Lewisham parks top London ranking

Lewisham may lack a spectacular showpiece park, but its greenspaces have nonetheless finished joint-first in the inaugural Good Parks for London report, produced by independent charity Parks for London.

The ranking compares the London boroughs' parks, based on ten different criteria, ranging from public satisfaction to their role in hosting public events. Lewisham came top with Southwark and Lambeth.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone whose work helps to keep our parks special. Thanks too to Chris, for sharing the study.

Vulcan Death Slip

Lewisham's preparations for the Beast from the East leave a little to be desired:

Official: Lewisham better than Southwark

Tim Roth, Siouxsie Sioux, Charles Babbage, Robert Recorde, Mary Wollstonecraft, Rio Ferdinand, John Boyega... Your boys took a hell of a beating.

The esteemed World Cup of London Boroughs competition is taking place on Twitter at the moment, with each of the 32 boroughs involved in a knock out tournament that pits them head-to-head in a public vote.

Lewisham's first round opponent was the much-fancied Southwark but after a slow start by our borough, we beat them by the narrowest of margins during a bout that drew 14 times as many votes as Croydon vs Havering:
Both boroughs would have been deserving finalists, but we're now through to face the mighty Camden in the Round of 16.

The South East London solar buyers club

Our local renewable energy collective says:

Brockley households are being given the chance to cash in on cheap solar power, thanks to a new community ‘buyers’ club’.  The not-for-profit project aims to bring households together so that they can use their collective purchasing power to knock down the costs of buying and installing solar panels on their homes.

The project is being launched by South East London Community Energy (Selce) at an evening event on Friday 2nd March in Greenwich. The local co-operative has already raised almost £400,000 to install solar arrays on seven local primary schools. Now it wants to help Lewisham's residents to ‘go solar’ as well. Residents living in conservation areas will also be eligible.

“Many people like the idea of installing solar panels on their roof but the costs and complexity can be off-putting,” says Selce’s chair, Camilla Berens. “Our new Solar Buyers’ Club will not only bring down the costs of the whole process but it’s also supported by quality installers.”

Selce is working with Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth (Crew) to launch the club. It is hoped that by teaming up with households in other parts of London, even bigger savings can be made. “The more people who club together, the lower the cost,” Camilla explains. “Participants will also benefit from government subsidies that are provided for small-scale solar generators. These subsidies are being withdrawn completely next year, so it’s a case of use it or lose it.”

The project has a feel-good factor as well. “The more solar energy we can generate as a community, the less we depend on climate-changing fossil fuels,” Camilla adds. “What’s more, £100 from each installation will go towards supporting Selce’s not-for-profit project to help low-income households who are being forced to make the choice between heating and eating.” So far, Selce’s pop-up energy advice cafes have provided advice and support to over 1,200 local people.

Selce’s Buyer’s Club event is taking place on Friday 2nd March 2018 from 7pm – 9pm at Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road, London, SE3 7SE. To book a site survey to assess the suitability of your roof for solar power, please email the project manager at ebube@selce.org.uk  before March 2nd.

Judge: 'Irrational' Lewisham Council should not have allowed phone masts

Local Government Lawyer reports:

A London borough wrongly interpreted the General Permitted Development Order on the siting of radio masts, the High Court has said. Granting an application for judicial review brought by local resident Nigel Mawbey, Lang J said the London Borough of Lewisham had been wrong when it gave permission to Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure to erect the masts.

Mr Mawbey sought judicial review of Lewisham’s decision that the installation of mobile telephone apparatus on the roof of Forsythia House, which is owned by Lewisham Homes, was permitted development... He objected to the installation due to lack of consultation and that the masts were unsightly in a conservation area and posed a radiation health risk [BC's note: They're ugly, but they're no health risk]...

The judge said Lewisham and Cornerstone “have not been able to identify any reason why that balance of competing interests should not be given effect in building-based developments using pole mounts. “I have come to the conclusion that the claimant's interpretation, as supported by the Secretary of State, is correct. In summary, each central support pole comes within the definition of ‘electronic communications apparatus”.

Lewisham had reached an irrational decision by concluding that the support poles were not masts because they were not ground-based, and the scale and design of the support poles was not characteristic of a roof mast.

TfL rules out Lewisham Way Bakerloo station

According to 853, TfL has ruled out the idea of incorporating a St John's or Lewisham Way station into the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham, which will open next decade.

I had no idea this was even thought a possibility, but now it isn't. Which makes more sense. However, 853 notes:

[TfL says] that existing plans to build stations at New Cross Gate and Lewisham will provide sufficient coverage for nearby areas of Deptford and Brockley.

But, according to its latest consultation documents, TfL is now considering building a station at Bricklayers Arms on the Tube extension, which would run from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham with two stops on the Old Kent Road and one at New Cross Gate. This follows two local petitions in the area.

