Murder at the Movies, May 16

Harriet writes:

Calling all armchair detectives – an immersive murder mystery cinema event is coming to New Cross in May! Learn from literature’s master of mystery at this film screening with a twist where the audience will have their own murder mystery to solve.

On 16th May, the Amersham Arms in New Cross will be transformed into a 1930s cinema. The audience will step back in time to the closing night of the ‘Amersham Picture House’ which is soon to be bulldozed to make way for luxury flats. The owner of the cinema has invited a host of colourful characters for one last ‘hurrah!’ before the cinema shuts its doors for good, but there’s more to this party than meets the eye…

The audience will watch the Christie Classic, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), play games and solve puzzles to uncover the clues to a murder mystery that unfolds as the night goes on. 1930’s outfits are highly encouraged and there will be a prop-box on the night to help you get into character!

Organiser Harriet from said “This will be a great chance for people who saw the recent Murder on the Orient Express film to experience the original in a wholly different setting. I hope the audience will really step into the story – I can’t wait to see everyone’s fancy dress!”

Popcorn and drinks from the bar will also be available. This is an over-18s only event and tickets are only available in advance online at:

There’s a limited number of early bird tickets, so get them before they’re gone! All proceeds from the event will go to

Model Market 2018 - Returns Friday

O happy day: Summer is here, Model Market has returned.

The Lewisham food and booze experience re-opens tomorrow night, and this year's line-up includes What the Fattoush (vegan), Pocho (sliders and tacos) and Mama's Jerk (barbecue).

Opens 5pm Friday and runs every weekend throughout the summer. Go.

Reports: Heidi Alexander City Hall move could trigger Lewisham by-election

Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander is reported to be considering a move to City Hall, which would trigger a local by-election. Guido Fawkes summarises:

"Last night the Guardian reported that Labour MP Heidi Alexander is “seriously considering” quitting the Commons for a job at City Hall. This morning the Corbynista site Skwawkbox (health warnings apply) say she is to step down. Labour’s press office say they aren’t commenting and that Guido should speak to Heidi. Calls to her mobile, Westminster and constituency office phones are going unanswered. By-election?"

The Guardian's original report noted:

Since quitting the shadow cabinet in protest at Corbyn’s leadership in July 2016, Alexander has come under pressure from pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum, including some local activists who are also members of the far left Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. 

 The influx of new members has sometimes represented a direct challenge, with local members vocally objecting to her decision to quit the shadow cabinet. 

Momentum’s position is stronger in the neighbouring constituency of Lewisham Deptford; however, the campaign group last week launched a Lewisham East left caucus, to “help comrades build a strong left in the remaining stronghold of the Labour right in Lewisham”.

Strong and stable: A cartoon review of the year with Martin Rowson

On April 30th at the Fox & Firkin pub, the Brockley Max arts festival (taking place June 1-9) will be throwing a fundraiser with support from Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson. Organiser Moira writes:

Martin Rowson, longstanding Ladywell resident & multiple award-winning cartoonist for The Guardian, will be looking back over the last turbulent twelve months in politics and much else in another fully illustrated, ranty & sweary fundraiser for the Brockley Max festival.

In a year where it feels the world has turned upside down, Martin will give his take on the continuing saga of Brexit and the incompetence of our political parties through his cartoons. Be prepared to be shocked, enlightened and thoroughly entertained!

Join us for this rare opportunity for an informal and intimate discussion, followed by a Q&A, with one of the UK’s most distinct political commentators.

There will be opportunity to purchase copies Martin’s new books, including his graphic novel adaption of The Communist Manifesto, and his collection of “silent” [wordless] comics, “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Word”.

Tickets are £10 + booking fee from here:  All ticket sales to go towards funding this year’s festival. Over 18 years only.

Click here for more

Lewisham still seeking home for £6m housing budget

The local elections are coming soon and despite Labour's looming clean-sweep of Lewisham, candidates are dutifully going through the motions, with housing top of the agenda. Mayoral favourite, Damien Egan, made social housing central to his bid to win the party nomination.

So the first order of business for the new administration to consider ought to be the borough's £6m cash pile from developers, which is meant to be spent on providing affordable housing, but which has not yet been committed. The Huffington Post reports:

Councils across the UK are hoarding hundreds of millions of pounds set aside for affordable homes, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Data obtained by this website shows more than £375 million is sitting in councils’ bank accounts instead of being used to tackle the housing crisis. Two-thirds of that cash - £235 million - is being held by just 14 councils.

One housing campaigning group labeled the findings as “staggering”, while the National Housing Federation called it “deeply concerning”.

The money comes from a piece of planning law called Section 106 Agreements, which allows councils to get money from developers in exchange for granting planning permission for projects.

The cash has to be used for specific tasks, such as affordable housing, highways repairs and even public art.

Reacting to the discovery, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid MP said: “Section 106 payments help deliver the vital infrastructure required for councils to build the homes that this country needs.

“We expect councils to use funding from developers in line with the priorities agreed in their local plans.”

