and said that Crossfields' point on that issue was well made. I don't agree with the plan to make it all B1. 

I think a portion should remain B2 and I don't see that that would put off prospective residents. It's a big development and Workspace - as owners and operators of the site - have an incentive to ensure that the businesses in the workshops are not going to be the noisy, smelly variety. 

Anonymous said...

Sounds like good honest Faircha to me

Robert said...

Yes - Faircharm is fantastic as it is. A rare resource in South-East London. This is the history of development in the city - the artists, media and creative trades move in first, and then come the developers. It would be a real shame if those use classes are changed in the retained buildings - and I agree with Nick - it would increase the validity of the area, and I also don't think any future residents would object.

I have to say - apart from this cynical use-class change - the planning application is pretty impressive. It seems like a reasonable attempt to create a new piece of City that takes advantage of what is great about what is already there.

Kin said...

Is there still any chance to of stopping the council from giving the go ahead?

Milly Speed said...

please look and read our petition and sign if you agree thanks

anonymous said...

Well Faircharm gets its planning you will be pleased thats most of the tennants yhat are still left up sh*t creek with no paddle

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