TfL also says it is confident the existing bus interchange at Lewisham will be able to cope with the new route. TfL has been responding to issues raised in a consultation carried last year into the extension, which looked at station locations, sites where tunnelling shafts will be located, and plans to have the tracks run as far as the current Lewisham Council depot at Wearside Road.

Bricklayers Arms needs all the help it can get.

For the full details of what isn't happening, click here.

Thanks to JPM for the heads-up.

The Telegraph Hill Festival 2018

Sanjit writes:

The 2018 Telegraph Hill Festival is here, and takes place from 10 - 25 March 2018.  Telegraph Hill Festival is London's largest and best independent, self-funding, and volunteer driven festival, and one of the capital's best-kept secrets.

Athena Kugblenu at the 2017 Telegraph Hill Festival Comedy Night
The 24th Telegraph Hill Festival has more than 120 events, with 74 free of charge.  Events take place across Telegraph Hill, from St Catherine's Church to the Five Bells and Goldsmiths to The Telegraph pub.  There are lots of highlights, here are just a few...

  • West Side Story - a cast of 260 delivers one of musical theatre's most compelling story's across fours shows on 10/11 March 2018 at St Catherine's Church
  • On Sunday 11th March too, best-selling author and reluctant futurist Mark Stevenson puts our turbulent times into perspective with an accessible, funny and challenging talk and Q&A about the future of society and technology
  • Monday 12th March has - for the first time - a Comedy Impro Night featuring the Stephen Frost Impro All Stars in dazzling feats of inventive and surreal comedy, literally, making it up as they go along...
  • Moving Hearts: A Clay Workshop is on the afternoon of Tuesday 13th March and invites you to take part in an exploration of the issues of belonging and migration and help make some of the 1000 hearts needed for an installation piece in the Migration Museum in Spitalfields (free)... meanwhile in the evening we explore the Lost Island of New Cross, an illustrated talk exploring the history and mythology of the White Hart junction in New Cross Gate and its lost traffic island.
Open Mics, Poetry Slams, Caribbean Folksong, Quizzes, Music Jams, Disco Bingo, the welcome return of an uplifting evening of choirs at Telegraph Hill Sings, Exploring the Radical History of New Cross, Classics on the Hill (with the added pizzazz of an amazing light spectacular), experimental journeys in sound with Sonic Imperfections, Open Studios, a Woodland Folk Festival, A night of Jazz featuring world-class musicians... ever get the idea there might be something interesting here?

For tickets and full details, click here.

The Gape of Water

One Brockley man has been fighting an epic battle with the machine, trying to persuade Thames Water to properly fix the leaky water main near his house by Hilly Fields.

BCer Chris first reported the problem on January 4th and despite repeated visits and building works that have caused traffic disruption, the utility has merely been able to paper over the cracks.

To experience Chris' Kafkaesque nightmare in full, click here to read the month-long exchange.

Leatherwork at the Taproom

Ben writes:

I am doing a series of leather workshops, which are also an opportunity to check out the new Taproom in Deptford Market Yard.

I'll be teaching people how to make a simple leather glasses case or belt which you can take home. It's a beginner class - a good way to find out some basic techniques that may be the gateway to get you into a passion for making beautiful leather items.

The next class is 'how to make a belt' on Wednesday 28th February. The classes will alternate every two weeks from the 28th.

There are more details here.

Suffed at the Brockley Jack

by Lucy Joy Russell & Holly McFarlane
Tuesday 6 to Saturday 17 March 2018

A friend of mine has written a play running at the Brockley Jack in March, which aims to provoke a debate about infertility and IVF. The Stuffed team explains:

"There is a growing fertility crisis in the UK. Around 1 in 7 heterosexual couples, or 3.5 million people will have difficulty conceiving.  Since the 1970s male sperm counts are down nearly 60% across the western world and 20% of women born in the same decade reached 45 without having children.

"It’s not clear exactly what’s to blame. 20-30% of infertility cases are due to male factors, 20-35% are due to female, and 25-40% are due to combined problems in both parts. Up to 20% of cases remain 'unexplained'. But to try and cope, couples are increasingly looking for professional help to conceive and today 1 in 50 children born in the UK are the result of IVF, with many more receiving other fertility treatments.

"NICE guidelines suggest three IVF cycles for couples struggling with infertility. Yet few NHS trusts can afford to offer it and so people increasingly turn to the private sector – often with little understanding that expensive doesn’t mean effective. According to NICE, across the age range, 65-80% of IVF cycles will fail. These can cost anywhere from £3,000 to £15,000 and more.

"Yet discussion on the topic, while no longer taboo, is fraught with anxiety and superstition. People on both sides still don’t know how to talk about it openly. Those with children to those without, Doctors to patients, and people on the journey to each other. In a first for the topic in UK theatre, ‘STUFFED’ is a new comedy about IVF. It aims to demystify some of the challenges and offer a new perspective on an issue that is only growing.