HuffPost UK asked every council in England and Wales to reveal how much they had received in Section 106 monies since 2013/14, how much they had spent and how much was unallocated.

Lewisham is among the top 14 councils hoarding money for affordable housing, with £16.3 million unspent, of which £6 million is uncommitted.

For the full article, click here. Thank you to Jenny for the spot.

Ladywell Fields river clean-up this weekend

Rob writes:

As it’s going to be a wonderful weekend you might want to publicise the Ladywell Fields river clean-up on Sunday, 22 April.

I have been to probably 20 of these over the years and I can honestly say they are great fun - an opportunity to do some useful volunteer work whilst enjoying a different view of the world wading along the River Ravensbourne and enjoying Ladywell Fields in all its Springtime beauty.

Lewisham house prices defy London downturn

For more than a decade, Lewisham house prices have been rising faster than the London average as inner city living has become more fashionable and improved transport links have attracted people priced-out elsewhere. The result is that, from a low base, Lewisham has moved up the league table of London boroughs in terms of average prices.

So one might of assumed that Lewisham would be among the fastest-fallers as London prices have started to fall in the last year. But new data from the ONS shows that in 2017, Lewisham house prices continued to rise at one of the fastest rates in the capital as the most expensive boroughs dipped.

The ONS found that between February 2017 and February 2018 the price of the average Lewisham home rose 2.7% to £414,516.

Speculative hotspots like Westminster (-2.4%), Hammersmith & Fulham (-5%) and Tower Hamlets (-7.9%) have taken a hammering, while more affordable outer boroughs such as Barking & Dagenham (4.4%) and Redbridge (8.9%) have shot up. Lewisham remains in the top ten fastest risers.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for sharing the data.

Brockley Open Studios, June 30th - July 2nd

Printmaker Maria Munroe is one of this year's participating artists
The organisers of the Brockley Open Studios festival have announced the 2018 line-up of participating artists - 36 in total. They say:

A great variety of artists has signed up and you can expect to see artworks including paintings, prints wood work, textiles, ceramics, fire etching and many more.

This year, we are also offering workshops and activities provided by Caravan Arts and Aurora Options for you and your family to get involved.

For the full roster, click here.

Lewisham Place: Like Lewisham Shopping Centre, only slightly more lime green

The future of Lewisham Shopping Centre has been the subject of feverish speculation over the years: Would it be completely rebuilt? Submerged below ground? Turned into a gastrodome? Appended with a cinema?

The answer is none of these things. Instead, they're adding some green signs. Fromthemurkydepths reports:

Lewisham Shopping Centre owners Landsec have just gained approval from Lewisham Council for a series of upgrades.

The focus is mainly on improving the six entrances to the site, which itself appears to be renamed as “Lewisham Place”. The centre first opened in 1977 and has undergone internal refurbishment in recent years.

The planning application states: 

"The design for the six entrances is in line with the principles intended for the rest of the Shopping Centre which include the use if timber, natural stone and stainless steel as materials and shades of green and grey for the colour palette and graphics with the intention to brighten up and refresh the space."

The entrance closest to Lewisham station and new builds at Lewisham Gateway is to be upgraded. A new green wall is apparent above the canopy.

For the full, uninspiring story, click here. Thanks to Miles for the heads-up.

Knock-back for block plot on Lewisham High Street

BCer Ed writes:

A few weeks ago I was shocked and appalled to find my favourite go-to spot for giant pots of honey, enormous tubs of humus and unlimited plates of baklava was no more. The Turkish Supermarket on Lewisham High Street simply closed overnight.

This site has actually been targeted for major redevelopment, with the latest proposal recently knocked-back by Lewisham Council.

A couple of years ago planning permission was originally granted for a 4/5 storey block of 22 flats and 195 sq m of street-level commercial space at 223-225 Lewisham High Street – that’s where the hole in the street is now. But planning permission for a much bigger development, stretching from 223-229 Lewisham High Street has now been knocked back.

A planning application was submitted in July last year for 691 sq m of commercial space and 51 flats over 5-8 floors – but it was refused at the end of October 2017. These pictures show what they were hoping to build.
In her refusal letter, Emma Talbot, head of planning, gave three reasons why Lewisham Council had refused planning permission:

1. The size of the development would fail to provide a high quality design.

2. The proposed flats would provide “A poor standard of accommodation that would fail to provide long term sustainable housing”.

3. The development as a whole was over-development, with an unsatisfactory “compromised internal layout”.

In short – loads of poky flats.

Since that decision was made the site at 223-225 Lewisham High Street has been cleared, although no building work is taking place there yet. The TFC supermarket at 226-229 Lewisham High Street is still standing, for now.

I have not been able to find another re-submitted planning application for the whole site, so - big leap - I presume it is going through the usual scaling-down hoops before being resubmitted. (I am an amateur when it comes to planning applications - perhaps someone else can tell us more?)

It is worth noting that barely 30m away, on the other side of the street, there is a development of 40-odd flats with a now-empty ground floor. It used to be a Tesco, but it’s been sitting empty for at least a year, if not more.

