Thursday, 31 March 2011

Betfred planning permission update

Sue has done the legwork on this so I won't steal her thunder...suffice to say you can read the latest news over on Crosswhatfields blog.

Make sure you are sitting down.

Greenwich Council plans for Charlton Lido

I know this is Over The Border, but readers may remember I'm a keen swimmer so I'm happy to bring this item to your attention.

The Charlton Champion has a story about Greenwich Council's plans for the Charlton Lido, which has been in the doldrums for several years now.

Hopefully it will offer a fantastic new year-round facility for swimmers.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Volunteers wanted...

A design team from the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of
London is seeking local volunteers to participate in a three to four month study. It does sound rather quirky and I'm not sure I fully understand the motivation behind it, but it could prove an interesting experiment!

Kirsten says: "We have been working on a variety of digital devices to expose the home's microclimate – imagine a miniature weather station. Now we would like to lend these devices to you in return for telling us about your experiences of living with them. If you are interested and live in SE4, SE8, SE14, SE23 please respond by April 9th 2011."

Contact: Kirsten Boehner
Tel: 07779 168 516

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The London Particular, New Cross

This bijoux little cafe on New Cross Road has been open for some time now, but aside from trying out some of their cakes as a takeout, I haven't had the opportunity to check out their menu properly. If you are heading towards New Cross from Deptford, it's just beyond New Cross Station on the same side of the road.

Up till recently it was daytime hours only, but the cafe has now started opening on Sunday evenings from 6.30-10pm - booking recommended!

Myself and the geezer popped in for a brunch over the weekend and sampled the vegetarian bruschetta and a bacon buttie, washed down with some excellent coffee. Both meals were superior nosh - the vegetarian bruschetta consisted of a thick slice of tasty bread (rye I think) topped with strips of roasted peppers, a few whole mushrooms beautifully browned and caramelised, some crumbled feta cheese and a generous scattering of rocket. Very filling and very tasty. The bacon was served in doorstep-size sourdough bread, well-deserving of the 'buttie' moniker in my opinion.

As well as the tables out front, and a large communal country-kitchen-sized table in the back of the cafe, there are a number of small perching counters along the wall which are still big enough to eat at. Specials are chalked on a blackboard above the dividing wall; one each side so you can see them from the back of the cafe too. As well as breakfasty things they offer a daily 'warm sandwich' special, a soup of the day and a main course which I think was beef and prune tagine, at around about the £8 mark.

I hesitate to describe the decor as 'shabby chic' because although that's probably what it is, the phrase suggests a certain level of pretentiousness which is entirely absent from the London Particular. I love the fact that there are water jugs on every table and the staff bring you a glass without needing to ask; and that the sugar bowls are made of old treacle tins and the sugar spoons are wooden.

The service is not rapid, with staff having to deal with takeouts and prepare for the lunchtime menu while also getting orders out, but considering the quality of the food and the fact that it is all made up fresh, it stacks up to an acceptable speed.

The London Particular
399 New Cross Road
SE14 6LA
020 8692 6149

Mon-Fri: 8-5
Sat: 10-5
Sun: 10am-10pm

Bowl Food Cafe in New Cross Serving healthy, fresh, tasty Bowls...big bowls, small bowls, deep bowls, shallow bowls Delicious Higgins Coffee, with our own unique 'Particular' blend Home-baked cakes, fresh brioche & cookies

Twitter: @theparticular

Friday, 25 March 2011

Deptford Lounge gets its kit on

Cladding has started to appear around the north west corner of the new Tidemill School/Deptford Lounge building on Giffin Street. Yes it's gold, as was shown in the original renderings, but apart from that it's not quite the type of cladding I had envisaged.

I seem to remember commenting at the time that it was difficult to imagine what type and quality of cladding was proposed from the pictures, although presumably this sort of thing was specified in great technical detail in the contract documents.

It seems to be perforated metal cladding of some type; I'll be interested to see how that's going to combine with the frame and rather rough finish behind it, but presumably these designers know what they are doing! On the other hand its partial transparency could offer a fascinating veiled glimpse of the structural form of the building....oops, anyone would think I'm applying for a job on the Architect's Journal!