"Playwright Lucy Russell said, “With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the world can often feel very much focussed on people having children. But the new reality is that most people will know someone who has difficulty conceiving - even if they haven't told them yet. Unfortunately, they may know nothing of the experience itself or be unsure how to ask. By showing there is a funny side to IVF we want to open up a conversation, not just about the trials and tribulations of IVF itself, but also of futures that don’t have children at their centre”

"Based on a true story, STUFFED the play opens at the Jack Studio theatre on Tuesday 6 March and there will be a post-show discussion involving the Fertility Network on Tuesday 13 March."

To buy tickets, click here.

Night tube ELL to run to Highbury & Islington from February 23

The East London Line night time service from New Cross Gate to Dalston is being extended two more stops. City AM reports:

The Night Overground service is set to be extended to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington from Friday 23 February after coming to the London Overground in December.

Since 15 December, there have been 24-hour services every Friday and Saturday between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate. Whitechapel is still to be included as it waits until Crossrail works are completed.

Over 30,000 journeys have been made on the Night Overground since the service began in December [which is surprisingly few].

A Star Barbershop, 225 Lewisham Way

A post shared by A Star Barber Shop (@astarbarbershop) on
This new barbershop has just opened and is currently recruiting. Contact them here if you're interested in applying.

The Brockley Experiment

Barry Norris: Hey, listen up everybody, whoever's doing this, they're having a little fun at our expense.
- The Belko Experiment

The crazy cats at TfL have been freestyling around, throwing some stuff at the wall to see what sticks, and came up with the idea of making Brockley Station into a one-way access system, so that  people had longer journeys to reach their trains and fewer gates to pass through at rush hour.

Photo: Ruby Heera
Why this was thought to be an idea worth trying is known only to the imps at TfL but, one week in, the evidence is conclusive. It does not work.

As The News Shopper noted:

A “disastrous” new trial crowd management system at Brockley Station has left queues with hundreds of people outside the station. Introduced yesterday (February 5), the scheme means people can only enter the station via one of the entrances, with the exit being through the ticket hall. It has left queues snaking down the street at rush hours both mornings and has left commuters frustrated at a system many felt did not need fixing.

Out of interest, did anyone ever experience a peak time crowding problem at Brockley Station that they thought needed fixing (other than through the addition of more trains)?

The trial ends on February 16th.

Lewisham Council to decide fate of two towers this week

On Thursday, Lewisham Council will consider plans to redevelop the Carpetright site on Loampit Vale. The application, which has been recommended by officers for approval, is for:

"The demolition of the existing Carpetright building and the construction of two buildings of 16 storeys and 30 storeys in height comprising 899sqm non-residential floorspace comprising (A1) Shops, (A2) Financial & Professional Services, (A3) Restaurants & Cafes, (B1) Business, (D1) Non-residential Institutions and (D2) Assembly & Leisure uses and 242 residential units with private and communal open space, on-site energy centre, cycle parking and associated landscaping and public realm works."

Close the gap in Crofton Park

Reader Emily wants to do something about the large gap between the trains and the northbound platform. She writes:

"I am always a bit nervous of the gap - it’s huge - when I get on or off trains on the northbound platform at Crofton Park station.  I’m tall, wear sensible shoes with low heels, travel light, know the station well, but still get nervous. The platform at Crofton Park is curved and some of the doors on carriages further back from the driving engine are not visible to the driver, at least just by him just looking behind him.

"To make things worse, the platform is often really poorly-lit after dark and I’ve heard people gasp - and not in a good way - as they step out into the void as they disembark on winter evenings."

"Crofton Park station is not unique in this regard.  I’ve long worried about gaps between platforms and the floors of certain models of newer trains at a number of stations.  Nunhead, Catford, Beckenham Hill - the only ones on that line that I use regularly and am au fait with - all bigger than I find comfortable, all with vertical gaps way bigger than I would like to lift a baby buggy or bicycle up or down from."

"These gaps can be fixed. The gap on Platform 4 at Elephant & Castle station used to be huge and I thought it was really dangerous as the platforms and trains were often more crowded than at the stations I’ve mentioned.  I was very pleased when I noticed that this gap was hugely reduced a few years ago - by adding a gently sloping platform on top of the existing platform to raise it and - possibly - extend it out towards the track.

"I would love it if there could be a discussion leading to change on this front. I think the recent tragedy could be a catalyst for a debate.

"It seems to me like it would be quite a cheap and easy matter to raise train platform heights.  It seems curious that so much effort goes into installing lifts and incorporating step-free access at new tube stations but nothing is done to just make access ‘step-not-too-huge’ at train stations."

"I would like to hear from other Brockley Central readers, to know if they share my concerns and would support a campaign to get something done?"