A block further south is the highly regarded and award-winning Place Ladywell – a well thought-out scheme of social-housing flats, as anyone who lives there, or has walked around them on Open House Weekend, will know. The cafe is nice too and has become something of a community hub – as was the planning intention.

It is clear that getting the planning mix right is crucial for Lewisham, especially in the town centre. What’s more, the success of Place Ladywell proves that planning actually works. When done well it can and does revitalise areas that need it.

Well done to Lewisham Planning for knocking this development back – lets hope, and lobby for, something better and more appropriate for this corner of Lewisham High Street.

Comedy Into Brockley

Comedy Into Brockley is a new local comedy night produced by home brewing kings Water Into Beer and hosted by Kiwi comic Jez Brown.

The performances kick-off on April 21st and each is recorded as a podcast.

Homes proposed between Algernon and Embleton Roads

The proposed new homes and walkway
BCer Joe is unhappy with Lewisham Homes' plans for new homes across the back gardens between Algernon and Embleton roads in Ladywell. He writes:

"The plans build over the social housing garden contrary to the local plan [there is a strip of garden between the garages which will now be built on], they also provide less social housing than would be provided by building larger houses along the roads.

"The plans will block out the view of the sky in the back gardens they are building across and create a narrow alleyway between the roads in an area Regenter (who manage the existing flats) say is already bad for antisocial behaviour.

"The connection is no benefit to the community given that Ellerdale street already joins the roads a few meters away. Currently, the plans are set to be decided by officials rather than the planning committee despite having such an impact on neighbouring flats and houses.

You can view the application here.

Buro, Brockley Cross

Buro is a new co-working desk and studio space has opened in SE4.

The workspace is managed by the owners of the property, who themselves are self-employed South London professionals. Phil Fisk is an award-winning photographer who studied at Goldsmiths and never left the area, and his partner Sarah Greene an Events Director who made the move south of the river 15 years ago. They say:

“Our businesses needed a flexible office space for desks, a studio & meeting room with excellent local amenities and first-rate transport links: Dragonfly Place in Brockley fitted the bill perfectly. We are overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reception our new business has received locally”.

"Buro’s interior has been completely refitted and designed bespoke as a desk-sharing space for the contemporary working environment. Re-cycled materials have been used as much as possible: made to measure desks have been re-purposed from school chemistry lab desks, upcycled lamps come from Bambino in Crystal Palace. Buro caters to individuals, as well as small groups and the facilities will develop with the requirements of the users due to the adaptability of the working space."

Buro desks cost £250 inclusive of VAT, per month (£208.33 + VAT) which includes all utilities and Fibre Optic BT Infinity. Buro users benefit from discounts from other businesses operating in Dragonfly Place and Brockley.

For more details, click here.

Classic motorbikes in Greenwich, May 3

St Johns resident Will is organising this motorbike event. He says:

"I am running this event at Greenwich Market with my company, Urban Rider. My business is a specialist retailer of the world's finest motorcycle gear and we have partnered with Italian helmet manufacturer AGV in taking over Greenwich Market for an evening to celebrate motorcycle racing icons of the 1960s and 70s.

"It should be quite a spectacle and we would love local residents to attend, it is a unique opportunity to see some original race bikes and modern custom motorcycles. Even the Norton from the latest James Bond film, machine guns and all!"

The New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival 2018

The New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival (NXDfff) returns for its seventh year this spring with 33 free film events, 3 bike powered screenings, 9 new venues, Q&A sessions, DJs and docs. Something for every member of the community.

Launch night is at Peckham's Brick Brewery with Get Out, a late license bar, street food and music.

This year the festival features three outdoor bike powered screenings, including Sing at Pepys Park, Nacho Libre at Telegraph Hill Upper Park and Pirates of the Carribean at Folkestone Gardens.

NXDFF also has a pre-release screening of locally shot film, SINK, followed by a Q&A with writer/director Mark Gillis. Shot in New Cross, Deptford and Brockley, the film has attracted Mark Rylance as an Associate Producer.

The festival closes at Buster Mantis with a music themed documentary called Beats of the Antanov. The film depicts the Sudanese conflict in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions, focusing in particular on the role of music in helping the affected communities to sustain themselves culturally and spiritually. Buster Mantis will host our last event and local DJ collective Bombotropics will provide global beats and melodies.

NXDfff is completely run by volunteers made up of local residents, students and community groups. NXDfff has a DIY ethos that encourages creative freedom: this year more than 30 people are curating film events with help and guidance from a core festival team.

For full details click here.

The Murder List

Brockley resident and NHS psychologist Chris Merritt has just published a crime novel called The Murder List, set partly in SE4. He explains:

"The main detective lives on Tressillian Road and there are a couple of scenes in Hilly Fields too. Other elements of the story are set around Crofton Park, Honor Oak and Deptford.

"It’s also been optioned for TV so we could be seeing some filming nearby in the future... Here is the book."