What do the rest of you think? *lights blue touch paper and stands back*

Monday, 21 March 2011

Spring flowers in Fordham Park

A beautiful day in Fordham Park saw swathes of spring flowers, teens enjoying the new table tennis tables, kids on the climbing frames and lads playing football, along with a scattering of people of all ages enjoying the sunshine from the new benches. All very uplifting.

Fundraisers for Japan

A couple of very different events are being held this week in the local area, with a common purpose - to raise funds for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Friday 25th March, Kids Love Ink, 138 Deptford High Street
Japan Charity Tattoo Event
KLI says: Following the recent (and ongoing) tragic events in Japan we are doing another Charity Day, where all proceeds will be donated to a charity supporting the cause.

There will be a sheet of selected flash to choose from, which Xty is currently working on. The flash will also be available to buy as a print. Jane Dough Bakehouse will also be on hand to sell you cookies and cakes to keep you nicely sugared up!
We may extend this into an evening event, more info and designs to follow!

Saturday 26th March, Painted Chapel, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.
Classical music concert.

TrinityLaban in conjunction with the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, will stage a concert at 3pm in support of the Japanese Red Cross relief effort in North-Eastern Japan, following the recent horrific earthquake and tsunami. The concert will feature some of Trinity College of Music's Japanese students and others. Among the pieces to be performed will be the Requiem for String Orchestra by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.

The concert will not be ticketed, but there will be a retiring collection in aid of the Red Cross. All are welcome to this event, which is being held in the beautiful Chapel at the Old Royal Naval College, adjacent to Trinity College of Music and a short walk from Greenwich Cutty Sark DLR station.

Saturday is going to be a bit of a busy day with plenty of competing events - check out the alternatives over on Crosswhatfields blog.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Deptford's royal dockyard; the case for statutory protection

Quite aside from all the other issues raised by the Convoy's Wharf planning application - housing density, transport planning, the number of car parking spaces, and the provision (or not) of public services for this new development - is the ongoing campaign to have the historic value of the former royal dockyard fully recognised and given appropriate protection.

Chris Mazeika at the Shipwright's Palace blog has undertaken an extensive review of the heritage assets that are being put at risk by the current plans, and has persuaded English Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to review their previous decisions not to protect the former dockyard structures.

Although some buildings survive - the Master Shipwright's house adjoining the site and the Olympia warehouse actually on the site, which is listed and is being retained as part of the development - there is understood to be much, much more below ground that is at risk of simply being built over and lost forever.

As Chris points out, the current plight of the former dockyard structures at Deptford is nothing new; they have always been undervalued by heritage officialdom and overshadowed by the neighbouring World Heritage status of Greenwich. In 1954, at the same time as a dry dock was being built in Greenwich to house the Cutty Sark, Henry VIII's Great Storehouse in Deptford, the oldest naval building in the country, built in 1513, was being demolished.

Thirty years later, in 1984, the last remains of the 1720s storehouse with its fine early Georgian clock tower and belfry were swept away. And now while millions of pounds is being spent on rebuilding the Cutty Sark, the docks, slips, basins and mast ponds of Deptford dockyard are facing a dark future.

In his extensive blog post, Chris seeks to explain how this lamentable situation has arisen. In short it seems that English Heritage has failed to allocate sufficient resources to assessing the significance of the dockyard, relying to a great extent on secondary source materials - three publications the oldest of which dates from 1989 - to carry out this assessment. The new research that EH had invested in was woefully incorrect.

Chris makes a strong case for the fact that the structures remaining below ground on the Convoy's Wharf site offer a unique opportunity for historians to study their contribution to the development and operation of the royal dockyards, domestic architecture, and to early civil engineering technology.

Chris has also pointed out that English Heritage guidance itself supports the argument that the heritage assets on the Convoy's Wharf site should not be assessed individually, but in conjunction with the other related assets nearby: the royal naval victualling yard to the west; the royal naval hospital at Greenwich; St Nicholas' Church in Deptford (the 'Westminster Abbey of the British Navy') and the grade II* listed Albury Street.

The post questions the procedure adopted by the archaeologists from the Museum of London who were responsible for carrying out the recent investigation, in particular the positioning of trenches. Archaeologists working on the site were surprised when they were shown historic maps as they were unaware of the extent of the underground structure.

Chris suggests specific amendments and corrections to the three main secondary source publications that English Heritage relied upon for its assessment of Deptford's significance. By going back to primary source material, he reveals the extent of the omissions in the assessment and the woeful disregard which Deptford dockyard has been subjected to for many decades now.

He concludes:
"Together, omissions in the studies by Coad, by Lake and Douet and other English Heritage authors, exacerbated by the lack of an authoritative comprehensive study of Deptford dockyard, have enabled the heritage assets at Deptford to be jeopardised by an over reliance on insubstantial secondary sources.
The information contained in this document is put forward in an effort to end the systematic disregard of Deptford’s historic cultural assets by the statutory agencies and to ensure the future enjoyment of a local and national, even international culturally significant environment, the former royal dockyard at Deptford."

Reading the extensive blog post that Chris has written (and I understand this is a shortened version of what he actually submitted to English Heritage) raises various questions. Most notably, how come a passionate amateur (and I use this term only in the 'unpaid' sense of the word, the depth of research seems to me to be professional in the extreme) can do a better job than the 'experts' that we pay to protect our national heritage? Is the heritage of our royal dockyard just as much at risk from the actions of English Heritage as it is from the actions of the developers?

Pepys public spaces regeneration - wonky lights

This weekend I got chance to explore the most recent parts of the Pepys public spaces regeneration programme. This is being funded with £3 million of the money Lewisham Council made from the sale of Aragon Tower. I've written previously about the changes to Pepys Park and I was somewhat non-plussed by the proposed sculpture on the Foreshore (the landscaping seems to be finished but there's no sign of the sticks and cloth, although there are wooden covers where the fixings presumably will go). Yesterday I walked through the recently-reopened Upper Pepys Park, which now seems to be complete apart from a lack of grass on a large swathe of land beside the footpath.

Closer to the river there's a children's play area, seating, signposting and lighting, as well as a Sustrans signpost for the National Cycle Route no 4 which according to the Sustrans site finishes at Greenwich. The steps which lead from lower Pepys Park to the upper section are still there, but as part of the work a ramp has been added to one end so that cyclists can wheel their bikes rather than having to carry them.

When I first went to take a look at the newly-opened lower Pepys Park I assumed that the wonky red lights at the ends of the footpaths were old lighting standards that were yet to be removed.

It seems that not only are they meant to be like this, they are in fact a 'theme' that runs through the design, all the way from lower Pepys Park through Aragon Gardens and right along to the borough boundary where improvements are being made at the end of Plough Way. The poles carry spotlights that seem to be angled to shine up into the trees, creating feature lighting. Great, but why so wonky?

I'm sorry to be blunt but what the f**k? There's already a host of sticky things dotted around the parks, the majority of them pointing straight up. There's already lighting columns along the footpaths, and these are all straight. So come on BDP (scheme designers) explain to me why the red ones are on the piss? It severely offends my sensibilities seeing these wonky poles among all the straight ones - you could argue that's my own problem for being a bit too anally retentive, but I'm also wondering about the technical issues. It takes stronger foundations/connections to support columns that are not vertical - you have to stop them from falling over - and as far as I can see there is NO GOOD REASON why these columns should not be upright. Anyone got a clue?

Friday, 18 March 2011

New Cross library future plans

As we all know, Lewisham Council has voted to close the library, but anyone interested in keeping a library going in New Cross is invited to a public meeting on Saturday.

The Save New Cross Library campaign sent me the following message; apologies for the late notice.

After the May 28th Library closure
- We can keep library services running in the New Cross Library for 6 days a week
- We will have space for community activities in the New Cross Library
- There could be better facilities for children’s learning for free in New Cross Library
- There are plans to house a local heritage museum in New Cross Library
- There would of course be comfortable seating and a coffee bar at the New Cross Library

All this can only be possible if we pull together to offer time and optimism.
Come and see a working eco-library and help make plans for a future New Cross Library at a meeting;
On Saturday 19th March at 2:30pm
Venue: The Pepys Resource Centre
The Foreshore
Deptford Strand, London SE8 3BA
For further information contact: or by mobile phone 07886028418

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Deptford job centre occupation

Yesterday a group of anti-cuts protestors took over the empty job centre on Deptford High Street and announced a public meeting to be held that evening.

I wasn't able to go along but Sue from Crosswhatfields attended and has posted a report from the meeting.

While the protestors' intention to open up the space for community use was a positive one, it seems that plans for a similar use of the space were already under way - Crosswhatfields has more details. The activists have a website here.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

New (coffee!) shop on the High Street

The 'Off Licence Station Shop' at 142 Deptford High Street, just south of the train station, had its facade and new sign installed last year some time, but its promise of mobile top-ups, travel cards and groceries was yet to materialise.

For the last few days work has been going on inside the shop; whether or not it's going to be an off licence/mobile top up/grocery shop is not clear (I do hope not, we already have enough of all of these!).

However the owners of the new business want to make this much clear:

We hope that the other side of the board is a hint of what's to come...*

Ironically not five minutes after I wrote this post I read this story on SE1 blog which is about local residents protesting against the change of use of some of their shops. In Deptford it's all about betting shops, in The Cut it seems to be about coffee shops; in both cases the arguments are the same, in that locals want a sustainable and diverse range of businesses.

Nice to see that local MP Kate Hoey and local councillors turned out for the protest. Just saying.

(*according to the comments, it's a coffee shop being opened by Kids Love Ink...!)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Deptford Deli launches evening menu

Great news for foodies in Deptford, with the Deptford Deli launching an evening menu starting this week.

Recent developments along the road in New Cross made me start to think that I would have to regularly gravitate westwards for evening meals out, so I was delighted to hear that the Deptford Deli will now be opening late for fine(r) dining.

(Incidentally I only added the 'r' in the last sentence because the standard of dining is already pretty fine in my experience!)

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.

For example if you pop down there on Thursday the menu offering will include starters such as steamed mussels with garlic, parsley and lemon (£5/£10 as a main) or homemade chicken liver and madeira pate with sourdough bread and chutney (£5); mains including homemade scottish beef burger with wedges, winter slaw and homemade mayo on homemade burger bread (£9), or marinated tofu steak, shitake mushrooms, kai lan, broth and pho (£8). The thought of Yorkshire rhubarb crumble with cream (£4) is actually making my mouth water at the moment although I could be equally tempted by the Mons cheese platter and homemade medlar cheese with oatcakes (£5).

There's also great news from a space point of view - if you've lunched in the Deli you'll know that it's always a bit of a lottery as to whether or not you will get a seat, since there are only a few tables.

(Picture courtesy Deptord Deli)

The basement has just been refurbished and opened up, offering a lot more space for dining. This sounds very promising for the evening trade; an intimate atmosphere which is not quite as intimate as having to share your table with strangers...!

And yes, I'm glad you asked me that: the Deli is licensed to sell alcohol!

New opening hours on Wed - Fri are 12 till 4pm, then evenings 6pm-10pm.

On Saturdays the deli will be open 10am till 10pm, and on Sunday from 12-5pm.
Directions and contact details here.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Fun day at the Deptford Project/find out about Cathedral Group plans (again).

Sometimes information comes from the most unexpected sources. This week's issue of Greenwich Council's infamous propaganda rag Greenwich Time has a two-page advertorial by developer Cathedral Group about its various projects in the borough - the main one being the perhaps-somewhat-unwisely-named Movement on Norman Road, about which there is a whole page of info.

The first page of the spread, however, is generously illustrated with images of the Deptford Project cafe, which resides on land which CG eventually intends to develop, and which is in....Lewisham!

Notwithstanding this smudging of boundaries, I was rather surprised to read that CG is organising 'an action-packed' day at the Deptford Project next Saturday 12 March!

Down the Creek
An action-packed day is planned on March 12th at Cathedral’s development site just
off Deptford High Street. From Saturday, 12th March, the developer will be talking
to local people and getting their views on what is being put forward for the future
regeneration of the site. To make it just a little bit more exciting, Cathedral has
laid on special events celebrating the rich diversity of Deptford. All this and more
will be happening on the site, which has been home to the kooky train-carriagecome-
cafe which was gifted from Cathedral to Deptford on Valentine’s Day
in 2008. Last summer, the site also played host to a series of ‘silent cinema’ screenings – part of Cathedral’s efforts to engage with local people and get them involved in the area’s regeneration. The cinema was enjoyed by many members of the local community and as a result of this we will be hosting similar events this year. Check the website for more information.

Here's what the Deptford Project site has to say about it:

Reggae DJs, African Poetry, Lion Dancer, Dhol drummer, Food Stalls
WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US ON Saturday, 12th March
10am until 7pm

For a day of fun, food and entertainment and a chance for you to take a look at our plans for the future of this site and give us your views.

Look for us in Arch No. 1. If you can’t get along on Saturday – don’t worry. Drop in to Arch No. 1 at the Deptford Project site between 10am and 5pm any day from Monday 14th to Friday 18th March.

Saturday 12th
10:00am-6:00pm Arts Crafts and food market
12:00pm Lion Dancing performance
12:30pm: Traditional Mahjong and Face painting (around geo dome)
1:00pm: Steel Band performance for 30 mins
2:00pm: Poetry 4x 15minute sets by Sisstarmama and friends
3:00pm Dhol player 3pm with DJ
3:00pm-7:00pm: DJs in geo Dome:
mr classicique; ska-reggae
robbie dread; dub and root n culture music
sisstarmama; afro jazz latine and african music
with live musicians and PAs x 2 inbetween sets

I haven't been in the DP cafe for a while, so perhaps they are advertising it inside, but even if they are, it will be reaching a very small proportion of the local population and a particular demographic at that. It's disappointing that once again Cathedral Group's approach to communication seems to have let them down; they obviously have some budget for promotion if they are spending money on a two-page advertorial in Greenwich Time, but surely it would have been better to spend it on some posters, listings (many of which are free such as Lewisham Council's Arts e-bulletin), emails etc than a big puff piece in a paper that doesn't even get delivered to local residents?

Another pub refurb in New Cross

Brockley Central has news of a planning application by Enterprise Inns which wants to change the Rosemary Branch pub on Lewisham Way into The Hardcastle.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

No pay cut for Lewisham chief exec

I was interested in the angle taken in this story about Lewisham Council's chief exec Barry Quirk going part-time.

Apparently from 1 July this year he will only be working three days a week; his salary will be 'cut' from £192,387 (yes, that's per year!) to just £115,432 for a flexible three day week.

Cut, you say? Am I the only one with a calculator?

Clearly. So I'll spell it out for you.

Divide £192,387 by five. That's the annual amount (£38,477) he would be paid pro-rata for doing a one-day week. Now multiply it by three.

Hey presto, it's £115,432!

So, to recap; Mr Quirk is not having his salary cut, he is having his hours cut. He is still being paid exactly the same amount pro-rata.

All of which rather begs the question - who's going to do the vital work that Mr Quirk will no longer be able to carry out? For it must surely be vital, given the salary he draws.

Surely Lewisham will be obliged to recruit another part-time chief exec to fill this gaping chasm?

Apparently not, according to the News Shopper (which to be fair offers a rather more sensible interpretation of the facts) he's just going to delegate to the appropriate executive director to offer a corporate response where necessary. Gosh what a shame we couldn't have been making these savings for the last decade or so!

Tidemill School and Deptford Lounge

Framework for the cladding on the new building has now gone up, shouldn't be long before we get sight of what the final finish is really going to look like.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Resolution Way flats

How silly of me - now I understand the colour scheme. Clearly sponsored!